Big League Stew - MLB

The retirement of a 34-year-old light-hitting utility man usually doesn't call for any sort of extended note, but we must make an exception for Ryan Freel(notes).

That's because the man with 22 career home runs to his name was an absolute All-Star in the early days of the baseball blogosphere, always coming up with memorable ways to drive traffic.

Among Freel's most memorable slugs: 

• Claimed to have an imaginary friend named "Farney" who lived inside his head. "Everybody thinks I talk to myself, so I tell 'em I'm talking to Farney,'" Freel told the Dayton Daily News in 2006.

• Once fit the description of a baseball player who was looking to pass the time at spring training by, uh, making a new friend on Craigslist.

• Played with little regard to his personal safety and made a number of memorable plays, including the time he was knocked out cold after catching a ball during a horrific warning-track collision with teammate Norris Hopper(notes). (Hopper later revealed that he placed the ball in Freel's glove, but that only added to the bloggability.)

• Posed for pictures like this one.

Freel also got into his share of trouble, being arrested twice for alcohol-related offenses during his career. He was also a walking MASH unit the past few seasons, and he bounced between the Orioles, Cubs, Royals and Rangers.

He retires, however, with a decent slash line of .268/.354/.369 and 143 career steals. As they ride off into the sunset, we here at Big League Stew would like to wish Freel and Farney the best. 

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