There will be those who say the expensively assembled team needed a scapegoat after losing a nine-game wildcard lead on the Tampa Bay Rays in the space of a month. And they may well be right. You can't spend like Louis XVI, come away with nothing, and not expect a little revolution. Someone had to lose their head.
Yet in the wake of a collapse that even number-crunching computers thought virtually impossible, there is something else altogether more necessary than a scapegoat at Fenway. And that could be the bigger reason Francona is not coming back.
That is leadership.