Bidding farewell to a legend: Fan reaction of Chipper Jones’ retirement
It’s never easy to quit something you love.
Atlanta Braves third baseman Chipper Jones know that all too well, announcing his retirement effectively after the 2012 season. There’s really no question that the hours following that warm afternoon must have been hard after the 40-year-old declared his decision when his beloved Braves wrapped up what would be one of Jones’ final games at Atlanta’s camp in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. The choice was one that had been coming and one that any press member following the team was salivating to hear.
The Braves came into the Spring with the same ‘ol team that fell flat on its face during a September collapse that ended one game short of yet another playoff birth. Yet, the spring training attention wasn’t focused on how Atlanta would bounce back. Instead, for about the third year in a row, all eyes were on No. 10. And all ears were waiting to hear if Jones would continue to play another season despite his constant leg problems that have haunted the corner infielder.
At first, Jones was reluctant to talk about hanging up the cleats. He has responded that way — for about the past three season — since he began to serve big chunks of time on the disabled list because of his ailing legs. No one can blame the press for asking about when Jones was going to retire. And no one should be disgruntled about how Chipper has more or less dodged the question year after year.
Ultimately, Jones wanted to leave on his own terms. But I believe it may have been the press to push him overboard. Chipper loves baseball. He is infatuated with Atlanta and the Braves, which he has spent the entirety of his 18 years with. So why did he call it quits before the 2012 even started? Well, for a number of reasons. He could blame it on his health — he will reportedly miss at least three weeks to have yet another knee surgery. Chipper could say that 18 years was long enough. However, his final decisions seemed to come at a very weird time.
The press was absolutely hounding Chipper about when he was going to quit. The main streamers did so to the point that Jones has to “joke” around about his retirement. But when Mr. Brave did that, fans retaliated on a viral level. As soon as news broke out that Jones was going to retire without officially saying it, fans responded all across the Internet, saying he was handling the whole thing like Brett Favre — that’s my own opinion … I don’t know if any other fans said that, but you get my drift.
I’ll admit that I was outraged at first when I heard Chipper’s retirement thoughts were of a joking matter. I have been a fan of him since his career began. I felt betrayed. But I knew that the real thing was coming. And just a few days after his “comical” outcry to leave the game and the fans who adore him, Jones let everyone know his true feelings.
Jones’ announcement of his retirement was handled professionally after he somewhat mistreated fans of the chop. But during that time, he also let it be known that he was sick about being bombarded by the press about his retirement date. So it kind of felt Jones was forced into leaving the game. However, we all knew the day would come. And I can’t remember the last time a 40-year-old was still trying to play third base.
He could’ve easily asked for a trade to the American League, but he didn’t. Instead, Chipper stayed with the one team and the true fan base who have always held him in the highest light. It just goes to show how much more fans will appreciate their favorite athletes when they just stay put. He didn’t pull a Brett Favre and willingly walk away from the one team that has given him everything. And I’m not saying it was all Favre’s decision. But even Favre could’ve retired a Packer when he wanted to. Jones also could’ve easily played at least another two years as probably a regular designated hitter in the American League. He didn’t, however. And that to me, is the sign of a true man. A larger than life athlete who cares about more than just himself.
Chipper will truly be missed as a member of the Braves and all around baseball. He was nothing short of a class act. I hope that other athletes from all across the wide world of sports take a page out of the Chipper Jones book because that’s truly what the fans who adore them deserve. So thank you Chipper for 18 years of dedication. And I will always known from your loyalty that you truly appreciated the support from your Braves fans.
Hall of Fame Case
Chipper Jones should be a shoo-in for the Hall of Fame when he becomes eligible in 2017. Here are a few of his accolades throughout his 18-year career:
• Jones should be considered the best switch hitter to ever play the game. In fact, he is the only player who batted from both sides of the pate to compile a .300-plus batting average and hit 300-plus home runs during his career.
• .304 career batting average (No. 2 all time for switch hitters … No. 1 is Frankie Frisch, who his .316
• 454 career home runs (that’s third best all-time amongst switch hitters. Hall of Famers Mickey Mantle, 536, and Eddie Murray, 504, are the only two players above Jones on the list).
• .402 on-base percentage and a .533 slugging percentage
• 526 career doubles
• 1,561 career RBIs
• Won the NL batting title in 2008 with a .364 average — the second highest in MLB history by a switch hitter. Mantle hit .365 in 1957.
• Seven-time All-Star
• Won NL MVP in 1999.
• Played 2,387 career games