ST. LOUIS - SEPTEMBER 17: Reliever Ryan Franklin #31 of the St. Louis Cardinals pitches against the San Diego Padres at Busch Stadium on September 17 2010 in St. Louis Missouri. The Cardinals beat the Padres 14-4. (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)
"(Cardinals fans) are supposed to be the best fans in baseball. Yeah right."
Well, there’s a chance Franklin said that like this...
(Cardinals fans) are supposed to be the best fans in baseball. Yeah! (That’s) right!
Maybe. But let’s just assume that the quotes Franklin gave Fox Sports Midwest indicated a displeasure with the decision by some Cardinals fans to boo his pitching.
Booing is as much a part of baseball as Cracker Jacks and ground-rule doubles. When Schenectady "Jowls" Marburton failed to pitch a full 15 innings back in 1891, you can bet he left the field to a smattering of boos. It’s really the only way that fans have to register a complaint in real time. Well, I guess now it’s possible for 36,000 people to whip out a smart phone and send a really nasty @ to the player’s Twitter account, but that would lose some of the spontaneity. There is an organic aspect to booing something that displeases you about a baseball game.
But there are two things to remember, one for the players, and one for the fans:
Reminder for the players
Unless it’s a John Rocker situation, the fans aren’t booing you. The fans didn’t come to the park to boo Ryan Franklin, the human. If the boos had subtitles, they would read:
Management, hear our pleas! We are wholly dissatisfied with the way this roster was organized and implemented! We, the paying customer, dispute that this is, in fact, the best permutation of baseball talent you can implement at this time!
Except with more curse words and drunken threats. But when fans are booing Ryan Franklin, they aren’t hoping that he feels so badly that he retires -- they’re saying "Maybe Ryan Franklin shouldn’t be the closer" the only way they know how, as a collective. It’s an important distinction.
Reminder for the fans
That’s a player’s livelihood. It shouldn’t make a difference that they make more than minimum wage -- it’s never justified to get especially nasty with a player who is trying his hardest. Boo. Maybe turn around to the executive suites when you do it, or look in the manager’s direction. But don’t scream in the player’s face as he trudges back to the dugout. Don’t get personal. Thousands and thousands of hours of practice led to that specific failure you’re booing. The guy on the other side feels pretty bad too.
Pretty simple things to keep in mind. And with Franklin’s comments causing a mini-stir, it’s also worth noting that a) the St. Louis fans were probably booing without going overboard, and b) Franklin is perfectly justified to spout off like he did, think better of it when things calm down, and then issue an apology. There really isn’t anyone at fault; there’s just baseball, a game filled with successes and failures, where the failures meet with a reaction as old as the Roman Colosseum.