Via Martin Rogers
FOX Sports Columnist
Obviously these things can vary from person to person, but it’s generally not our instinct to feel sorry for someone who just landed a $162 million contract.
Tears of pity don’t usually flow for a guy who just moved into a lavish new home in Studio City, one of Los Angeles’ most modern urban areas.
The mere fact of someone becoming a pro is more likely to provoke envy than sympathy, especially a baseball player who has just been showered with love for a whole bunch of roads, of everything.
Yet here we are, in the midst of an increasingly exciting Major League Baseball season, and I would love to reach out and give Freddie Freeman a giant, virtual, press hug.
Come here big buddy, it’ll be fine.
The past week has made some things very clear. Despite growing up in Orange County, California, Freeman wants to return to Atlanta, still with Bravelived in a house away from home where he spent 15 years before actually returning home with Los Angeles Dodgers.
Freeman’s contract with the Braves ended by the time he helped the franchise secure the World Series, back in November. The subsequent MLB lockout put talks on a new deal on hold, and into May. 3, he signed a six-year deal with the Dodgers that put the figure at $162 million.
So far, so ordinary. The professional athlete gets a big free agent payday and leaves the place where he made a name for himself and is happy and successful.
However, when the Dodgers headed to Georgia to get three games last weekend, it wasn’t the typical homecoming. Freeman spent much of his brief time in Atlanta in high spirits, spending an entire eight-minute press conference in tears.
“I don’t know all the emotions, it’s hard to put into words,” he cried. “I’m just happy to be back.”
There’s more to it than when he was presented with the World Series ring from last season by Atlanta’s manager Brian Snitker, and more than that as he was hailed by the Atlanta crowd at all times. everywhere.
He played well throughout the series, beating a few hosts, but by the end of the third game – when it was time to leave – the emotions were still on display.
It’s getting a little awkward, in fact, a reality not lost on the Dodgers pitcher Clayton Kershawwho emphatically stated that he hoped “we are not second” in Freeman’s mind.
On Tuesday, it was reported that Freeman had fired his agent, Casey Close of Excel Management, who had been leading the off-season negotiations for the slugger.
Despite that, what was gained from the trip was not too difficult to decipher. Freeman wishes he was still with the Braves and being back there as a visiting player reminded him how much he misses it.
Not everyone likes this show. A lot of Dodgers supporters must have hated it.
I can’t lie, I love it. Maybe it’s because I’m not as young as I would like, or because baseball seems to bring out the emotional side in all of us, but it’s like a throwback to another time.
The loyalty of a team is largely dead. Players have connections to cities, sure, but in most cases they depart for greener and richer grasslands, leaving no more than a passing glance.
Freeman comes to appreciate a place, and an organization, so much that you get the feeling he’ll give back every penny of his Dodgers contract. Sports don’t allow that much, and it would be a great event if he somehow left and returned to Atlanta now.
It all seems ungrateful to LA, but this is what we want from athletes, isn’t it, loyalty?
“In time, Freeman will probably fall in love with LA,” Mark Bradley wrote in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “He could erase his first months as a Dodger as a case of buyer’s remorse. He could hit seven hosts against the Braves in the NLCS, which would make even Brian Snitker didn’t want to hug him either.”
For now, we just have a fascinating story about how one of the most important players on one of the best teams in baseball is looking for someone else. And that’s why I feel bad for him.
Emotional empathy isn’t usually something professional athletes get much of these days, possibly because they get too much of it in other ways.
It’s hard for the public to really feel their grief over someone who’s earned millions of dollars, is a hero to millions, and who, from the outside looking in, seems to lead a cool life. much more than the rest of us.
Sports lovers have the collective ability to empathize with their favorite athletes, especially in unfortunate circumstances such as major injuries and certainly in those circumstances where they may experience some personal tragedy.
But feeling sad for a football, baseball or basketball or soccer player, just because they feel unhappy – or homesick? That’s not really a thing.
There is always an exception. Freeman is like that. If nothing else, he just took the game “I’ll always love you (insert appropriate city name)” to a whole new level.
Athletes have given heartfelt speeches and interviews, posted full-page ads, declared themselves (insert appropriate team name) in the past.
Freeman, with his tears and actions, has done so much more. He’s hurting, and he showed it. Locals feel it – and enjoy it.
Freddie Freeman, the first .308 basketball player to hit the NL West leading Los Angeles Dodgers team, is possibly the most famous man in Atlanta.
A place he only visits occasionally, but where his heart – it seems – will always be.
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