Throughout his career, Chipper Jones has absolutely owned the New York Mets. He has been a pain in the Mets' side for a number of years, and his production against the team has been outstanding. It is hard to think of a player more respected and hated by Mets fans.
So, it was certainly a bit curious that the Mets announced that they will be honoring Jones this year. Andy Martino of the Daily News has noted that the celebration will not be an on-the-field ceremony. However, it is not the Mets that should be doing something to celebrate Jones.
Jones has had a career that deserves to be celebrated, but the team that should have a ceremony for him is the Atlanta Braves and not the New York Mets. It is fine if Mets fans want to do something, but the team should not be the one to set this up.
The Mets ownership has made some curious decisions in the past, such as when Fred Wilpon decided to incorporate a number of Dodgers things in Citi Field, but this decision is even stranger.
A hated rival should not be celebrated. Will the New York Jets honor Tom Brady when he plays his last game in New York? Did the Los Angeles Lakers honor Larry Bird in his last game in Los Angeles? Will the Boston Red Sox honor Derek Jeter during his last season?
While Jones should absolutely be respected by Mets fans, there is no reason that the team should be officially celebrating him.
Jones' performance did a lot in terms of playing into the rivalry that the two teams had. He was absolutely dominant at Shea Stadium. In the 88 games that he played there, he had a .313 batting average with 19 home runs and 55 RBI. Jones loved that stadium so much that he named his son Shea.
Jones has the fourth-most home runs of any player that has ever hit against the Mets and the third-most RBI. It seems as if he's always able to come up big in an important moment whenever the two teams play.
Mets fans have to hate the number of times that Jones has beat them on their own field. However, they understand that he is a Hall of Fame-caliber player and that Jones has been one of the game's greats over the past 20 years.
That still does not make it acceptable for the team to have a formal celebration for Jones, though. He has not done anything for Mets during his career except for hand them losses. There will certainly be an interesting mix of emotions when Jones plays his last game in Queens against the Mets.
If there is anyone that chooses to honor Jones, it should be the fans.
Early on in Jones' career, Mets fans would chant "Lar-ry" whenever he came to the plate. It was a taunt in the early years, but it eventually grew into a more playful thing. The appropriate and respectful thing to do would be to have fans give one last "Lar-ry" chant in Chipper's final at-bat of the game. Regardless of what Jones does in that at-bat, he deserves a standing ovation. Chances are that Jones will tip his cap to the fans after this because he is aware of just how rare an occasion that is is for a rival player.
Jones was a big part of what made the Mets-Braves rivalry what it was in the late 1990s and early 2000s. Despite being a huge rival, Jones has always respected the Mets, and he is certainly deserving of some respect from the fans.