Why does Terry Francona get credit for the Cleveland Indians wins while he’s not with the team?
In the midst of the trade deadline frenzy, Terry Francona announced that he would be stepping away from the Cleveland Indians for the remainder of the season due to health concerns. Since then we’ve learned that the Cleveland skipper underwent hip replacement surgery. Yet, despite not being in the dugout, Francona is still being credited with the wins and it could result in him becoming the club’s all-time wins leader at the end of all of it.
Since Francona stepped away on July 29, the Tribe have gone 5-6 over 11 games heading into the series against the Oakland Athletics. At the time, Francona had a record of 723-568 at the helm of the Tribe, just six wins shy of becoming the club’s all-time wins leader and passing Lou Boudreau.
However, the 5-6 record that the Tribe has accomplished in his absence is currently being credited to Francona, meaning a win tonight (Aug. 10) over the A’s would make him Cleveland’s winningest manager in club history with 729 wins despite him not being on the bench or even in the dugout.
Over at Call To The Pen, they’ve worked to clarify this a bit. What it boils down to is that Francona is still the titled manager of the team. He wasn’t fired, resigned or removed from his position in any other way. He simply is taking time away. All Francona has to do is manage one game at the end of all of this.
If Francona is the manager on Opening Day for the Tribe in 2022 without interrupting his tenure as the club’s full-time manager, all these wins will go to him. It’s a little crazy to think about, but he could come back and manage one game next year and immediately get credit for the second half of 2021 that he missed.
The same thing happened in 2020 when Sandy Alomar Jr. was managing the team during Francona’s medical leave. Those wins are also credited to Tito. Now, just because he will get credit for it, doesn’t mean that Francona will accept it.
Being a competitor, like any player or coach, Francona will want to do this the right way. He was sitting six games shy of the record at the time of his departure, meaning he could manage the month of April in 2022 and accomplish the feat officially, fair and square. Then, he could transition the team over to someone else, again our recommendation is Alomar.
If Francona really wants to do it right, he could attempt to make up all of the wins that Alomar tallied during the 2019 campaign as well. Alomar managed a total of 46 games and while not all of them were wins, a similar amount would be needed to get the job done next year. So, here’s a thought.
Terry Francona should return to the Cleveland Indians to start next season and coach about the same amount that he did this year, stepping away at the All-Star break. At the break, Francona can announce his retirement, after becoming the club’s all-time wins leader the right way, and hand the team over to Sandy Alomar Jr. who would take over for the future. A perfect passing of the torch.
The only concern could be Francona making it that far into the season. This year he spent majority of the season in a walking boot before taking time away for a hip replacement. Last season, it was stomach issues that caused him to miss time and after that blood clots. The last year or more for Francona has been riddled with ailments that point to him needing to official hang up his hat.
However, the reality of the situation is that Francona will want to hold the record because he did, not because his teams did during his absence. Odds are, he’ll return for at least some time in 2022. If he does, the record will officially be his. The record-breaking win might come tonight, but it will be up in the air for if he holds the record or if it remains to Lou Boudreau based on what happens after this season.
Regardless of whether or not he ends up coming back and breaks the record or decides to retire and ends up six games short, Terry Francona will go down as one of the best, if not the best, manager in the history of the Cleveland Indians.