Hill Climb Racing 2 Industrial Deals Beauty Best Books of the Month STEM nav_sap_plcc_ascpsc Learn more about Amazon Music Unlimited GNO for iPhone 8 Starting at $39.99 Grocery Handmade Tote Bags Home Gift Guide Off to College Home Gift Guide Book a house cleaner for 2 or more hours on Amazon BradsStatus BradsStatus BradsStatus  Introducing Echo Show Introducing All-New Fire HD 10 with Alexa hands-free $149.99 Kindle Oasis, unlike any Kindle you've ever held Shop Now ToyHW17_gno

There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.

Showing 1-10 of 522 reviews(Verified Purchases). See all 580 reviews
on February 26, 2013
So I recently read FRANCONA The Red Sox Years by Terry "Tito" Francona and Dan Shaughnessy. First, let me say that I don't read many books so take this with a grain of salt: It wasn't what I expected and I was mildly disappointed. I'm blaming Shaughnessy.

Now, I love Terry Francona and I don't mean any disrespect. He's an outstanding MLB manager who brought 2 World Series championships to us Red Sox fans in his first 4 years with the team--he was with the club for 8. He's engaging, funny, and has a great story to tell. I just think this could have been much, much more than it is.

Despite the subtitle, the first six chapter of the book have basically nothing to do with the Red Sox. That's okay--they deal with Terry's childhood during his father's MLB career, Terry's own journey through high school, college, the minors, MLB, and into his coaching and managerial experience leading right up to, of course, how he was hired on as the Red Sox skipper. Mostly fairly interesting but then just call the book FRANCONA without the subtitle because from that point on there essentially was just one chapter per year for each year of his 8-year term at the helm and then a couple chapters post-Boston.

Perhaps I'm splitting hairs but as I said initially, it was not what I expected. Much of the book has nothing to do with the Red Sox--it is Terry's life story. I was expecting extensive and previously unheard behind the scenes anecdotes regarding key players throughout the years. There is a bit of that but mostly we're getting Terry's take on incidents we already heard about. In the lengthy back story there's more about Michael Jordan's foray into minor league baseball (Terry managed him) than there was about key Red Sox players, some of whom get barely a mention with just a sentence or two. Even Red Sox traveling secretary Jack McCormick gets more ink than most of the players. Calvin Hill, the father of NBA star Grant Hill gets a big write up just for being in the front office of the Orioles at one point--something about hiring Theo down in Baltimore.

There are a few tidbits we have forgotten, or perhaps never knew such as Terry's last major league at bat was in Fenway Park and he flew out to Ellis Burks who he later managed in 2004. Terry was a coach with the 2003 A's and after Game 4 in Boston Jack McCormick used his contacts with the Boston PD to delay the A's at the airport so the Sox could get back to Oakland before them for Game 5--the Johnny Damon concussion game. Within weeks Terry was interviewing for the Red Sox skippership. I always thought a guy went in for an interview or two or three and then got the job or not. They had Terry basically hanging out at Fenway for most of the winter playing simulated baseball games with guys from Baseball Ops while he was still employed by the A's. For his entire term with the Sox the team had this computer (program) which they created and named Carmine which they used to help manage the team.

There were a couple of poignant moments with Terry sharing how he broke down in tears--not because of game play but following high-stress situations which had weighed heavily on him for some time and had finally come to a positive resolution.

Here's an excerpt (sorry--not related to him crying) regarding Pedroia when he won the 2008 MVP Award: "It was unbelievable...Tim Lincecum was the Cy Young winner and he had the whole Giants front office there from San Francisco...I was there with just Pam Ganley...Brian Cashman--the GM of the Yankees!--had to give me my MVP Award!...Our owners gave David a car or truck for doing I'm not sure what, and I've got nobody there when I get the MVP. All I got was a handshake."
Francona decided the best response was a gag gift for his second baseman...Pedroia found an electrically charged blue mini-scooter in front of his locker...a pink "AL MVP" helmet hung from the handlebar with a phony note from Lucchino..."Sorry we couldn't make it to the MVP presentation...Congratulations, Dustin."

