Did he catch it? Seems to have, with the ball rolling out once he came to rest. The video doesn't show how long he had it, but it obviously didn't get far. Probably an out anyway, with Hopper doing what he did out of an abundance of caution, but I have complete confidence that the next Freel hagiography will contain a nugget about him being so dedicated and hard-nosed that he held on to the ball despite being knocked cold.
Update: Sam M over at BTF has set me straight on this point:
Under Rule 2.0, it doesn't matter how long Freel had it:
A CATCH is the act of a fielder in getting secure possession in his hand or
glove of a ball in flight and firmly holding it; providing he does not use his
cap, protector, pocket or any other part of his uniform in getting possession.
It is not a catch, however, if simultaneously or immediately following his
contact with the ball, he collides with a player, or with a wall, or if he falls
down, and as a result of such collision or falling, drops the ball. It is not a
catch if a fielder touches a fly ball which then hits a member of the offensive
team or an umpire and then is caught by another defensive player. If the fielder
has made the catch and drops the ball while in the act of making a throw
following the catch, the ball shall be adjudged to have been caught. In
establishing the validity of the catch, the fielder shall hold the ball long
enough to prove that he has complete control of the ball and that his release of the ball is voluntary and intentional.
Holding the ball a long time would matter only if it could establish two
things: that Freel had "complete control of the ball" (check), AND that "his
relase of the ball [was] voluntary and intentional" -- which it wasn't. Since
Freel's release of the ball was the "result of such collision," and was not
"voluntary and intentional," it wasn't a catch.Except, of course, the umpire
said it was . . . so it was.
Ok, so it wasn't a harmless fraud. Scientists are discussing what this means for Freel's legend. They're limited in what they can do, however, because scrappiness is neither created nor destroyed, it simply transfers from one white player to another.
Bonus: Listen to Reds' announcer George Grande imply that the collision was Norris' fault. Maybe it was, but until he hears who was calling who off -- if at all -- how can Grande say that the collision wasn't the fault of the "little guy" who has been the "beating heart of the Reds since he put on the uniform"?Note: Some wisecracks aside, I have no real beef with Freel and I would never wish an injury or a horrific collision on anyone, nor do I take any joy at seeing him getting cold-cocked. My beef is with the media who always seek to lionize small, hustling white players to a greater degree than their talent level would normally dictate. Freel has been the recipient of a ton of such coverage in the past year, and some of this b.s. needs to be called out.