Cards' All-Star has paid his debt to baseball

BY foxsports • July 8, 2009

Ryan Franklin is my favorite 2009 All-Star. I say that for two reasons.

First, I like Ryan Franklin. I covered him as a newspaper beat writer during one of his seasons with the Seattle Mariners. He's one of the most affable players I've been around, cordial and competitive and family-oriented. Fans should acknowledge the perseverance that made him a first-time All-Star at the age of 36.

Second, he is making All-Star history, in a way that brings uncommon perspective to baseball's Steroid Era.

Wait, you forgot that Franklin was once suspended for violating Major League Baseball's policy on performance-enhancing drugs? It happened in 2005, when he was an ordinary, back-of-the-rotation starter for the last-place Mariners.

On Sunday, following a standout first half with the St. Louis Cardinals, he became the first player named to an All-Star team after being suspended by MLB for a failed steroids test. National League manager Charlie Manuel used one of his selections to put Franklin on the roster.

Among fans and media, the news created ... no discernible outrage at all.

Maybe people forgot. Maybe people didn't care. Either way, maybe we just learned a little something about how we truly feel about PEDs, once you move past all the Hall of Fame bluster.

We know the sportswriters who vote on the Hall of Fame have reservations about admitting known steroid users. And while the All-Star Game ranks below the Hall in the hierarchy of baseball institutions, it's a hallowed event for the sport. You might even argue that the Midsummer Classic is a test lap for Cooperstown, in the sense that a 15-time All-Star has a great chance to be enshrined.

Franklin is not a serious candidate for the Hall of Fame. But he's going to be there next Tuesday, getting one of the loudest ovations from the hometown crowd at Busch Stadium, enjoying a well-deserved reward for his perseverance since Seattle cut him after that 2005 season.

How can anyone have a problem with that?

Franklin served his suspension in 2005. He has passed every drug test since. He is 2-0 with a 0.84 ERA and 20 saves this year. If Rafael Betancourt and Juan Rincon, relievers who were also among those suspended four years ago, were having similar seasons, I'd be happy to see them in the All-Star Game, too.

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