Red Sox

Nation STATion: Francona makes history


Nation STATion: Francona makes history

By Bill Chuck
Special to

You ever hear of Three Finger Mordecai Brown? He was a Hall-of-Fame pitcher who had a record of 239-130 and a lifetime ERA of 2.06. Youve definitely heard of David Boomer Wells, the pitcher who threw a perfect game and ended his career with a record of 239-157, with a 4.13 ERA. Did you notice what they have in common besides great nicknames? Right, they each finished with 239 wins, good for 57th on the all-time win list.

As you checked how the Yankees did yesterday, did you notice that Bartolo Colon got the win? Hes 7-6 on the season and now has 160 career wins, good for seventh among all active pitchers. The only ones ahead of him on the win list are Tim Wakefield, who picked up win No. 199 yesterday, Roy Halladay, who picked up win 181 yesterday, Tim Hudson with 174 wins, Livan Hernandez and CC Sabathia with 171 wins each, and Derek Lowe with 163 wins.

To be 57th all-time for wins and seventh among active winners reflects a combination of skill and endurance. You need good stuff and the ability to withstand the pressure of competition. A pitcher has a unique role in baseball because despite it being a team game, he is the individual who gets accorded the win or the loss based on the result. If a batter strikes out with the bases filled to end a close game, his personal stats may be affected adversely, but when you look at the record book, the pitcher get the loss.

The same is true for a manager. At the end of the season, if he lasts that long, he owns his teams record. Whether the group -- pitchers, batters, and front office members -- succeeds or fails is ultimately reflected in the managers record.

I mention that because over the weekend, Terry Francona achieved wins 1000 and 1001. This means that like Browns and Wells, Francona is 57th on the all-time win list among managers. It also means that like Bartolo Colon, Tito is seventh among all active managers with 1001 wins. Only Tony LaRussa (2,691), Jim Leyland (1,548), Dusty Baker (1,455), Bruce Bochy (1,333), Davey Johnson (1,158), Mike Scioscia (1,036) and Jack McKeon (1,028) are ahead of him. That is pretty elite company.

Francona picked up his first 285 wins, and 363 losses, with the Phillies. In four seasons in Philly (1997-2000), he never had a winning season, losing over 90 games twice. Now in his eighth season with the Sox, hes never had a losing season, and hes well on his way to winning over 90 games this season for the sixth time.

Joe Cronin (1935-47) is the Sox leader in the categories that measure a manager statistically. He managed the most games, 2007, won the most, 1071, and he lost the most, 916.

Tito is second to Cronin with 1233 games, 716 wins, and third in losses with 517. Pinky Higgins lost 556 games.

However, in the category that matters most: winning percentage, Terry has the highest in amongst the three with a .580 winning percentage and hes 199 games over .500 as the Sox manager, the most in team history. Among Sox managers who have managed over 200 games, there are only three who have a higher winning percentage: Jake Stahl (235 games managed) 144-88 .621, Joe McCarthy (369 games) 223-145 .606, and Steve ONeill (249 games) .602.

You can give Cronin the lead in games managed and won, but while he had two ring fingers, they were ringless. But Bill Carrigan (1915-16) and Terry are the only Sox manager who have two rings and Francona is the only Sox manager to reach the postseason more than twice.

Managing in baseball means dealing with the clubhouse, the dugout, the bullpen, the front office, the media, the fans, and now the 247 attention of social media and talk radio. It is a battle of endurance against roster moves, more and more stats, cross-country travel, rain delays, hotel rooms, press junkets, pre-season, regular season, and hopefully, post-seasons. It means battling through injuries for both the players and yourself, dealing with health issues made worse by lack of sleep, plane travel, and eating on the road. It means missing, and worrying, about your family who are in different places around the country and the world.

More than ever, a big part of managing today is dealing with players, agents, egos, and personalities. The great Sparky Anderson said, Baseball is a simple game. If you have good players and if you keep them in the right frame of mind then the manager is a success.

Over his tenure, Terry has sent 198 different Sox to the plate for at least one appearance.

He has seen 106 different Sox pitchers.

Since 2004, Terry has lived through 16 shortstops including Nomar Garciaparra, Cesar Crespo, Orlando Cabrera, Pokey Reese, Nick Green, Edgar Renteria, Alex Gonzalez, Marco Scutaro, Jed Lowrie, Julio Lugo, and Alex Cora, the most prominent of the bunch. No team has tried more shortstops than the Sox over this time (the Reds and the Padres each used 12).

Hes brought in 79 different guys from the bullpen, only the Marlins have tried more (89).

There have been 67 different pitchers who earned a win and 69 who earned a least one loss.

Hes watched 72 different players go deep and hit 1495 homers, including 19 walkoffs.

Hes endured 86 different pitchers give up 1206 home runs, including 16 walkoffs.

There have been 54 different players who stole a base and 43 others who were caught stealing.

