When Ryan Franklin, a relief pitcher for the St. Louis Cardinals, had a bad performance recently, he was booed loudly by the fans in his home ballpark.
As anyone who has followed baseball in Detroit knows, it’s not something that is exclusive to St. Louis. Willie Hernandez, Mike Henneman, Todd Jones and Fernando Rodney were bullpen closers for the Tigers the past quarter century — and all were booed loudly at Tiger Stadium and/or Comerica Park.
From the experience of traveling to other major league baseball stadiums, it is common practice to boo the closer when he fails. The lone exception is at Yankee Stadium, the old and new. That’s because Mariano Rivera, the Yankees’ closer, rarely blows a save.
Relief pitchers say they understand that aspect of their job. I have talked extensively with them about it. But you get the sense many don’t say what they actually feel in this regard. It bothers most of them. Sometimes they crack. At one time, Hernandez flat out said — “@%^& the fans.”