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December 18, 2013

The final days of Ryan Freel

Ryan and wife ChristieOn December 22, 2012, former Cincinnati Reds infielder and outfielder Ryan Freel committed suicide. This week, his family released news that he’d been suffering with chronic traumatic encephalopathy, a concussion-related disease more commonly associated with football players.

On the anniversary, Brett Popplewell at SportsNet writes about Freel’s tragic life and his sad final days. The story opens in a chilling fashion.

A dead man rested on a couch, surrounded by mementoes of the things that mattered most. Memories from a life already lost: his daughters, his wife, his career. He left no note. No goodbye. Just three words, typed on his phone and sent to his mother. “You forgot one.”

The whole thing is worth a read. Hopefully, one day we’ll be able to prevent both repeated head trauma in sports and the damage that they can cause to people and families.

January 3, 2013

Remembering Ryan Freel

On December 22, 2012, Ryan Freel was found dead in his home in Florida, killed by a self-inflicted shotgun wound. He was the father of three, the oldest of whom just celebrated her eighth birthday. He was 36.

As you may have noticed, I’ve put off writing about this. It seemed like a topic that deserved some quiet reflection, which there isn’t time for in the days leading up to Christmas. That didn’t stop it from affecting my holiday season, though. Of course, Ryan Freel isn’t a close friend or family member, but it felt weird to continue being jovial while it was in the back of my mind. Everybody brought it up in conversation. It made for somber holiday party chit-chat.

Still, as the days went by the shock and sorrow of the news gradually dimmed compared to the happy memories. How, before games at different ballparks, he used to confirm with the umpires what he was allowed to climb on to in order to make catches. Farney. The time he had a little too much domestic beer at Applebee’s and tried to start a cheer for Danny Graves. I just can’t help but laugh thinking about those times.

The South Park character I made for Ryan FreelI remember when Reds and Blues used a South Park character generator to make pictures of the whole roster, but Freel was on the DL, so I thought I saw my opportunity. The R&B Freel character appeared online just minutes before mine did. I was never so mad at Joel as right then.

Autographed Ryan Freel t-shirtI remember how Freel’s was the first and only autograph I ever sought out, and how my husband had the t-shirt framed for mother’s day one year. That t-shirt still hangs on the wall; I’m looking at it as I write this. I remember how he and his wife appeared at that inappropriately-and-somewhat-offensively-named “Baseball 101″ program that the Reds put on, and how all those fiercely devoted old lady Reds fans adored him.

But mostly I remember the joy it brought my soul to watch a person commit so completely, win or lose. These days, most people probably don’t remember when I used to write “Human League” profiles about the players, but Freel was one of the first, and this was something I dug up from that post:

Ryan Freel sliding in to second

Wherever he’s playing, Freel has a reckless disregard for his own safely and will fling himself into walls, stands, the ground, other players, or anything else that stands between him and the ball. He has broken the arm of one fan and the nose of another, and a near-collision with Barry Larkin resulted in aggravation of an existing injury for the veteran shortstop.

But mostly if anyone gets hurt, it’s going to be Freel. He’s had bruises, fractures, strains, tears, you-name-it, but he always seems to bounce back quickly. Freel is a frequent Web Gem Nominee because his defensive plays often appear to be, if not impossible, at least highly improbable.

Or perhaps a better paragraph to end on would be this one:

When you select a player’s jersey to wear, you’re honoring that player, but you’re also sending a message to the world about yourself. When you elect to don #6, you’re telling the world that you appreciate passion, energy, and a can-do attitude. You’re saying that you aren’t afraid of embarassement, pain, or hefty emergency room bills. You’re saying that you don’t wait around for things to happen; you make your own destiny.

RedsZone.com put together a fundraiser for suicide prevention in his honor, and Freel’s family is donating his brain tissue to head trauma research. Make your kids wear their helmets, guys.

December 27, 2012

Fundraiser for Ryan Freel

Ryan and wife ChristieWhen the news broke of Ryan Freel’s suicide last week, it made for a very sad evening at the RHM household. During Freel’s time with the Cincinnati Reds, he was the most entertaining athlete on the field and a joy to watch. The news of his passing just before Christmas was difficult to handle.

Some good news has come out of the tragedy, though. The Reds fan forum RedsZone has organized an effort to raise funds for the Cincinnati branch of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.

Ryan Freel’s recent death has shocked Reds nation and affected many individuals, both in the Reds family and elsewhere. Ryan Freel was a beloved member of the Reds family, and gave fans a reason to cheer at every game. From his diving catch in GABP to rob Pujols, to his fearless vault into the stands of Coors field, to the game where he stole second, third, and home, he always gave his all to help the team.

So, in his honor, RedsZone.com would like to raise money for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention’s Cincinnati Branch, so that Freel’s tragic death doesn’t have to be in vain. From Christmas Eve to the end of January, donations of any amount will be accepted and then 100% of the money will be given to AFSP-Cincinnati.

Donations can be made online through YouCaring.com.

December 9, 2008

Episode 109: Rage Breaks the Apathy

So, those Reds traded Ryan Freel, eh? Might actually be a decent move, I suppose, but against the backdrop oft he cluster that is Dusty Baker’s management, it’s hard to see this move as anything other than more of said cluster.

In any event, the massive level of annoyance that it aroused in the Red Hot Household was enough to shake us from our three-month long podcasting malaise. This ought to motivate us for at least a couple months, at which time I guess they’ll have to trade Brandon Phillips to the Nationals in order to raise my ire enough to create more audio content.

December 9, 2008

Reds Trade Freel to Orioles

Ryan fucking Freel and traded and his name isn\'t even in the motherfucking headline??Warning: The word “fuck” appears in the following quip about three dozen times. If you’re offended by such language, well, that’s your own fault for coming to Red Hot Mama when the Reds trade Freel.

You’ve got to be fucking kidding me. You’re telling me that Ryan “Adored by every woman in Cincy” Freel was traded, and his name didn’t even make it to the motherfucking headline on Reds.com?

But other than that, spot on trade, idiots. Dusty Baker never liked Freel, and if theres one thing we’ve fucking learned this year, it’s that Baker fucking knows best. And halleluja that they sent him off to get another fucking catcher. God knows that the Reds can’t do without sixteen fucking catchers at a time. Just can’t fill the fucking void after the Cardinals salvaged LaRue. Just can’t seem to bounce back after the fucking Bench years.

Not to worry, though. David fucking Weathers will be back next year to keep things interesting. Gary Majewski will be there to put butts in the fucking seats. I can’t wait to tune in to see fucking Alex Gonzalez be injured. It’ll be fucking compelling baseball.

Overall, though, I like the trade. I bet Hernandez is going to be a real fucking asset.

You’d probably like the details. Here’s the important parts of the story on Reds.com:

LAS VEGAS — The Reds on Tuesday completed a trade in which they acquired catcher Ramon Hernandez from the Orioles for utility player Ryan Freel and two prospects.

Baltimore will also receive Reds infield prospects Brandon Waring and Justin Turner. Cincinnati is believed to be receiving $1 million in cash from the Orioles in the deal.

Hernandez is slated to make $8 million in 2009, with a 2010 club option worth $8.5 million and a $1 million payment.

Freel is scheduled to make $4 million next season.

Dammit. This sucks.