The feud between former manager Terry Francona and the Red Sox ownership, namely Larry Lucchino and John Henry took another ugly turn this week when Tito declined the invite to take part in the 100th anniversary celebration of Fenway Park. I can’t say I blame him for the way he was thrown under the bus after what was an epic collapse last September that should fall mostly on the shoulders of the players. None the less, the story is again making headlines and opening the wounds of what was a painful 2011 season.
To make matters worse, the Red Sox finally return to Boston to host their home opener this weekend after sputtering out of the gates for a second straight season. A 1-5 start on the road has many pointing to last season’s 0-6 start and ready to hit the panic button.
With the first game at Fenway this Friday, the skeptics and critics will be out in full force ready to jump all over any blemish that the Red Sox dare make while on a 9 game home stand. Which is why this Francona feud with the owners might be just what the Red Sox need; a little distraction from their on-field play.
If you’ve tuned into any of the first half dozen games the Sox have played you’ll see a very uptight, timid ball club that looks uncomfortable. And it’s showing in the numbers for many, for example Kevin Youkilis who has more strikeouts than hits in his first 18 plate appearances. The offense is struggling, the bullpen has holes and the rotation has many questions. Not exactly a soothing bunch heading home to play in front of a faithful crowd that is growing restless and impatient, all but ready to ring Fenway Park with a chorus of boos if the results don’t change.
So rather than sit and analyze what’s gone wrong over the first six games, maybe Tito will take a little pressure off his former club and steal the spotlight for a little while; giving the Sox a chance to pick up their game and produce a few wins. Next Friday, April 20th will mark the big anniversary of Fenway and you know leading up to the festivities, the media will once again be feasting over the ongoing feud between Tito and the three headed monster, known as the owners. Maybe the owners can have the limelight and let the players do what they do best, play baseball. Maybe, just maybe a little less pressure and attention will do this club some good over the next week.
Funny to think that the same man who brought two championships to the city of Boston could also be instrumental in helping this club break out of their funk.