Tuesday, March 31, 2009

It's Time to Man Up About Chipper Jones

In the words of Barney of How I Met Your Mother, sometimes you have to "Man Up." It's time the Fan manned up about Chipper Jones. This is an official purging of some inner demons. The Fan has always hated Chipper Jones. It wasn't just a rational hate based on solid reasons, it was unnatural and consuming. The Fan even used the hatred as one of his security questions on an account. In fact, the Fan and the Fan's wife have a long standing joke that whenever we hear his name, we gleefully run around and start mimicking: "Chipper! Here Chipper, Chipper," like we were calling some mythical dog. But it's time to put it away. It's time to Man Up about Chipper Jones.

This whole thought process came about after reading on MLB.com that Jones was close to a three year extension with the Braves. Well, the guy is 36 and it might not be the smartest move for the Braves. But it is justified as an expense for one of the best players that ever put on a Braves uniform. Okay, for all you therapists in the room, that was a major admission for the FanDome. It just made the morning coffee a little bitter to state, but it's true nonetheless.

Last year, at the age of 35, Jones only won a batting title with a batting average of .364. He had an OPS of 1.014. He has played fourteen full seasons now and has averaged, despite many partial seasons due to injury, 29 homers, 32 doubles, 98 RBIs and 98 Runs Scored. He has a lifetime On Base Percentage of .400. He has a lifetime OPS of .940. He has more walks in his career than strikeouts. He has a lifetime Batting Average of .310. And he's been a fierce competitor and a fierce supporter of his team and his teammates.

While it's doubtful that he gets to some of those "magical" milestones (due to a late career start) that land a player in the Hall of Fame like 3000 hits or 500 homers, his OPS and OBP and overall numbers should make a strong case for inclusion once he is done. He was a major part of the Braves run of first place finishes. He was a perennial All Star. And if Atlanta fans are lucky, will end his career in the same place he started.

So where did this unholy hate come from? It probably goes back to 1996. The Fan was passionately rooting for the Yankees to win their first World Series in many years. After a magical season, Jeter and the boys were down 2-0 in the World Series with the Braves great pitching staff, it seemed the dream would be over. And through it all, watching the games, Chipper Jones just had a way of walking and playing like he was better than anyone else. He just seemed overly arrogant and full of himself.

Now the Fan doesn't know if he was or he wasn't. Several accounts of the series written after the fact state that the Yankee players felt like the Braves' players were acting like the series was already won and the Yankees used that as motivation to come back and take the series. Jones must have been part of that motivation if the Fan's eyes were any indication.

The hatred built from there. It grew to mythical proportions to the point of denigrating anything Jones had accomplished in baseball. "He's a baby and he's just hurt all the time." "He only won one World Series." "Even his beautiful wife, Karin Jones, came to hate him." It has become unhealthy and in the end denies how good a player Jones has been.

As hard as it is to put this away, it's time. Chipper Jones is and has been a great player, one of the best of his generation. The Fan still doesn't like him. But it's time to put the childish hate behind and move on. Not that it means anything in the cosmic world of sports, but the Fan no longer denies the greatness of Chipper Jones.


Josh Borenstein said...

That first paragraph had me in stitches. You know what? I've never liked him much myself. Don't know why.

I used to really, really hate a lot of older Cubs players. Like Kevin Orie and Scott Servais and Brant Brown.

William said...

Arrogant is bad enough when you are great, but when you stink and are still arrogant, then you are a Brant Brown. :)