Bottom of the ninth, down one run, Chipper Jones on third base and a playoff berth in sight. The first walk off home run of Freddie Freeman's young career will will not only be seared into his memory, but into the memories of Braves fans everywhere. Another comeback win. Another one-run win. And perhaps a bit of personal redemption for the Braves first baseman.
As soon as the bat hit the ball, we heard it. That magical sound! The sound that only a home run makes. Everyone knew it. It was a blast that sailed over the deepest part of the centerfield wall. His teammates spilled out of the dugout and raced to meet him a home plate. Chipper turned and watched. As soon as the ball cleared the wall, his fist went up into the night air and I swear, he almost seemed to bounce home with the joy and excitement of a little leaguer. And Freddie, he ran the bases faster than he ever has before. After he rounded third, he literally leapt to home plate. And then the dirt-filled melee ensued!!
The redemption? It dates back to last September, back to the final game of the regular season. The game that the Braves lost. The game that kept them from the playoffs. Most people remember the September unravelling. The skid that caused the season to come down to one final game. Freddie Freeman remembers something else. He remembers that he was the last batter in that final game. He hit into a double play and made the last out. The ball reached Ryan Howard's glove before Freddie made it to the bag. He threw his batting helmet in disgust and the Braves season ended with a whimper.
I don't think Freddie spent the off season dwelling on it. But I do think that it ticked him off. No one wants to be the guy who makes the final out, especially someone as driven as Freddie Freeman is. Tonight, he got his redemption. And it tasted like champagne!