Thursday, July 2, 2009

Former Met captain John Franco is the new Met 'voice from the grave'

I had to laugh when I heard about John Franco decrying the current Mets' leadership. Because he wasn't exactly the leader for the ages himself.

The last Met captain spoke with SIRIUS XM hosts Kevin Kennedy and Jeff Joyce about his old team, saying "there’s no leadership there. Nobody wants to step forward and be a leader. Something is missing and it’s hard to put your finger on it."

That may well be true (actually, it most definitely is true!) but Franco isn't the one who should be saying it. Because I remember Franco's great leadership (ha!) as a Met. He and Al Leiter, who both had way too much pull in the front office, ran the team like it was their own country club.

Leiter's big achievement in leadership was griping when Scott Kazmir played Eminem instead of Bruce Springsteen in the spring training clubhouse.

And Franco? Well, I guess pushing to get rid of the hated Bobby Valentine could be considered leadership. But looking back at those 1999 and 2000 teams, it's a miracle that they got as far in the playoffs as they did. Maybe that manager, as flawed as he was, did have a little something to do with it.

But yeah, Franco did all sorts of cool stuff as captain. Like wearing that big letter C to remind everybody that he was the captain. Letter C? What, is this "Sesame Street?" C is for cookie, not captain!

Franco decried the Mets "not having fun," but as Squawker Jon notes, "it's hard to relax and have fun when you're coming off two late-season collapses, numerous bullpen collapses in 2008 and numerous late-inning collapses of a disturbing variety this year."

The former closer also talked about how he became captain of the Mets:
"Well, I was appointed captain of the Mets as a closer, so it was kind of weird that nobody wanted to do it. And I was a guy, even though I was a closer, if I thought there was a team meeting or something needed to be said, I had no problem getting in somebody's face or kicking them in the rear. And everybody knew where I was coming from because on some of the teams I played with, some of them were very bad and some of them were good, and sometimes some guys maybe weren't respecting the game enough or some guys weren't playing the game the right way or some guys weren't doing things that they should've done. And I would call a team meeting and call them out on it. And I didn't care if they liked me or not. I wanted to win just as bad as the next guy, but I think I got my point across. With the Mets, a guy like David Wright is a guy that I'm hoping - you know, I tried talking to him and tell him to come forward and be that guy, but I think David feels that being that he's such a young player and you have the [Carlos] Delgados and [Gary] Sheffields and veteran guys like that, he's afraid that they'll look at him like, 'Be quiet and sit down.'"
Both Wright and Jerry Manuel fought back against Franco's accusations. The Met manager said:
“I think when a guy [Alex Cora] plays with a torn ligament in his thumb, that’s leadership. When a guy [Wright] needs a day off and still wants to play, that’s leadership.”
And David Wright responded:
“With all due respect to Johnny, he doesn’t know what’s going on in this clubhouse,” Wright said. “I don’t feel the need to defend myself as a leader if the guys in here respect me and think of me as a leader. I don’t worry myself with outside people, saying what they’re going to say. It doesn’t matter to me.”
That's an awful lot of words to say for somebody who doesn't feel the need to defend himself, and for something that doesn't matter to him!

Now, I agree with Franco that the Mets make all sorts of "mental mistakes", but not the reasons why:
..."I think they have maybe too much individuality, where guys are worried about their own stats instead of worrying about getting the guy over, not stealing third base with two outs which is really meaningless."
Eh, the old stat-padding argument. It's like how some fans say that A-Rod doesn't do enough to win the games, as if getting hits and homers somehow only count when they're walkoffs.

Do I think Luis Castillo dropped the ball because he was thinking about his stats? No. He did it because it was so easy a play, he thought he could catch it with one hand instead of two. Or because he had a brain cramp. But I don't think any of it had to do with worrying about his stats.

At any rate, no matter how valid some his criticisms are, Franco should remember that he's just, as Mike Piazza once described Keith Hernandez' criticism of the team, a voice from the grave.

What do you think? Leave us a comment!

1 comment:

Uncle Mike said...

Leiter complained about hearing Eminem? Excuse me?

Look, I don't like Eminem either, but who does Leiter think he is?

He thinks he's a guy who grew up as a Met fan (down the Shore, which explains his Springsteen fandom). Yet during that 1999 postseason, he let them play "L.A. Woman" by the Doors.

Think about this for a moment: Never mind that it's a great song, and that the Doors got together in Los Angeles, it celebrates the city that lured the Dodgers out of Brooklyn and, in part, is also responsible for the Giants leaving New York as well. This caused New York-area baseball fans an incredible amount of grief -- and that's before we start talking about the Mets!

The Mets playing a song that celebrates Los Angeles is like the son of a Detroit autoworker marrying a German girl and buying her an engagement ring from Japan. And yet, Al Leiter had no problem with it.

As for Franco... This isn't hockey, where the rules require a C or an A for Alternate Captain to be worn, because only the Captain can talk to the referee, not even the head coach.

C is, indeed, for Cookie, and Franco wearing it was the Snuffleupagus in the room. That's one! One ridiculous thing about the Mets! Ah ah ah! Forget green, it's not easy being blue and orange!

Search This Blog