Finally, a Braves’ career without a detour

 

Finally, a fixture in Atlanta.

It appears we finally have a fixture in Atlanta.

The deal that may turn Chipper Jones into the ultimate sports rarity — a one-franchise athlete — began not with a conference call or in a boardroom or on a golf course.

“I believe we were in the elevator,” Braves general manager Frank Wren said. “It was last September, and I think we had just arrived at the hotel in New York and we were going up.”

Those New York elevators are fast. There wasn’t enough time to work out details. But Wren said something about a contract extension, Jones sort of nodded in agreement and before the doors opened the seeds for a new deal were planted.

Maybe we should consider squeezing both sides of Congress into an elevator.

After detaching themselves from so many franchise icons in recent years, the Braves finally decided to keep one around. Chipper Jones, a Brave since the draft 19 years ago, signed an extension that potentially keeps him in Atlanta through 2013. So he fits in somewhere between John Smoltz and the Big Chicken.

“Just in the time I’ve been here, the names who’ve resided in that clubhouse and eventually walked out the door to go to another club — it’s mind-boggling to me,” Jones said Tuesday night. “To be in a situation where I can play my whole career here and then ride into the sunset is pretty cool. It makes me wonder what makes me different.”

After Smoltz's exit, Jones wondered if he was next.

After Smoltz's exit, Jones wondered if he was next.

In January, he wondered. When Smoltz signed with Boston, Jones sounded like the leader of the torch-bearing villagers. Even with the elevator conversation in the back of his mind, he figured the Braves might turn on him the way turned on Smoltz.

“Every dog has his day,” Jones said then. “…That time is now for Smoltzy, and I would imagine that my time is not too far off in the distant future.”

Wren spoke to Jones the next day. He assured him the team wanted to keep him in Atlanta. He reminded Jones how important it was that he leads the team and be the steadying, veteran presence in the clubhouse.

Jones said he “chose to look at the bright side” after the Smoltz saga. He ran through scenarios with his wife, Sharon: signing an extension, traded at deadline, leaving in free agency, retirement.

“There wasn’t a downside to any of them,” he said, “other than not playing in Atlanta. Fortunately, the Braves made it an easy decision.”

It was the right time for the Braves to do something like this, and the right player to do it with. Jones was an All-Star and a batting champion at the age of 36 last season. He’s one of the few reminders of October baseball left on the roster. Too many like him have left town.

Even Aaron ended up elsewhere.

Even Hank Aaron changed franchises (though he went to a familiar city).

We are reminded in sports almost daily to fall in love with the laundry, not the player. Jerseys stay home. Players leave, or just become public grease fires. To actually have one superstar stay and retire — how rare is that?

Even Hank Aaron couldn’t do it with the Braves. He was in Japan in November of 1974 for a home-run exhibition with Sadaharu Oh when he learned he had been traded to the Milwaukee Brewers.

Smoltz left for Boston in free agency this past winter after believing he was jilted by Wren in negotiations. Tom Glavine left for New York, and then came back.

Dale Murphy went to Philadelphia, then Colorado. Phil Niekro went to the Yankees. Ralph Garr went to the White Sox. Eddie Mathews to Houston.

Spahn and Sain? Only the rain didn’t leave. The two pitchers finished their careers as trivia questions in New York, San Francisco and Kansas City.

Finally, somebody stays back with the laundry.

  Jeff Schultz, fighting to stay relevant with peeps under 40, can be reached via email (jschultz@ajc.com), Facebook, Tweeter (SchultzAJC) or carrier pigeon (make a right off 400).

48 comments Add your comment

bowman

March 31st, 2009
8:12 pm

Eddie Mathews was traded to Houston but finished his career in Detroit, as a backup to Norm Cash on a World Series team. First major league game I ever saw, Mathews homered in Wrigley Field. I love this quote from him:
“I’m just a beat up old third baseman. I’m just a small part of a wonderful game that is a tremendous part of America today.”

gatorman770

March 31st, 2009
8:53 pm

Congratulations to a great and loyal ATLANTA BRAVE player and a great FLORIDA GATOR fan!

