Boston golf tourney to honor ex-Red Sox manager Terry Francona

Terry Francona skippered the Red Sox to two World Series championships in his eight years in Boston

Wednesday’s Boston Globe charges that ex-Red Sox skipper Terry Francona had a drug addiction that contributed to his team’s hideous September collapse will have no impact on “Thank you Tito Day” at The International Golf Club & Resort in Bolton, Mass., on October 24.
“We don’t believe the rubbish being printed by the Globe tarnishes the day in any way,” the golf club’s general manager Brian Lynch told us in an e-mail Wednesday evening about the festivities planned to honor the former Sox manager. “We will have a fun day and raise some nice money for the best cause there is, fighting cancer.”
The golf tourney was the brainchild of Lynch, who organized the event to raise funds for cancer research while celebrating the manager who ended the Red Sox’ 86-year World Series championship drought.
For those unfamiliar with the local culture, it’s always Hot Stove season in Boston, but this year’s version has a distinct odor about it. Indeed, the Globe’s explosive account of the team’s epic late-season meltdown had the town talking and tweeting about the sorry state of all things BoSox — including allegations that Francona’s personal life led to the greatest el-foldo in baseball history. When Sox TV reporter Heidi Watney — cousin of PGA Tour star Nick Watney — tweets that sports radio talking heads are spewing “ridiculous and irresponsible” untruths, and the show’s hosts mock her by reading her Twitter blasts on air, you know things are officially outta control.
For sure, the shameful trajectory of what started out as a promising 2011 season was nothing new for the Olde Towne Team that, even after reversing the “Curse of the Bambino” in 2004, continues to find new ways to break fans’ hearts. What’s different about this year is the way it all went down.
There’s no question that Francona lost control of a clubhouse in which Boston’s supposed ace pitchers washed down buckets of fried chicken with beer and teed up video games while their teammates did battle on the baseball field. After all, this was a unit on its way to a 100-win season in August and was the odds-on favorite to win a third World Series championship in eight years until “disunity, disloyalty, and dysfunction,” as the Globe said, caused its self-destruction. The squad that held a nine-game edge in the wild-card race in late August became baseball’s deserving object of derision and stumbled to a third-place finish in the American League East.
But Francona was hardly the only culprit in the never-ending soap opera that is the Boston Red Sox. The players — with some obvious exceptions, including Dustin Pedroia and Jacoby Ellsbury — deserve most of the scorn for the way they coughed it up like chokin’ freakin’ dogs down the stretch.
But don’t let the erstwhile general manager, who spent $161 million on what the Boston Herald heralded as “The Best Team Ever” before John Lackey, Josh Beckett, or Jon Lester had even thrown a pitch in the wasted season of 2011, off the hook. Theo Epstein may have jumped ship and be on his way to Chicago where he hopes to lead the Cubs to the Promised Land to the tune of a reported five-year, $15 million contract, but he leaves a stinking miasma in his wake.
And then there’s owner John Henry, who doled out some $500 million over the last three years and had exactly zero playoff victories to show for it, according to WEEI.com’s Kirk Minihane. Henry had the gall to claim cluelessness earlier this week about Beckett, Lester, Lackey, Tim Wakefield, and Clay Buchholz taking to the hallowed grounds of Fenway to yuck it up for a country-music video that could become the anthem for the contemptible 2011 season, “Hell Yeah, I Like Beer.”
Gotta give it to Henry and henchman Larry Lucchino. They’re masters of disgraceful whispering campaigns aimed at painting departing players and managers as low-life slugs. Francona, to his credit, has taken the high road and gone along with the PR ploy that it was his decision to leave. He has taken no shots at ownership, except to deny vehemently that he had a drug problem.
For the way Francona has comported himself through good times and bad, Lynch was committed to thanking the departing manager for his eight-year tenure with the Sox.
“Two world series and a sweep of the dreaded yankees [on their way to the ’04 World Series] is what people should be talking about,” he said. “If he does indeed have dependency issues or any other issues they should be dealt with privately just like they would in any corporate environment.”
Francona has circled the date on his calendar and will kick off the 11 a.m. shotgun and barbecue lunch. For a $275 donation to Dana Farber, you may tee it up alongside some Sox players on The International’s Pines or Oaks course (contact Lynch to register).
We’re guessing — given their purported apathetic and appalling behavior as their team went down the tubes — that the fraudulent trio of Beckett, Lackey, and Lester aces will not be in your foursome.

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