Terry Francona has managed his last game with the Boston Red Sox, as reports surfaced late Thursday night that Francona and the Red Sox were planning on parting ways. Sure enough, on Friday morning, he was gone.
So what does this mean for Francona's legacy? Well, for starters, for those of you that think that the Red Sox' collapse this September marred Francona's time in Boston, you might want to change your stance.
Francona is arguably the greatest manager the franchise has ever had. In eight years with the team, Francona has won 744 games and two World Series titles in 2004 and 2007 in 1,296 games. Two World Series titles, two pennants and four postseason appearances in eight years. Not bad.
We're talking about a manager that has won 1,029 games and has a career winning percentage of .529 in 1,944 career games. But Francona's impact goes far beyond the numbers. He was a player's manager, one that would never betray his players, and one that could manage personalities like Manny Ramirez, Pedro Martinez and David Ortiz.
Francona was a likable guy, one that was appreciated by players, fans and the media. He was straight forward, and for the most part, made good decisions. It's really not hard to make the argument that he was the best manager in the long history of the Red Sox.
However, you can't ignore the last few years, and more importantly, this September. The Sox, under Francona, have been progressively sliding since winning the World Series in 2007. One year after, Boston made it back to the ALCS and came within a game of playing for the World Series, but the Tampa Bay Rays were destined to beat them.
In 2009, the Red Sox made the postseason, but were abruptly swept away by the Los Angeles Angels. Then, in 2010, the Sox missed the postseason entirely, with injuries hampering a talented lineup.
And then, there was this season, or more specifically, the past 30 days. Boston entered the month with a nine-game lead over the Tampa Bay Rays for the AL Wild Card lead, but proceeded to finish the month with a dismal 7-20 record, ultimately losing their lead on the final day of the season and missing the playoffs.
Throughout the catastrophic collapse, tension began to rise, especially in the latter half of the Sox' struggles. Towards the very end of the season, rumors began to circulate that there was a disconnect between Francona and general manager Theo Epstein, one that the Red Sox GM denied on Thursday afternoon.
Now that Francona is likely out the door, fans and media members will have to choose how they remember Tito. Will they choose to recollect on those two magical season that forever changed the course of history in Boston? Or, will they reminiscent on the present day, where Terry may have been in over his head?
Either way, it's been real, and it's been fun. Godspeed, Tito. Godspeed.