Wander Franco’s Debut? Absolutely Wander-ful.

MLB’s #1 prospect, Wander Franco, made his highly-anticipated debut Tuesday night for the Tampa Bay Rays. He drew a walk in his first career at-bat, and then, in the fifth inning, got his first big-league hit: a three-run homer to tie the game, 5-5.

But the best part was the thing that makes baseball so special in the first place: Franco’s father, also named Wander (it’s a family thing), was at Tropicana Field to see his son’s debut.

The elder Wander played in the minor leagues, too, but never reached the big show. Tonight, his son lived that dream for both of them, and he got to be there.

Baseball has always been a game about family. It’s a game that gets passed down from generation to generation. I grew up playing catch with my father, just as Wander likely grew up playing with his. Maybe that’s why we love to see the family reactions when a new player makes their debut; because baseball is something we’ve shared with our own families.

The Rays ended up losing in extra innings, and a lot of MLB drama overshadowed Franco’s debut tonight. That’s how the game goes nowadays; it’s less about the actual game, and more about changing, limiting, and “fixing” the game. It’s about manipulating service time, unwritten rules, and new rules, not growing the game and appreciating that we get to watch the greatest athletes of each generation, which is an absolute privilege and should always be the focus.

But tonight, the top prospect in baseball finally got his turn, his father was there to see it, and for a moment, baseball was exactly what baseball should always be, again.

Photo: USA Today

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