Atlanta Braves: Chipper’s Time

Retiring is a part of sports and it is something that every athlete goes through. Not only is it tough for an athlete to walk away from the game he or she loves, but it is tough for a fan. I know for myself when Ken Griffey Jr. retired, one of the games most lovable players and personalities, I knew I would be upset; and trust me I was. The same goes for Derek Jeter. Being a Yankee fan my whole, I know I will be sad when #2 grounds his last ball from short.

When Griffey walked away from the game, people were upset and the same will happen when Jeter goes. Up until about two weeks ago I realized that another one of baseball’s greatest, most beloved players will be retiring at the end of this season. Chipper Jones will be hanging up his cleats at the end of this season whether his team wins the World Series or finishes below .500 and leaving behind one of the best careers anyone has ever put together while playing baseball.

Now I have been a Yankee fan my whole life, and always will be, but when I look back at the great baseball players of my generation, I will think of Chipper Jones and rightfully so. Personally, everyone should. If you are one of those crazy baseball fans who only pledge their elegance to their favorite team and only like the players on that team, please just try to ignore that for the 5 minutes you read my article.

Baseball fans around the U.S. owe a lot to Chipper for the 19 seasons he has played in the Major Leagues. There are numerous reasons why we should all love Chipper and deserves our respect. While playing during a generation where players were corrupted with steroids, Chipper Jones was one of the few who didn’t succumb to pressure; and was able to play the game the right, the honest way, while still producing outstanding numbers.

It might also come as a shock, but for 19 seasons Chipper has played his whole career with one team, which in today’s era of sports is unheard of (especially in baseball). To see a guy end such a historic career with one team, while consistently winning and playing at a superstar level is just terrific especially during the leagues “Dark Ages”.

You can’t talk about Chipper Jones without mentioning the ridiculous numbers he put up over 19 seasons. It’s tough to figure where I should start when it comes to stats, so I’m just going to wing it. Over 19 seasons, Chipper has a .304 batting average, 464 homers, 1608 RBIs, and 2,690 hits. I’ll also mention his .402 OBP and a .532 SLG. I’d say that’s pretty good for a guy who was the number one pick in the 1990 Draft. Jones’ best season came in 1999 when he won the NL MVP, hitting 45 homers, 110 RBIs while having a .319 batting average. Chipper’s offensive talent did not go unseen. He earned 2 Silver Slugger Awards and was an 8 time All-Star. His offensive skills were put on display for all of baseball 11 out of his 19 seasons, leading the Atlanta Braves to the postseason and 3 World Series with the help of arguably one of the best pitching staffs ever assembled. In 1995, Jones would accomplish the one goal every big leaguer dreams of and win his first and only World Series Championship beating out the Cleveland Indians. Jones wasn’t just an offensive force, but he could hold his own on the defensive end. For 19 seasons, #10 called third-base his home and made it his domain. I can’t go on and forget to mention his stint in left field for a few games.

Honestly, I have never been a huge fan of Chipper (have always respected) and I can’t explain why I am so passionate about this topic. Maybe it’s because I don’t want to admit that a new era of baseball is upon us, maybe it’s because I feel old because one of the game’s best who played during my childhood is retiring. Or maybe it’s because I feel that Chipper isn’t getting the attention he deserves during his last season while we pay attention to the newcomers. On the field along with off the field Chipper was an All-Star who showed class his whole career in every city he played in and being one of baseball’s best representatives. Chipper Jones was one of those players who were able to put up the numbers, win, participate off the field, and still have a smile on his face. We also can’t forget his appearance in Backyard Baseball.

Personally, Jones is one of the best in my book. He is right up there with the great ball players of that generation and third-base men of all-time. What I’m trying to say is, appreciate what Jones has done over the past 20 years. When we look back, we’ll remember Jones’ for those awesome Braves’ teams he led to the World Series, crushing HR’s over the wall at Shea along with every other ballpark (mostly Shea), and the spot on throws he made from the right corner of the infield. Most important, we need to remember Larry Wayne Jones Jr. for being one of the few that kept the pureness and soul of baseball alive during an era filled with angry, cheating meatheads. Chipper Jones is one of the greats who did it the right way, who played the game of baseball the way it is suppose to be played. From us to you, thank you Chipper.