Go GATORS!

Mitch

March 31st, 2009
9:03 pm

I’m very happy that the Braves completed this deal. It;s sad that so many Hall of Famers who have been with the Braves, either finished their careers somewhere else, or, in the case of Glavine, left for five years.

I was very angry and disappointed when Smoltz left. He had been here 21 years, and was someone who I thought would be destined to retire in as a Brave.

Now, finally, we will have someone who will spend their whole career as a Brave, and will retire as a Brave.

Good move, Braves. Now, hopefully, our team will improve this year, to at least get a playoff spot.

Mitch

Michael Scharff

March 31st, 2009
9:30 pm

Chipper, thank you very much!
Frank Wren, thank you very much!
I am ecstatic that Chipper will go into the Hall with a Braves Jersey!

Brendan

March 31st, 2009
9:32 pm

I’m glad for Chipper. He’s still a good player. I didn’t catch the financial details. But, CONCEPTUALLY, this is the “right” thing to do with Jones. But, in the bigger picture, they’ve got to get Chipper some help. And that means opening up the wallet and bringing in the talent to help the Braves get back into the playoff picture.

Russell

March 31st, 2009
9:48 pm

Dale Murphy finished his career with the Colorado Rockies, not the Phillies.

Florida Sucks

March 31st, 2009
9:55 pm

I was a HUGE Chipper fan until I found out he was a Florida fan. Go DAWGS!!!!

Ted Striker

March 31st, 2009
9:57 pm

Jeff, best article I’ve read in a while. And there wasn’t even a picture of a babe. I’m either in serious need of my meds or you were in the Wilt Chamberlin 100 point journalistic mode tonight

Jeff Schultz

March 31st, 2009
10:22 pm

## Bowman — hadn’t seen that quote before. Thanks.
## Russell– thanks for the reminder. Forgot about the move from Philly to Colorado. It’s been fixed.
## Florida-Georgia debate on a Chipper Jones story. Only in the South.
## Ted — you’ve come a long way.

raindawg722

March 31st, 2009
10:27 pm

Well, the contract extension is an encouraging sign for Braves fans, but does not guarantee that Chipper finishes his career a Brave by any means. A lot of these guys you mentioned that went elsewhere to finish their careers were under contract. They were traded. While hopefully the Braves will be contending for the next couple of years-thus lessening the likelihood that the Braves would trade Chipper-if the Braves fall out of it by the trade deadline and some team comes knocking with a deal too good to be true and a chance for Chipper to get one more ring, Chipper could wind up finishing his career some place else just like the other Braves greats.

Supes

March 31st, 2009
10:31 pm

Finally, a positive article written by Jeff Schultz…and the world isn’t ending!

OK, seriously, good job Jeff.

Thank you to the Braves organization and to Chipper Jones for working out this extension that pretty much guarantees he’ll retire as a lifetime ATL. Brave. He’s earned the right to do so, and it’s nice to see that the Braves ponied up the cash and didn’t low ball him, made him a fair offer, and in turn he wasn’t greedy in trying to get more or create a circus about it, and just accepted the offer quickly so we can get on and play some baseball…season starts soon:)

I’m a lifelong Chipper Jones fan, I have the jersey(only baseball jersey I own) and I’m so glad that things worked out that way.

Go Braves!

spotts

March 31st, 2009
10:48 pm

What do you hope to accomplish by ending a post with “GO DAWGS!!” other than looking like an idiot? C’mon man…you’re making us look bad.

I’m somewhat glad that Chipper signed the extension, but there was a reason other players didn’t end their careers in Atlanta – your numbers decline with age!. Management before knew that you can’t let sentiment get in the way of building a good team. Aaron, Niekro, Spahn, et al had pretty bad seasons after they left the Braves.