See, the book should have been full of anecdotes like that but sadly it wasn't.

Sure, there were many interesting tidbits like dissecting the ill-fated trip to Japan in 2008, what went on in various meetings and on team flights and how toxic the clubhouse was at times. Also interesting is how intertwined the histories of so many players and coaches are, "I knew Nomar already from when I coached him in the Arizona Fall League," etc.

And I never knew his health was this bad: "The most recent knee replacement followed the 2006 knee replacement, knee scopes, knee reconstructions, cervical disk surgery, and numerous wrist, elbow, and shoulder surgeries. He'd cheated death during the Christmas season of 2002, surviving a pulmonary embolism on each side of his lungs, as well as subsequent blood clots, staph infections, massive internal bleeding, and the near-amputation of his right leg. He had a small metal device implanted into his vena cava vein to prevent clotting. He was unable to jog and would be on blood-thinning medication for the rest of his life. He wore sleeves on both his legs, and still got cold easily. Anytime he sat too long his legs swelled and needed to be elevated....Blood-level maintenance and pain management would be part of his life for as long as he lived."

Anyway, here's a few of my takeaways: The ownership group of Henry, Werner, and Lucchino is a despicable and dysfunctional bunch of weasels. Theo Epstein is a supremely talented and likable GM. Manny is a lowlife dirt bag.

Overall, a worthy read for a Red Sox fan but nothing more. If not a Red Sox fan, you probably won't care a lick.

"When people ask me if I left the Red Sox on my own or if I was fired, I don't even know how to answer that. I really don't." --Terry "Tito" Francona
11 comment| 2 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
TOP 500 REVIEWERon February 7, 2013
Although I am a voracious consumer of non-fiction I seldom traverse into the world of sports. If I read 50 books a year chances are less than a handful would be concerned with sports. There are simply too many other subjects I would prefer to read about. Several weeks ago The Boston Globe began releasing excerpts from Dan Shaugnessy and Terry Francona's long awaited and highly touted new collaboration "Francona: The Red Sox Years". Given all of the scuttlebutt on Boston sports radio I was led to believe that "Francona" would be awash in new and surprising revelations about Terry Francona's eight year tenure as manager of the Boston Red Sox. Being a lifelong Sox fan I could not resist the temptation. I ordered the book immediately.

Much to my surprise I found very little in the way of new information in "Francona". Practically everything I read in this book I had seen in print or heard discussed on sports radio and TV at one time or another. I must admit that I was a bit disappointed. This is by no means a bad book. Shaugnessy and Francona do a workmanlike job of chronicling Tito's eight year run as manager of the Red Sox. It was fun to read again about the antics of the so-called "idiots" on that '04 championship team and about "Manny being Manny". How Terry Francona survived seven seasons of dealing with that guy is beyond me. And you will probably shed a tear when Tito recalls hugging John Lester after he tossed his no-hitter back in 2008. It was such an emotional moment for both men. I was also very happy to see the recollections shared by former Sox GM Theo Epstein woven into the text. "Francona" spells out how it all started to unravel in 2010. Perhaps the key moment was when CEO Tom Werner suggested that "We need to start winning in a more exciting fashion". One had to wonder what the real priorities of the organization were. It seemed to be all downhill from there.

As I indicated earlier there is no denying that "Francona: The Red Sox Years" is an important addition to the historical record and will be enjoyed by generations of Red Sox fans to come. Dan Shaughnessy is an fine writer and Terry Francona certainly had a fascinating tale to tell. Tito saw it all during his eight years in Boston. Yet having said that, I cannot help but come away from this book feeling a little bit cheated. I simply did not learn as much as I expected to. According to the Amazon ratings system if a reviewer feels that a book is merely "OK" then he/she should rate it three stars. At the end of the day that is where I come down on this one. For me, "Francona: The Red Sox Years" simply did not live up to my expectations. As such, I am only able to offer a somewhat lukewarm recommendation.
22 comments| 8 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on April 4, 2013
I was pleasantly surprised at how easily readable this book was. I have to admit reading anything by Dan Shaughnessy gives me more than a little trepidation. He's not exactly the most balanced writer and he tends to get to high and low with the Red Sox. In short, he's the worst sort of fair-weathered fan. Loves the team when doing great then gets extremely negative the second things start to fall off the rails.

