Written by: Curt Ashcraft (@cashcraft740)
Edited by: Matt Shock (@shockwave_music)
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In October of 2012, the Cleveland Indians just finished their season at 68-94, were without a manager after firing Manny Acta and the future for the Wahoo Warriors was looking bleak at best. Then something happened that turned the frown upside down for all Tribe fans. It wasn’t the signing of Nick Swisher or Michael Bourn and it wasn’t even the huge television contract that the Indians signed with Fox Sports. It was the move that started it all and that was the decision to sign Terry Francona as the next manager of the Cleveland Indians.
On Tuesday evening, Major League Baseball announced that Clint Hurdle (Pittsburgh Pirates) was the 2013 National League Manager of the Year and the American League honor went to Cleveland’s own Terry Francona. The Indians may have not made a run through the playoffs or even won the World Series, but after his early success in Cleveland, Francona not only rejuvenated the future for the Tribe, he revived his own career as well.
As much excitement as there was when Francona was hired, there was still a little skepticism. As successful as Tito had been in Boston with two World Series titles, this was still a man that was fired by the Red Sox for reportedly “losing” his team and allowing the players to drink beer and eat fried chicken in the clubhouse. Now, to you and me, that sounds freaking awesome, but I can understand how that information wasn’t too appealing to the Boston front office or even the league office. However, Cleveland fans were able to put that doubt aside and welcome Francona with open arms because of his past success, and most importantly, Tito wanted to be there.
The marriage couldn’t have worked out any better. With Francona being a manager that players wanted to play for, it allowed the Indians to sign big name free agents in Nick Swisher and Michael Bourn and even welcomed guys like Scott Kazmir, Ryan Raburn and Jason Giambi who were looking to revive their own careers. In his first year at the helm, Francona turned out 24 more wins than in 2012 with a record of 92-70, was able to get the most out of trade-bust Ubaldo Jimenez and got the Indians back to the playoffs for the first time since 2007. Francona not only got wins on the field, but he brought excitement back to the ballpark. For the last five or six years, Indians fans have not had much to be proud of. What Francona did with this rag-tag group of ballplayers made fans believe in their city again, and with that support brought excitement, passion and the love for a manager that WANTED to bring his talents back to Cleveland.
With his Manager of the Year award, Tito proved to us all that he still has it. Francona still has what it takes to be the guy that players want to play for and most importantly, turn it into wins. From all of us at ‘Our Sports Report’, we would like to congratulate Terry Francona on the AL Manager of the Year award. There is nobody that was better deserving of the award and speaking for all Cleveland fans, we wouldn’t have anybody else manning our Kids of the Cuyahoga. Thanks again Tito, we will see you next season!