Hopefully, Freddie Freeman’s actual last game won’t be for many, many years.
But I can’t get the last Braves game of 2019 out of my head, and largely because of Freddie Freeman.
You may recall (though I try not to) that the St. Louis Cardinals scored 10 runs in the first inning of Game 5 of the NLDS. The Braves lost 13-1.
Mike Foltynewicz pitched a third of an inning and was charged with 7 runs, 6 earned. He had plenty of “help” in that wretched inning. If memory serves (and you’ll forgive me if I forget some of the details, because it was just that miserable), Brian McCann dropped two balls from two different batters that would have been strike three. Max Fried gave up the other three runs that inning.
But I don’t hear much about that. Apart from the sheer ridiculousness of a game that was “over” about 20 minutes after it started, what I hear about is Freddie Freeman’s error in that inning. If he’d made what would ordinarily have been a double play (and an inning-ending one at that), the game would have been 1-0.
Both Foltynewicz and Freeman gave post-game interviews. Foltynewicz’s made me sad. Freeman’s broke my heart.
And it’s stuck with me. He blamed himself for both the loss in Game 5 and for the NLDS series loss.
He didn’t play well. At all (nor did most of his teammates). He was suffering from a bone spur in his elbow, and post-season surgery showed that what was going on with that elbow was worse than even the doctors thought.
His performance in the NLDS didn’t help, but it wasn’t just his fault. By a long shot.
I wondered how Freddie was doing since that Game 5. I was delighted to see him surprising a kid who was dressed as Freddie Freeman for Halloween while taking his son Charlie Trick-or-Treating.
Life does go on, after all.
I attended a Q&A with him, Ozzie Albies and Dansby Swanson at Chop Fest, the Braves’ winter event, this weekend.
Twice he mentioned the St. Louis series.
This bit was particularly interesting (in response to a question about his favorite places to play).
(He actually said “close,” not “tender.” Same difference.)
I’m looking forward to turning the page with the start of a new baseball season. I hope we’ll all be able to.
As for Freddie, I gained a whole new level of respect for him this weekend.