The 2016 World Series has many attachments to the Boston Red Sox. Players, coaches, and front office personnel from the team’s glory years are now leading the Cubs and Indians on their quest for their first championship in a long time. It’s a great story for baseball. Although the Red Sox are not in the World Series, it’s also a great story for Boston. There’s anger and frustration around the Sox letting key pieces to their success walk? What was the lowball offer to Jon Lester again?! And how much more did they end up paying David Price?! OK. There’s obviously that part of the story, but then there’s also the story of who does Red Sox Nation want to win.
Does Red Sox Nation want the Cubs to win because they haven’t won a World Series in 104 years? Surely, we can relate to not winning for so long. We have felt the pain. We’ve heard the ridicule. We’ve felt the losing culture. Then 2004 happened and everything changed. We want the same to happen for Chicago, right? Wrong!
The general consensus in Boston is that most fans want the Indians to win. In today’s post, we’ll provide the four reasons why.
1. Let the Cubs fans feel the true pain of a team with heartbreaking losses.
We get it. 104 years is a long time. However, when was the last time the Cubs suffered a tough playoff loss that they had to spend an entire offseason thinking about? OK. 2003 is in the discussion. However, a foul ball down the line that a fans interferes with being the big play? Sorry. That just doesn’t qualify with Bucky Dent. Or Bill Buckner. Or Aaron Boone. The list goes on and on! Let the Cubs fans have one of those moments, then you can win one when you get over it like Boston did.
2. The Indians are big underdogs.
What’s our natural instinct when the home team is eliminated and we’re forced to watch two other teams battle for the title? We root for the underdog. The Indians are a great story. They aren’t loaded with a lot of star talent. In fact, their starting rotation was the worst of all of the playoff teams on paper. Yet, they grinded their way to get here. The Cubs? They have by far the best roster in baseball and their record showed it by blowing away the competition. They’re supposed to win. So, many fans don’t want them to.
3. The Indians winning validates the Red Sox poor performance in the playoffs.
Yeah, we were terrible. But, hey, we lost to the World Champions! Everyone else lost too! Let’s move on to next year!
4. Boston fans are rooting for Tito over Theo.
Granted, both Theo Epstein and Terry Francona had a tremendous impact on two World Series titles for the Red Sox. Epstein put most of the pieces together and Francona did a great job of managing some difficult personalities. See Manny Ramirez. In 2011, it all fell apart as the Red Sox had the best team in baseball in August and then collapsed in September by failing to make the playoffs. We know the story. Theo and Tito were let go and the Red Sox moved on.
Both guys had a big part in the success. Fans appreciated their efforts in Boston. But, let’s analyze what happened from there. Epstein became the President of Baseball Operations for the Cubs. He got a five-year $18.5 million contract which at the time was a very high number for that position. He became the darling of Chicago. Everyone knew it was going to take time. Years, for that matter. However, Theo was going to make everything better. Granted, everything fell into place and Epstein has done an incredible job of rebuilding that team over the years. But, he was given a lot of resources (money) to rebuild it and he also did it through the farm system. It took time and his plan has worked.
Terry Francona, on the other hand, didn’t get an $18.5 million contract after he was let go by the Red Sox. In fact, he suffered from the move to the point that he didn’t get jobs that he interviewed for. There were reports that were leaked about Francona in his last year with the Sox that were far from positive. It surely was not a situation where he was getting the respect around the league, and from the Red Sox, that he had earned. The next year, he was hired to manage the Cleveland Indians. The 68-94 Cleveland Indians. Surely, this was going to be much different than managing for a successful team like the Red Sox. Under Francona, the team immediately became respectable by improving by 24 games in a season. There was no three-year plan. Tito brought a team at the bottom to respectability. He was dragged through the mud and he came out on top.
Boston fans don’t like guys who are given the world and succeed. Boston fans like the guys who have to go through tough times to claw their way to the top. Boston likes guys who have to overcome adversity. Terry Francona did that. Theo Epstein and his $18.5 million did not.
Watching the 2016 World Series is creating a lot of “what ifs” for Red Sox Nation. However, one thing is for sure. Terry Francona is still very well respected by the fans for both his accomplishments with the Red Sox and what has had to overcome since his departure.
Now, Francona is just three wins away from getting back to the top.