The thing about Shaughnessy I do like is that he's a no BS writer, meaning he's not afraid to tick off a multi-million dollar superstar athlete and he tells it as he sees it. So it was with this background in mind that I ventured into the reading of Francona: The Red Sox Years.

What I found? The book is easily readable and very interesting. It's not very long and it's something you could knock off in a week or even a few days. I found that it flowed easily from one point in Terry Francona's life to another, and really made me appreciate him as a man even more than I did as a manager of my favorite team the Red Sox. At the same time it gets under the covers in what went on in the Red Sox organization during those years, as only Shaughnessy could probably do. And despite Shaughnessy's penchant for controversy and taking the negative angle on things, I thought the book was reasonably well balanced and didn't come across as baseball's version of the National Enquirer. Still, one can't help but think that Shaughnessy was very good buddies with Francona and Theo Epstein, who are both painted in very flattering brushes, as opposed to characters like John Henry (I would say painted in a neutral light) and Tom Werner and Larry Lucchino (both come across very negatively in the book).

On the whole I found it to be an entertaining read that really took me behind the curtains of the Red Sox organization, as well as behind the curtains of Terry Francona the man. In fact, that's probably the biggest thing to take away from the book, the character and integrity of Francona. And despite the huge grain of salt I usually take when I read any Shaughnessy article, I found this book wasn't as extreme in the highs and lows and didn't throw as many stones as expected.
0Comment| One person found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on April 2, 2013
No, you don't have to be a Red Sox fan to enjoy this book, but it helps. Red Sox haters will also like it as will the ever-hopeful, ever-disappointed Cleveland Indians faithful. The inside stories are far and away the best part, although some of them destroy our romantic myths of ballplayers. The behind-the-scenes intrigue is worthy of a Washington D.C. subplot in a spy novel. Unfortunately, because it is real life, the good guy doesn't always save the world (or even Boston). He is not the squeaky clean, morally upright ex-soldier who wins our respect and the woman's heart. However, he is at least reasonably honest and accepts responsibility for his own errors.

Sometimes it is difficult to know who is speaking, as Shaughnessy uses extensive quotes with his third-person narrative. He makes a real effort to present the conflicts fairly, but maybe that's because he still has to cover Red Sox baseball while Francona can hide in Cleveland. I do have the feeling that Marriott and Cadillac paid the author royalties because every chance he gets he mentions the Brookline Marriott Courtyard Inn and Francona's Cadillac Escalade.

But those are minor inconveniences to the joy of reading about conflicting goals between the manager and management, the personalities of some players, and chicken and beer in the clubhouse.
0Comment| One person found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on March 13, 2015
Best baseball book I've read since "The Girl who Loved Tom Gordon!" I lived through all of it, through all the times we almost made it, 1975, 1978,1986, 2003 and then to witness it all come together under Tito, it was great! There were a lot of special moments even in the years we didn't make it to the playoffs and I will always be a Sawx fan. I couldn't be bothered with anyone above the GM, so all the BS from the owners is just that to me, BS. I heard a lot of the garbage and a lot I didn't believe was bore out in this book. It's too bad the way things ended in Boston, you should have been carried away on the shoulders of fans, not treated the way you were. In my mind you were our conquering HERO. Tito you'll always be the best! Good luck with those Indians! Many thanks to you and Dan for writing it all down for us to read and treasure.
0Comment|Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on March 18, 2013
i have been around baseball my whole life and unfortunately have been a member of Red Sox Nation before it was a nation. Terry brought TWO World Series titles to Boston and his behind the scenes story of how these miracles happened was just fantastic and so easy to read. He is a players' manager and always took care of his players above his own interests and this makes me love, admire and respect this guy even more for what he accomplished. His working and relationship with Theo epstein is awesome to read and his struggles with 'ownership' was painful to me, I can't imagine what it did to him having to work with those guys day in and day out. Terry's focus on players well being, development, the locker room stories, the trials and tribulations of dealing with injuries, personal challenges and having to babysit multi-million dollar egos was just fantastic and he is a manager well deserving of Hall of Fame honors. I loved this book and because of Terry Francona's true love of the game and his players, I have resigned my commission in Red Sox Nation and will now be sporting a Cleveland Indians hat! Well done, Tito and good luck, you deserve it all.
11 comment| One person found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on July 6, 2013
The only problems with this book were of the publishing nature. Buying a brand-new hardcover book with too many smeared and faded pages is unacceptable. The widows and bad breaks were sloppy and unnecessary.

