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Byline: Bernie Miklasz
ST. LOUIS _ Ryan Franklin fooled 'em for as long as he could. That's the beauty of it all. Franklin is probably feeling sad, frustrated and empty after being released by the Cardinals on Wednesday, but when his head clears, he'll probably smile.
Franklin never fit the classic closer's profile. He wasn't a hard thrower. He didn't roll up the strikeouts. He didn't get a lot of swings and misses. He finessed his way through jams, frequently pitching on the edge. For the longest time, Franklin baffled hitters with a vast assortment of pitches. This was no power pitcher; this was a sorcerer.
In 2011, the magic ran out for Franklin, 38. The tricks weren't working, Franklin's pitches lacked movement, and he was left exposed and vulnerable. The result: lots of hard contact and a soaring line-drive rate. A whopping 24 percent of the fly balls given up by Franklin landed over the wall for a home run. It was a formula for disaster.
This highly combustible combination …