So ‘it’ finally happened.
I’m sitting in my chair, watching the Cards v Dodgers game and needing to go to the gym. I keep putting off leaving for about 6 half innings, before finally sucking it up and getting in the car.
I turned on KMOX for possibly the first time in 5 years, not wanting to miss any action during my 6 minute drive. When ‘it’ hit me… I was finally, actually into the 2011 Cardinals season.
For whatever reason, Opening Day and the home series that followed weren’t all that exciting to me. I can’t put my finger on why, but I was just kind of blah. The slow start didn’t help matters at all. And quite candidly, I was kind of wondering if I’d just lost interest in this team or in baseball.
I’m happy to report I’m back in. The switch has been flipped. So watching a 6-4 road trip get capped off with a cockshot HR in the bottom of the 9th off Ryan Franklin (again) is a little more upsetting than it was opening day. In fact, it’s infuriating.
But maybe not for the reason you’re pissed off.
Bottom of the 9th, up 1 run, on the road. That’s when you give the ball to the closer and he lives or dies. Tony LaRussa effectively neutered Franklin as the closer by bringing in Trevor Miller for a L v L match-up. In a pure baseball game played in a vacuum maybe this makes sense.
But this is real life, and by not giving the pill to Franklin at the onset of the inning, you’re screaming to the world that this situation isn’t working and that you’re not confident, in any way, that this guy can get 3 outs without surrendering a run. Miller ends up surrendering a double and then the next batter cranks a deep ball over the CF fence. Game over.
Franklin isn’t a bad guy. By all accounts he’s a stand-up guy. This season, he was asked by the Cardinals to come back and play, not the other way around. If the Cards would have told him that he’d be competing for the closer role or that they were thinking about going in a new direction, Franklin was going to retire.
So it’s fair to ask now, if this option is on the table.
Franklin doesn’t want to be a set-up guy in a bullpen mix. He got his chance to be the man in St. Louis and has done fair to OK in the grand scheme of things. But unrest is at an all time high and Franklin, who decided this past winter to jump head first into Twitter, is hearing directly from people that adulated him before the season, just how bad he’s sucking right now.
I know that effects the dude. He’s hearing those doubts rattling around in his head. He’s evaluating if he wants to go through the uphill battle that’s ahead. To know that even if he goes 19 for 19 in saves, but blows the 20th… people are going to flip shit.
Matt Sebek, of JoeSportsFan.com has mentioned to me that he thinks Franklin might retire before the season ends. And at this point, I’m going to have to agree.
These next few weeks will be very interesting for Franklin. And his career might hang in the balance.
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