Biting the Hand that Feeds You

I’ve been following Ryan Franklin’s lackluster start to the baseball season, and his eventual demotion, mild interest and mild amusement. You kind of have to be amused with the Cardinals pitching situation, because if you’re not, you’ll most likely end up crying over it.

Following another disappointing appearance and blown opportunity in the first game of a double-header against the Nationals, Franklin had some things to say about Cardinal Nation, and some of those things were not very nice:

“Sure, I hear it. I guess they’ve got short memories, too, because I think I’ve been pretty good here. It doesn’t bother me, but you know, it just shows some people’s true colors, you know?

You’re either a fan or you’re not. You don’t boo your own team. I don’t care who you are or what you say. Just because you spent your money to come here and watch us play and somebody happens to make one bad pitch and gives up a homer, you don’t start booing them?

I’ve been here for five years and four years, I’ve been pretty good. You should go write stories about the fans booing. They’re supposed to be the best fans in baseball. Yeah, right.”

Now, I actually agree with him about the booing.  I was taught that you don’t boo at sporting events, period. Not the opposing team, and certainly not your team. I even agree with him that just because you pay for a ticket doesn’t give you the excuse to act however you want. But I do think he’s mistaking fans’ frustrations with fans showing their “true colors.” And I really think he goes too far at the end of his tirade, with his sarcastic, “Yeah, right.”

I’ve lived in St. Louis long enough to see that the Cardinals truly do have one of the best (if not the best) fan bases in baseball. And I say that having also lived in Chicago, which is known for her long-suffering fans. There’s just something special about this baseball town, the same way there’s something special about Green Bay and Packers fans.

Common sense suggests that when you, as a paid athlete, know your fans are already frustrated, and looking for someone to blame, you don’t inflame the situation by lashing out at those fans. That’s certainly not going to win you any friends, and ends up making you look ridiculous in the process. Instead of criticizing the people who are responsible for your paycheck, maybe you should just keep your mouth shut, and work on improving yourself to get back to that “pretty good” status.

(To his credit, Franklin did apologize for his statements after the fact. It may be too little, too late, though–it’s hard to forget harsh words spoken in anger.)