Braves lifer still has the right stuff for World Series drive
For the past 48 hours,THE story in Atlanta has not been OilBama, World Cup horns, nor even that its baseball team leads the National League East. Rather, its when the greatest everyday player for the past 20 years will retire.
If Aaron is the Braves' Babe Ruth and Dale Murphy is its Joe Dimaggio, then Chipper Jones is its Mickey Mantle. Chipper has been here through all the glory years of 14 consecutive division championships unprecedented in major sports history. Chipper's lifetime .300+ batting average, 2008 batting championship, '95 World Series ring and switch-hit homers rivaling The Mick, ensure first ballot entry into the Hall of Fame.
But after a down year last year and slow start this year, it appears "pride" may push Jones out too soon.
Don't go Larry, we need you to get that second ring
But first, understand that this Braves-Gamecock knows the numbers. For long stretches this season, the best player in the line-up has been whoever was filling in at third base for Chipper. The home run total of 4 is stark.
But he still gets a lot of walks, plays third well despite an increase in errors, and runs the bases well. It was said that part of Chipper's problem last season was that he had gotten into a rut during 2008 flirtation with .400 of just hitting line drives and that trying to get back to slugging more messed up his swing.
Braves-Gamecock says: Forget Homers! Our ballpark is not a slugger's park anyway and we have power elsewhere in the lineup. I think Chipper is better off "going Gwynn". Let him get back in that masterful spray hitting of '08, bat second and set the table.
The Braves need Chipper's remaining skills to make a run for the brass ring.
Jones' retirement and Bobby Cox's farewell tour are huge Atlanta stories. But winning a World Series is even bigger, and I don't want to see a repeat of the best season the Atlanta Hawks ever had, go up in smoke when they traded their go-to Dominique Wilkens for Danny Manning.
Chipper, you are still our go-to guy. You are in a slump. Adjust one more time and lead us to the top of Major League Baseball.