I applauded the Smoltz decision, questioned the Glavine decisions (both last year and this year), and now I’m cautiously pessimistic about the Chipper decision. Granted Chipper’s coming off a batting title. But the man couldn’t stay healthy in his 30’s….what’s he going to be like at 40?

Michael

March 31st, 2009
11:02 pm

Even Michael Jordan didn’t spend his entire career with one team. Neither did Joe Montana, Brett Favre, Barry Bonds, Dominique Wilkins or Shaquille O’Neal. I think some players don’t understand that they aren’t worth as much as they think at the end of their careers or they keep playing past the point of sanity.

However, a few one-teamers did come to mind. Dan Marino, John Elway, Larry Bird and Barry Sanders. They are few, but they exist.

Bill

March 31st, 2009
11:27 pm

Thanks Braves for doing the right thing with Chipper “Mr. Brave”. Thanks Chipper for all the great years.

Wish Josh Anderson the best with the Tigers.

Ted Striker

April 1st, 2009
12:08 am

Shultzie, I’ve still got a long way to go. (Don’t worry, I don’t mind bringing up the rear)

Bryan Stone

April 1st, 2009
12:26 am

for the last time!!!! chipper can-NOT be traded,.. hasn’t been a contractural possiblity since 2003 or so,…

What he signed for is what it is,…. unless he agrees to a deal which this contract makes it obvious that that won’t happen

If you were such a Braves/baseball fan you would already know that!

matt r

April 1st, 2009
1:20 am

Very nice piece.

Who Cares !

April 1st, 2009
5:18 am

Way too much money… How many people out there could have real jobs if $42M was spread around… Just another reason I could care less about baseball and haven’t been to a game in fifteen years this year and doubt I will again. Just NUTS the $ they throw at these guys, I never heard OK… Let’s Work Ball !!!!????

raindawg722

April 1st, 2009
7:51 am

Bryan, why is it obvious that Chipper wouldn’t agree to a deal? Imagine that next year Bobby Cox has retired and the Braves are 20 games out by the deadline. (That’s awful to think about, I know, but we’re talking about what is possible, not what is likely.) The Yanks and Red Sox are neck and neck and think that Chipper as a DH is the piece that their team needs to win the division. Chipper has a choice to play for one more World Series ring or play out the string with a team that is going nowhere. He would have to at least consider agreeing to the trade.

Richard Dawson

April 1st, 2009
8:31 am

First, thanks again to Dave O’Brien for the inside scoop on this one. Wait, DOB didn’t scoop this one? Add it to the long list.

Second, concerning all the prior examples you cited, it’s usually very wise to let players go in their waning years. Other teams will generally overpay for superstars in their waning years, while home teams realize the player is in decline. Look at Maddux’s years after Atlanta: all 4+ ERA years. Glavine had one decent season in NY, who way overpaid for him. I heard that Aaron wanted to finish his career in Milwaukee, and in any event, he was not productive in his time there. All good moves by the Braves. It’s just not smart to keep and pay highly for a player in severe decline. I love to see guys stay with one team for their careers, and would love to have seen Maddux, Glavine and Smoltz all finish here, but the only one I would have paid their asking price for is Smoltz.

Jeff Schultz

April 1st, 2009
9:31 am

RAINDAWG722: You’re right, there’s no guarantees. But the contract sends the right message.

SUPES: We’re doomed, DOOMED I tell you!

STRIKER: Let’s keep your rear out of this.

BRYAN STONE: The fact Chipper is a vested veteran doesn’t mean he can’t be traded. It just means he has to approve a trade, which happens all the time.

MATT: Thanx.

WHO CARES: I believe the saying is, “Don’t hate the player, hate the game.” My wife’s a teacher so I think I get the whole salaries-out-of-whack argument. But it is what it is. (I know. That’s deep.)

