In an unsurprising twist, it's looking like the mainstream media may have jumped the gun on the Terry Francona story. Reports surfaced late Thursday night that Francona would leave the Boston Red Sox as soon as Friday morning, with the team opting not to pick up the option on his contract.
But early Friday afternoon, Red Sox general manager Theo Epstein released the following statement.
"John Henry, Tom Werner, Larry Lucchino, Ben Cherington and I met with Terry Francona this morning at Fenway Park to exchange thoughts and information on the 2011 season and discuss areas for improvement going forward. We all plan on taking some time to process the thoughts expressed in the meeting. There are no immediate plans for an announcement." (via RedSox.com)
With that being the case, did the media run with an unconfirmed story? It wouldn't be the first time, that's for sure.
Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports first reported that Francona would be leaving. Then, as usual, Twitter kicked into high gear, with people re-tweeting Rosenthal's story and sharing the news, at which point it became a major story.
Then, on Friday morning, the mainstream media really bit into the story, with major newspapers that didn't take hold of the news at the late hour on Thursday publishing Francona stories online. At that point, it became national.
Epstein's announcement on Friday put a damper on the story, and could mean one of two things: either the media is dead on and the Red Sox plan on announcing it on their own time, or the reports are just plain false.
We won't know for sure until the Red Sox officially announce their decision on Epstein, but it is entirely possible that the entire story is media fabrication. Rosenthal is one of the best baseball reporters in the business, but remember, the Red Sox did not directly tell him about Francona, he got the news through a major league source.
The problem with sources is that, well, we don't and won't know who they are. For all we know, they could be a team janitor. However, Rosenthal has built a solid reputation, which helps his case. Still, we won't know for sure until the Red Sox officially tell us.