I could probably write this column full time concerning sports medicine and internal medicine problems facing the Red Sox. But all I wish for the players, especially Jon Lester is recovery, regardless of the ability to play baseball again. All baseball fans wish Lester, who was diagnosed with lymph node cancer (lymphoma), the best possible recovery.
The news about Lester overshadows the improving health of Varitek, Nixon, and Gonzalez, all of whom were projected to have rehab assignments at Pawtucket. Varitek homered tonight for the Pawsox while Nixon drew the collar. Last I checked, Craig Hansen pitched a pair of scoreless innings.
What I really wanted to discuss was the 'Get Out of Jail Free' card given Terry Francona this year. Francona is an affable, sensitive, and media savvy modern skipper who has skillfully avoided confrontation with players and management during a most difficult season. Yes, he does have a core of professionals like Ortiz, Varitek, Lowell, Loretta, and Kapler, but every manager lives with mercurial or worse players, too. Living in close quarters for over half the year isn't easy, especially with the frustrations the Sox have had this season.
Francona hasn't whined about his situation, remains available to the media at least publicly as though the season progressed favorably, and doesn't seem ready for an asylum. Maybe he truly understands 1) "there's no crying in baseball", and 2) he could be in a lot worse situations.
As noted tonight, he has proven adaptable, trying to play small ball (sacrifice, steal, hit-and-run) without the big boppers. As much as the numbskulls complain about his pitching staff management, he can only run out there the guys that he has. The second half collapse of both starters and the middle of the relief corps haven't given him many alternatives.
I hope that he holds up, both physically and mentally under the stress. Good things can happen at the intersection of danger and opportunity. But plenty of accidents happen at intersections; Francona deserves better.