Mets Birthdays: The Francos

Happy Birthday John Franco!

Today is the 51st birthday of one of the most beloved Mets, Brooklyn-born John Franco. He wore the Mets uniform for a staggering 14 years. 14 years! During his tenure in Queens, he tallied 48 wins, 56 losses, a nice 3.10 ERA to go along with an impressive 276 saves and All-Star appearances. What made for an impressive career as a closer, was that he lacked the typical closer repertoire. Not a flamethrower, Franco was one of those crafty lefties you hear so much about. Being one of the few screwball pitchers around, hitters were not be able to figure him out. His saves were of the cardiac variety, but Franco got the job done.

However, John Franco provided much more then stats over the years. He eventually became the leader of not only the bullpen but of the entire team. Franco was named team captain in 2001, and served as such thru 2004. As one of the rare players to be embraced by teammates, the media, and fans John Franco will always remain a favorite in Flushing.

As it is a busy day for celebrations today, We should also send a birthday shout out to another Franco, the immortal Julio Franco. Who, shockingly is not on anyone’s roster. Perhaps at 52 he can still contribute? No? As a Met, he pinch ran for Carlos Delgado, becoming the oldest player to do so. He still plays a part in helping out the Mets these days as well, Julio Franco is the manager of the Mets’ Gulf Coast League rookie squad. A fine role model for young Brandon Nimmo to learn from.

Also celebrating birthdays today: Ed Hearn (51), Pat Strange (31), and Prentice Redman (32)

David Gogel is a lifelong Mets fan. Follow him on Twitter @troonooyawker.
  1. Sammy Bull August 23, 2011 at 10:03 am
    John is one of the biggest phonies in town. You probably aren’t from around here.
  2. Walnutz15 August 23, 2011 at 10:14 am
    One of the founding fathers of the “Saves are the most meaningless Stat in Baseball” movement.

    Ever confused about an overrated player? See Franco’s career, and you’ll get a much clearer picture of what that means.

    I think that the term “Most Beloved!”is being used very generously here. Guys like me haven’t forgotten 1998, and how he single-handedly flushed that year down the drain for us.

    Happy Birthday, though.

    • Joe August 23, 2011 at 10:40 am
      I recall 1998. They had a chance to get to the playoffs but blew it late. Don’t recall how he “single-handedly” did it though. For instance, scores like 0-3, 0-4 and 2-7 at the end of the year are his fault?
  3. Walnutz15 August 23, 2011 at 11:19 am
    You must not be remembering the same 1998 then….or are selectively remembering 3 games at the end of the year when:

    Franco was 0-8 on the season – 8 BLOWN SAVES.

    0-6 with a 4.73 ERA in the 2nd half.

    Even when he closed a game out, it was an adventure…..performances like this have teams scrambling to make them up in the standings (or on the outside looking in by the end of the year).

    This isn’t even touching his 2001 debacles vs. the Braves……..or his clubhouse policitian crap, being Wilpon’s Brooklyn Boy.

    • Joe August 23, 2011 at 12:01 pm
      I’m talking about 1998.

      Raising issues about other years isn’t really responsive. As to 2001, he wasn’t “single handedly” at fault there either. The Mets had a subpar year, went on a run late and then yeah with his help (along with Armando), didn’t quite make it. They had no margin of error and he helped.

      Such was the case in ’98. The Mets had a good chance until the last week. I recall Mike and the Mad Dog assuming they would make it, though neither really cared, since one liked the Yanks, the other the Giants.

      But, as I noted, they ended the season badly. They missed the playoffs by a game, and didn’t do so just because Franco blew it for them. Putting 8 blown saves in caps is a bit amusing — not that I’m comparing the two overall — when Mariano Rivera had five this year. And, actually, eight losses doesn’t mean he HAD eight blown saves. Some of them could have been tie games.

      The Mets were a flawed team, Franco included. This isn’t enough though — he has to be the ONE who blew it for them. Such hyperbole suggests disdain for the guy more than a neutral accounting.

  4. Walnutz15 August 23, 2011 at 12:08 pm
    Would it make you feel better if I added “almost” before single-handedly?

    Awful performances in 1998. Just putrid…..and we saw where the Mets wound up.

    His July-August cost them dearly, when they could have been making a real, legit run.

    Then again – ya never could tell whether or not Johnny-Boy was “helpin’ somebody out” (off the field) back then or not.