Herschworld

April 1st, 2009
10:05 am

Jeff Schultz looks like the by-product of a Tony Kornheiser and Andy Dick gay experience…God you suck

yankee fan

April 1st, 2009
10:33 am

I am glad Chipper is going to remain a Brave, but I don’t think he is worth $42 million. By the time the deal is done, he will be too old to be worth that kind of money. They should have given that kind of deal to Mark Texeira, and he would have been a building block for the future. Chipper is not a building block – too many injuries, and do you really think he is going to get any better health-wise as he gets older? That being said, congratulations Chipper on making it your whole career as a Brave!

Ted Striker

April 1st, 2009
11:01 am

Herschworld — Has science really come that far?

JSS

April 1st, 2009
11:25 am

Schultz, there are lot’s of quotes you haven’t come across before. It would take more than a 2nd grade level of intellectual curiosity for that to happen…

Wow, 4 more years of Chipper playing 110 games or less a year; I’m so excited…

Rocketman221

April 1st, 2009
11:38 am

You forgot Greg Maddux!

pfunkATL

April 1st, 2009
12:07 pm

I lived in KC in the 70s,80, and 90s and was privileged to see George Brett spend his ENTIRE HOF career in small-market Kansas City. I will be thrilled to watch Chipper retire as a Brave as well.

Jeff Schultz

April 1st, 2009
12:23 pm

YankeeFan: Tail end of contracts for long-term veterans tend to be more about reward than anticipated production that year. That said, Chipper Jones doesn’t strike me as the kind of guy who would take the money if he’s hitting .238. I wouldn’t say that about everyone. Take for example, Mike Hampton.

Rocketman221: The reason I didn’t include Maddux is he didn’t start his career with the Braves, as you know. Pitched for a while in Chicago before he ever got here.

Bryan Stone

April 1st, 2009
1:35 pm

Schultz: Chipper can NOT be traded UNLESS he agrees,… I know,… I already said that

the “we need to trade Chipper” guy regularly screams that when they don’t even understand baseball’s CBA

Jeff Shultz's evil twin

April 1st, 2009
1:37 pm

Breaking news:

Chipper’s been traded to the Red Sox.

Russell

April 1st, 2009
1:49 pm

Addressing Mr. Dawson’s comments about Glavine and Maddux being let go by the Braves in their waning years: here are Glavine’s numbers of an average season he had for the 5yrs he was a Met: 200 innings, 12.2 wins, 3.98 ERA, Maddux’s average numbers for the 5yrs after he left the Braves: 208 innings, 13.2 wins, 4.16 ERA. These are certainly not Cy Young numbers, but I would say that they are better than the guys the Braves brought in to replace Maddux & Glavine (Hampton & Russ Ortiz)and could have came just as cheap as those guys. And are very comparable to the guy they just gave a 4yr $60million contract to (Derek Lowe). If the Braves would have kept Maddux & Glavine for those past years, I would venture to say they would have had more success than what they had.

bali

April 1st, 2009
2:07 pm

toneykornheiser…………. Toney freakinkornheiser…….. man…….. maybe a new pic is in store jeff……….. Toney kornheiser wow

raindawg722

April 1st, 2009
2:36 pm

Bryan Stone, I don’t understand the CBA, but I am familiar with the five-and-ten rule which requires a player with ten years of major league service and five with the same team to consent to any trade. That does not mean that he cannot be traded. I probably could have been clearer in my first post, but I was impliedly referring to the rule when I said that the incentive for Chipper in a trade is one more ring. In other words, he would consent to a trade with a contender for a chance to win another World Series.

For the record, I like Chipper and hope he finishes his career as a Brave.

Atl65

April 1st, 2009
3:51 pm

As a long time Braves fan, it will be nice to show my son what it is like to see someone stay with the same team through an entire career.

It is a rare accomplishment, which I hope becomes a trend for some of the newest Atlanta athletes (Al Horford, Matt Ryan, Kovalchuck).

