Moment #12 – Tony Franklin named Thunder manager
(OK, so this technically happened in late December 2006…)
If I were to do a Top 20 countdown of the most ridiculous moments in Thunder history, Bill Masse getting fired after the 2006 season would certainly be near the top.
After all, he led the team to consecutive playoff appearances and finished with a 154-130 record during his two seasons at the helm of the Yankees Double-A affiliate.
And to replace him, they get a guy who hasn’t managed since 2000?
“It’s great to be a Yankee,” Franklin said in a team release.
“I’ve been in baseball for 38 years and have always thought the Yankees would be an exciting organization to be a part of and I’m glad Trenton is where I’ll get that chance.”
Yeah, yeah, yeah. That all sounds great. But it was hard not to be skeptical, and it was even harder to think that anyone could produce the kind of results that Masse did.
It turns out that it was the best thing that could have happened to the Thunder.
Franklin’s 83-59 record was better than any individual season that Masse put together.
More impotantly, he did what no other manager in team history could do, leading the Thunder to their first championship after so many seasons of frustrating postseason futility.
He also brought a personality and demeanor that was somewhat the opposite of Masse. Masse was always accomodating with reporters, he was very intense and very quotable. He wasn’t really the kind of guy who bit his tongue, and while I think everyone respected and appreciated that, it was also what got him in trouble with the Yankees organization.
Franklin, also incredibly giving of his time with the media, comes across as very laid back and quiet. He always gives eloquent and well-thought out answers to your questions, but also isn’t going to give you anything that’s going to show up on the back page of the paper like Masse would on occasion.
While Masse’s style could be a little grating on his players, Franklin’s approach was appreciated by all that played for him. However, the Thunder never really had any consistent struggles last season. If this year’s team has trouble getting out of the gate, I’ll be curious to see if Franklin’s demeanor changes and he’s forced to crack the whip a little bit.
But if everyone who’s expected to be on the roster this year actually ends up in Trenton, it’s hard to believe that the Thunder aren’t the odds on favorites to repeat in 2008.
Recapping the Top 20 so far…
#12 – Tony Franklin named Thunder manager
#13 – Matt DeSalvo’s MLB debut
#14 – Phil Hughes rehab appearance
#15 – Tyler Clippard’s MLB debut
#16 – Brett Smith’s no-hitter
#17 – Chase Wright’s MLB debut
#18 – Chase Wright’s opening night start
#19 – Paul Lo Duca and Endy Chavez rehab in Trenton
#20 – Jeff Karstens rehab appearance
Mike Ashmore, mashmore98 AT gmail.com