Ryan Franklin is still a Cardinal, and we are still the best fans in baseball


Ryan Franklin has had a rough start to the 2011 season.   OK, that is an understatement of gigantic proportion.  His early season performance was being compared against the “worst ever”, and it has actually gone downhill since then.   And Franklin made matters worse by calling out the St. Louis fans for expressing their displeasure in a recent outing.

Or did he ?

Since Cardinals fans are among the best in baseball, it might be time for us to step back and get a little perspective on this situation.

How many of us have made a mistake at work or at home ?  I expect to see every hand raised high on that one.   If you are not raising your hand, that is in fact a mistake, and you should raise your hand now.

Unless you happen to take down an email server for 30,000 users (no, I’ve never done that) or are named Adam Osborne, you probably don’t know what it feels like to be Ryan Franklin.   Maybe you’ve done something stupid and a spouse or loved one really gave it to you, not letting you forget what you did.   Multiply that by Avogadro’s Number (6.023 * 10^23) and then you may begin to appreciate what it’s like for every move, every facial expression and every word to be scrutinized by 40,000 (well, it was more like 2,000 due to a rainout) fans, sportswriters and bloggers.  That’s what Ryan Franklin is going through at the moment, and I wouldn’t wish that on anybody.

Most of our mistakes are made in private, or at least with some degree of global anonymity.   If we are fortunate, our circle of friends and family will rally together and quickly erect a protective shield around us, telling us that the supporters outnumber those who might attack us, and that they will be here for the duration, no matter what.  Professional athletes don’t have the same safety net and withdrawal is not an option.

Here’s what Ryan Franklin actually said.

You don't boo your own team.  I don't care who you are or what
you say or just because you spent your money to come here to watch
us play that somebody happens to make one bad pitch and give up
a homer and you are going to start booing? 

They are supposed to be the best fans in baseball.  Yeah, right.
                                  -- Ryan Franklin, April 20, 2011

If we are going to get upset over his criticism of the fans, then we should also apply some degree of scrutiny over the other parts of his statement.   If nothing else, we should be consistent, right ?

“One bad pitch” is where I immediately become defensive of Ryan Franklin.   Not because the statement is true – it isn’t.  I watched those games and he has served more meatballs this season than Pasta House Company on all-you-can-eat spaghetti night.   That statement shows that he has lost perspective on the situation, so whatever follows might have the same flaw.  And it does.   The only thing that quote tells us is that Ryan Franklin is a human being and is frustrated by what has happened.

In the last few interviews with Fox Sports Midwest, Franklin’s body posture and word choice showed a baseball player that had been defeated.   In one interview, all he said was “It’s tough”, over and over.  No in-depth discussion about a batter’s tendency to look for a first pitch fastball, or that he might be vulnerable to an inside breaking ball.  That’s Tony La Russa’s territory – the attorney who can form a quick analysis and deliver it with skill and precision – like the way Franklin pitched in 2009 and 2010.   But that’s how Ryan Franklin talks to the media, and that does have to be factored in to the equation.

Perhaps I’m a bit protective of Franklin in this situation because I have been forced into a role of public speaking in my career, and it is harder than you think.   Oh, it is great fun to snap off a quip on Twitter or throw up a blog (like this one – thank you for reading, I truly appreciate it!), but it is an entirely different situation where an incorrect word or wrong analogy can cost your employer a significant revenue opportunity.

Booing at baseball is a controversial topic, and I’ll steer clear of that one for now.  Bill Ivie has written an excellent piece on that subject, so I’ll refer you to The Best Fans in Baseball over at I-70 Baseball instead of duplicating much of what he said.

Ryan Franklin did try to make amends by offering up an apology of sorts.   It was not necessary, but the gesture shows a lot about what is under the uniform and that misshapen Chia Pet resting on his chin.   Cardinals fans should do similarly and give him the benefit of a clean slate the next time he comes in from the bullpen – and of course, we will.  We will do so because we need Ryan Franklin as dependable contributor out of the bullpen, whether or not he is pitching in the ninth inning.

Franklin’s comments were made in frustration.   Cardinals fans are showing their displeasure out of a similar frustration.   Frustration that several Chris Carpenter starts have been wasted, and an 8-8 record could be 12-4, and an early lead in what may be a long and drawn out divisional race where every win will be significant.

A series of two-out runs, thanks to Colby Rasmus and Lance Berkman, and a brilliant performance by Mitchell Boggs to earn his first career save can go a long way to making us forget all about the first 2 1/2 weeks of the baseball season.   If we still need something to turn our attention away from this unfortunate situation – the Cincinnati Reds come into Busch Stadium next.

Play Ball!

