Neil Best leaves no stone unturned in the world of sports media.


Terry Francona has TV star potential

Terry Francona of the Boston Red Sox watches

Terry Francona of the Boston Red Sox watches batting practice before the game against the Baltimore Orioles at Camden Yards. (Sept. 28, 2011) (Credit: Getty)

It isn't often that I watch an entire, early-in-the-series baseball playoff game that does not involve a local squad, but I felt I had to Monday for Game 2 of the ALCS, given that I was writing about Fox's Joe Buck and Terry Francona for my Tuesday newspaper column.

Lo and behold, it was quite the entertaining game, even if it was a 4:25 marathon played at Yankees-Red Sox pace.

The game itself was a thriller, and the announcers enhanced it. Buck and Francona again showed a relaxed chemistry born of a relationship that dates back to 1990.

And Francona was surprisingly unafraid to question strategy, given that he does not plan on a TV career and intends to be back in a manager's uniform soon.

Most notably, he wondered why Rangers manager Ron Washington did not pinch run for Adrian Beltre after a leadoff double in the ninth, a decision that could have cost Texas the game when Beltre failed to score from third on a medium-deep fly ball to left.

Francona also was a breath of fresh air in that he did not talk nearly as much as most modern TV analysts, who feel a need to fill every available second when the play-by-play man is not speaking.

If Francona ever does decide to hang it up as a manager, every network will have a spot waiting for him.

One other thing about Francona's appearance: There was a moment in the middle of the seventh when some viewers thought he was taking a shot at ESPN by implying ESPN would not have stayed on the air for the singing of "God Bless America," as Fox did.

That was not what he was getting at. Francona was making a reference to an earlier moment when Joe Buck defined "a can of corn" seconds before the top of the seventh ended on, yup, a can of corn to the outfield.

Francona jokingly said, "Let's see ESPN do that," but he did not mean showing "God Bless America," he meant pulling off the can of corn reference in a timely fashion.

At least that's what I think he meant.

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