My editor tells me that I’m supposed to write about 300 words for this post, so can I just write Terry Francona 150 times?
My editor tells me no.
But that pretty much sums it up. Terry Freaking Francona is what I’m thankful for. I don’t give him all the credit for getting the Tribe into the playoffs this year (the 25 guys that actually played deserve some credit too), but he damn well deserves a lot of it.
There were times that fans could nitpick in-game decisions he made throughout the season and blame losses on him as a result; that’s something that happens to every team when you play 162 games.
What he deserves credit for is the culture.
Oct 2, 2013; Cleveland, OH, USA; Cleveland Indians manager Terry Francona during batting practice before the American League wild card playoff game against the Tampa Bay Rays at Progressive Field. Mandatory Credit: David Richard-USA TODAY Sports
In 2012, the Indians were never a talentless team. The roster had plenty of great players. There were missing pieces, but the base for a playoff club was there with Jason Kipnis, Carlos Santana and Justin Masterson among others. The team just never thought they could win and as a result, they didn’t.
The moment that Francona was given the manager position for this club, the team believed in themselves. Not only did Francona tell the 25 guys in the clubhouse they could win, he did everything he could to ensure it. He did it all successfully.
I don’t think Yan Gomes or Ryan Raburn have rebound seasons without Francona. He took two guys with battered egos and low expectations from the fans and themselves and showed them bit by bit how they could be great. Both Raburn and Gomes were given small roles in situations they could succeed in and each of them built themselves up from that. Then in the stretch run both Raburn and Gomes become regular fixtures in the lineup after coming in as depth acquisitions.
Each player on the 25-man roster can attribute some part of their success this year to Francona, Raburn and Gomes are just the two most obvious cases.
That bald headed son of a bitch put hope in Cleveland for the first time in a while, and there’s still a whole lot more years to really find success.