I know the idea seems silly and will be dismissed immediately by most, but for just a moment allow yourself to consider the notion. Yesterday came the announcement that Tito had changed his mind and decided to attend Friday's 100th anniversary celebration at Fenway. With the off day today it is only natural to let your mind wander to the idea of firing the current manager. Certainly it will be discussed a time or too on WEEI and the Sports Hub today. Then the question becomes, if you fire Valentine who are you going to hire to take his place? There is no one on the major league staff or in the minor league sytstem that I believe could handle the job. So if you look outside of the organization there are not a lot of people available in season. Gene LaMont for example, probably would not bail on the Tigers in the middle of the year, especially to a team that turned him down four months ago. If Ben Cherington is thinking this way, and you can assume that it has at least entered his mind even though he wouldn't admit it publicly. Once he looked outside of the organization the only person that could slide into the job smoothly would be Tito Francona. You can't tell me that Ben Cherington hasn't entertained the thought and with Tito potentially being in town as early as today it would be easy for Cherington to approach him and ask him if he has any interest in coming back to manage the Sox. Now I wouldn't blame Tito if he said no way! However, if anyone would be selfless enough to put things aside and return to his rightful job it's Francona. The idea wouldn't seem quite so crazy if Theo Epstein hadn't gone through a similar return a few years ago. So it's not unprecedented.
Theo left because of a strained relationship with Larry Lucchino, but when enough time passed he realized that coming back was the right thing to do for him and the team. Tito is now in this same position. He left because of a historic September collapse and a perceived lack of support from ownership. Looking back on those few days right after the season ended it is clear that key decisions were made during an emotional time. Something that organizations and people in leadership positions should try to avoid, but the Sox and Francona weren't able to do that. In hindsight getting rid of him, whether he resigned or got fired, was not the right move. He is the best man for this job and he should still be managing the Red Sox. When Theo was rehired it appeared that everyone took some time to reflect and came away knowing that he was the right man for the job and they were all willing to admit mistakes, make sacrifices and do what it took to bring him back even though it made them look bad in the short term. If everyone in the Sox management team is honest with themselves they should realize the same thing they did with Theo and bring back Tito.
It is clearer now than ever before that the manager of the Red Sox needs to have a personality more like Tito's than Bobby V's. Hashing things out in the media is not going to help this team win. Last night Tony Massarotti tweeted that he had a sneaking suspicion that Joe Kerrigan and Bobby Valentine were going to have similar managerial experiences in Boston. I agree with him. This moment in Sox history feels a lot like those times when Kerrigan was the manager. The Red Sox should admit they've made a mistake and do the right thing now and fix it. At this point I should admit that I was in favor of hiring Bobby Valentine this offseason, even before it seemed clear that he was going to be the choice. I still believe that he was a better choice than Dale Sveum, but knowing what we know now perhaps Gene LaMont would have been the best out of the group they interviewed. But, the whole point is that none of the people they interviewed are better managers than the one they had for the last 8 years.
Typically in life and sports you can't go back. Once a decision is made you have to move on and go forward with what you've got. If a sports team did what I am suggesting, bringing back a manager who was let go during the offseason 12 games into the next season, most people would think that the leaders of that organization have lost their minds. But I have a sneaking suspicion that that wouldn't be the case here. The players would more than likely play twice as hard for Francona now that they realize how good they had it before Bobby V showed up. Hiring Francona again wouldn't change the fact that this team has had key injuries and a tough schedule to start the season, and it wouldn't all of a sudden make them a perfect team. I for one would feel a lot more confident about the teams chances this season if they made this move.
I don't know if Francona would even consider coming back to this team after being smeared in the media by someone in the organization, but that shouldn't stop Cherington and/or Lucchino from at least feeling him out. Obviously they were able to persuade him to come back for Friday's celebration so why stop there? While he's here (he'll probably be here all weekend since he's scheduled to broadcast Sunday nights game for ESPN) the Sox should put on a full court press behind the scenes to bring Tito Francona back.