Posts like these are tough to write, folks. Just tough. Chipper Jones was and has been my favorite player since I first laid eyes on a television screen watching baseball. I’m not sure why I started to like him as a player, perhaps it was when I was a kid and he was the first player I saw hit a home run. I’m not really sure how that relationship started, but I know why I grew to love him as a ballplayer.
Usually when you’ve had the same favorite player for as long as you can remember, you’re going to like the team he plays for, so it’s no surprise I’m a big Atlanta Braves fan. I follow the team every day, reading multiple articles a day on anything and everything I can get my hands on. I bleed Atlanta Braves. Some people might be throwing up in the corner right now, some might agree with me, but it’s true: I bleed Bravo nation. I’ve even contemplated naming my next kid (if I have one) Chipper (def not Larry) but know how weird that would be in every way possible; plus, I’m sure my wife wouldn’t go for that. So, I’ll settle for naming my next dog Chipper. (I’m looking to get a Siberian Husky, if anyone has any experience with them, let me know.)
So, I bleed Atlanta Braves. Thick and the thin. Every day.
I’ve been putting off writing this article for a while, a long while. Chipper’s retiring at the end of the season, and I think, finally, I’m okay with that. Perhaps seeing all the respect he’s getting this year at his last stops helps ease the pain. Perhaps it’s the fine season he’s had up to this point. Perhaps it’s knowing he might get to go out on top. See, when he announced he was retiring, the Braves were having a miserable spring, and I was thinking how long of a season this would be. After an 0-4 start, I was upset that this was the way Chipper was going to go out. But, I wrote an article on how a few teams were winless and their fan bases were jumping off bridges.
That eased some pain, but as you noticed, I didn’t mention anything about Chipper. I was keeping it hidden, deep inside.
But the world goes on, does it not? Since my last post, I’ve accomplished two things. Don’t worry, I’ll get to the point in a second, which is Chipper Jones. I’ll discuss everything about him, memories, stats and why he’s going to be a first-ballot Hall of Famer. We’ll cover it all folks; but I’m sure you can tell I’m stalling here … so just go with it.
Alright, so, since my last post, I’ve accomplished two things. First, I got engaged. She had never been to New York City, so I took her up there for a weekend. We browsed around the city, and eventually I took her on the authentic Venetian Gondola in Central Park. I’d heard rumors that on some occasions, the Gondolier would sing during the trip, but usually it was a very special occasion or such. He had no idea I was going to do it, so I didn’t expect it. I guess I should mention, we had to run up from 59th street to get there. We were running late and luckily the Gondolier cancelled all his appointments the rest of the evening for us. Did I mention that my special lady friend had on heels? Ouch, right? So, like 20 blocks up running through a park in heels, I’m thinking this is going to be the worst disaster in the world.
Anyway, we get there, she’s in a better mood just because of the fact that she loves boats. We both do. First reason I wanted to do it. The Gondolier was awesome, he immediately cheered her up. He was very talkative. Asking questions like “Does Jamie always do romantic things like this?” Yes, he definitively made the trip for us. So, we started to go under the bridge in the lake, with people standing on the bridge and I thought, hell, let’s do it here, right? Without missing a beat, the Gondolier begins to sing as well, some Italian love song as we go under the bridge. Talk about cheesy at this point, but I was already in motion, so I went for it. Once you’re in motion, you stay in motion. I proposed, she said yes and the Gondolier was more excited than both of us! Her first question: “When are we getting married?” My first answer: “My part is done, it’s all up to you now.”
She’s a great person and I love her and her son to death. Her son is five, by the way. Alex. The past three years were terrific, and I know the remaining years will be as well.
So, the second thing I’ve accomplished was a half-marathon that I’ve been training for. Yes, it took way more time out of my days than I expected. So much effort and discipline goes into it than people imagine. Nagging injuries are the worst part, because mentally, you just want to quit or rest. When you’re late in the game, there’s no rest. I completed my first ever race and half-marathon in one hour and 57 minutes. It’s not bad considering I had shin splints that severely depleted my training to a max eight miles during a run. Cross another thing off my to-do list.
