Usually I enjoy greatness, even if it too often comes against the Mets, but Chipper is the one Hall of Fame-caliber player I always struggled to appreciate.
I wrote about this once before, way back in 2007. It was early August in my first year with press credentials, the Mets weren’t yet anywhere near collapsing, and Chipper had hit a 470-foot home run at Shea. So I wanted to write a column appreciating his dominance of the Mets:
But while Larry Wayne Jones, Jr. has certainly beat up on the Pirates as well, none of his children is named for Three Rivers Stadium or PNC Park. He calls his youngest Shea.
So I had to go to the source. With a large group of reporters, I waited as Chipper slowly pulled up a pair of black dress socks, put on shiny black leather shoes and tucked his sky-blue mock turtleneck (seriously, man, a mock turtleneck?) into sharply pressed black suit pants. Then he spoke:
“I’m not talking,” he said, contradicting himself. “I’ve been nice to you for long enough. Now y’all started crap. I’m not talking. Atlanta writers only.”
Jones was angry, apparently, about a story that ran in the New York Post involving Alex Rodriguez and the nation-wide steroid witchhunt. To punish one writer — or more accurately, one headline writer — Chipper elected not to speak to any of them. It makes sense. Have you ever gotten a subpar sandwich from a deli? What other reasonable response could there be than to swear off delis altogether, forgoing any delicious sandwiches you might have found elsewhere?
Because I wanted to write a post that presented Chipper’s achievements — if not the man himself — in a positive light. I can’t, though, and I’m glad for it….
Now, I can continue to despise this fixture in the Braves lineup. I can revile his beady little eyes and moronic chin goatee all I want, without any guilt. And the next time the Braves come to town, you better believe I’ll be leading the chorus:
If what Chipper’s supposedly saying is true, Larry Jones will likely walk out of the Mets’ home park for the last time on Sept. 19. I will be there.
Granted, it’s even money Chipper will be hurt then, and there’s always a chance the two teams will meet again in the playoffs. But I want to see how the Shea Faithful send Chipper off. Will he get the ovation Reggie Miller received at Madison Square Garden? Or will he suffer one last round of “Lar-ry” jeers?