Friday, June 23rd, 2017

The last of the dinosaurs

March 27, 2012 by  
Filed under Misc

Jones

With the announcement of Chipper Jones’ retirement at the end of the season, the last of my dinosaurs will be moving on.  Of course, he’ll only be 40 so “dinosaur” might not be appropriate, especially with Jamie Moyer still out there.  However, Chipper will be the last guy that I played with or against who is still playing in major league baseball.  (Note: If Omar Vizquel makes a team, he will be included as well.) It used to be that I could watch any game on TV and see 15-20 players in the game that I either played with or against.  For a couple years, the entire Twins line-up was made up of guys I played with.  Just about every coach in the dugout was a former coach as well.  I always enjoy watching games but knowing half the guys on the field brings it to another level.  

I played against Chipper in 1992 (AA) when he was 20 years old.  He was the first player chosen in the 1990 draft so everyone knew who he was.  He played shortstop and as a former shortstop myself (I was pitching at that time) I watched him closely to see just how good he was.  His first at-bat he promptly deposited a bomb over the left center field wall.  “Ok, he’s got some power.”  Then he went deep into the hole, jumped and spun in the air (think Jeter) and threw the runner out at first.  “Ok, he has some range but every player can make a play like that at some point.”  Then in the very next inning, he made the exact same play again!  “Ok, this kid is starting to win me over.”  The final nail occurred in his third at-bat when a righty was brought in which spun him over to the left side of the plate this time.  He hit the first pitch over the scoreboard in right center.   “Holy $%#@!  This guy is unbelievable!

Most guys you play with or against in pro ball are, for the most part, at your level in terms of ability.  Some may run faster or have a stronger arm but all things considered, everyone is about even.  That’s until guys like Chipper Jones enter the game.  There has only been a few guys that I have personally played with or against who fall in that category of “clearly on a different level than everyone else.”  Ivan Rodriguez, Craig Biggio, Mo Vaughn, Roger Clemens, and Jeff Bagwell immediately come to mind.

I hope Chipper can finish strong and stay healthy.  He now needs another minor knee surgery so we’ll see.  After he goes, watching a game on TV will never be the same.  

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