Now, let’s talk Chipper and the Braves.
My first game in Atlanta was a memory I won’t forget (hard to when I have it on DVD). I had fantastic seats and around the sixth inning, Chipper hit a massive home run to put the Braves ahead. Imagine me, a huge fan, seeing that for the first time in the Braves atmosphere. I was ecstatic and going nuts. One of the Turner Field Braves girls saw me and pulled me aside asking if I would do the next jumbo screen game after this inning. Why, yes. Beer, Braves winning and a game? Yes. Yes I would. It was a match game, and I had some kid in the background shouting random shit at me that would have turned out bad if it wasn’t for the Braves girl feeding me the answers. I won a cool package of Braves stuff and also won every one in my row a $20 gift card. And you know what? Not one of those &%$#! bought me a beer; not one!
Chipper, born Larry Wayne Jones, Jr. became a role model to various players, young and old, throughout his time in the league. He restructured his contract so the Braves could pursue other free agents and changed positions to accommodate free agents, as well. Very few players would do so willingly, and Chipper’s hard work and easy-going nature also played a big role in the Braves’ development of rookies. Jones is the one mainstay through it all. He helped nurture top rookies as they ascended through the system and is a big reason for their success. It seemed like every rookie under Chipper’s wing came up and made an immediate impact.
While it’s really not a debatable topic anymore (some will disagree), Chipper is arguably the greatest switch-hitter of all time. His career stats are already impressive, and he’s currently holding a .304/.402/.532 career line. Those are impressive numbers to hold over 19 years — 19 freaking years! Some other fun facts about Chipper’s numbers:
- He had eight straight years of 100 plus RBI seasons. In 2004, he finished four short in an injury filled year. As most know, he’s been pretty injury prone since.
- Currently at 459 home runs, which places him 33rd all-time and third among switch-hitters, behind Mickey Mantle and Eddie Murray. He’ll finish third all-time among switch-hitters in home runs.
- He’s finished in the top 25 in MVP voting 12 of his 19 years, including six top-10 finishes and one win.
- Seven-time All-Star who didn’t make the All-Star team the year he was MVP.
- Has won a batting title and two Silver Slugger awards for third base.
- He ranks third among current players with an 80.0 WAR.
- He’s 33rd all-time in WAR at his position.
- 154th all-time batting average of .304 and second all-time as a switch hitter behind Frankie Frisch.
- 53rd all-time in OBP (on base percentage).
- 50th all-time in runs scored.
- 34th all-time in doubles.
- 20th all-time in walks.
- He’s accumulated around $155,552,133 in his career. Give or take a dollar.
- He’s a big fan of Tim Tebow and is now partnering with him to open a D1 facility.
- He owns Double Dime Ranch.
- I build my fantasy team around him … year in and year out.
Chipper is a Hall of Famer. I don’t care what you say. He’s a first-ballot Hall of Famer. Do I really need to write more about how much he needs to be in the Hall? If you aren’t convinced, email me and we can talk about it. In the meantime, I wrote an article back when Chipper hit his 1,500 RBI when he solidified his HOF credentials, said some stupid radio/ESPN guys. Like he wasn’t in before hand? Also, if you want to go old school, one of the first articles ever written for this site was mine, when I wrote about Chipper Jones being better than Ken Griffey Jr and Cal Ripken Jr. Yeah, have fun with the comments in there!
Just wanted to state it one last time about Chipper’s credentials and one final word to Chipper (he reads, trust me):
Thank you for instilling the passion of baseball in me. Baseball is my life, and most, if not all, of that passion was driven from watching you and the Braves play as I grew up. I have truly loved watching you play throughout the years, and as a baseball and Braves fan, there will never, never be another Chipper who can carry and lead this team like you did. I’ll miss you, Chip, and you’re beautiful swing. Thanks for everything.
Until next time folks …