One thing that got Jones riled up Wednesday morning, he said, was hearing the Braves criticized on a local radio station for their champagne celebration after clinching a berth in the wild card playoff game. He made no apologies.
“If our season ends on October 5, we got to celebrate and that’s something these guys haven’t gotten to do,” Jones said of his younger teammates. “Why take it away from us? Every time we advance, you know what? We’re going to celebrate whether you like it or not, whether it’s apropos or not, we’ve earned it. And quite frankly we can afford to pop a top on some champagne bottles and some beer cans if we want to.”
The last man standing from the 14 consecutive division titles remembers the criticisms Bobby Cox-led teams took for being too buttoned-down and reserved.
“We finally let our hair down and we still get bad-mouthed, so what’s it going to be?” Jones said. “Make up your mind.”
Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said he tossed and turned Tuesday night, first in excitement over the Braves playoff-clinching victory, and then concern over how to keep his roster healthy the rest of the regular season.
A conversation Wednesday morning with former Braves manager Bobby Cox helped put his mind at ease.
“He goes you know what? Don’t worry about that,” Gonzalez said. “With the injury stuff, you can’t help it….You can’t put them in a bubble. You’ve got to play them. He goes, ‘Enjoy it.’”
Gonzalez would like to get bench players Lyle Overbay, Eric Hinske, Reed Johnson and Jeff Baker more at-bats in the final eight games but will keep playing his lineup straight for the next few days as the Braves continue to try to make a dent in the Nationals’ lead in the NL East.