What’s all the yelling about?
Sure, John Farrell probably should have been named American League Manager of the Year. But Terry Francona winning the award is hardly unfair, certainly not unjust and absolutely not something worth getting all worked up about.
Both skippers killed it this season. They know this. Their players know this. Their superiors know this. Most level-headed baseball enthusiasts — even if they don’t agree with the verdict — also know this.
So, end of story, right? We’ve got a clear-cut winner and one hard-luck loser.
Well, not really.
Instead, tweets, Internet comments and sports talk radio calls have been filled with frustration since the results were announced shortly before 7 p.m. on Tuesday. And that frustration only increased after each BBWAA member’s ballot came to light.
The idea of Francona edging out Farrell shouldn’t be met with shock. We’re talking about an award based on regular-season accomplishments, and Tito’s work in Cleveland was impressive enough to at least warrant serious consideration — if not one’s vote. Not only did the Indians overachieve, but Francona also played a pivotal role in the Tribe’s surprising success. He helped change the clubhouse culture in Cleveland, and proved to be a valuable in-game strategist, especially in his handling of the Indians’ less-than-stellar pitching staff. Francona dealt with great obstacles in the way of both injuries and an overall lack of talent.
This isn’t to take anything away from Farrell, who also changed a clubhouse culture upon being hired as Red Sox manager. It’s simply to say that choosing Francona over Farrell is definitely reasonable — not something that can only be explained by pointing to some ulterior motive.
The biggest issue with the voting — clearly and understandably — is the absence of Farrell on two ballots, and, even more crazily, the exclusion of both Farrell and Francona on one ballot. But as certifiably insane as the latter scenario seems to most, is it really the worst thing that we’ve ever seen? After all, it didn’t really change anything.
Asuka Brown’s Farrell-less/Francona-less ballot is hard to fathom among those who watched Farrell orchestrate an epic worst-to-first turnaround in Boston or Francona spearhead a tremendous year of overachieving in Cleveland. But as dumb as it may sound, Brown is at least sticking to her guns and defending her decision based on logic that makes sense to her — even if it’s ludicrous to everyone else. In other words, it’s not as if she excluded Farrell and/or Francona out of spite or because of some personal vendetta. She had reasons that she felt strongly about, and thus, mashing our keyboards or wearing out our lungs with a constant barrage of tirades only runs the risk of popping blood vessels.
I don’t need that. You don’t need that. Farrell and Francona don’t need that — which is probably why Farrell didn’t sound too concerned when discussing the results on NESN Sports Today on Tuesday night.
Do I agree with the overall decision or Brown’s ballot? Absolutely not. Yours truly would have voted Farrell, Francona and A’s manager Bob Melvin in that order.
But do I feel like we just witnessed a travesty? Not at all.
We see it all of the time with the Hall of Fame, so it shouldn’t come as any surprise when we see it in conjunction with MLB’s annual awards. Someone is going to cast a ballot that seems absurd to most — like, why are you voting for Jim Leyland, Mr. George King? — yet the overall results typically aren’t impacted all that much. And until they are, we’re left arguing an issue that’s minute in comparison to the other things that Major League Baseball has on its plate.
Take your pick. Francona or Farrell should have won the award, and they finished No. 1 and No. 2, respectively, in the voting. Let’s give each a pat on the back and move on until a couple of asinine ballots really throw things for a loop — which will probably never happen.