FanShot

FFiF: Department of Franco

Greg Prince absolutely nails it: "Reconsidering Franco’s 14 seasons of razor’s edge relief reminded me that from 1990 to 2001 and again in 2003 and 2004, the three-word phrase I uttered most constantly during ballgames wasn’t "Let’s Go Mets," and it wasn’t "You Gotta Believe." It was "come on, John," and not in a particularly supportive tone of voice. This is where I feel obligated to say something like, "Sure he drove us crazy, but in the end, he always came through." That, however, would feel like a lie. John Franco came through a lot but not always. Not close to always. No way. A ton more saves than blown saves, to be sure, but plenty of ninth innings gone to hell. Plenty. I could look up how many, but that would be as pointless as pointing to all his saves. John Franco’s tenure as a save collector made me decide saves are the most overrated stat in baseball. Sometime by the late ’90s, I began to equate saves to extra points in football: somebody’s gonna get them eventually, but when you don’t get them, hoo-boy. "If this sounds harsh on the night a guy with indisputable Met longevity and genuine Met affection was given the greatest honor the Mets have to give (and again, I’m elated the Mets have resumed giving it, for maintaining an active hall of fame is what a self-secure baseball franchise does), it’s probably my dormant passive-aggressive relationship with Franco coming to the fore. All those years, amid all those saves, I didn’t hate Franco, but I can’t say I loved him. Thing that got to me was the Mets always seemed to be insisting we should, like there was a Department of Franco where we had to line up and get our papers stamped. John Franco got his 300th save — we’re having a day for him! John Franco got his 400th save — we’re having another day for him! Don’t you just want to lavish John Franco with prizes and praise? [snip] He drove us plenty crazy in his day, but isn’t that what your own do to you sometimes?"

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