Los Angeles Dodgers fans who are already in love with Freddie Freeman got extra defensive in the moments that led up to the first baseman’s return to Atlanta for the first time since leaving the Braves in free agency.
Freeman’s wife, Chelsea, set the tone with an incredibly kind message to the city. No rational human being was going to accept a single boo directed at the couple. This was a time to reminisce, show respect, and tip your cap.
Thankfully, those in attendance at Truist Park made that a reality for Freeman and his family. On the flip side, the outpouring of support and love he received just further proved how badly the Braves screwed up this offseason by letting their franchise icon walk.
Even Freeman said his return “exceeded his expectations.” Can’t say Dodgers fans weren’t surprised, either. Not many expected Freeman to break down in tears multiple times, which truly showed his adoration for the 15 years he spent with the organization. Fifteen years, man. That’s history.
But before we get into reminding the Braves how incredibly short-sighted they are for letting Freeman walk for a few more million in the name of getting younger and saving a few bucks after arguably the most profitable season in franchise history, let’s feel all the emotions.
Freeman couldn’t even keep it together in his pregame meeting with the media. That’s how hard this was all hitting him.
The Braves screwed up by letting Freddie Freeman go to the Dodgers
How can you not feel something watching that? You gotta pause that a few times before losing it yourself.
It wasn’t even close to ending there, either. Freeman received his World Series ring upon his triumphant return and the Braves prepared a beautiful tribute video for the slugger. He couldn’t hold back — crying the second he came out of the dugout with the fans going wild. And that embrace with manager Brian Snitker? Come on. The relationship those two forged over the years was something you hardly ever see between star players and managers.
At the very least, receiving the World Series ring provided a bit of closure. But the emotions didn’t stop there. When Freeman came up to bat for the first time as the opposition at Truist Park, the crowd once again roared in support and Freeman took a moment to soak it all in.
The Dodgers handled business and took home a 4-1 victory, which was in line with the theme that the Braves did wrong by one of the best players in their franchise’s history. Olson is undoubtedly a great player, but he’s no Freeman. He has a long way before he even dreams about achieving Freeman status. This man has a grip on an entire city, which possesses intrinsic emotional and morale value. The Braves failed to see that, it seems — at least if we’re to believe the manner in which the negotiations went down.
Freeman has plenty of prime years left and was the undisputed leader in the defending World Series champions’ clubhouse. He’s a modern day iron man, too, missing just SEVEN total games since the start of 2018.
Did we mention he’s outpacing Olson so far this season, too?
- .882 OPS vs .816 OPS
- 143 OPS+ vs 123 OPS+
- .304 AVG vs .252 AVG
- 47 runs scored vs 29 runs scored
- 2.4 WAR vs 1.3 WAR
You have very few chances to make mistakes of this magnitude in a lifetime. The Braves managed to do it, though, and hopefully Friday night knocked some sense into them so they know to never do it again.
And while Dodgers fans couldn’t help but be emotional alongside Freddie, behind the watery eyes was appreciation for somebody else dropping the ball in grand fashion to their benefit.