Francona can prepare Hall of Fame speech
Indians manager Terry Francona is polishing a Hall of Fame resume, Jeff Schudel writes. Plus, thoughts on the Browns run game and Bleacher Report’s prediction on the Cavaliers’ record.
Twenty-three managers are in the Baseball Hall of Fame. At some point, Terry Francona’s name should be added to that distinguished group.
Francona, in his sixth year managing the Indians, has been on the job 18 seasons, running the Philadelphia Phillies, Boston Red Sox and the Tribe.
Francona won two World Series with the Red Sox and guided the Indians to the seventh game of the 2016 World Series against the Cubs. He has the Indians on the verge of winning their third straight AL Central Division title.
Joe McCarthy and Casey Stengel each led the Yankees to seven World Series titles — the all-time record for managers.
Francona, 1,547-1,320 as a manager, has a .540 winning percentage despite finishing 285-363 in four seasons with the Phillies. He was 744-552 with the Red Sox and is 518405 with the Indians.
The Indians, assuming they hold onto their division lead, come October will be in the playoffs for the fourth time in six years under Francona. They weren’t eliminated in 2014 until Game 160 and weren’t eliminated in 2015 until Game 159.
According to Hall of Fame Committee rules regarding managers, a candidate must have managed at least 10 seasons and be retired at least five years. Candidates 65 or older are eligible six months after retiring.
Unlike qualified members of the Baseball Writers Association of America, who elect retired players to the Hall of Fame, managers are elected by a vote of the Veterans Committee. Francona is 59, so if he retired after this season — he has no plans to do so — he would not be eligible for Cooperstown until 2023.
Numbers alone do not tell the whole story about Francona. Players re-sign with the Indians because of him. Free agents, including Mike Napoli in 2016 and Edwin Encarnacion in 2017, sign with the Indians because they want to play for him Francona.
“It would have been very easy for someone of Tito’s accomplishments, his résumé, his success, to just say, ‘Hey, this is me, here I am.’” Indians president Chris Antonetti told The Ringer in 2017, recalling when Francona interviewed for the Indians managerial job in 2012. “And he approached that process the exact opposite. He actually took the time to write out six or seven pages of things that were important to him. .. He is always a good two, three, four steps ahead of most everyone else.”
Indians relief pitcher Cody Allen summed up perfectly the way players feel about Francona in the same Ringer article.
“No one cares what you know until they know that you care,” Allen says. “Just as individuals, Tito really, truly cares about all of us, and he wants personal, individual success for every single one of us. And he’s really good at trying to rally all of that and put it into a team atmosphere. He’s an unbelievable communicator.”
This is not a one-man crusade to get Francona enshrined in Cooperstown. Others have the same opinion.
“If Francona had won the World Series with Cleveland (in 2016), there would have been no doubt,” Will Leitch of SportsonEarth.com wrote last year, “All told, there probably isn’t much doubt anyway: Winning a World Series with the Red Sox (2004) after decades of falling short — not to mention winning another one three years later — should be enough for him.”
The Browns running attack in the preseason opener was anemic. They rushed for 50 yards on 33 carries (1.5yard average). The longest run of the night was seven yards by Matthew Dayes. Dayes and rookie quarterback Baker Mayfield combined for the team rushing lead with 13 yards.
Nick Chubb’s introduction to the NFL was 15 carries for 11 yards — not exactly what general manager John Dorsey envisioned when he used the 35th overall pick in the April draft on the running back from Georgia.
A big part of the problem was the starting offensive line blocked for only two running plays — a 1-yard loss by Carlos Hyde on the first series and a 3-yard gain by Duke Johnson on the second series.
Chubb played behind a line that consisted of Greg Robinson at left tackle, Austin Corbett (a projected starter) at left guard, Austin Reiter at center, Spencer Drango at right guard and Shon Coleman at right tackle most of the time Chubb was in the game.
Corbett is likely the only one of the five Chubb, Hyde and Johnson will be running behind when the games start to count.
The offensive line is typically the most durable unit on any team, but the game with the Giants, as well as training camp, exposed the Browns are thin on talent behind the starting offensive line.
• Free agent wide receiver Dez Bryant will visit the Browns on Aug. 16, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL Network. Conveniently for the Browns, there is no media access that day because they host the Buffalo Bills a night later in the second preseason game.
Bryant, a free agent since April when he was released by the Cowboys, tweeted on Aug. 9 he plans to begin his visits the week of Aug. 13. There is a chance he might sign with another team if he doesn’t make it to Berea before Aug. 16, but he did tweet specifically: “Starting my visits next week...I’m coming to the Land to see you, Mr. Dorsey.”
Maybe the idea of Bryant visiting later in the week would inspire Josh Gordon to get into camp. Gordon is currently working out on his own as part of his treatment plan to deal with sobriety.
A receiving corps of Jarvis Landry, Bryant, Gordon, Antonio Callaway and Rashard Higgins would be one of the best in the NFL.
• It’s no secret the Browns were disappointed by wide receiver Corey Coleman. Nor is it a secret the Dallas native did not like the cold weather he experienced in Cleveland.
Of all the teams Dorsey might have traded Coleman to, he shipped Coleman to Buffalo. Coleman will need an even wider snow shovel this coming December.
Dismal Cavs forecast
Bleacher Report has come out with its team-by-team predictions for the NBA, and it isn’t one Cavaliers fans will want to read — 30-52 after finishing 50-32 a year ago.
The Hawks, Nets, Bulls, Knicks, Hornets, Suns and Magic will be worse, if the predictions come true.
“The bottom won’t drop out on the Cavs like it did the last time LeBron James left, but they’re still looking at a deep dive down the standings,” the report reads. “Kevin Love will be a featured option for the first time in five seasons, a role he’s never filled for a winner. Rookie Collin Sexton, who turns 20 in January, means enough to this franchise’s fate he’ll probably become a starter soon. The rest of Cleveland’s roster is largely comprised of veterans brought in to complement James or still-developing youngsters with fairly low ceilings.”
I didn’t know that
... Until I read my Snapple bottle cap
Antarctica is the largest desert in the world . ... There are more tigers owned by Americans than there are in the world . ... Mosquitoes prefer to bite people with typeO blood . ... Movie trailers used to be shown at the conclusion of movies, but few people stayed to watch them. ... The British pound is the world’s oldest currency still in use.
Indians manager Terry Francona congratulates Yonder Alonso after Alonso hit a solo home run in the second inning against the Twins on Aug. 9.