2019 Rockies Opening Day pitcher Kyle Freeland was born a month after the Rockies’ first game, and he was born to wear purple. As he told Paul Klee, “I’ve kind of dreamed of this since Day 1, since they drafted me . . . . What a rare opportunity I have to be a Rockies first-round pick and debut for a team I grew up watching as a kid. I want to make the best of every opportunity. There’s no place I’d rather do it than here.”
Freeland wears this commitment on his body — the Colorado-inspired “303,” “5280,” and Front Range mountains inked on his right arm. As he told Patrick Saunders, the tattoos reflect “the love I have for Colorado and having the opportunity to play for the Rockies.” He adds, “I embrace it all. I know it’s an opportunity not many people get.”
Colorado has returned the love, in part because Freeland is a pitcher who’s redefined pitching at elevation and, in part, because he’s our guy. You’ll find it in Rockies podcasts and viral tweets. Kyle Freeland is one of us.
Actually, Freeland is the link between Colorado and the Rockies. He’s not some distant professional athlete: He’s a member of the community. Here’s an example: The Saturday after the Rockies lost to the Brewers in the NLDS, Ryan Koenigsberg tweeted this:
If you needed more of a reason to love Kyle Freeland, he’s at @BlakeSt_Tavern in a Buffs jersey.— Ryan Koenigsberg (@RyanKoenigsberg) October 14, 2018
The next day, Freeland was posting Instagram video from the Broncos-Raiders game, where he was huddled in the stands with the rest of Denver — granted, he had pretty good seats. The other Rockies had headed to their various homes, but not Kyle Freeland, who was always home because he never left.
Kyle Freeland loves playing in Denver, and Denver loves having a Thomas Jefferson High School alumnus on the mound. Freeland is our guy.
So in honor of Kyle Freeland, let me propose a new Rockies tradition.
Freeland has been clear that he loathes the wave, saying, “For me, as a pitcher, it’s distracting.” During Freeland’s August start against the Pirates, the wave broke out. Here’s how he reacted:
“I actually avoided it. . . . I threw over to first (base), twice, without a sign. And I stepped off the rubber twice, just waiting for it to pass by. If somebody starts the wave, I can sometimes feel it coming from my back side. The other day, I felt it coming and I stepped off and let it pass by.”
Fellow Rockies fans, we need to support our guy. After all the bickering over whether to wave or not to wave, the way forward is clear: Always wear purple. Stand up and yell. Stay seated and yell. But real Kyle Freeland Guys, Gals, Fans, and Freaks don’t do the wave.
Now, bring on 2019 baseball!