A two-time World Series champion and three-time Manager of the Year, Terry Francona is one of the very best in the business at what he does. He’s also a hot mess, as evidenced by his clumsy efforts to deliver his annual speech at Guardians spring training.
A month removed from having his trademark scooter stolen from his home in downtown Cleveland (police would recover it days later), the longtime skipper was nervous about addressing his players ahead of Tuesday’s team meeting, declining a dinner invitation to stay home and make edits, according to beat reporter Zach Meisel of The Athletic. Francona would end up boiling pasta for some late-night sustenance but didn’t cook it properly, leaving him with a broken tooth. Still rattled, the 63-year-old was dripping in sweat when he finally gave his speech, which was barely legible after a coffee mishap earlier that morning.
In fairness to Tito, public speaking will drive anyone up a wall. Comedian Jerry Seinfeld explored this phenomenon in one of his more famous standup bits, quipping, “To the average person, if you have to be at a funeral, you’d rather be in the casket than doing the eulogy.” Francona has found interesting ways—none of them particularly healthy—to cope with anxiety throughout his career, once stress-eating 17 popsicles in one sitting.
This part of the job may not come naturally to Francona, but surely his players appreciate the effort, going out of his comfort zone to perform a lengthy, all-encompassing monologue ahead of the team’s exhibition slate, which begins with Saturday’s Cactus League opener against the Reds, their cotenant at Goodyear Ballpark in Arizona.
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