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As of the time of this writing, it is the middle of the fourth inning of Game 3 of the World Series and the Philadelphia Phillies are up four-zip against the Houston Astros. 

It wasn’t supposed to be this way, 2022. 

While writing this essay for Sports Illustrated on Freddie Freeman and our great game, the Dodgers or Braves felt inevitable as a World Series lock. The Braves were baseball’s hottest team; the Dodgers were MLB’s best team. 

But baseball–so rich in ritual, steeped in patterns, probability–draws its magic from surprise. Mookie Wilson grounds weakly to first. Kirk Gibson limps on deck to face Dennis Eckersley. The ‘95 Braves World Series was a relief, but the ‘91 Braves, the Worst-to-First bunch, was near ecstasy for months at a time. 

Maybe that was part of what made last season’s World Series so joyful. It was not expected. 

This season, our family’s baseball life this season was split. Checking Braves boxscores, we kept an eye out west on Freddie. Rose, my daughter, asked more than once if Freeman missed in Atlanta. When he returned in June, we had our answer. After that homecoming,  I wanted to explore what makes Freddie and our great game unique.