Indians GM: Terry Francona Has ‘Changed Our Culture In So Many Ways’

Cleveland general manager Mike Chernoff dropped by CBS Sports Radio on Friday to discuss baseball’s new labor agreement and reflect on the Indians’ run to the World Series.

We’ll start with the former.

On Wednesday evening, Major League Baseball and the players’ union reached a new five-year collective bargain agreement that will run through the 2021 season. The agreement was reached roughly three hours before the previous CBA would have expired.

 

“The best part of it is just the certainty moving forward,” Chernoff said on After Hours with Amy Lawrence. “I think it’s a great thing for the game that we continue to have labor peace. It’s a huge credit to Major League Baseball and to the union for being able to reach that.”

As outlined in the new agreement, the All-Star Game will no longer decide home-field advantage in the World Series.

“I think players felt like maybe it wasn’t the ideal place to be deciding home-field advantage,” Chernoff said. “Look, for us, this year the home-field advantage ended up not being a huge factor and we ended up losing on our home field. So I don’t think it’s a huge change. I think to have the better record of the league champions define home-field advantage is fine.”

As for the 2016 World Series, Chernoff is still reflecting on his team’s bittersweet run. The Indians were vying for their first World Series title since 1948, but they lost Game 7 at home, 8-7, in 10 innings.

“It was painful at the end,” Chernoff said. “To get so close and especially to be up 3-1 in the series, and then even in the last game to have come back and tied it and go into extra innings and not be able to win, that’s painful and it’s hard to get over that. As time has passed and you start to reflect on it more and hear from our fan base and talk to our players, I think there is a lot for people in the organization and our fans to be proud of. One of the best things that we saw was how our team kind of came together. There were these selfless acts. Andrew Miller coming in in the fifth inning of games to do whatever it took to try to win. There were incredible moments of overcoming adversity. We had two of our top starters – Carlos Carrasco and Danny Salazar – essentially not be able to pitch throughout the postseason. Instead of seeing those setbacks as things we couldn’t get over and harping on the past, our guys took it on as an opportunity. So I think in a lot of ways there was a lot that we can kind of reflect on and feel really positive about, even as we’re still in that moment of painful reflection and hoping to build on it and get that one extra game for next year.”

Chernoff credited Terry Francona for helping to instill a winning environment in Cleveland.

“Tito, he’s really changed our culture in so many ways,” Chernoff said. “When he first got here, he talked a lot about breaking down barriers between players and himself and coaches and between coaching staff and front office and just throughout the entire organization. He brings people together. As a leader, he is incredible at bringing people together. So he’s done that for our organization. He’s a tremendous game manager. He prepares like nobody I’ve ever seen, and more importantly, he gets the most out of his players. Guys want to play for him.

“We talked about guys overcoming adversity and guys stepping up to opportunities, even at times when you wouldn’t expect them to,” Chernoff continued. “I think a lot of that is because of the culture that Tito developed within the clubhouse and the environment that people felt like they could take risks. They let like they had the whole team behind them. In so many ways, Tito is a huge part of – and primarily responsible for – the entire environment within our clubhouse and the culture within our organization.”

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