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Saddened Sox fans of two minds on Francona’s exit

Many respect his time here, but see need for a change

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By Travis Andersen and Taylor M. Miles
Globe Staff | Globe Correspondent / October 1, 2011

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Sitting at the bar in front of the televisions at the Cask ’n Flagon, wearing a Red Sox jersey with Francona written on the back, Francine Cohen said: “It’s the end of an era.’’

“He’s the guy,’’ the Somerville woman said last night. “He brought us the wins.’’

Shortly after Terry Francona bid farewell to Red Sox Nation at a news conference at Fenway Park, Cohen was typical of many fans at bars near the ballpark: sad to see the longtime manager go, but conceding that he looked visibly weary after the team’s devastating September slide.

“He looked like he was done,’’ Cohen said.

Matt Tighe, 26, of Brighton, said he had figured Francona would be a likely casualty after the team’s epic meltdown, culminating in a Wednesday night loss to the Baltimore Orioles on the final game of the regular season, eliminating them from playoff contention.

“Someone had to be held accountable,’’ said Tighe, 26, who wore a Bruins cap while eating dinner near the bar. “It’s hard when you can’t hold the players accountable.’’

Tighe’s girlfriend, Lauren Gregor, 27, also of Brighton, said she believed Francona and the front office probably came to a mutual agreement that it was time for him to leave.

“Eight years is a long time to be in one place in sports,’’ Gregor said.

Many last night said they thought it was a great tenure - including a Yankee fan who had kind words for Francona.

“I think Francona’s a great manager, and I think they’re out of their minds,’’ said Jeff McDonough, 38, of Plymouth, who was sitting at the bar with friends from Red Sox Nation.

“They won two championships’’ during Francona’s tenure, he said, “and it broke my heart as a Yankees fan.’’

McDonough said he thought the Sox front office played a major role in Francona’s departure.

David Masabny, 35, of West Bridgewater, also recalled the manager’s positive contributions to the team, including World Series titles in 2004 and 2007.

“It’s a little disappointing to see Terry go because he did so much,’’ Masabny said. “He stood up for the players constantly, which said a lot about him as a man.’’

But Paul Flebotte, 39, of Dedham, who was sitting beside Masabny, was a bit more upset by him leaving and the “spin’’ put on the decision.

“I just feel that if you hear Theo’s explanation . . . he took very special precautions in what he said, I think,’’ he said.

Flebotte said it looked to him like Francona was almost relieved to be leaving.

“It seemed like the last month has just been hell for him,’’ Flebotte said.

At Jerry Remy’s Sports Bar & Grill on Boylston Street, Travis Stine, 26, of the Fenway, said he was disappointed to see Francona go.

“I feel bad for the guy,’’ said Stine, who wore a Sox ball cap. “He lost his job, but he wanted to leave, too.’’

Yet despite the gloom, some fans were already looking ahead to next year, including Stine’s wife, Ming Zhou-Stine, 26. She said she is anticipating another successful season.

“It’s always exciting to see a team come back . . . so that’s something to look forward to.’’

Back at the Cask ’n Flagon, Tighe said he expected Francona to land another managing job soon, and he is anxious to find out who will be his replacement in Boston.

“Hopefully Epstein goes after a no-nonsense guy,’’ he said.

Travis Andersen can be reached at tandersen@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @TAGlobe. Taylor M. Miles can be reached at tmiles@globe.com.

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