John Franco Was Right, So What’s All The Uproar About?

An article by posted on July 2, 2009

Yesterday while a guest of Kevin Kennedy’s Inside Pitch on Sirius XM, former Mets closer and captain John Franco, threw a spit ball at his former team when he was asked to comment on the current state of the Mets.

“Watching them almost every day, there’s no leadership there,” Franco said during an interview with SIRIUS XM. Nobody wants to step forward and be a leader. Something is missing and it’s hard to put your finger on it. They got some great, talented players – Jose Reyes and David Wright and Carlos Beltran, now Johan Santana’s there – but I just can’t put my finger on it.”

Franco then got more specific and gave details on a conversation he had in spring training with David Wright about stepping forward and being the leader or captain of this team.

“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.’”

Wright, who was actually a teammate of Franco when he first came up in 2004, was annoyed over the remarks when told.

“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.”

Franco also accused the Mets of showing “too much individuality,” and having the “wrong kind of attitude”. He singled out the overall malaise in the clubhouse, in his sharpest criticism of the interview and blamed it on a lack of fundamentals, team spirit, and a care-free atmosphere.

“I was down in spring training and Jerry had them guys working on fundamentals every day and doing the things that you need to do to win ballgames – taking the extra base, heads up, knowing situations. But once the game starts, I think they have maybe too much individuality, where guys are worried about their own stats instead of worrying about getting the guy over…. These are the kind of things that they’re dealing with.”

Jerry Manuel didn’t say much when asked to comment,

“At this point, you’re going to get a lot of opinions on things. John Franco is a member of the Mets and highly thought of by the Mets. He’s entitled to his opinion. 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.”

John Franco has always been a vocal guy even as a player. Sometimes his comments can rub people the wrong way, but he usually tells it like it is according to him, and he pulls no punches.

I actually agree with much of what he said. I do believe there is a leadership void on this team, and Wright, Manuel and any other Met can deny it all they want, but it’s very evident to a wide range of observers besides just me and John Franco.

I also can’t argue with Franco for singling out the lack of fundamentals and selfish play and in fact I referred to it myself only yesterday in a previous post.

Did anyone expect Franco to go on the air and lie and say the Mets have solid leadership with guys that are willing to carry the team on their backs and take them to the play-offs.?

Should he have said that the Mets are fundamentally sound and play crisp, heads-up baseball?

Would everybody be happy if he said that the Mets are all grinders who put the team first and ahead of padding their own stats like stealing third with the cleanup hitter at bat?

Maybe former players like Ron Darling, Keith Hernandez, Bobby Ojeda and John Franco should stop criticizing the team and instead lead us all in a rousing rendition of “Meet the Mets” while we hold hands and encircle all those Mets that were offended…

Gimme a break…

About the Author ()

I'm a lifelong Mets fan who loves writing and talking about the Amazins' 24/7. From the Miracle in 1969 to the magic of 1986, and even the near misses in '73 and '00, I've experienced it all - the highs and the lows. I started Mets Merized Online in 2005 to feed my addiction and interact with other passionate Met fans like you. Follow me on Twitter @metsmerized.

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