In an on-field announcement yesterday, alongside Bobby Cox, the Braves and Chipper Jones said the third baseman will officially retire at the end of this season.
“I don’t need any rocking chair tours or anything like that,” Jones said, according to Jerry Crasnick of ESPN.com. “If somewhere along the line somebody wants to thank me, that would be good enough. But I’m not doing this for a farewell tour. I want to get this out of the way, because it’s been weighing heavy on me for a long time.”
“He’s been one of those guys where I always looked across and tried to take away some of the things from his game and apply it to mine,” David Wright told reporters yesterday about Jones. “I got a chance to know Chipper pretty well. He’s been great to me. I remember growing up, obviously, watching TBS back home. There were a lot of Braves games on. So from a young age, he was kind of the type of guy that everybody wanted to be like.”
“You kind of like your nemesis, despite the fact that you despise him,” author Chuck Klosterman explained in his book, Klosterman IV. “If your nemesis invited you out for cocktails, you would accept the offer. If he died, you would attend his funeral and, privately, you might shed a tear over his passing. … If invited, you would go to this person’s wedding and give him a spice rack, but you would secretly hope that his marriage ends in a bitter, public divorce.”
This so perfectly sums up my feelings towards Chipper, who, during his last at bat against the Mets this season, I will probably boo (because of how much he terrorized us in the 90s), but I’ll also give him a standing ovation (out of respect for his showmanship and love for the Mets-Braves rivalries). And that’s the thing, as much as I can’t stand him as a player, in this day and age of quiet, cliche-driven, sterile professional athletes, I appreciate that he cared as much about beating the Mets as we, as fans, cared about beating the Braves… and just like we let him know it with boos, chanting his real first name, ‘Larry,’ and taunting him every step of the way, he knows sports is supposed to be fun and entertaining and so he returned our jeers with home runs, sarcasm and that obnoxious smirk.
I’m glad he’s retiring, but I’m also going to miss him because I loved to hate him.
To read more about Chipper’s exit, and to read quotes from Cox, Al Leiter, Bobby Valentine, Jim Duquette and Terry Collins, check out reports for ESPN.com, the New York Post, the Wall Street Journal, Daily News, New York Times and FoxSports.com.