Boston Red Sox: Will Meltdown Cost Terry Francona His Job?

Wes ODonnellFeatured ColumnistSeptember 29, 2011

BALTIMORE, MD - SEPTEMBER 27: Manager Terry Francona #47 of the Boston Red Sox walks back to the dugout during the eighth inning against the Baltimore Orioles at Oriole Park at Camden Yards on September 27, 2011 in Baltimore, Maryland. The Red Sox defeated the Orioles 8-7. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
Rob Carr/Getty Images

Losing is always a problem. Losing as the Boston Red Sox is an even bigger problem. Blowing a nine-game lead in September with the postseason on the line is a catastrophe.

And, with one game left in the season, the Red Sox did just that.

Their loss capped a 7-19 September debacle that allowed the Tampa Bay Rays to sneak into the playoffs with an extra-innings win over the New York Yankees.

Not only did the Red Sox blow it themselves, but they were helped along the way by a Yankees team that was swept by the Rays to close the season.

The Red Sox have nobody to blame but themselves, but watching the Yankees field a Triple-A team against the Rays only adds insult to injury.

Where do the Red Sox go from here?

Evan Longoria lifts the Rays past the Red Sox with win over Yankees.
Evan Longoria lifts the Rays past the Red Sox with win over Yankees.J. Meric/Getty Images

Their offseason acquisitions were expected to catapult them, not just ahead of the Yankees, but ahead of the rest of the league. Instead, they're on the outside looking in at a postseason that could easily turn into a Yankees-Phillies World Series yet again.

The Red Sox are going to be the Red Sox and start scheming for next season tomorrow, but the question of Terry Francona's job security is now firmly in the spotlight.

In his eight years as manger of the Red Sox, "Tito," as he is called, has won two World Series and been to the postseason five of those eight years.

As the September slide was going on, the speculation had already started. Now, with the slide complete, it will be the only thing talked about until the Red Sox tell us he's not going anywhere (which is likely.)

The players themselves have already gone to bat for Tito.

David Ortiz told the Boston Herald:

Tito can’t play the game. He can’t play. Tito just can tell us what to do and that’s about it. He can’t go out there and pitch or catch or hit. I don’t understand why people want to look at him like he has to take all of the blame. We have to take a lot of the blame for not executing at the right time.

Adrian Gonzalez echoed these sentiments saying:

It’s not Tito’s fault. He’s not on the field playing. You can’t blame the manager who has kept an even keel the whole time. That’s what he’s supposed to do. He did his job, and us as players just didn’t get it done. 

How much good players' endorsements will do is unknown.

Ortiz is up for free agency this year and could very well have taken his last at bat as a member of the Red Sox last night.

The loss falls heavily on the players more than it does Francona himself, but the problem with these situations is that somebody has to take the blame.

The Red Sox have a lot of decisions to make and keeping Francona is only one of them. 

I believe he's done enough to earn a second chance and believe he's going to be in the Boston dugout next year.

But I wouldn't be surprised at all if he wasn't, either.