Tag Archives: Chipper Jones

A Justified “Jones”-ing for Retirement

For about three summers, it was impossible to turn to ESPN without hearing the words “Brett” and “Favre.”

Pundits speculated as to whether he’d make his triumphant return, first with the New York Jets, then with the Minnesota Vikings…and so on.

Private jets to and from Mississippi represented life decisions to us.  SportsNation even devoted an entire episode to breaking the Guinness World Record for the most times mentioning Brett Favre in a sixty-minute period.

For three years the long-time vet from Southern Miss contemplated retirement ad nauseum.  The media circus surrounding his entire life produced enough drama and frustration to make Breaking Bad look like a sitcom.

Getting out of the spotlight has allowed Favre to once again enjoy football.  He should have done this three years ago

And what does he have to show for it?  A trip to the 2009 NFC Championship Game, sure, but two mediocre seasons that sandwiched this stellar performance.

His last stand in 2010 left him concussed, no longer starting and otherwise battered.  Favre’s 5-8 curtain call made for his second-worst season record-wise and was coupled with the meteoric rise of his former understudy Aaron Rodgers in Green Bay.

Where is Favre in 2012?  Living a relatively quiet life outside his hometown of Hattiesburg, Mississippi, acting as an assistant coach for Oak Grove High School—and loving every minute of it.

Another southern-born man in his forties will soon face the same crossroads that thrice tripped Favre up.

Chipper Jones of the Atlanta Braves is closing in on 19 years in Major League Baseball and he has sworn this is his last.

Jones, who spent much of the first month-and-a-half of the 2012 season on the Disabled List nursing a pesky leg injury, came back on fire and is now sitting pretty with a .302 batting average, 13 homers and 54 RBI—better totals than he’s had in four years.

Some Jones “fans” are beginning to come out of the woodwork to say, “Come on, there’s no way he can retire with numbers this good.”

If Chipper Jones listens to any of this, we’re in for round two of the “should I stay or should I go?” game.

But Jones and Braves fans everywhere should learn from the failures of lingering heroes of old—the Brett Favres, the Rickey Hendersons even the Michael Jordans of the world (indeed not too many 39 year-old wizards have tricks up their sleeves).

As we’ve seen, triumphant and beloved can turn to borderline pathetic in the matter of a season.

Jones hasn’t wavered in his end of the year retirement promise.

Jones has given Atlanta more than it could have ever hoped for—8 All-Star Game appearances, a .304 lifetime batting average, a 1995 World Series title, plus the intangibles that come with over a decade of team leadership.

Now Braves and Chipper Jones fans everywhere have the tough responsibility of letting their idol retire with dignity.

The only remaining accomplishments he would pursue upon returning are numerical; 3,000 and 500 come to mind but are still two-plus potentially injury-ridden seasons out.

He’s given Braves fans a victory lap to remember, received a thunderous, anticipatory standing ovation at the All-Star Game in Kansas City and placed himself alongside Henry Aaron and Phil Niekro as one of Atlanta’s all-time greats.  A Hollywood ending in the form of second World Series is an outside possibility as well.

Number 10 has accomplished too much wearing the battle-axe to risk eventually overstaying his welcome.

While Cooperstown waits, Jones should commit to his exit strategy (like he so intelligently has been) and in the meantime give back to the local baseball community and attempt to mentor a new generation of All-Star third basemen.

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National League Wins Third Straight All-Star Game

After a nearly 14-year losing skid, the National League All-Stars have officially started a new streak.

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T.I., uh, I mean… Adam Jones… was just one of many American League players to struggle at the plate.

Reversing a trend that began in the 1990’s just two years ago at Angels Stadium in Anaheim, the N.L. went to work early on Tuesday night, winning their third straight Mid-Summer Classic in an 8-0 laugher in Kansas City.

Coming into the break with a 9-5 record and a 2.58 ERA, American League starting pitcher and Detroit Tigers ace Justin Verlander did not earn his stripes this evening.

He pitched only one inning and surrendered two walks and five earned runs in a performance that sealed his league’s fate before national anthem singer Luke Bryan could finish the word “brave.”

It was widely speculated around the league that San Francisco Giants fans “cheated” the All-Star voting system, liberally using internet voting to secure spots for a number of Giants players, including third baseman Pablo Sandoval, who started over a probably more deserving David Wright.

Sandoval quickly showed the importance of voting early and often, hitting the first bases loaded triple in All-Star Game history off of Verlander in the first inning to put the National League ahead 4-0.  Giants players would drive in five of the N.L.’s eight runs.

On the mound, the National League pitchers were masterful.  With such a deep bullpen allowing relief pitchers to go all-out against the one or two batters they faced, flamethrowers like Atlanta’s Craig Kimbrel and Cincinnati’s Aroldis Chapman proved to be particularly devastating, both topping out at over 100 miles-per-hour in the eighth inning.

In one particular at bat, Kimbrel’s repertoire was just too much for American League hitting.

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Going 2 for 3 with 2 RBI, Melky Cabrera was one of three San Francisco Giants to deliver big in the All-Star Game and was named MVP.

Having blown a 100 mile-per-hour fastball by Asdrubal Cabrera of the Indians to get ahead 0-2, Kimbrel unleashed a filthy backdoor curveball at 87 miles-per-hour that caused Cabrera’s knees to buckle and the American League’s hopes to fade even further.

The American League All-Stars barely even let out a whimper all evening on offense.  Only one player on the entire roster, 20 year-old Angels outfielder Mike Trout, was able to reach base twice as the team scratched together a meager five hits on the night.

The sole high point of the American League team may have been its home fans.  The American League faithful (a.k.a. the Kansas City Royals faithful) showed their class throughout this All-Star week, which is typically the norm for loyal Midwest fan bases.

Last night, American League Home Run Derby captain Robinson Cano heard deafening boos after failing to pick Royals designated hitter Billy Butler, who has 16 home runs on the season, to be on the four-man squad.  An airplane message even reiterated the message before first pitch, declaring, “Congrats, Billy!  You blew it, Cano!”

The boos quickly turned into cheers as a jet-lagged Cano failed to clear the fences once.

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The Royals have seemingly never been able to win in Kauffman Stadium, one of the league’s most picturesque ballparks.

Still, the Royals fans stuck around to cheer on the rest of their American League brethren, applauding Tigers first baseman Prince Fielder as he hoisted his second Home Run Derby trophy.

Their biggest throwback, class-act moment, however, came on Tuesday night when Chipper Jones stepped up to the plate in the top half of the sixth.

This would be Jones’ only at-bat in his last All-Star Game, and the 40,000-plus on hand certainly made it a momentous occasion, rising to their feet for a thunderous standing ovation.  The curtain call received an audible, “Wow!” and a tip of the cap from the usually unsentimental Jones, who would later poke a single to the right side.

Aside from saying goodbye to a first ballot Hall of Famer and showcasing a beautiful, often overlooked Kauffman Stadium, this All-Star break in Kansas City served as an opportunity for the National League to start a dynasty of its own.

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