MightyQuinn

April 1st, 2009
5:20 pm

Hey, Spotts at 10:48, Phil Niekro went 16-8 with an ERA of 3.09 in 1984 and 16-12, 4.09 in 1985. I think the Braves could have used him those years, don’t you?

MightyQuinn

April 1st, 2009
5:27 pm

I should have made clear, those were his stats with the Yankees the two years immediately following his trade from the Braves.

scottbravesfan

April 1st, 2009
9:47 pm

Who Cares, you are a loser. Do you cry about NBA salaries or NFL salaries? It’s a hell of a lot more expensive to go to a football and basketball game than it is to a baseball game. Don’t complain about the salaries would you rather that money go to the owners pockets? Because they aren’t going to make ticket prices go down no matter how much the players are getting paid. You sound like a small child who doesn’t understand how the world works. There is a reason why athletes get paid what they do, it’s because there is such a small number who can do it at a high level. Same reason why doctors get paid a lot more than teachers. Doctors take a lot of work and a lot of school to become one. Teachers you just have to have a bachelors degree and in some cases you don’t even need to have that. It’s simple supply and demand. So like Jeff said don’t hate the players because it’s stupid to expect them to give money back when the industry is rolling in it.

Ted Striker

April 1st, 2009
10:13 pm

Mr. 9:47 pm: I’m impressed! You actually managed to keep race out of a post. I could practically hear ‘we are the world’ when i read it.

Supes

April 1st, 2009
11:25 pm

Come on, enough of the old argument of “athletes shouldn’t make the money they are making”. This isn’t what this article is about. Unreal. Jealous socialists, go live in Russia for God’s sake!

And YankeeFan…Dude, what part of Boras was seeking a 10 year 200 million dollar deal for Mark T. didn’t you get last year? Your Yankees payed, or should I say incredibly overpayed for Tex’s services.

If you think about it, Chipper made 10 mil last year, all he did was lead the league in hitting, was the everyday positions players leader in the locker room (can you put a price on that and the advice he gives the young guns like B-Mac), and still flashed the leather over at 3B more often than not. So he’s earned a raise. DOB keep throwing out these stats, and at the end of the day, if you pay attention they add up to Chipper being one of the TOP 5 Hitters in the game since the summer of 2006!

13 Million per year is not a lot of money for a TOP 5 hitter, have you seen what the likes of Manny, or A-Rod, etc are earning? And you can’t compare him to a youngster like David Wright, who’s yet to really HIT the big money market. Bottom line, Chipper got a fair market offer and he signed it. Braves nation should be happy. Mets nation should be worried b/c that’s 3 more years (guaranteed) that Chipper is going to knock around their precious NY Mets!

Andyman

April 2nd, 2009
11:51 am

So Who Cares ! doesn’t care so much that he had to take time to post on this blog. Way to show us all that you don’t care.

As someone else already said, I hope you feel the same way about other sports such as pro football and basketball as well.

Dave in Buford

April 2nd, 2009
12:00 pm

Baseball is far more about emotions and tradition than any other game (with no apologies to college football) … so this event means a lot, regardless of the money.

One of the peculiarities about baseball (and you don’t see this much in other sports either) is that the star players can be completely effective into their forties, then suddenly with little warning have their skills erode overnight.

Chipper certainly hasn’t played 162 games every year, but on the other hand, he went into the outfield when a lot of players would have refused, and paid a price for it too.

In my estimation, he’s earned some consideration (and emotion, too).

