The wheels are starting to fall off the Atlanta Braves’ wagon. Players are starting to get frustrated. Tempers are flaring. Accusations are being made. They’re even taking shots at Chipper!
The Braves lost to the Marlins 6-5 Wednesday night on a play scored as a throwing error for pitcher Mike Remlinger. The lefty fielded a bunt and tried to get a runner at third in the 10th inning, but the throw sailed past Chipper Jones and the winning run scored. Remlinger apparently felt that Jones might have been able to get a glove on the ball. “Ask Chipper if it was catchable,” Remlinger snapped after the game. “I don’t know. I just threw it.” Jones wasn’t still around to comment.
The Bravos have lost 13 times in 16 games. The team’s streak of consecutive National League East championships seems destined to come to an end. So it’s only natural that the team would get frustrated. But calling out Larry “Chipper” Jones in the media? That’s sacreligious. It’s just not done. Chipper is Atlanta’s golden boy. It’s rock in troubled times. And he is, in many people’s minds, a future hall of famer.
Terrence Moore, an AJC columnist, wrote a story recently discussing Chipper’s Hall credentials. Moore even asked Jones’ parents what they thought about their son’s chances at baseball immortality:
The father tried to speak, but a lump in his throat kept getting in the way. “It’s hard to believe that my son, from Pierson, Fla., with one caution light and a convenience store, would even be considered for the Hall of Fame,” said Larry Jones, Chipper’s high school coach, talking and blinking. “Just to make it here [pointing toward the field, where Chipper stood at third base for the Braves] for that matter, but to be considered for the Hall of Fame, it’s unbelievable. Unbelievable.”
Actually, it’s believable. You just haven’t been paying attention. Few have, and given his swagger of a gunslinger preparing for high noon in the Old West, Jones couldn’t care less what you think — especially if you don’t have a tomahawk across your chest. We’re talking about a guy who prefers to stay so deep in the shadows that he told his agent six years ago to drop his endorsements to zero. His selflessness caused him to agree to the second-worst move in the history of Georgia sports (topped only by D.J. Shockley’s decision to spend four years as a backup quarterback at UGA) when he spent those 2 1/2 years in left field.
Now, with Jones in the midst of his second full season back at third, and with the assumption he’ll stay healthy for more than a little while, he’ll score 100 times again, and he’ll collect that many RBIs again. He’ll also slam more than 30 home runs while hitting over .300 again.
What do you think? Is Chipper a Hall of Famer? Or just an overhyped, overpaid, injury prone bum?