The Boston Red Sox are ready to start making changes. Following one of the biggest collapses in recent memory, Manager Terry Francona was the first casualty of a potential front office purge. Some of Francona’s comments on the situation seemed to indicate that he had lost the clubhouse during the collapse. If Francona had already lost the team, how could the Red Sox put their faith in him to regain the clubhouse going forward? Thankfully, this isn’t the first time a team has squandered a large lead with their playoff hopes on the line. Looking back at some of baseball’s more recent collapses, we can get a better idea of how teams deal with their managers in similar situations.
1995 California Angels
What happened: Two separate late-season nine game losing streaks dropped the Angels out of first place just as the season was coming to a close. The Angels rebounded to win their last five games, only to lose a one game playoff to the Seattle Mariners.
And their manager: Marcel Lachemann kept his job following the collapse, but was fired the next season; after posting a 52-59 record.
2007 New York Mets
What happened: The Mets lost 12 of their last 17 games and failed to qualify for the playoffs after holding a a seven game lead on September 12th.
And their manager: Willie Randolph also kept his job following the Mets’ choke. That didn’t last long, however, as he was fired on June 17th the following season.
2008 New York Mets
What happened: The Mets went 7-10 down the stretch and failed to make the post-season after their second consecutive September swoon.
And their manager: Following the dismissal of Randolph in June, the Mets promoted Jerry Manuel. Despite the Mets’ failures down the stretch, Manuel signed a two-year deal to remain with the Mets. In those two seasons, Manuel led the Mets to two consecutive fourth place finishes in the division. He was fired following the 2010 season.
2009 Detroit Tigers
What happened: The Tigers held a seven game lead on September 7th; only to blow it to the surging Twins — who won 16 of their last 20 games.
And their manager: Jim Leyland took ownership of the collapse and kept his job. After leading the Tigers to an 81-81 record the following season, Leyland’s Tigers are currently one win away from another ALCS appearance.
2010 San Diego Padres
What happened: The surprise team of 2010 couldn’t keep the magic going down the stretch. A ten-game losing streak eventually knocked them out of first place; allowing the division rival San Francisco Giants to win the World Series.
And their manager: Despite the collapse, Bud Black was named the 2010 Manager of the Year. This season, the Padres weren’t as fortunate; finishing fifth in the NL West.
2011 Atlanta Braves
What happened: The Braves suffered a late-season meltdown that rivaled the Red Sox’s collapse.
And their manager: Fredi Gonzalez is still the manager…for now.
Looking at some of the more recent baseball collapses, it’s easy to see why the Red Sox decided to make a change. While many managers kept their jobs following September failures, their teams failed to respond in the following seasons. The jury is still out on Black and Gonzalez, but Jim Leyland is the only manager on this list that has led his team back to the post-season following an epic collapse. Francona may be the more successful than any manager on this list — and it’s possible he could’ve been the exception to the rule — but it looks like once a manager loses control of the clubhouse, it’s incredibly tough to get it back.