RichmondBrave

April 2nd, 2009
5:25 pm

I had no idea Chipper was a GaYtor fan, but he is still the heart of our team.
I was really upset about Smoltz leaving, and I am glad Chipper will stay around a while longer as long as he stayes moderatly healthy.
Oh yeah, I am still pissed that the R Braves are now in GA, but they got NO support here in Richmond so it’s better for the franchise that they moved.

samurai99

April 2nd, 2009
5:34 pm

“Like a public grease fire”…. so good…. Although Chipper is not exactly a saint, he stays out of the headlines for non-baseball activities. Why is it so rare for a player to stay put? It can’t just be about the $…
JS, thanks for writing something enlightening and timely.

truth-serum

April 3rd, 2009
7:34 am

chipper jones was moved to the outfield because hes a liability at third, he was moved from the outfield because he a hazard out there. No designator rule here….poor chipper. Its to late to trade him now. We should have traded him a long time ago. Hell never make the hall… hes not hall material unless were talking the bubba hall of fame.
truth-serum

April 2nd, 2009
5:18 pm
Attorney: Vick to work construction after jail
Imprisoned QB likely to testify in bankruptcy hearing in Va.
By JEREMY REDMON

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Newport News, Va. – As former Falcons quarterback Michael Vick quietly watched in court this morning, his team of bankruptcy attorneys made substantial progress in settling objections filed by key creditors.

Michael Blumenthal, Vick’s lead attorney today, outlined proposed settlements with the Internal Revenue Service and the Virginia Department of Taxation. The two taxing agencies, which filed objections to Vick’s plan to emerge from bankruptcy, have said Vick owes $696,930 combined in back federal and state taxes, penalties and interest.
Michael Vick at the 2007 press conference where he apologized for his role in dogfighting.MORE ON MICHAEL VICK

Michael Vick is banking on return to NFL
Vick is expected to testify either today or tomorrow. He has already been offered a job to work at a local construction company for an hourly wage 40 hours a week once he leaves prison, Blumenthal said.

“He is going to turn a new leaf,” Blumenthal said. “He has learned from what occurred in his life.”

According to the Associated Press, Vick plans to work for $10 an hour at one of W.M. Jordan Co.’s 40 commercial construction jobs, said John Robert Lawson. His father, Robert Lawson, helped start the Newport News company.

Lawson, 57, said that he has known Vick for more than 10 years and that they have been involved in charitable work together. He said Vick’s representatives approached him when he was turned away by other employers.

“I believe all of us make mistakes, and once you’ve fulfilled your commitment and paid the price, you should be given a second chance,” Lawson said in a telephone interview with the AP.

“He’s not a bad person. He made some bad choices,” Lawson said

scott

April 3rd, 2009
3:32 pm

He paid his dues in prison. I wish him well. But I hope he never wears a Falcons uniform again. Forgive, but never forget.

truth-serum

April 3rd, 2009
9:52 pm

scott

April 3rd, 2009
3:32 pm
You havent forgiven.You are lying or dont understand what forgiveness is. You are still hating,are a hater and can only hate. Thats your pupose in life…is to hate.
You are the Grand Bubba of hating! Im very sure you were a white robe.

I guess Schultz wants Woodson fired and he doesnt seem to care the he has the sorryiest center in the NBA and other teams make us pay for it. What a liability Pachulia is. There is 8 minute left in the game but its over because boston is riding bicycles to the post on ZaZa. Hes missed four dunks and the other team scored each time. Now were down 13 with 8 minutes left….guess whos going to win….lets talk about that!

truth-serum

April 4th, 2009
9:23 pm

Going into the fourth quarter The Magic center has 20+ rebounds…ZaZa is on the bench…as usual. I got an Idea…lets blame the coach… Its coach Woodsons fault he doesnt have a center.

Hurry up and get back Micheal Vick, we need your marquee stature in the city of atlanta….

truth-serum

April 4th, 2009
9:27 pm

truth-serum

April 4th, 2009
9:26 pm
Who really cares what the bubba’s I mean braves do? Move to south carolina or missippi or alabama and raise the confederate flag.
What ever!

Going into the fourth quarter The Magic center has 20+ rebounds…ZaZa is on the bench…as usual. I got an Idea…lets blame the coach… Its coach Woodsons fault he doesnt have a center.

Hurry up and get back Micheal Vick, we need your marquee stature in the city of atlanta….