ESPN Boston baseball analyst Curt Schilling was on ESPN Boston Radio with Adam Jones on Friday afternoon (listen to the interview HERE) and, in no uncertain terms, said he thought it was a shame that the failure of the players ultimately cost Terry Francona his job.
“You can’t make these players do what they need to do if they’re not going to do it themselves,” Schilling said. "He put the names on the lineup card, but it’s up to the players to execute.”
Schilling and Francona go way back. Not only was Schilling on Francona’s Red Sox teams from 2004-07, he was also on the Phillies team that got Francona fired in 1999.
"It was very personal, a very distressing thing for me to be a part of when you are part of a team that costs someone his job, especially if it's someone you respect and love and like and is a close friend,” Schilling said. "It's a horrible feeling. But there are a lot of players that don't care, and, in that (Red Sox) clubhouse, based on everything that those guys have said, there's probably a couple of guys in that clubhouse, which is pathetic and sad in and of itself."
Schilling discussed reports that have surfaced recently about the bad chemistry and lack of discipline that were present in this Red Sox clubhouse, saying those were more a reflection of a lack of leadership among the players than any fault of Francona.
"In past years, you always had a personality in that clubhouse who would make it very clear whose fault it was. It doesn't generally get to this stage when you've got players in the clubhouse that can handle this stuff themselves,” Schilling said. "(Francona) was always a guy who had a team comprised of players that ran the spectrum, but he always had personalities to help him manage the clubhouse. Every manager has to.
“The days of the manager running through the clubhouse and turning stuff over and fearing guys into performing is gone in baseball. It's been gone for a long time. The smarter managers understood it before a lot of the other managers did: You need players that will police themselves and police each other. We always had that here.
“It's very clear, when you look around this team, you've got some guys -- the Pedroias, the Ellsburys, the Papelbons, the Variteks -- they're not guys who are going to stand up in the clubhouse. That's not their makeup. That's the big piece. You can't have a guy be that because he's your best player. You have to have a guy, multiple guys in the clubhouse who do that, regardless of what their batting average or ERA is. That's the challenge.
"Doug Mirabelli was a tremendous clubhouse presence. He wasn't an everyday player, but Doug Mirabelli was not afraid to talk to anyone based on their status on the team. Orlando Cabrera's first week in this clubhouse, he marched back to Manny Ramirez's locker and, literally, they almost got into a fight because Manny asked himself out of the lineup. Orlando said, 'Listen, no, you're playing.' Mike Lowell, another one. Those guys, I don't know that they have those guys."
The Red Sox might as well start from scratch, says Schill, because they’re be losing the one guy with the makeup to handle that clubhouse.
“I would argue that with this group of players, with this group of players in this market, that Terry Francona is one of the few guys that can manage this team,” Schilling said. “If you’re going to get rid of him I think you have to blow it all up."
Schilling also called Adrian Gonzalez’s comments blaming injuries, schedule and “God’s plan” for the team’s collapse “embarrassing” and an example of the type of excuse-making that he doesn’t think is tolerated by Sox fans.
“God’s plan was to put a test in front of him that they did not pass, in my mind,” Schilling said. “Don’t embarrass yourself and disrespect the game, the organization and the fans by making excuses.
“These are smart fans. The last thing they want to hear is something other than ‘I failed’. There are guys on the team that just don’t get that. These (fans) are smart people. When you throw six innings and give up five runs and you sit in front of the media and say ‘I felt good, I thought I threw the ball well,.’ (the fans) roll their eyes and laugh. They know the game.”