Man, despite the fact that it’s pretty well known that Freddie Freeman is about the most likeable human being to ever play the game of Major League Baseball, I wouldn’t ever have imagined him being the center of one of the more dramatic baseball storylines to have occurred in, well, this generation, so to say.
To quickly summarize, as quickly as a wordy blabbermouth like myself can do: 2021 was the last season of Freddie Freeman’s contract with the Atlanta Braves. Inexplicably, the Braves win the World Series, everyone is on cloud nine, Freeman is all but expected to re-sign with the team. Over the winter, baseball actually goes into a labor-centric lockout, where teams are prohibited from negotiating contracts with players. Lockout ends, everyone maintains that Freeman is guaranteed to re-sign with the Braves. Somewhere along the path, negotiations don’t seem to materialize and suddenly news breaks that the Braves have made a trade for Matt Olson, the all-star first baseman from the Oakland A’s, effectively dropping the mic and saying that they are moving on from Freddie Freeman, sending shockwaves throughout Braves Country™.
It was reported that Freddie Freeman and the Braves were unable to come to terms of a deal, citing that Freeman wanted a six-year deal, but the Braves were only willing to offer a five. It wasn’t long afterward that the Los Angeles Dodgers would sign Freeman for six years, and in terms of business, the saga was complete.
However, in the media, the saga continued as after all the involved teams started buttoning up their rosters, words would emerge from the Braves’ camp, and Freddie Freeman himself, and a very sad and almost tangible sense of hurt feelings from both parties would continue on. The Braves blathering on about how they’re a business and that no one person is above the team, Freeman insinuating that he felt slighted that the Braves didn’t pursue him hard enough, and all over the place, be it other baseball peers, fans, legends, everyone’s taking sides on who they backed in this surprisingly public beef between the Braves and the former face of the team.
Regardless, the dust would settle fairly quickly because Freddie Freeman is better than everyone else and allowed it to resolve and said all the right things, because he’s just such a good fucking human being, and the 2022 season would begin with the Braves embarking on a life post-Freddie, and Freddie suiting up for the goddamn Dodgers of all other teams out there.
Needless to say, the weekend of June 24th was earmarked heavily by the Braves and their marketing department, because it would mark the one and only visit of the Dodgers to Atlanta on the season, and the first-ever visit of Freddie Freeman as an opponent. As the date drew nearer, I heard that the team was resorting to standing-room tickets because the demand was so high. And as the team had been doing all through the year, which is something that I thought was pretty cool, was doing individualized ring ceremonies for any contributors from the 2021 squad who had moved on to other teams.
So the weekend came and went, with the Dodgers taking the series 2-1, in three fairly heavily contested games. As expected, Freddie Freeman’s return was an emotional event for pretty much everyone, as he was given a hero’s welcome and all the respect in the world, numerous standing ovations and cheers no matter that he was a Dodger. Freeman cried at least 57 times throughout the weekend, basically every time he was behind a microphone while he was presented his World Series ring, and any time he had a moment with a former teammate.
It’s clear that there was and always will be a tremendous amount of mutual love between the Braves and the city of Atlanta and Freddie Freeman, and the games themselves were kind of an afterthought compared to the giant lovefest of Freeman’s return.
But then just a day later, news broke that seemingly out of nowhere, Freddie Freeman had fired his agent, Casey Close of Excel Sports Management. The timing of it happening right after the visit to Atlanta raised eyebrows everywhere and next thing we know, the book of the Freddie Freeman saga is being reopened.
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