Baseball has historically been governed by a number of “unwritten rules” that would make most outsiders scratch their heads based on how many fans and players tend to react if someone has the nerve to violate one of them.
We were treated to a laughably unjustified outburst earlier this season after Madison Bumgarner took exception to Willson Contreras….swinging too hard at a pitch, but anyone who takes too long to trot around the bases after going deep or decides to celebrate a home run with an over-the-top bat flip knows they’re just asking to get plunked the next time they step up to the plate.
Now, we may have a brand new entry into the Unwritten Rule canon courtesy of Tampa Bay Rays shortstop Wander Franco.
The Rays started the current MLB season on an absolute heater, and players on the team that’s currently sporting a 25-6 record with the help of some truly absurd statistics have more than earned a right to have a little bit of fun.
That’s exactly what Franco decided to do on Wednesday after fielding a grounder hit by Pittsburgh’s Bryan Reynolds in the top of the seventh inning and the Rays sporting a 6-1 lead.
It should’ve been a pretty straightforward play, but Franco opted to make things a little more interesting with a flashy move where he flipped the ball to himself before throwing it over to first base to record the out.
Baseball is fun.
Wander has fun. #RaysUp pic.twitter.com/sWXuNq9ue2
— Bally Sports Florida & Bally Sports Sun (@BallySportsFL) May 4, 2023
It may have been an unnecessary move that could’ve allowed Reynolds to beat the throw.
However, it was also objectively awesome and ultimately didn’t come back to haunt Franco, so I think most fans appreciated what he was able to pull off with ease (based on the reactions I’ve seen, the majority of people seemed to love it).
Of course, there were plenty of Baseball Purists who didn’t feel the same way.
Call me an old man, (I’m getting there) but I didn’t like the #WanderFranco flip. I don’t care enough to get all bent out of shape, but great plays being made can still be made without a twist.
— Josh Knegendorf (@joshk70) May 4, 2023
I’m all about having fun playing a kids game, but yea, I don’t like this at all from Wander Franco pic.twitter.com/c1wtWH88hi
— BaseballHistoryNut (@nut_history) May 4, 2023
That wander franco play was just high school bully who thinks they’re cool. You like that? You weirdos?
— young 30 year old (@whyjays) May 4, 2023
I would bench his ass right after that play. And I am a Rays fan and love the guy.
— Andres De Valencia (@adevalencia_) May 4, 2023
The seventh inning, turned out to be a very good one for Franco, as he also went deep in the bottom of the frame to give Tampa a 7-1 lead.
Just a casual five minutes in the life of Wander Franco pic.twitter.com/H6SfEMgdWp
— Tampa Bay Rays (@RaysBaseball) May 4, 2023
Franco also addressed the critics after the contest in an interview where he said he pulls a similar move in practice and may have done it on instinct in an actual game.
"I tend to do that in practice… I think it's something that just happened."
Wander Franco on the ball flip to himself and the start from Sugar Shane — "I don't think I've ever seen him fail" — as he talks after tonight's victory. #RaysUp pic.twitter.com/8QIV89fzZC
— Bally Sports Sun: Rays (@BallyRays) May 4, 2023
It’s only crazy if it doesn’t work.