Chipper Jones' Walk-Off Homer a Turning Point for Atlanta Braves
Heading into the bottom of the ninth inning against the Phillies on September 2, dreary skies clouded the spirits of Braves Country.
Down 7-3, Atlanta was in danger of extending its recent skid (in which the club dropped 10 of 14 games) by virtue of getting swept by Philadelphia. However, the Braves would mount a rally and found themselves within two runs with two on and two outs and Chipper Jones strutting to the plate.
What happened next is something I believe will be looked back on as perhaps the turning point in Atlanta's 2012 season.
With the count 1-1, Phillies closer Jonathan Papelbon tried to sneak a 95 mile an hour four-seamer on the outside corner past Chipper, probably to set him up for a devastating slider. Unfortunately for Papelbon, he missed his spot, and the four-seamer ended up right over the plate.
And a four-seamer over the heart of the plate is not something that Chipper misses often.
So he hit it 443 feet into the night, landing somewhere in the right-center bleachers of Turner Field.
With one swing, the weight of the last 15 games had evaporated. A boyish smile was plastered on Chipper's face as he rounded the bases, while youthful jubilation swept across the rest of the Braves roster; their Christmas morning had arrived nearly five months early.
During the collapse of 2011, the Braves didn't have moments like this. There was no time for celebration. There weren't any superheroes to come and save Atlanta's season.
In 2012, though, things seem to be different. Kris Medlen, of all people, has picked the Braves rotation up and put it on his back, pitching simply incredibly over the last month. Jones, though, might have given the Braves a season-altering swing on September 2. Since he stepped to the plate against Papelbon on Sunday night, Atlanta has won five of six.
Unlike many of the baseball writers out there, I don't believe all 162 games were created equal. While games in April are undeniably important, September affairs have a certain gravitas that weights them a little more.
Games like this can inspire a club, especially when they come at opportune times. When the book on the 2012 season has been written and completed, Chipper's "shot heard 'round the world" will prove to be the ultimate turning point in Atlanta's season.
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