I'm a Ryan Freel fan, so I wanted to pass along this info for anyone who didn't see it.
Freel was recently nominated by his teammates for the "Marvin Miller Man of the Year Award." Each club has a nominee. Voting is currently underway to create six finalists. Voting ends THIS SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 10. (Vote now)
The fact that his teammates nominated him, to me, is really impressive. Prior to this year, I was really bothered by Freel's off-the-field incidents and assumed he would become a typical baseball screw-up. But he seems like he's really rebounded from his troubles. I've always liked him as a player, but "Ryan Freel the person" is starting to impress me too. He doesn't take life too seriously, he's quick to laugh at himself (remember Farney?), and he seems to really care about how his teammates see him.
Unfortunately, someone had the stupid idea of creating a finalist from each division for this award, so Freel has more competition in the NL Central than any other division.
Here's his official bio on the ballot:
Cincinnati Reds: Ryan Freel
Ryan demonstrated that he doesn't stop hustling when he's off the field by leading the Reds Rookie Success League in appearances. The RRSL is a non-competitive, co-ed, summer baseball league for youngsters aged 8 to 11 that emphasizes building character. As part of the Make-A-Wish partnership with the Reds for every Friday home game during the season, Ryan hosts a child and his/her family at the Great American Ball Park. As his personal guests, the family watches batting practice from the field and receives tickets for the game. Ryan also provides hundreds of tickets for children as incentives for the Reds & Reading program, which is partnered with the Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County.
OK, so I'm not sure if any of this was court-ordered because of his alcohol-related charges, but at least he made sure his work involved kids. Also, it's hard to say that one person's community work is more valuable than someone else's, though Freel's competition seems to have more-established programs in place. But if you want to feel good about what some players do with their spare time, check out this.
Also, here are some nice stories about Freel's work:
Freel gives time to keep kids focused
Contest winners share poster space with Reds' Freel