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Wander Franco: The joy of a fleeting image

When Wander Franco released a photo of his uniform with a 2020 World Series patch on it the baseball world got really excited.

MILB: SEP 28 Florida Instructional League - FIL Braves at FIL Rays Photo by Cliff Welch/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

This past week Wander Franco posted a GIF to his Instagram of a Tampa Bays Rays Franco jersey with the 2020 World Series patch on the shoulder. It was a fleeting post, one that came and went in people’s Instagram feeds as so many other images do on that website. Because he posted it as a story and not just an image, it was even more fleeting and by the time this article sees the light of day will be long gone.

Why does it matter that Franco posted this image on Instagram? It doesn’t, in all honesty, just like unless it’s something racist, sexist, or whathaveyou it never really matters what any athlete posts on their social media. What matters, in this case, is the sweeping reaction that this GIF caused across the baseball social media landscape. Pundits, fans, and fellow players all felt the need to chime in and express their excitement about the top prospect in all of baseball possibly making his debut during the World Series.

There are obvious issues with Franco not having made his debut yet, Major League Baseball is littered with cases of service time manipulation. That’s not what this article is about, rather it’s the reaction to Franco’s image that encapsulates why we love baseball. The exuberance of all sorts of people about the idea of watching a supremely talented baseball player make his debut on the biggest stage is the sort of unbridled enthusiasm for the game of baseball that is hard to come by these days.

For a few brief minutes, the baseball world was abuzz about Franco’s possible debut. Nary a negative take could be found, and if there was one it was shot down hastily by the overwhelming amount of people who were psyched to see Franco in the batter’s box against Clayton Kershaw in game 1 of the World Series. It didn’t matter if we had no idea how Franco would be used, or if he would play at all, the possibility that he would play was present, and that had everyone excited.

That reaction is important because it reminds us of why we love the game of baseball. The joy and enthusiasm that was present in said reaction is what drives our enjoyment of the game. All it takes is a fleeting moment of the idea of something as exciting as Franco debuting and we collectively allow ourselves to let go and show an unbridled passion for the sport that is often missing from our daily discourse about the sport. It’s easy to deride articles and columns about loving the game of baseball, but every once in a while something happens that proves those articles and columns right. The reaction to Franco’s post is one of those times, and in the moment it felt really good.

Of course, 2020 being 2020 it was quickly pointed out that Franco is a member of the Rays Taxi Squad and that every Taxi Squad player got a 2020 World Series jersey to wear while in the dugout. Just like that, all the enthusiasm melted away as the realization hit that Franco would not be suiting up and we’d have to wait even longer to watch him apply his talents to the big leagues. For a few brief moments, the baseball world was collectively happy about something, it was a good time.