David Freese is obviously a dedicated Puckett’s Pond reader.
That’s my only explanation for what he did last night. Leading off the bottom of the 11th inning, Game 6 of the World Series, the solo home run to win the game: Freese must have read my article from earlier this week that proclaimed Kirby Puckett’s Game 6 home run to be the greatest World Series homer of all time. On a game that was originally scheduled exactly twenty years after Puckett’s signature game, Freese extended the 2011 World Series the same way Puckett extended the 1991 Series.
There was definitely some intentional repetition of baseball history when Joe Buck repeated his father’s call “we’ll see you tomorrow night.” Hard to blame him for using that line again.
If you didn’t watch the game, I am very sorry. Without exaggeration, this was one of the greatest baseball games ever played. It was a back and forth battle with plenty of big hits and goofy plays in the field. The Cardinals had their backs completely against the wall the whole time. Twice they were one strike away from a loss, and twice they came up with clutch two run hits to tie it. If MLB Network had waited eight months to begin their 20 Greatest Games series, this one would without a doubt have been put in the top five, and it might have rivaled Game 6 of the 1975 Series or Game 7 of 1991 for a top 2 spot. Only time will tell how this will be remembered, but it looked like one of the all time classics, and I doubt anyone will argue with that.
So, who did it better, Puckett or Freese?
In my article about Puckett’s homer, I argued that Puckett’s drive was greater than Carlton Fisk’s 1975 homer because Fisk’s team eventually lost the World Series. If the Cardinals don’t win tomorrow, Freese’s walk-off will have been wasted, so we have to wait and see before we can really judge its true meaning.
On it’s own merits, though, the Freese drive was incredible. Puckett hit a solid line drive to left field, definitely not a gift homer. But Freese’s homer was a moonshot. It was a straight out blast that landed halfway up the lawn beyond center field.
Part of the reason I liked the Puckett homer was because of his reaction. Puckett pumped his fists in the air and screamed like a (justifiably) happy mental patient. Freese, on the other hand, jogged calmly around the bases until he got halfway between third and home, then he threw down his helmet and joined the mob of teammates that was waiting for him as well asPuckett. You’ll have to make your own decision about whose reaction was better, but I liked Puckett’s display of emotion better than Freese’s cold as steel stoicism. It should be noted that Freese did not wave his drive fair like Carlton Fisk either, but that was understandable because it was hit to straightaway center field.
While Freese doesn’t appear to be the first-ballot HOFer that Puckett was, he arguably had almost as good of a game as Puckett did. Kirby had a triple, a single, a sac fly, and a highlight-reel catch before his game winner. Freese started out badly, going 0-3 and botching a popup that led to a run. But he redeemed himself ten times over in the ninth inning when he tripled in two runs to save the Cardinals from extinction. By the time he rounded the bases in the 11th, all the bad was forgotten.
For right now, we’ll call it a tossup and revisit the question later. It’s probably a bit tough to accurately judge Freese right now, since that home run is fresh in everyone’s mind. Let’s see how the passage of time treats this one.