Terry Francona calls beer ban a PR ploy

Updated: February 28, 2012, 11:41 AM ET
ESPN.com news services

Saying a recent move by the Red Sox to ban alcohol in the clubhouse amounted to a public-relations strategy, former Boston manager Terry Francona asserted Monday that it likely won't change whether a player who wants a drink after a game will have one.

"I think it's a PR move," Francona, now an ESPN analyst, said on ESPN Radio's "Mike and Mike in the Morning" show. "I think if a guy wants a beer, he can probably get one. You know, it's kind of the old rule ... If your coach in football says no hard liquor on the plane -- I mean, you serve beer and wine -- somebody's going to sneak liquor on the plane.

"If you furnish a little bit, it almost keeps it to a minimum."

Valentine Remember, you're getting paid over there [at ESPN] for saying stuff. You're getting paid over here for doing stuff.

-- Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine, responding to ex-Boston boss Terry Francona

Francona managed the Red Sox for eight seasons, a tenure that ended after the team missed the postseason despite holding a nine-game wild-card lead in September.

"I don't think it's a surprise that they put this in effect, or the fact they announced it," Francona said of the alcohol ban. "It's probably more of a PR move just because, you know, the Red Sox [took] such a beating at the end of the year."

Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine announced the new policy on Saturday, saying beer consumption would also be cut off on the last leg of road trips.

Valentine responded to Francona's take later Monday at spring training in Fort Myers, Fla.

"Remember, you're getting paid over there [at ESPN] for saying stuff,'' Valentine said. "You're getting paid over here for doing stuff.''

Later, in an informal conversation with a small group of reporters, Valentine said: "I think they probably asked [Francona] a question, that's what he said.

"If they had asked him longer, he probably would have said it was the right thing to do, too, but they probably dropped it at PR move, I would think. Either that, or those other 18 teams are getting it wrong, too. I don't think they did it just for PR.''

Valentine later joked: "When they did it in New York, they did it for PR. All bad PR.''

One of the team's with a ban on clubhouse drinking is the Cubs, the team that former Red Sox general manager Theo Epstein left Boston for. Sources told ESPNChicago.com that the ban will remain in effect.

Clubhouse beer consumption by starting pitchers during games in which they weren't appearing became a lightning rod of controversy for the Red Sox after last season.

Josh Beckett and Jon Lester met separately with reporters last weekend, expressing varying degrees of responsibility for the team's collapse last September.

"We used to tell the guys, 'You have certain privileges, don't abuse the privileges or they'll be taken away,' " Francona said. "And it wasn't specifically in one area. There were many areas you talk about."

Francona managed the Red Sox from 2004 to '11, leading them to World Series titles in 2004 and 2007. Boston had a 744-552 record in his eight seasons.

"You look back at this, these are guys that earned my implicit trust," Francona said. "You know, guys that we had won World Series with.

"So I probably felt different about it than a new guy coming in," Francona said of Valentine. "And he certainly has the right to do what he wants because he is new, and that's why you get different people."

But Francona also echoed the sentiments of Rays manager Joe Maddon, who spoke to reporters Sunday, saying Tampa Bay would implement no such rule.

"We're not the Boston Red Sox,'' Maddon said.

"I've said it a hundred times. For me at the end of the day, I'd much prefer our players making good decisions, and if you're of legal age, and the game is over, and you've sweated and lost a bunch of pounds and you want to sit down and have a beer, I see nothing wrong with that," Maddon said, according to the Tampa Bay Times.

But Red Sox designated hitter David Ortiz endorsed Valentine's decision on Saturday.

"We're not here to drink," Ortiz said. "We're here to play baseball. It ain't a bar."

Information from ESPNBoston.com's Gordon Edes and ESPNChicago.com's Bruce Levine was used in this report.

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