Franklin: “They’re supposed to be the best fans in baseball”

43 Comments

Veteran reliever Ryan Franklin has allowed a whopping seven earned runs in 6 2/3 innings so far this season. He has blown four saves in five chances and has surrendered four home runs.

The guy has made mistake after mistake on the mound and has been mercifully stripped of closing duties. But his biggest flub yet came Wednesday inside the Busch Stadium clubhouse.

Franklin told B.J. Rains of FOX Sports Midwest that he was thrown off by the boos he heard on Wednesday after allowing an eighth-inning 417-foot homer to Nationals outfielder Laynce Nix and a subsequent walk to catcher Ivan Rodriguez.

It was supposed to be a low-pressure relief appearance designed to help Franklin rebuild his confidence, but he didn’t look sharp and the fans at Busch decided to make their feelings known.

“I guess they have short memories too because I think I’ve been pretty good here,” Franklin told Rains. “It doesn’t bother me but it just shows some people’s true colors. You’re either a fan or you’re not.”

The quotes only get more heated as Rains’ column goes on:

“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 him? I’ve been here for five years and four years I’ve been pretty good.”

And here’s the one that Franklin is going to really regret:

“You should go write stories about the fans booing. They are supposed to be the best fans in baseball. Yeah right.”

Will Leitch said it best in his HBT Daily chat with Craig earlier this week. Cardinals fans are nice. They don’t often boo their own players, and when they do it’s usually the result of a series of bad results. Chris Carpenter isn’t going to hear booing after one or two rough starts. Yadier Molina isn’t going to hear boo birds after an 0-for-20 stretch. But poor showing after poor showing is going to yield negative fan reaction, and that’s a fact in every baseball stadium around the country.

Franklin blew a potential Opening Day victory on March 31 against the Padres, two potential wins out in San Francisco last week, and he blew his fourth save of the season on Sunday when he allowed a walkoff home run to Dodgers outfielder Matt Kemp. If the Cardinals came away with even two of those wins, they would lead the National League Central right now.

Nobody likes to be scolded. Nobody likes having their job performance judged. But Franklin is 38 years old and has been doing this baseball thing his entire life. If he can’t accept that paying customers in St. Louis are voicing their dissatisfaction with the way he’s pitched to this point, it may be time for a career change.

I hear bass fishing is nice.

***********

UPDATE: Matthew Leach of MLB.com passes along a statment from Franklin. He’s apologizing:

“Obviously these last 2 1/2 weeks have been frustrating for me, and I’m frustrated with myself. I can understand why the fans are frustrated. I’ve loved my time here in St. Louis. It’s my favorite place to play. It’s just a frustrating time for me right now, because I feel like I’m letting everyone down.”

There’s more. Head over to Leach’s blog for the goods.

MLB to crack down on sign stealing

Getty Images
Leave a comment

We’ve had a couple of notable incidents of sign stealing in Major League Baseball over the past couple of years. Most famously, the Red Sox were found to be using Apple Watches of all things to relay signs spied via video feed. Sports Illustrated reported yesterday that there have been other less-publicized and unpublicized incidents as well, mostly with in-house TV cameras — as opposed to network TV cameras — stationed in the outfield and trained on catchers, for the specific purpose of stealing signs.

As such, SI reports, Major League Baseball is cracking down beginning this year. Within the next couple weeks an already-drafted and circulated rule will take effect which will (a) ban in-house outfield cameras from foul pole to foul pole; (b) will limit live broadcasts available to teams to the team’s replay official only, and the replay official will be watched by a league official to keep them from relaying signs to the team; and (c) other TV monitors that are available to the clubs will be on an eight-second delay to prevent real-time sign stealing. There will likewise be limits on TV monitors showing the game feed in certain places like tunnels and clubhouses.

Penalties for violation of the rules will include the forfeiting of draft picks and/or international spending money. General managers will have to sign a document in which they swear they know of know sign-stealing schemes.

As was the case when the Apple Watch incident came up, there will not be any new rules regarding old fashioned sign stealing by runners on second base or what have you, as that is viewed as part of the game. Only the technology-aided sign stealing that has become more prominent in recent years — but which has, of course, existed in other forms for a very, very long time — is subject to the crackdown.

While gamesmanship of one form or another has always been part of baseball, the current wave of sign-stealing is seen as a pace-of-play issue just as much as a fairness issue. Because of the actual sign-stealing — and because of paranoia that any opponent could be stealing signs — clubs have gone to far more elaborate and constantly changing sign protocols. This requires mound meetings and pitchers coming off the rubber in order to re-start the increasingly complex series of signs from dugout to catcher and from catcher to pitcher.

Now, presumably, with these new rules coming online, teams will figure out a new way to cheat. It’s baseball, after all. It’s in their DNA.