Given the career of Chipper Jones, it seems hard for me to fathom why anyone would question his intentions or motivations in returning for another season with the Atlanta Braves. Still, apparently some folks out there are doing just that.
Let’s take a look at all the reasons why this is kind of silly. First, Jones has never played anywhere else. He’s a lifelong Brave at this point, so why would you want to chase him out of town? Is he the Chipper Jones of old? Surely not, but he still hit a serviceable .265 with 10 home runs in just 95 games last year. And all indications are he is nearly recovered from the torn ACL that ended his season.
On top of that, as he states in the following interview, he’s not like Brett Favre, who shunned Aaron Rodgers and didn’t offer to mentor him. Jones seems to be mentoring any one of the young players who will listen, grooming them to take over for him when his time is up.
Jones has never done anything to harm the Braves organization before, so why would he start now? Let him get back out there, see what he can do and give him the sendoff he deserves.
Chipper Jones joined WCNN in Atlanta with Buck and Kincade to talk about the chemistry of this year’s team, those who question his personal motivations and devotion to the Braves organization, if he would would have retired after last year had he been healthy in ’10 and helped the Braves advance to or win the World Series, the pitching staffs of the NL East clubs, and why he enjoys mentoring young players at this stage in his career.
Is there any Braves team from the past that he can compare this years’ to?:
“Just last year. It’s been a completely different chemistry. We’ve had good chemistry in the past, don’t get me wrong, but it’s been baseball chemistry. This is more guys you enjoy coming to work with. … We’re starting to get the mentality that we had back in the 90s where we come to the ballpark expecting to win. For the last four or five years, excluding last year, we came to the ballpark hoping to win.”
On the people who are questioning his motivation for continuing to play:
“I probably listen to more than I should listen to, I probably read more than I should read. But the fact of the matter is … I’ve done things in my past that have shown consideration for the betterment of the team, the betterment of the organization. I certainly resent the fact that anybody would even ask me that question. … I would probably say the people that are saying that are, number one, jealous, and number two, not really Braves fans.”
Whether he would he have come back for 2011 had last year’s team won the National League Championship Series or World Series:
“If I had had a year like the first three months of the season, maybe, but I just had such a taste of success right before I got hurt … and that excitement, that pep in the step, that rejuvenation was there. That’s when the game is fun.”
What is the number one thing he thanks Bobby Cox for?:
“Bobby did the same things with me that he’s tried to do with everyone else that’s come through here and that’s put them in a situation to be successful. When I was coming up through the minor leagues, I was groomed to be a number three hitter. He knew that when I got to the big leagues that hitting me in front of Fred McGriff and David Justice and Ryan Klesko … that people were more likely to come at me and throw me fastballs, which was my strength. So, he gave me that ability of hitting in the three hole right from Day One.”
On how he would handicap the race in the NL East:
“I’ve heard the saying that a lot of people have compared pitching staffs throughout the years to the great ones we had in the 90s. … And that term has been thrown around loosely. This is the first one, and I’m talking about the Phillies’ rotation, this is the first one that really, I believe, warrants that comparison. These guys are that good. … But, we’ve got a pretty good one ourselves. … They might not have the hype or the hardware that the guys in Philly have, but we’re not going to be intimidated by them.”
On embracing the role of mentoring and teaching young players coming up behind him:
“I don’t know the reasons why, say, a Brett Favre wouldn’t help an Aaron Rodgers. Maybe it was jealousy or whatnot. I’m not jealous of any of these guys. I’m trying to make them the best possible player that I can before I get out of here in hopes that when I do pass the torch to them, they’re ready and willing to take that next step.”