...in fact, he can be kind of a dick.
I promised you a Seth Curry Saves Duke! exclusive, and now I deliver. This particular gem comes from my pal Nick (last name omitted), a sports reporter working in Florida. Yesterday, he was assigned to cover the Red Sox in Fort Myers. Nick is a young fellow much like myself, trying to get a foothold as a journalist, and he found himself among a more experienced Boston media in the home dugout when Francona emerged to face the press. Nick's turn came, and in the run-up to his question, he made the mistake of calling Francona "coach."
Francona cut him off. "Did you think you were covering the Patriots today?" he asked. The words were harsh and annoyed. It wasn't some kind of friendly, paternal jibe. The other reporters on the scene laughed.
"No," said Nick, "I thought this was baseball."
"Well what's your question," Francona shot back. Still terse, still unfriendly. Nick gamely pressed on, but when he started to ask his question, Francona interrupted again. "This oughta be good." The Boston regulars, the intended audience of the dig, obliged by laughing again.
To Nick's credit, he didn't start crying on the spot like I might have. He actually managed to ask the question. Afterward, a Boston writer approached him and half apologized. He told him that Francona only likes to be called 'Terry' or 'Tito,' and pointed out Nick's obvious mistake in confusing 'coach' and 'manager.' He told him not to worry about it, and implied that Francona is always a bit testy in the spring.
So here's what we learned from the first ever SCSD! exclusive:
1) Francona apparently behaves like a diva and will only answer to certain names.
2) He doesn't mind humiliating a young writer in a room full of veterans over a trifling mistake.
3) Once he initially makes someone feel bad in front of a crowd, he'll press his advantage like a true bully.
4) He must fit in really well in Boston.
5) Nick has some balls for withstanding his mockery and pressing on with his question.
Later that night, Nick went to a launch party where Joe Mauer was supposed to be in attendance. Mauer didn't show up. Needless to say, April 1st did not make Nick's list of favorite days. And it wasn't even because of a prank! It was because of this douchebag:
UPDATE: Audio of this exchange to come tonight!
UPDATE 2: Apparently all managers hate to be called 'coach.' This doesn't even come close to vindicating Francona, but this article by Shaughnessy from 2008 contains the following excerpt:
Francona seemed particularly relaxed when the Sox were in Anaheim. Even when an official Major League Baseball transcript identified him as "Coach Francona."
Like all major league managers, the Sox skipper hates to be addressed as "coach." It's a baseball thing. In professional hardball, "coaches" are aides-de-camp who work for the manager. Some guys never rise beyond the level of "coach," which is why "managers" are insulted by a salutation that reminds them of their hungry years. It's a pretty safe bet that Francona would choose to be addressed as "Ax Murderer Francona" or "Convicted Felon Francona" before he answers to "Coach Francona."