Rockies pitcher Kyle Freeland is Colorado strong. But in the age of coronavirus, he compulsively grabs a bottle of hand sanitizer before leaving the house. Freeland loves baseball. But instead of taking the mound for Colorado, he is stuck in the backyard, playing fetch with Benny, his German shepherd.
“It’s very strange knowing we’re not going to play baseball on opening day,” Freeland said Wednesday.
There will be no baseball today. No turnstiles clicking or crowd buzzing. No happy crunch of peanut shells underfoot in the bleachers. No fifth-grade class singing the national anthem delightfully off-key before the home plate umpire leads our chorus: “Play ball!”
From Fenway Park to Wrigley Field to Chavez Ravine, major-league ballparks sit empty. Opening day has been put on hold, while we obsessively wash our hands and hoard toilet paper, hoping that’s enough to beat a pandemic.
No baseball also means the redemption of Freeland has been delayed.
“It’s frustrating,” said Freeland, giving voice to the stay-at-home anxiety the rest of us also wrestle. “It really seems like no positive news has come out. … Nothing to look forward to.”
Nobody wants to get back to Coors Field with more urgency than Freeland. He was a 17-game winner and Colorado’s favorite son in 2018, when the Rockies has visions of World Series glory. Then all the good vibes were flushed straight down a rabbit hole for both Freeland and his teammates, who lost 91 games last year.
“I’d be lying to say that my mind never went there, where you say: ‘This (stinks) in general. And I (stink).’ It’s hard not to go there, because you’re struggling, you’re not seeing any kind of success,” said Freeland, whose earned run average ballooned to 6.73 in 2019.
As a much-anticipated playoff race went off the rails for the Rockies, the 26-year-old graduate of Thomas Jefferson High School was shipped to the minor leagues in search of his mojo and fastball command.