The Boston Red Sox fired their manager John Farrell yesterday. He then made a surprising statement thanking everyone he worked with, including the ownership and management team that just fired him.
You need a little context to fully understand his statement. Farrell’s five years with the Red Sox featured extremes, including a surprising World Series win in 2013 and last-place finishes in the two subsequent years. In the most recent two seasons the Red Sox have finished first in their division and then rapidly exited in their first postseason series. Farrell took a leave to get treatment for cancer in the middle of his stint, then returned to manage the following season. He was a players’ manager, supporting his players whenever possible, including in cases where the players had behaved badly and probably needed a bit more discipline.
As you read this statement, it helps to understand that the Red Sox fan base is knowledgeable, intense, and unforgiving and the team is hyperaware of their image. Farrell’s boss, Red Sox President of Baseball Operations Dave Dombrowksi, gave no reasons for dumping him.
Here’s what Farrell wrote, posted as a press release on the Red Sox site.
Statement from John Farrell
Press Release | October 11th, 2017
Despite an end to this season that we all wanted to be different, I am proud of this ball club and the resiliency shown. I have enjoyed every moment of this job — its peaks and its valleys. There are few, if any, positions in life that create so much passion on a daily basis.
I am grateful to an ownership group that gave me such a unique opportunity, and one that shared my desire to bring World Series championships to this great city. They supported me through a challenging and scary period in my own life, and I remain forever indebted.
I am grateful to two front office groups that worked tirelessly to provide me with the players that could consistently match up with the very best in the game. Their time and resources made my job so much easier and fulfilling.
I am thankful for fellow coaches who are far more than that — they are close friends. They have provided the necessary direction, guidance, and humor that have made the daily activities of a long season all that much more enjoyable.
I am especially grateful for five years of great players — and people. This game has always been built around and for the players, and I have tried to respect that for five years in Boston. I have witnessed Hall of Famers, memorable Fenway wins, and countless private moments that will always be with me. Those relationships will remain cherished for years.
The legions of fans who support this franchise keep their manager on his toes day in and day out. There are no days off when managing this proud franchise. I would not have wanted it any other way.
Again, I thank John Henry, Tom Werner, Michael Gordon, and the ownership team for their faith in me and wish them nothing but the best moving forward.
Could you do this?
Today, two days removed from the end of the Red Sox season, everyone involved feels sour. Fans wanted more, and have second-guessed many of Farrell’s in-game decisions. Sox management has seen high-priced talent do well over 162 games, then underperform when it mattered — and there’s no clear reason to believe things are going to improve. Players are disappointed in themselves for getting to the doorway of greatness and stumbling on the threshold.
But John Farrell took a look back over five years and saw things differently.
He remembered how the Red Sox courted him when he was manager of the Toronto Blue Jays, trading a player to get him.
He remembered how, when Dombrowski took over from the previous regime, he retained Farrell rather than hiring a new manager.
He remembered how the team didn’t dump him when he had cancer, despite a poor performance that year.
He remembered what it felt like to mentor incredibly promising rookies like Andrew Benintendi, Mookie Betts, and the 20-year Rafael Devers who, called up in desperation late this season, thrived, eventually hitting an inside-the-park home run in the Red Sox’ final game of the postseason.
Most of all, he remembered what it felt like to play in a city with the most passionate fans in baseball and win a World Series.
If all you care about is winning, then you’re going probably going to be disappointed. Twenty-nine teams and 29 managers are going to end this year without winning the World Series. The reason it’s lonely at the top is that most people never get there.
When you’ve failed, and you’re groveling in the dirt and resenting those who did you wrong, think of John Farrell, Red Sox manager, cancer survivor, World Series champion. Show a little class. It won’t just be good for your career. It will be good for your soul.