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Posted: Friday September 30, 2011 8:38AM ; Updated: Friday September 30, 2011 6:03PM

Francona, Red Sox part ways

By Jon Heyman, SI.com

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Terry Francona and Theo Epstein
Terry Francona and Theo Epstein worked side-by-side for eight years in Boston.

The Red Sox and manager Terry Francona have parted ways after eight seasons and two World Series titles.

The decision was apparently made last night as Francona pressed the team for an answer. It was formally announced this evening. There were differences over how things were handled this season.

The Red Sox were the favorites to get back to the Fall Classic this year but instead suffered through one of the biggest collapses in baseball history, going 7-20 in September and missing the playoffs for the second straight year.

Boston decided not to pick up the option on Francona's contract. The decision for the two sides to part ways was also reported by the Boston Globe and the New York Daily News.

The White Sox job is the only managerial opening so far and there might be one or two more coming. Francona managed in the White Sox minor league system in the 1990s, but people suspect they might go for a less-experienced manager. The Cubs could also have a managerial opening.

Francona and general manager Theo Epstein held a press conference yesterday but didn't specifically say what Francona's outlook was. "Nobody blames what happened in September on Tito,'' Epstein said referring to Francona. While Epstein suggested the clubhouse environment and shape of the players was an issue this year, he said he bears some responsibility for that.

Epstein also said, "We don't believe in scapegoats.''

Epstein and Francona have been one of the most successful GM-manager duos in baseball since Francona was hired before the 2004 season. It's no surprise there were differences of opinion this year, though, when the Red Sox suffered one of their biggest disappointments in a history that had been mostly star-crossed until this tandem got together.

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