With five postseason appearances since 2004, he is tied with the Angels Mike Scioscia for the most by an American League manager and hes on his way to tying Joe Torre (six), the only major league skipper with more. And he wins in the postseason. Hes 28-17 (.622), the second-best record in major league history (minimum 25 games) behind Joe McCarthys 30-13 (.698) mark.

Francona has managed an assortment of personalities including Curt Schilling, JD Drew, Kevin Millar, Johnny Damon, Lugo, Daisuke Matsuzaka, and Manny Ramirez and has brought out the best in most of them. The proof: 1001 wins.

And for all that, Terry, we say, Congratulations!

MLB will institute rules to pick up pace, with or without players' agreement


MLB will institute rules to pick up pace, with or without players' agreement

ORLANDO, Fla. -- Major League Baseball will change rules to speed games next year with or without an agreement with the players' association.

Management proposed last offseason to institute a 20-second pitch clock, allow one trip to the mound by a catcher per pitcher each inning and raise the bottom of the strike zone from just beneath the kneecap to its pre-1996 level at the top of the kneecap. The union didn't agree, and clubs have the right to impose those changes unilaterally for 2018.

Players and MLB have held initial bargaining since summer, and MLB chief legal officer Dan Halem said this week he would like an agreement by mid-January.

"My preferred path is a negotiated agreement with the players, but if we can't get an agreement we are going to have rule changes in 2018 one way or the other," baseball commissioner Rob Manfred said Thursday after a quarterly owners' meeting.

Nine-inning games averaged a record 3 hours, 5 minutes during the regular season and 3:29 during the postseason.

Corey Kluber beats Chris Sale for American League Cy Young


Corey Kluber beats Chris Sale for American League Cy Young

Max Scherzer heard his name and thrust his arms in the air, shouting and smiling big before turning to kiss his wife.

Corey Kluber, on the other hand, gulped once and blinked.

Two aces, two different styles - and now another Cy Young Award for each.

The animated Scherzer of the Washington Nationals coasted to his third Cy Young, winning Wednesday for the second straight year in the National League. He breezed past Los Angeles Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw, drawing 27 of the 30 first-place votes in balloting by members of the Baseball Writers' Association of America.

Kluber's win was even more of a runaway. The Cleveland Indians ace took 28 first-place votes, easily outpacing Chris Sale of the Boston Red Sox for his second AL Cy Young.

Scherzer yelled "yes!" when his award was announced on MLB Network, a reaction in keeping with his expressive reputation. He showed that intensity often this year, whether he was cursing under his breath like a madman during his delivery or demanding - also with expletives - that manager Dusty Baker leave him in the game.

Just a little different than the pitcher they call "Klubot." Kluber was stoic as ever when announced as the AL winner. He swallowed hard but otherwise didn't react, only showing the hint of a smile moments later when answering questions.

Not that he wasn't thrilled.

"Winning a second one maybe, for me personally, kind of validates the first one," Kluber said.

Scherzer's win moves him into rare company. He's the 10th pitcher with at least three Cy Youngs, and among the other nine, only Kershaw and Roger Clemens aren't in the Hall of Fame.

"That's why I'm drinking a lot of champagne tonight," Scherzer said.

Scherzer earned the NL honor last year with Washington and the 2013 American League prize with Detroit.

"This one is special," he said. "When you start talking about winning three times, I can't even comprehend it at this point."

Scherzer was 16-6 with a career-best 2.51 ERA this year. The 33-year-old righty struck out a league-leading 268 for the NL East champion Nationals, and in an era noted for declining pitcher durability, he eclipsed 200 innings for the fifth straight season. He had to overcome a variety of ailments to get there, and Washington's training staff was high on his thank-you list.

"Everybody had a role in keeping me out on the field," he said. "I'm very thankful for all their hard work."

Kershaw has won three NL Cy Youngs and was the last pitcher to win back-to-back. He was 18-4 with a league-best 2.31 ERA and 202 strikeouts. This is his second runner-up finish. Stephen Strasburg of the Nationals finished third.

Kluber missed a month of the season with back pain and still easily won the AL award over Sale and third-place finisher Luis Severino of the New York Yankees. Kluber led the majors with a 2.25 ERA, and his 18 wins tied for the most in baseball. He added to the Cy Young he won with the Indians in 2014 and is the 19th pitcher to win multiple times.

The 31-year-old Kluber was especially dominant down the stretch, closing out the season by going 11-1 to help Cleveland win the AL Central. He and Minnesota's Ervin Santana tied for the major league lead with five complete games - nobody else had more than two. Kluber also led the majors with 8.0 wins above replacement, per

Kluber and Scherzer both had rough outings in the playoffs. Kluber gave up nine runs over two starts in an AL Division Series against the Yankees, and Scherzer blew a save in the decisive Game 5 of an NL Division Series against the Cubs.

Scherzer said he couldn't even watch the League Championship Series, although he did tune in for the World Series.

"That will eat at me this whole offseason," he said.

Voting for the awards was completed before the postseason began.

The final BBWAA honors will come Thursday when the MVP awards are announced in the AL and NL.