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11 Responses to Ryan Franklin is still a Cardinal, and we are still the best fans in baseball

  1. LS Murphy says:

    I’m not a huge fan of booing, but Ryan Franklin, frustrated or not, lumped all fans in with the boo-birds. Yeah, I’m just as frustrated as everyone else is about his performance, BUT that doesn’t give him permission to let knock the fans.
    We’ve all done stupid things, and made stupid mistakes. It’s just a part of life. But we aren’t all in the spotlight. Franklin could’ve decline to talk to the media. He could’ve kept his mouth shut. But he didn’t.
    And the fans have every right to be angry.

    • Thanks for the comment, Linda.

      That was my reaction at first as well. I didn’t like being lumped in with a small number of Cardinals fans that were giving it to him. After making a couple of ugly faces, I realized that I don’t think he was talking about you and me, or most of the Cardinals fans.

      If this had been buddy that said something like that, I’d have said something like “Do you really mean that ? That’s a bit harsh, isn’t it ?”. I’ve done that on Twitter on a couple of occasions too 🙂

      You are right, he should have either declined to speak or stuck to the standard script, but he didn’t. I’m willing to turn my back on that. Now, a couple of those pitches that were hit into low Earth orbit, not so much!

  2. Brent says:

    Agree with everything you said, except 1 thing.

    Just look at twitter and some other blogs and comments. People aren’t going to forgive and give him a clean slate. Next trip in from the pen will be boos. Next hit, walk, or bad pitch will be boos.

    It’s a shame.

    • Thanks for the comment, Brent. And keep up the good work with the blogging.

      Yeah, maybe the clean slate thing was more hopeful than reality, but maybe if he gets into some low leverage situations and can find his groove again, things will improve – both for Franklin and the fans.

  3. Shecky2 says:

    I can’t brush this off because this is not the first time Franklin has mouthed off to the media when he didn’t have to. He was asked about Brendan Ryan, a player who was traded and no longer with the team, and instead of deferring comment (which would have been the smart thing to do, given the situation) he decides to throw gasoline on the fire and furthern demean a former teammate. Whatever Brendan allegedly did or didn’t do he no longer had the ability to annoy Franklin, but that apparently was not enough. I have had no use for the man since and this recent incident just reinforced an already low opinion.

  4. Bill Ivie says:

    Just a thought that was not included in my own article and I honestly have not read anywhere (until having a conversation with a friend today)…

    In this situation, there are two people (in essence): the fan and the ballplayer.

    One is a professional, the other is, by definition, an outspoken personality concerning the professional’s actions.

    Seems to me only one of those two acted in the manner we would expect them to. As a professional in many fields, I have heard many times to “shut up and do your job”. It’s not pleasant to hear and even less so to do. But when you make millions of dollars to stand in front of millions of people over 162 games, you should probably try to practice it.

    • Thanks Bill,

      I had wanted to take on the “you make millions” thing, but was running out the door and didn’t have time to do that justice.

      You hit on a couple of important elements, but there is a third. Where is the line that separates Franklin the employee and Franklin the person ? Is it in the locker room, outside in the parking lot ? I don’t know where the Franklin comment was obtained and under what circumstances.

      I have a feeling the apology later that evening was a case of somebody telling Franklin to “shut up and do his job” 🙂

  5. deckacards says:

    Problem is, Bill…everyone lives by the “Fan and Professional” distinction…but no one questions the validity or boundaries of that distinction.

    As bloggers and Twitter-ites, we above all others should understand the desire to develop more accessible relationships with professional athletes. We LONG for players to escape the boundaries of “professionalism” and “please please please! talk to us like a person!” We want a more human relationship with professional athletes…and yet we only want it on our terms. We want them to say “pleasant and nice things to us” but we don’t want any of the accountability that a human relationship demands.

    The “Fan and Professional” distinction and associated behavior expectations are one more example of the “do it like this because its always been done/expected that way”. At what point do we look at those behavior expectations and say, “You know…maybe it’s time for a change”?

    Ballplayers are human beings…and deserve to be treated as such no matter their job, fame, public standing, or paychecks. And fans are human beings as well…and should be expected to act like it regardless of their status, rights, tickets, or anonymity.

    – Kevin Reynolds, @deckacards, http://www.cardsnstuff.worpress.com

  6. deckacards says:

    One more thing…that expected “Fan and Professional” distinction comes with expected interaction guidelines…guidelines developed by a snail-paced newspaper reporting world where statements are considered, re-considered, then stated and published.

    That world is long gone.

    We now live in an internet age with on-demand, immediate “Tony TV” and post-game interviews. And yet we’ve never adjusted our expectations. The accessibility and communication medium has changed…but our expectations of interaction with players/coaches and fans has not.

    Maybe it should?

    – Kevin Reynolds, @deckacards, http://www.cardsnstuff.wordpress.com

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