    Sammy Bully up there had it right: a phony, tried and true.

    • Joe August 23, 2011 at 12:18 pm
      Not really, since they missed it by ONE game, and they had multiple chances down to the last weekend that they blew that wasn’t his fault.

      The ’98 Mets were an imperfect team. He was one imperfection. He surely wasn’t the only suspect closer, but whatever. Not denying it. It is the hyperbolic focus as if it was all his fault (or “almost” all his fault) that they lost that year, 2001 or whatever. That’s tiresome.

      And, the fact that by ’98 his talents were slipping fails to confirm he is a “phony.” I don’t know the guy. He might be one. But, that doesn’t tell me it.

      • Walnutz15 August 23, 2011 at 12:21 pm
        That’s fine if you don’t see Franco as overrated – especially pointing out that it’s “hyperbolic” to cite over 100 career blown saves.

        ……….considering how many of them in his Met career were next to meaningless anyway.

      • Walnutz15 August 23, 2011 at 12:25 pm
        “And, actually, eight losses doesn’t mean he HAD eight blown saves. Some of them could have been tie games.”

        P.S. – This might refresh your memory on the 1998 season. Yes, 8 blown saves.

        “Last season, finally, the Mets were wildcard contenders until the final day of the season. Franco saved 38 games, but he blew four in a critical stretch from July 10 to Aug. 4. Then, on Sept. 15, in the first game of a doubleheader against the Astros in Houston, he coughed up another game. Before the nightcap, when he stepped into an Astrodome passageway to speak to reporters, he turned his back, put his hands on the wall, spread his legs and said, “Take your best shot.” On the season’s penultimate Friday, Franco surrendered a late lead in a devastating loss to the last-place Marlins. The next day’s banner headline on the back page of the Daily News read JOHNNY B. BAD. The Mets missed the wild card by one game, and Franco finished the season 0-8 with eight blown saves.”

        • Joe August 23, 2011 at 12:42 pm
          “if you don’t see Franco as overrated”

          Where did I say this? And, what is this about a “legit run.” They missed the playoffs by a game! They had a “run.” The Braves won 18 more games. Don’t think they had much of a chance to win the division. And, they missed their chance with his help. Those scores I listed in the final few games wasn’t the result of him blowing a save. Again, the team didn’t just lose because of him. It is duly noted you don’t like the guy.

          Thanks for the saves reference, though the “remember” bit is a tad petty. I “remember” it down to what was said on the WFAN. Sorry it is still so raw in your mind in 2011. But, really, come on.

        • Walnutz15 August 23, 2011 at 12:57 pm
          Talk about petty. You’ve questioned my facts, while calling them “amusing”.

          In any event, I think it’s sad that some legions of Met fans are forced to think of John Franco when they think of a long-tenured “Mr. Met”.

          That’s all.

  5. The Teflon John August 23, 2011 at 12:17 pm
    John Franco sucked and is a terrible human being, to boot.

    Eat garbage, John.

  6. ArmandoBenitezFan August 23, 2011 at 12:39 pm
    If there was a stat category for snubbing fans in Staten Island and being an overall douche, then John Franco would be a first ballot Hall of Famer. Overrated isn’t even a good enough word for this bag of jizz. I agree with Teflon “eat garbage number 45”
  7. David Gogel August 23, 2011 at 12:51 pm
    Wow, and I thought the fans had polarizing views about Carlos Beltran.

    Yes, he can be seen as overrated (as can most closers honestly, with the exception of Mariano) , One can easily argue that Trevor Hoffman failed in almost every big game despite his gaudy save totals But for the most part Franco did more harm then good. For me at least, the memories were good, if a bit stressfull.

    And for the record, I am a Noo Yawker born and raised.

  8. Mughshots Blow August 23, 2011 at 12:53 pm
    You do not have to give any ststaistics as far as franco’s career as a met…any true mets fan knows by just watching that he scuked…and btw he is a terrible tipper in the restaurant community if where he resided…yes staten island ny…phony human…crappy reliever…i am sure he will blow out his birthday candles just fine …he has a habit of blowing stuff in key situations
  9. Jimmy Whispers August 23, 2011 at 1:50 pm
    John-dry sez:

    The Met bullpen made me. I walked outta thea wit’ millions’adollazwit’out usin’agun.

    And I did tha right thing I gave The Bonanno’s their tribute.

    s’gunnah be a good summa….