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Should we feel bad for Freddie Freeman?

By Martin Rogers
FOX Sports Columnist

These issues can fluctuate from individual to individual, clearly, but it surely isn’t usually in our instinctive nature to feel sorry for somebody who simply landed a $162 million contract.

The wells of pity do not sometimes circulate for a man who simply moved right into a lavish new residence in Studio City, certainly one of Los Angeles’ trendier enclaves.

The mere actuality of somebody being knowledgeable athlete is likelier to elicit envy than sympathy, particularly a baseball participant who simply obtained showered with love for a whole highway collection, of all issues.

Yet right here we are, halfway by an more and more compelling Major League Baseball season, and I’m moved to achieve out and provides Freddie Freeman an enormous, digital, journalistic hug.

Come right here large man, it’s going to be OK.

The previous week made a number of issues very clear. Despite rising up in Orange County, Calif., Freeman would fairly be again in Atlanta, nonetheless with the Braves, dwelling within the home-away-from-home the place he spent 15 years earlier than really returning residence with the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Freeman’s contract with the Braves got here to an finish the second he helped the franchise safe the World Series, again in November. The ensuing MLB lockout put negotiations over a brand new deal on maintain and, by March, he had inked a six-year settlement with the Dodgers, which is the place the $162 million determine is available in.

So far, so regular. Pro athlete will get an enormous free-agent payday and strikes away from the place the place he made his identify and was joyful and profitable.

However, when the Dodgers headed for Georgia for a three-game stand final weekend, it was no typical homecoming. Freeman spent a lot of his transient stint in Atlanta in emotional flux, spending a whole eight-minute press convention in tears.

“I don’t know all of the feelings, it’s exhausting to place into phrases,” he wept. “I’m simply joyful to be again.”

There was extra stuff to get you within the feels when he was introduced together with his World Series ring from final season by Atlanta supervisor Brian Snitker, and extra once more when he was lauded by the Atlanta crowd at each at-bat.

He performed properly by the collection, hitting a few homers, however by the tip of the third sport – when it was time to depart – the feelings have been nonetheless on show.

It was getting somewhat awkward, in reality, a reality not misplaced on Dodgers pitcher Clayton Kershaw, who pointedly acknowledged he hoped “we’re not second fiddle” in Freeman’s thoughts.

By Tuesday it was being reported Freeman had fired his agent, Casey Close of Excel Management, who led offseason negotiations for the slugger.

Regardless, the takeaway from the journey was not notably exhausting to decipher. Freeman needs he was nonetheless with the Braves and the return there as a visiting participant reminded him simply how a lot he misses it.

Not everybody preferred the sideshow. Plenty of Dodgers supporters should have hated it.    

I can’t lie, I liked it. Maybe it’s as a result of I’m not as younger as I want I used to be, or as a result of baseball appears to carry out the sentimental facet in all of us, but it surely felt like a throwback to a unique time.

One-team loyalty is basically useless. Players have bonds with cities, positive, however usually they depart for greener and wealthier pastures, giving not more than a cursory look again over the shoulder.

Freeman got here to cherish a spot, and a corporation, a lot, that you just get the sense he’d hand again each penny of his Dodgers deal. Sports doesn’t enable a lot for issues like that, and it might be a surprising flip of occasions have been he to in some way depart and find yourself again in Atlanta now.

It may all appear ungrateful to L.A., however that is what we need from athletes isn’t it, loyalty?

“Over time, Freeman may come to like L.A.,” wrote Mark Bradley within the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “He may write off his first months as a Dodger as a case of purchaser’s regret. He may hit seven homers in opposition to the Braves within the NLCS, which might make even Brian Snitker much less wanting to hug him.”

For now, we simply have the fascinating story of how one of the vital essential gamers on top-of-the-line groups in baseball is pining for one other. And that’s why I feel bad for him.

Emotional sympathy isn’t sometimes one thing that skilled athletes get a lot of lately, most likely as a result of they obtain a lot in different methods.

It is difficult for the general public to actually prolong its coronary heart’s pity to somebody who makes hundreds of thousands, is a hero to hundreds of thousands, and who, from the surface wanting in, seems to have a a lot cooler life than the remainder of us do.

Sports lovers have the collective capability to sympathize with their favourite sportspeople, notably in circumstances of misfortune reminiscent of a nasty harm and positively in cases the place they might expertise some private tragedy.

But feeling unhappy for a soccer or baseball or basketball or soccer participant, simply because they’re feeling sad – or homesick? That’s not likely a factor.

There is all the time an exception. Freeman is that. If nothing else, he’s simply stepped up the “I’ll all the time love you (insert acceptable metropolis identify)” sport to a complete new degree.

Athletes have given heartfelt speeches and interviews, taken out full-page newspaper advertisements, declared themselves (insert acceptable workforce identify) for life, earlier than.

Freeman, together with his tears and actions, did one thing extra. He is hurting, and he confirmed it. The locals felt it — and relished it.

Freddie Freeman, .308-hitting first baseman for the NL West-leading Los Angeles Dodgers, is likely to be the most well-liked man in Atlanta.

Where he visits solely typically, however the place his coronary heart — it appears — will all the time be.

Martin Rogers is a columnist for FOX Sports and the writer of the FOX Sports Insider e-newsletter. You can subscribe to the daily newsletter here.

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