Wander Franco and the Tampa Bay Rays are off to as hot of a start a baseball team can hope for. They are 26-6 up to this point in the season, and they have been nothing short of dominant so far. Simply put, playing baseball has looked really easy for the Tampa Bay Rays this year. Maybe it’s been a bit too easy after the stunt that Franco pulled a few days ago against the Pittsburgh Pirates.
If you’re unaware of the events being mentioned, Wander Franco fielded a routine ground ball and flipped it up to himself before throwing the ball over to first. It was simultaneously the cockiest, and smoothest thing we’ve seen on a baseball field since Barry Bonds retired.
I’m all for breaking the unwritten rules of baseball. I think bat flips have become as essential for baseball as touchdown celebrations have for the NFL, or as cheating on your significant other has become for the NBA. I liked it when Fernando Tatis hit a grand slam on an 0-3 count in a game they were already up big, and I always laugh when a perfect game is broken up by a perfectly laid bunt. This feels so different to me though. This is an undeniable sign of disrespect, on the same level as tossing your bat half way down the first base line after hitting a nuke over the center field wall. The difference here, is Franco didn’t do anything impressive on this play. He’s an MLB starting shortstop, and wants to act cool while fielding a routine groundball. What if I dunked on my twelve-year-old cousin on the 8 foot rim during an unmatched game of one-on-one and then popped champagne and called him a bitch? I would look like there was medication that I took not enough of, or way too much of that morning.
The main reason I can’t really hate on this move is because Franco didn’t miss a beat doing this. He probably picked that ball up and thought, “If these guys don’t want to challenge me, I’ll do it myself.” I have to give at least a little respect to the fact that the dude attempts this stuff without hesitation, and makes it work. The MLB lags behind the other major sports leagues as far as big-time personalities go, so Franco antagonizing the whole fan base is great for the sport. We can all hate on Dillon Brooks, but man does he provide us with some entertainment. We have no Star Wars without Darth Vader, and Aaron Judge is too nice for the Yankees to be the dark side right now. As a result, I’ll quietly support Wander Franco as he attempts to turn every MLB fan over the age of 30 against him.