Last Day of the Regular Season Brings Chipper Jones' Final Game
Today is the final day of the 2012 Major League Baseball season. The last day of the season also brings us the last regular season game of future Hall of fame third baseman Chipper Jones. The Atlanta Braves have clinched the first wild card slot for the postseason and with the Eastern Division pennant out of reach, today’s game against the Pittsburgh Pirates is essentially meaningless. Playoff boun teams usually rest their star players in such games, and since Chipper has played a diminished schedule this year, I am not certain he will be in today’s line up. Whether he plays or not, it is an emotional day for a lifelong Braves fan as Chipper hangs up his cleats.
To be a lifelong Braves fan is to be a longsuffering Braves fan. I was there during the Dale Murphy years when the stands would have 5,000 fans on a good night. I was thrilled when the worst to first 1991 season finally saw my beloved braves play in the Worl Series only to have them lose in a heartbreaking seven games to the Minnesota Twins. They lost the next in six games to the Toronto Blue Jays The future looked like we would always be on the cusp of victory only to have it slip away.
Then along came Chipper Jones. Even the name Chipper screams baseball. Chipper’s full rookie season was in 1995 when he lead the braves to their first World Series championship since the team relocated to Atlanta. It was also the first major sports championship a professional sports team had won. The Chipper’s playing skills and team leadership had finally put the braves on the map.
Chipper has been the face of baseball in the South for seventeen seasons now. He is definitely one of the top two or three switch hitters to ever play the game. He also one of the best third basemen. Chipper is a shoo in for the first ballot for cooperstown in his first year of eligibility. Look for his number to be retired with much fanfare, too. Braves baseball is not going to be the same without Chipper. Seventeen years is a long time for an athlete to play. When a player sticks with one team his entire career, he has a way of inspiring the same loyalty in his fans.
So long, Chipper. We are all rooting for another World Series ring to cap off your final season in style. With two ace starters, solid defense, and the best bullpen in te majors, it could happen. But whatever happens, thanks for seventeen seasons of great baseball.