There are worthwhile concerns about the Mariners 40-man roster including a player who has more endorsements for his “Sports Management” skills than his “Baseball” skills. Still, this is a realist response by the Clemson graduate. He was an 11th round pick in the 2010 draft by the Arizona Diamondbacks, whose Director of Scouting and Player Personnel was, incidentally, one Gerard Peter Dipoto. Freeman turned 29 during his rookie season of 2016. A utility man whose frame and athleticism doesn’t project for much more than his current manifestation has to be ready for any contingency.
Last year, the Mariners were very fortunate to have Freeman around, although not particularly fortunate to need him. He joined the Mariners on August 1st, being claimed off waivers from the Diamondbacks, and saw his first action less than a week later, going 2-3 with a walk and an RBI. Freeman wouldn’t record another hit until October, but his thread in the tapestry of 2016 did not fade away.
On September 21st, the Mariners were reeling. The three-game series with Toronto had already been heartbreaking, with the first two games resembling a mass migration and feeding of parasitic jaegers. Having attended both the initial games and spent most of the second consoling a distraught, drunken friend who saw this suffering as inevitable, I did not attempt to justify missing work to see the Wednesday afternoon matinee. That game, of course. resulted in several works of art.
It gave us the Defiant King.
Whose house?— Mariners (@Mariners) September 22, 2016
King Felix letting 'em know. pic.twitter.com/gWn5CtjVoG
It gave us my favorite recap of this entire season.
It also would’ve all been for nothing if it weren’t for Mike Freeman making the play of his life. In the top of the 10th inning Freeman entered the game at shortstop after Dae-Ho Lee pinch-hit for Ketel Marte. It was his second time playing shortstop in his MLB career, and the last time he would play it all season. Michael Saunders doubled off of Evan Scribner, then was replaced by pinch-runner Melvin Upton. A bunt by Ryan Goins brought the go-ahead run in the 1-1 tie 90 feet from home. The infield moved in. Three players with over two decades of collective MLB experience at their positions stepped as close as they dared to home plate. Mike Freeman joined them, one out into his 10th inning. He was ready.
Seattle went on to win 2-1 on a Robinson Canó sacrifice fly that drove in Guillermo Heredia, and the torch bearing Seattle’s playoff dreams was narrowly passed on safely.
This isn’t meant to be a tale of just another
gritty workman-like lunch pail coach on the field yeoman gym rat Bloomquist undersized utility player who made it to the big leagues. This is a story of a guy having a likely narrow window of opportunity, and in that moment succeeding spectacularly. Maybe it was really as little of a deal to Freeman as it looked like after he picks himself up. I am a passionate fan and a passionate player and cannot imagine a much more vindicating moment than this. Freeman is a player whose MLB career is fragile enough that he meticulously curates his work profile for potential employers of all kinds. Whatever the rest of his career(s) may hold, this play is justification enough that he succeeded.
Give the man seven endorsements for baseball, LinkedIn. He’s earned it.