Cleveland Indians manager Terry Francona will be featured in a new episode of MLB Network’s Studio 42 with Bob Costas this Wednesday, January 30 at 9:00 p.m. ET. Taped at MLB Network last week, Francona discusses key sections of his new book Francona: The Red Sox Years written with Boston Globe sports columnist Dan Shaughnessy.
Throughout the hour-long interview, Francona talks about his departure from the Red Sox in 2011; his relationships with Boston’s front office, players and media during his tenure; how the 2011 Red Sox compared to the 2004 World Series-winning team; and managing today’s Cleveland Indians, the Philadelphia Phillies from 1997 to 2000, and NBA Hall of Famer Michael Jordan when he was a member of the Double-A Birmingham Barons in 1994.
On Thursday, January 31, the day Hall of Famer Jackie Robinson would have turned 94 years old, MLB Network will air a Studio 42 with Bob Costas special featuring an interview with David Robinson, Jackie’s son. In this 30-minute special beginning at 9:00 p.m. ET, David Robinson will reflect on his late father, including the impact Jackie Robinson had on baseball and society, plus his memories of his father’s speech before Game Two of the 1972 World Series, which was nine days before Robinson passed away.
Prior to Studio 42 with Bob Costas on Wednesday and Thursday, MLB Network’s block of prime offseason programming will air, including Intentional Talk at 5:00 and 7:00 p.m. ET, Clubhouse Confidential at 5:30 and 7:30 p.m. ET, and MLB Network’s offseason show of record MLB Tonight at 6:00 and 8:00 p.m. ET.
Highlights from the conversation with Francona include:
On how his tenure ended with the Red Sox:
Boston is a wonderful place to work. It’s a hard place to work, but it’s a great place. If you like baseball, there’s probably no better place. The way it ended isn’t the way I would’ve scripted it, and so, I probably do harbor some feelings of where I wanted them to care more about me a little bit than I felt they did.
On the 2004 Red Sox:
What was really good about it is, when they got on the field, they really found a way to care about each other. … I really believe that that when the game was over, when we were going up to the clubhouse after a loss, they were mad because we lost, not because they were 0-for-4 and that’s important.
On how things changed after the Red Sox won the World Series in 2004:
We were kind of the underdog because we had never won. And then when we won, the brand really started becoming important.
On if some players began to tune him out in 2011:
… I think there were guys who had earned my trust, guys I had won a couple of World Series with, and I think they probably, at some point, took advantage of that a little bit. That’s on me, too. That was my responsibility. I tried to be the same manager [I was] in 2004. In 2011, we started 2-10, then we went 80-40. For me to change my stripes halfway through September, I didn’t think that’s the way to do it.
On players not being on the bench during games in 2011:
I don’t think it was really much different than any other year, as far as guys being on the bench. What bothered [me] was the fact that there were sources. Nobody stuck up for each other. Even when guys are wrong, I wanted them to stick up for each other. We needed to have a voice. On all the good teams we had, there [were] always a couple voices in the clubhouse that if something was going wrong, they’d fix it.
On if Michael Jordan could have been a Major League player:
… One, if you tell him no, he’s gonna find a way to make the answer be yes. … I thought if he was willing to spend another thousand at-bats, he would’ve found his way to the big leagues, maybe as an extra outfielder or something. I don’t think it was fair to talk about it until then. But think about it, he hadn’t played for 14 years and that was high school. He goes to Double-A, he steals 30 bases, he drove in 50 runs.
On Manny Ramirez:
Probably the greatest hitter I’ve ever seen. When he steps out of the batter’s box, all bets are off.
On Dustin Pedroia:
He’s probably my all-time favorite player. I’ve never seen somebody wake up in the morning and the object of his day is to kick your [butt]. He’s as close to Pete Rose as anybody I’ve ever seen. He can be arrogant, loveable and humble all in the same sentence. He has no business being as good as he is, and he is that good.
On Derek Jeter:
My favorite player that’s not on my team. The guy I probably respect most in baseball. I think he’s all of what’s good in baseball.
On Bobby Valentine:
Probably [a] lightning rod. I shouldn’t speak for him, but [he] probably found out the hard way that you don’t have to look for news in Boston, it’ll find you.
On how he would describe Boston Red Sox President and CEO Larry Lucchino:
Street-fighter, and [he] likes that and is ok with that. He likes the word leverage.
Larry’s actually a pretty good communicator. Larry doesn’t mind an argument, and I think he actually respects it. I’ve actually been in touch with him a few times lately. When [the Red Sox] hired John Farrell, I congratulated him. When I got my job in Cleveland, he congratulated me, which I appreciated.
On managing in Philadelphia:
It wasn’t the baseball city it is now. … [The fans] were rough, but we did have the crowds. They’d come and they wanted their team to win, but you better throw strike one or they’d let you have it. They were kind of in that mood where they weren’t real happy with the team.
On what he’s looking forward to in Cleveland:
… I’m honestly excited to see how good we can be. We’re in a little different place than maybe the ’04 Red Sox were. We’re younger. I’m kind of looking forward to being able to get on the field and maybe making an impact with guys as opposed to maybe putting fires out, maybe being a little bit more of a coach again. I missed that so I’m excited.