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Mike Freeman and the intention of intentionality

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Is the Tribe’s unknown every man secretly a philosopher?

Cincinnati Reds v Cleveland Indians Photo by Ron Schwane/Getty Images

Mike Freeman shouldn’t exist.

At 32 years old and with only 57 PA under his belt entering the season, no one could have seen Freeman and his 132 PA and downright adequate offense taking the league — or at least one Indians gave every couple weeks where he hits well — by storm.

What’s his secret? He hardly looks like a distinguishable athlete, and most of the time I’m pretty sure he’s just a shorter Corey Kluber in a disguise. But somehow, some way, he’s turned a career of grueling minor-league work into a solid backup season for a major-league playoff contender. It’s one of baseballs most underrated stories of the year, if you ask me.

But I’m not here to talk about any of that. I just want to know one thing: Did he attempt to make up a word on the spot, or is he secretly baseball’s great philosopher?

After he played the role of hero in the Tribe’s 8-4 win over the Yankees on Sunday, Freeman dropped “intentionality” into his post-game interview with Andre Knott when explaining how he’s already ready to hop in and play when Tito needs him. He sort of sputters and trails off after it — which would hint that maybe he had no idea what the hell he just said — and Andre seems pretty confident that he just made up a word on the spot.

Here, watch for yourself.

I, too, thought it was made up and before Andre even said anything I wondered what the heck that word was. So, like any good internet user and human being, I Googled it — and surprise! — it actually is a word. Or, at the very least, it’s a term in philosophy.

To be completely fair to Andre, it absolutely sounds like a made-up word. Like something your offensive line coach makes up to motivate the five largest high-schoolers the team could find to run into other large high-schoolers every Friday night. Chrome’s built-in spellcheck doesn’t recognize it as a word, either, and Webster’s Dictionary refers you to the much more common “intentional.”

At the risk of sounding like a bad graduation speech, The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy defines intentionality as, “the power of minds and mental states to be about, to represent, or to stand for, things, properties and states of affairs.”

Believe me when I say that is the extremely abbreviated version of the definition. Here’s another direct quote about intentionality, roughly halfway through the 16,000-word dissertation:

“If (16) is true, so is (17). Secondly, the law of existential generalization applies to either (16) or (17) to yield ‘∃x(x shines).’ Not so with intensionality. As illustrated by examples (3) and (4) repeated here, the truth of (3) does not always entail the truth of (4):

Ava believes that Hesperus is shining.

Ava believes that Phosphorus is shining. “

Yeah, totally.

Anyway, Google sums it up in a much more succinct fashion: “the fact of being deliberate or purposive.” Now that sounds like something that might be useful to a backup utility player who needs to be ready to play anywhere and anytime. At the very least, it might be something Tito or one of the other coaches might have told him to be prepared to play at the drop of a hat.

I also did some research to find Freeman’s college major, hoping he’d be big into psychology or something and there’d be some “a-ha!” moment. Unfortunately, he only majored in financial management and nothing in psychology, per a Clemson University story on him from 2009. He did make the All-ACC Academic team twice while at Clemson and the All-SEC Academic team while at Georgia, for what that’s worth. Nothing that would jump out and hint at being a prodigious philosopher from an early age, though.

My only real takeaway from all this is that intentionality probably is a common word, whether or not Freeman used it on purpose, and I probably should have known that. All the digging around did, however, lead me to a very important discovery ...

... which led to another.

You’re welcome.