Atlanta Braves: 7 Series on Chipper's Farewell Tour You Have to See
Chipper Jones called a quick and unexpected spring training press conference to announce his retirement, ending any speculation regarding his future after the 2012 season.
Wanting to avoid the distraction of continuous questions that would have been asked of his teammates on the subject, his usual team-first approach kicked in like a parent trying to protect their child.
"I want to get all of the speculation out of the way right here in spring training, so that wherever me and my teammates go this season we're not answering questions about when I'm going to hang it up" – Sporting News.com
He has also mentioned, "I don't need any rocking chair tours or anything like that. 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." – ESPN.com
We applaud his attempt at a low key approach to his impending retirement at season’s end, but the Atlanta Braves and their opponents throughout the season might take a different approach.
April 13-15 vs. Milwaukee Brewers
Still recovering from arthroscopic surgery on March 26th to repair the torn meniscus in his left knee, Chipper is expected to return to the lineup for the home opener on April 13th against the Milwaukee Brewers.
If his rehab remains on schedule, expect a sellout crowd welcoming Chipper back with a standing ovation in game one.
Prior to Tuesday’s exhibition contest against the Braves Futures Stars, he took swings from both sides of the plate as well as fielding some grounders at third.
June 5-7 at Miami Marlins
Chipper’s farewell tour likely won’t involve gifts and accolades at every stop, but it would only seem fitting that organizations that have competed against him year in and year out would at least acknowledge his departure from the game after 18 big league seasons.
Don’t expect any type of recognition from the Marlins, who snubbed former manager Bobby Cox during his farewell tour two seasons ago.
It was assumed the Cox snub was due to his criticism of the Marlins ownership after the firing of current Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez.
June 18-20 at New York Yankees
Although Yankees closer Mariano Rivera has yet to make it official that he will retire at the end of this season, he is in the final year of his contract with no apparent extension talks currently in discussion.
With Rivera seemingly leaning towards joining Chipper in retirement and therefore becoming Hall of Fame eligible the same year, this could be the last chance for fans to witness these two potential first ballot Hall of Famers face each other in a game.
83rd All-Star Game in Kansas City on July 10th
Given that each season’s All-Star lineup is sprinkled with players that received votes on the merit of their career, the ultimate fan tribute would be to vote Chipper into this season’s All-Star game i.e. Cal Ripken Jr. during his final season.
Ripken wasn’t having an All-Star caliber first half in 2001, but he provided an unforgettable performance as he hit a home run in the third inning off Chan Ho Park en route to being named the game’s MVP.
All-Star week would be an ideal time for fans and players alike to celebrate his career.
September 7-9 at New York Mets
This early September series will be the last chance for Mets fans to chant “Larry! Larry! Larry!” which for those of you that don’t know, is Chipper’s given name.
Chipper is a career .318/.414/.559 hitter against the Mets, including 48 home runs and 154 RBI in 231 games. He also has more home runs (19) at the Mets' former home, Shea Stadium, than any other road ballpark.
His most notable tribute to the success he has had in that particular stadium is that he named his son Shea Logan Jones.
September 21-23 vs. Philadelphia Phillies
The last head-to-head series of the season could decide who wins the National League East division title.
It’s very possible that this series decides whether or not Chipper and the Braves make the playoffs in his last season.
Besides the 2006 Mets, the only teams to win the NL East crown since 1995 are the Braves (1995-2005) and Phillies (2007-2011).
September 28-30 vs. New York Mets
Although the September 7-9 series will be the last in New York, the love/hate relationship between the player and the fans won’t come to an end until the Mets visit Turner Field in the last home series of the season. The Atlanta organization is expected to send Chipper into retirement in style.
It’s too early for an announcement to have been made as to what the Braves will do, but it will obviously be an emotional weekend for Chipper as well as the fans in attendance.