It seems like a decade ago, but Ryan Franklin actually began this season as the Cardinals’ closer.
He blew four of his first five save chances to quickly lose the job and then spent two months pitching sparingly in a mop-up role before the Cardinals released the 38-year-old veteran in late June.
Franklin never latched on with another team and attended last night’s game as a fan, telling Joe Strauss of the St. Louis Post Dispatch that he’s leaning toward retirement:
I know if it started tomorrow I’d be leaning toward staying around the house. It was pretty neat to be able to take my kids on their first day of school. My wife thought so, too.
If he wants to stop playing but still remain in the game it sounds like Franklin could join the Cardinals’ front office, with Strauss reporting that general manager John Mozeliak frequently consulted Franklin about various personnel decisions over the years and has remained in contact with him since the release.
In a season that has seen eight different pitchers save at least one game for the Cardinals, including extended closer stints for Fernando Salas, Eduardo Sanchez, Mitchell Boggs, and now Jason Motte, it’s worth remembering that it all started with Franklin filling the role after saving 82 games in the previous three years.
Royals’ right-hander Yordano Ventura was pulled in the fifth inning of Saturday’s matinee against the Tigers with an apparent injury. After throwing four pitches to start the fifth and serving up a Justin Upton double, Ventura was visited on the mound by head trainer Nick Kenney. Per Rustin Dodd of the Kansas City Star, he’s day-to-day with back spasms and lower back tightness.
It’s just another bump in the road for the defending champions, who currently sit 6.5 games back of a postseason spot with seven left to play. Through 176 innings in 2016, Ventura posted a 4.35 ERA and 1.2 fWAR, a considerable downgrade from the 4.08 ERA and 2.7 fWAR he contributed during last season’s championship year despite a moderate bounce-back in the second half.
Prior to his early exit from Saturday’s game, Ventura went four innings for the Royals, giving up three runs on 10 hits and two walks and striking out six of 24 batters faced.
If you’re looking to rep the red and royal blue this October, you best get your gear inside the ballpark. According to Lauren Zumbach of the Chicago Tribune, the Cubs have sought a court order that would allow them to seize unauthorized merchandise being hawked outside of Wrigley Field. That includes shirts with taglines like “Just One Before I Die” and apparel depicting a blue flag with a white “W.”
[The Cubs] received a trademark for “W” flags, but a trademark for use on apparel is pending. Deeming a letter of the alphabet worthy of a trademark might seem like a stretch, but around Wrigley, everyone knows what that particular W in that particular color combination means, [intellectual property attorney Douglas Masters] said.
While seven vendors have been named in the suit, the Cubs have a list of 30 more whom they suspect of trademark infringement, including retailers who primarily operate online.
Back in 2013, the Cubs ran into a similar issue when a fan dressed as alternative mascot Billy the Cub and made multiple appearances on game days outside the park. After six years in the role, Billy the Cub was ordered to cease and desist his ballpark activities by the team.
This time, however, Billy’s tip jar pales in comparison to the revenue unauthorized sellers stand to reap over the next two months. With the playoffs just around the corner and playoff merchandise sales in full swing, quashing the competition (both on the field and off) will be top priority in weeks to come.
The club’s full complaint can be found here.