I did enjoy this book even though the writing was occasionally a bit disjointed. Timelines could have been better organized. A subject in one chapter would show up in another as if never having been discussed. I enjoyed Terry's dialogue, even the f-bombs, which seemed to fly unobtrusively. He has a great personality--hilarious at times. His managerial style made the Red Sox what they were, but there could have been more of a player slant since that was the core of the team's later problems (not discounting the owners' part in that). Realizing that the manager's philosophy was not to call out any players in public, maybe more players could have contributed valuable insights. The relationship between Terry and Theo was fascinating--a rare inside view of that dynamic. Kudos for that. Nothing more from John Henry? Now, that would have been a good story. The book didn't bowl me over, but there were some interesting tidbits. (I can see where Michael Holley's Red Sox Rule came in handy.)
0Comment|Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on March 5, 2013
I know the Red Sox ownership Hates this book, which is all the more reason to buy it. But in fairness, I didn't think they came off nearly as badly as was made out in the press. All-in-all I thought it was pretty even handed, despite their atrocious behavior towards both Francona and Dan Shaughnessy.

As for the book itself, it is a fascinating look at time spent in what Michael Dukakis - then the Governor of Massachusetts - called the "toughest job in New England". Francona's sense of humor, intelligence, competence, and humanity really come through. But I think even non-baseball fans may enjoy this book. It is as much about how to conduct yourself in a high pressure job with difficult employees and equally difficult employers. There are lessons to be learned here from someone who - I think - has a remarkable intuitive knowledge of how to manage in such a situation.

The book is also very funny, and extremely well written, so if the previous paragraph seems too erudite, don't worry about it. This is a very hard book to put down. Shaughnessy is a veteran writer who knows his craft, and he spins this story like a page turning novel. I read it in two days, and I hardly ever do that. This is a book you will want to pass around to friends. Neither you nor they will likely be disappointed.
0Comment|Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on March 30, 2013
Francona is a great book. If you are a die hard Red Sox fan it is a must read. This book helps to understand some of the behind the scenes happenings that lead to the firing of the best manager in the history of The Boston Red Sox. It is a sad book as well, because you are left to wonder why Francona's firing ever had to happen. When you are done you will have even more respect and gratitude for Francona. He is a good and decent man who treats "the little people" very well, again and again. Sadly, the book doesn't paint as good a picture of some of the owners and others within the organization. It is a great read.
Again and again you come away with the feeling that all you heard in September & October of 2011 about Francona was unfair. You get confirmation of Francona's side of the story from Theo Epstein. This helps to paint the poor picture of the owners. It seems that someone set out to ruin Francona and that is terribly sad.
One day, Red Sox ownership will understand what Red Sox Nation already knows, the loss of Francona will be felt for decades to come. A sad ending to a glorious run. You are left to wonder, why it always seems to end badly for the Red Sox employees.
0Comment|Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on February 9, 2013
Personally, I thought they would have spent a little more time on the championship seasons. There's unfortunately a thread of negativity that runs through the book given it starts and ends with Terry Francona's murky departure from the Sox and they spend a lot of time trying to lay the groundwork for that and the Sox' utter implosion in 2011. Nonetheless, if you're a Tito fan and a Sox fan, you'll really like this book. There's a ton of great baseball anecdotes and some really entertaining stories about the players (like Manny and Damon). Theo comes off great. Lucchino, not so much. But no surprise there. Thanks for writing, Tito, and for enduring Shaughnessy. Best of luck in Cleveland!
0Comment|Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse