John Johnson: My Open Letter to Terry Francona — Reflections on Loss

Dear Tito,

I wake up this morning and can only imagine the shock.   September 1—everything seemed great and cruising to a world series title.  September 30- epic collapse and out of the playoffs.   Sports pundits everywhere likening this to every bad Red Sox memory…Aaron Boone, Mookie Wilson, Bucky Dent.  The bad part about history and having such a devoted fan base is they hang on everything—good and bad.   Its easy to recall all the bad things when bad things happen, just like its easy to remember all the good things when good things happen.  The truth is probably somewhere in between, but insane expectations, like the fans of Boston have, can be a career killer.

I can only imagine how bad you feel.  Real loss, especially when you think you have done your best, hurts.  And it also is much worse when you care so much.  I hate failure too…and yet I find I fail far more often than I ever want to.  Sometimes the harder I try, the worse I fail.  It seems like the Red Sox suffered from that a lot this month.

Terry Francona

There are all sorts of calls for your head—fire the manager.  Blame you.  But cooler heads usually prevail.   Boston will remember the glory of 2004 and 2007.   Boston will remember the way you comported yourself in the good times.  Boston will give you the benefit of the doubt for the classy way you have managed the team.  Or maybe they’ll just forgive you because we all are human, and even epic mistakes can be treated with compassion.

Take solace in the fact that you have fans, that a big loss hopefully will lead to a better team next year.  A chance to fix things that maybe seemed ok but weren’t, a chance to rebuild, and rebirth.  I always hate the flowery poetry of baseball—“leaving you when the seasons turn darkest, and returning in the Spring” but the good news is there will be another chance.   I really hope it is in Boston, but if somehow you do get fired, I’ll be a fan wherever you go.

It hurts now.  But try to learn a lesson from all this.  And keep your head up.  Can’t wait for Spring training and next year.

A devoted and sympathetic fan,

John

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