Having the manager of the Boston Red Sox switch places with an analyst from ESPN's "Sunday Night Baseball" seems like the best type of practical joke. The kind you would have loved to pull on your most Red Sox-obsessed friend when he or she got back from, say, a six-month walk in the woods, if you only had the motivation and connections to pull it off.
But here's the crazy part. If you know someone who's about to crawl out from the proverbial rock, you actually have a shot at pulling this off. When next season rolls around, Terry Francona will be working as an analyst on ESPN's weekly game broadcast with Dan Shulman and Orel Hershiser as well as in the network's "Baseball Tonight" studios. Both roles were occupied last season by Bobby Valentine, who was officially hired to fill Francona's old gig at Fenway Park last week.
Francona's move to the Worldwide Leader was announced at the winter meetings in Dallas on Monday night, completing what is perhaps the first broadcaster-for-manager swap in sports history. Though it's sometimes hard to tell Bristol from Boston, it'll be interesting to see how Francona treats the Red Sox during his analysis, considering their separation after the September collapse was far from amicable.
As a viewer, I'm excited to see what Francona can bring to the Sunday night booth. He was stellar during a two-game stint with Joe Buck during the ALCS and displayed a type of everyman approach that related well to viewers while allowing Buck to loosen up a bit. With Tim McCarver still entrenched with Fox, Francona opted for the highest-profile gig available and it's a good move from the standpoint that his weekly presence will be national and not limited by region like with Fox's Saturday broadcast.
We'll see whether or not Francona simply views this as an easy way to make a few bucks before pursuing an opening managing gig for 2013. Until then, consider the other hard-to-process fact that we've gone from Joe Morgan to Francona in ESPN's booth in just over a year. No one would have ever seen that coming last October, but the result really does underscore the wonderful and transformative powers of fried chicken and beer. Simply magical, really.
Other popular stories on Yahoo! Sports:
• Brown: Marlins are players at winter meetings
• Two NBA players still stuck in China and can't get out
• Tim Tebow isn't the most vocal Christian in the NFL