Word around the campfire is that Teets Francona will be the first to take the fall for the Epic Collapse of 2011, with Sox ownership electing to not pick up his two remaining one-year options.

It’s a bloody shame as far as I can see. Hell, I would have signed Teets on as “manager for life” based solely on his willingness to don a wig for that NESN commercial a few years back. Also, that thing he did with the two World Series victories didn’t suck.

The fact that Tito managed to keep all the disparate personalities, egos, straight-up lunatics (Taravez, Millar, etc) and grossly expensive missteps (Reneteria, Lackey, Cameron, etc) in line and focused on winning says a lot about the guy’s character. Under his watch, we made it to the playoffs five times — more than any other Red Sox skipper. Tito-bashers will say that a trained chimp could have done it with the bank-busting talent ownership assembled, but I’m betting Francona’s easy-going, tea-swillin’ ass had a lot more to do with it than we think. And I’m not so sure we can do much better.

Personally, I want to thank Teets for playing a significant role in saving me from a downward mental spiral that began sometime in October 2003. And I can only hope that the next item on ownership’s list is “have John Lackey bound in a burlap sack and shipped to Borneo.”