The Boston Red Sox are on the verge of making a decision on Terry Francona's status for 2012.
The decision should be very simple: he needs to stay on as the Red Sox manager.
Though the epic collapse of Boston probably deserves some blame, the decision-making by Francona appeared to be fine throughout the disastrous September stretch. In the final game, it was Jonathan Papelbon would conceded two runs in the ninth inning to lose the game, and there isn't a manager in baseball who wouldn't have put their closer in the ninth, especially when that closer has done a solid job as Papelbon has in 2011.
Francona has basically been scandal-free in his time in Boston and has delivered two World Series titles to a franchise that believed they've been cursed by a player who hadn't swung a bat since 1935.
More than likely, Francona will, in fact, be fired. There are some fans and media pundits who want to point the finger at Francona, and make him the scapegoat, and even that small momentum is pointing towards the end of the line for the skipper who took over the club in 2004 after Grady Little was run out of town for keeping Pedro Martinez on the mound in a critical playoff game.
There has yet to be a formal announcement, but many sources believe that Francona has managed his last Red Sox game.
Boston's collapse in September and the final game have been obviously demoralizing for the franchise, but the odds that such a thing could happen are extraordinary.
Nate Silver of the New York Times put it this way:
The Red Sox had just a 0.3 percent chance of failing to make the playoffs on Sept. 3.
The Rays had just a 0.3 percent chance of coming back after trailing 7-0 with two innings to play.
The Red Sox had only about a 2 percent chance of losing their game against Baltimore, when the Orioles were down to their last strike.
The Rays had about a 2 percent chance of winning in the bottom of the 9th, with Johnson also down to his last strike.
Multiply those four probabilities together, and you get a combined probability of about one chance in 278 million of all these events coming together in quite this way.
Francona detractors should factor in that such a breakdown will likely never happen again.
Judge Francona on his career, not September 2011.