Many of the so-called Atlanta Braves fans were hoping this would be Chipper Jones' last year. While the 2010 season certainly wasn't Chipper's best performance on the field, batting just .228 in the middle of June, he was still the backbone of the team in the dugout and clubhouse. Many fans just don't understand how important he was to the success of the Braves this year. Everyone was used to seeing this successful star, one of the best switch hitters of all time, hitting over .300 and knocking in over 100 RBI. Now that he is 38 and hit just .265 they felt was past his time.
For those of you that feel this way...... you couldn't be more wrong. Chipper Jones will be inducted into the HOF on his first ballot. He is one of the top 3 switch hitters in the history of MLB. When you talk about the best switch hitters ever, you talk Mickey Mantle, Eddie Murray and Chipper Jones. Not too shabby having your named mentioned within the same sentence as the Mick...
Even when Chipper was hitting .228, opposing pitchers were leery of pitching to him. Chipper had a team high 40 walks while he was in his hitting slump in mid June, so his on base percentage was still high. Pitcher's knew that even though Chipper was in a hitting slump, he could come out of it at any time and change the game with one swing of the bat.
It's not just about having a plus .300 batting average, or club house presence, or spectacular defense. It's about all of them combined. Without a doubt, Chipper Jones was one of the most important pieces of the Braves line-up this year. Over his last 2 months Chipper had a .387 OBP percentage and a .520 slugging percentage to help the Braves in leading their division and in having the best home record in MLB.
On Tuesday, August 10th, while making one of the Braves best defensive plays of the year, Chipper tore his ACL for the second time in his career. This was not only devastating for Chipper, it was a hard blow to the Braves as well. To compensate they've now added Derrek Lee in a trade from the Cubs and will be moving Troy Glaus to third (when he comes off the DL) and Martin Prado back to second. Now, the Braves have even more motivation to make it to the World Series this year. This is Bobby Cox's last year as the Skipper and sending Bobby out in style is important to everyone, every night; and now they are not only going to be playing for Cox, but also for Jones.
Chipper Jones held a press conference making an announcement that he will have the arthroscopic surgery to repair his ACL and start rehab immediately thereafter. He wants to be recovered and ready for Spring Training next year and feels he can still contribute to the success of the Braves. With Chipper, it is not about the money he will make if he plays next year, it is about being able to contribute and make a difference by being on the field.
Chipper will be traveling with the team for the remainder of the year and helping to coach and motivate the players. He knows how important his presence is in the club house and wants to be there to give any nugget of information he can on a daily basis to help the Braves get to the World Series this year.
When your hear pundits tell you that Chipper Jones is done, take it with a grain of salt because Chipper has the will and resolve to persevere and the class to do whatever it takes to productively and effectively honor the length of his contract.
Having the opportunity to watch Chipper Jones play on a regular basis for the past fifteen years has been an honor and a privilege and I'm glad his career won't be ending prematurely because of injury.
Look for Chipper's return to the Braves next spring where he will properly be able to enjoy a season of celebration and applause in each visiting city as well as from the Braves faithful. - Bob Bearden
Bob is a regular guest contributor on sports talk radio in the Southeastern United States. Bob's views and opinions on professional and college sporting events can now be found right here on the MC3 Sports Media's family of websites.
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