Put A Sock In It, John Franco!

Charles CaraccioloContributor IJuly 3, 2009

25 Aug 1996:  Pitcher John Franco of the New York Mets looks on during a game against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles, California.  The Dodgers won the game, 6-5. Mandatory Credit: Jed Jacobsohn  /Allsport

If there's one thing Met fans know about their fandom, it's this: it takes some thick skin to root for this team.

We have to contend with the constant noise from Yankee fans who revel in tearing down our "little brother" of a team, while also crowing about championships they won in the 20's and 30's. 

Throw in the umpteen beat reporters from the various Tri-State newspaper outlets, the Petri Dish that is NY sports-talk radio, and the out-on-the-ledge mania from the multitude of Met online blogs, and that all makes for a bubbly brew of discontent among the Flushing Faithful.

But like any bandwagon in baseball, there always seems to be room for one more poisonous voice...

Hello, John Franco.

Okay, let's get right to it, in the interest of full disclosure: I never liked John Franco as a Met. I thought he had puffed-up save numbers his whole career, and only remember this guy throwing gasoline on the fire when it truly mattered.

I don't think it's a coincidence that the Cincinnati Reds won it all in the first year after they jettisoned the overrated Franco.

He teamed with the equally feeble Mike Stanton to absolutely kill any chance the Mets had of winning anything in 2003, and then to boot, Franco employed his now-infamous "Brooklyn Smirk" that Met fans grew to expect every time he gave up a soul-crushing, game-blowing hit (in, of course, the extremely rare instance that Stanton hadn't beaten him to the choke). 

He did somehow manage to cop the Mets only victory in the 2000 WS, but I choose to ignore that, instead reserving all the accolades for a true Met, Benny Agbayani.

So imagine my shock this past week when I hear that Franco has gassed off about a lack of leadership on this current Mets team. First off, I love that David Wright addressed it, but I wish he hadn't been so nice about it.

I think he should have let Franco have it, but I suppose visions of Jose Reyes berating Keith Hernandez on a cross-country airplane trip may have prevented David from going off half-cocked. 

Kudos to him for having some self-control. I, however, am not bound by the same loyalty to a fellow player, and am here to say that John Franco, he of the 101 blown career saves, should SHUT...HIS...MOUTH!!!!

I wonder if while Franco and Stanton, two respected veterans, were flushing our chances that year (no pun intended), what would have happened if another former Met with spotty credentials who never won anything in his Shea tenure had mouthed off about the flammable nature of that year's bullpen, or a supposed leadership void, or a funny little smirk on a lit-up reliever's face as he leaves the mound to yet another chorus of boos?

How might that have played out, Johnny from Brooklyn?!?

Probably like this: Franco gives a no-comment to the press, and then goes out and blows another game. Then, he privately torches the guy, throwing him under the bus with the full backing of the Met organization, who for some odd reason continue to treat THIS GUY like he's the franchise.

Sorry, Johnny Neighborhood, we already have a franchise. 

And here's a tidbit about Tom Terriffic that may have escaped you, "Captain": even though Tom Seaver often comes off like an arrogant blowhard, at least the guy won while he was here, and has the respect of each and every Met fan alive. 

No one would ever question his leadership, because he was a gamer and it showed on the field. If Tom vents about any Met team, I may disagree with him, but he has a leg to stand on because of what he did while he wore the Met jersey. Franco does not. 

He needs to stand down, and go have a whack at the Reds or the Astros or wherever else he conned his way into after the Mets finally and thankfully gave up on their idolatry of a washup who happened to be a local boy.

David Wright held his tongue, and whatever you want to say about a leadership void on this team should not land on his doorstep, but it probably will. He should expect to be roughed up by the regular press, but by John Franco, of all people?!?

David, do the Wright thing next time and tee off on this goon.