Saturday, September 19, 2009

Chipper Ponders Future

I have just recently seen some very unsettling news in regards to my favorite player in baseball. Atlanta Braves 3rd baseman and probable Hall of Fame inductee Larry Wayne “Chipper” Jones. Chipper has hinted that if he does not have a good year and play up to his standards he may choose to retire following the 2010 season.

Chipper, 37, signed a three-year, $42-million contract extension in March that runs through 2012. He hit a career-best .364 last year, his third straight season over .320. But he has fallen to .269 this year. Injuries have been an issue over the last several years, he has reached 500 at-bats only once in his last six seasons, due to a long list of injuries. It began with constant foot problems then this year there have been issues with oblique muscle and lower back pain. "If I back up this year with the same kind of year next year, I don't want to play the game," Chipper told The Associated Press. "The game is not fun to me when I'm not playing up to my standards.
Jones ranks among the baseball's top switch-hitters. His 424 career homers rank third all-time for switch-hitters, trailing Mickey Mantle (536) and Eddie Murray (504). His career batting average is second to Frankie Frisch's .316 mark. He was also the NL MVP in 1999.

Jones has only 16 homers, 64 RBIs and a career-low .435 slugging percentage this season. But he says he believes he is physically capable of delivering the power he showed in 2007, when he hit 29 homers with 102 RBIs.

I have been a Braves fan since 1990 and enjoyed the great and historic run of 14 straight division championships and the World Series victory in 1995. I have followed Chipper’s career since he was drafted, come into the Braves system, and then become the back bone that Bobby Cox counted on for so many years with this great team. He is one of a very small number of players who look like they may just end their career playing for one team. Not something that you see too often in any sport anymore in the era of free agency. That will surely be the case if he does decide to hang it up after next year. Although he has never seemed to be the warmest of players but you never hear that he has trouble or issues with any of his teammates or coaches. Plus he and I have something in common...we both like going to the local Hooters.

A true team player he has done just about anything to help the team. He has restructured contracts to free up money so the team can either retain or sign other players that will help keep the team a winner. He came up as a short stop but moved to 3rd to sure up that spot. When they had the opportunity to get some big bats he made to shift to Left Field even though he was an All Star at Third. He then made the shift back into the infield when that proved to help out the team. Not a lot of All Stars would be willing to make that personal sacrifice for the good of the team. He is confident but not cocky, he is truly a winner and a leader and I only hope that he has a great year next year and decides to play out his contract. It is a special thing when your favorite player plays on your favorite team and stays there for the long haul. I know that I am not the only one who feels this way. Chipper will go down as one of the most celebrated Braves of all time. The always say that Derek Jeeter is a true Yankee...Chipper Jones is a true Brave

Good Luck Chipper lets keep it going for just a little bit longer.

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