Chipper Jones’ retirement shouldn’t be a punchline

After a two-day circus, Chipper Jones said Thursday he's tabling retirement talk. (Curtis Compton/AJC)

After a two-day circus, Chipper Jones is tabling retirement talk for now. (Curtis Compton/AJC)

Announcements of this type generally drip with emotion and drama, but this one had unfortunately mutated into something resembling a Looney Tunes production (did Wile E. Coyote have an “Acme Retirement Kit?”).

So it seemed completely appropriate Thursday that when Chipper Jones emerged from a back room and made his way to the media swarm in front of his locker at 6 p.m., we heard jokes.

“Today … today … today,” coach Eddie Perez cracked in his best, echoing Lou Gehrig, retirement voice.

“It’s about [freaking] time!” yelled closer Billy Wagner (in his own voice).

So this is how a Hall of Famer and one of the greatest switch-hitters in baseball history planned to go out? As a punch line?

One hour before a game, Jones called an impromptu news conference and, with cameras, recorders and eyeballs all pointed in his direction, he tells the assembled masses — at least those not changing their pants, like Tim Hudson, a few lockers over — “Somehow the cork got taken out. Well, I’m putting it back in. So I don’t want to hear any more talk about retirement until the end of the season.”

And now, let’s watch the coyote launch himself into the cannon, as the unsuspecting Roadrunner approaches from just around the bend …

BOOM!

Never works. Neither will this.

Chipper Jones was right about a few things Thursday. He was right to say that the previous two days had been an undeserving distraction to a team that’s in first place, and even to a manager who is approaching his own career finish line (although Bobby Cox probably welcomed Jones stealing that spotlight). Jones also was right that he certainly never intended his retirement meetings with the Braves to leak out.

Who knows, he might have even been telling the truth when he said he is not 100 percent locked in on retirement. (Doubtful, though.)

But no matter how hard Jones pushes, that cork just isn’t going to fit back into the bottle.

This was an unfortunate off-ramp in the season. The Braves deserve attention now. Jones deserves trumpets when his career is over. But either the team or the player should have made some immediate declaration when this thing leaked Tuesday. Either, “Yes, I’m retiring,” or, “This is something I’ll address after the season.”

We may never know all that has occurred in the past two days. Was this about the Braves, being as corporate as they are, trying to make an announcement befitting the ways of a “great, grand, organization” (copyright: John Schuerholz)?

Was it about Jones and the Braves trying to define his future role with the team?

Was it about an agent pushing for some financial settlement, rather than just allowing Jones to walk away from the remaining $28 million on his contract (because the $141,552,133 he will have made through this season just isn’t enough)?

Doesn’t really matter.

Jones understands this is going to be a topic the rest of the season. He’ll be asked questions in every city and he’ll probably break down and answer a few, because that’s just his way. Honesty is his greatest asset. He always speaks his mind, even if it’s not necessarily the way the front-office spin-meisters would prefer. When the Braves drop-kicked John Smoltz, Jones, the clubhouse leader, couldn’t hold his tongue. That’s just not his way.

He doesn’t wear his emotions just on his sleeves. His emotions cover his entire torso.

“Any more talk of the ‘R’ word will be reserved until the end of the season,” he said.

That was funny. He tried. But he worded it as “the ‘R’ word” only the first time. He said the actual word every time thereafter.

“You guys all know retirement is a possibility in the very near future,” he said. “I don’t want the guys to have to answer any questions, ‘How do you feel about Chipper retiring?’”

Why say this now?

“Because I was concerned the firestorm that it started,” he said. “… Like I told John just a minute ago, I’m going to put a cork in it now so that the guys and myself don’t deem it as a distraction. Let’s get it out in the open. I’m here. I’m playing the rest of the year. Any decision I make on my future will be made in the offseason.”

Would have been a great speech two days ago.

Follow me on Twitter @JeffSchultzAJC and Facebook.com/JeffSchultzAJC

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49 comments Add your comment

Steve

June 17th, 2010
8:43 pm

Good article! There is no way he will come back. Can’t see him playing for a different manager.

Reid Adair

June 17th, 2010
8:43 pm

A firestorm indeed … singlehandedly greated by the media and an anonymous source.

The worst part will be the media members who won’t let it go until the end of the season.

[...] Anyway, my column on Jones’ announcement — and really moreso the absurdity of the past two days — is now posted. You can find it by clicking here. [...]

Navigator

June 17th, 2010
9:15 pm

To start with, I’m tired of hearing Chipper is a shoe in for the hall of fame. The writers today are better educated in the total career players have, and Chipper fall quite short in the playoffs. I like Chipper, but his appraisal of who he thought he was, versus who showed up his entire career doesn’t match. Nobody on this forum is going to make it happen or not, so lets see after 5 years what baseball thinks of him.

Pi$$onaDawg

June 17th, 2010
9:34 pm

I made fun of Chipper and the Hooters girl, but I did the same for Clinton. At leaste I was equal in my BARBS.

MitchC

June 17th, 2010
9:35 pm

Jeff, I agree with you that the whole situation should have been clarified immediately, instead of dragging on for two days. The only story, as you mentioned, is the Braves play on a daily basis.

While one might speculate that Chipper will wait to see how he plays the rest of the season before he makes his decision, my bet is that, privately, he’s decided to retire. He wont announce it until the end of the season for two reasons. One, he doesnt want it to be a distraction from the Braves trying to win a division or a wild card, and two, he may not want to take away the spotlight from Bobby’s last season, as we already have known since last year that Bobby will be retiring.

Adam

June 17th, 2010
9:44 pm

If they fall out of first place later in the season… A-Rod’s groin still hurts… NYY needs a rental 3b??? Would he go to get another ring?

Dr. Phil

June 17th, 2010
9:46 pm

Chipper might as well be retired for all he has contributed this season.

"Chef" Tim Dix

June 17th, 2010
10:11 pm

Really believe the “Greatest Atlanta Brave” retirement talk was a bit of goodwill he leaked with no bad intentions. I believe after his HOF career he’s still pretty unassuming and straight forward.

Maybe his contract talks free up money (something he’s done in the past), proving once again he’s a team player and that winning the ultimate goal is the only brass ring.

Herschel Talker

June 17th, 2010
10:29 pm

Better late than never. He was a stud in his prime, but that was way long ago. Time to ride off into the sunset.

Robards

June 17th, 2010
10:30 pm

Chipper won’t retire until after Brett Favre. He may have just wanted some attention before thinking better of it.

Red Brooks

June 17th, 2010
10:43 pm

Chipper has struggled with recovering from injuries since the “Barry Bonds” era ended. I just don’t understand it.

[...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by . said: [...]

Rich

June 17th, 2010
10:47 pm

Poor Zach Klein. Dudes using him as an armrest.

Dawg26

June 17th, 2010
10:48 pm

He is the 3rd best 3rd baseman on the team right now. That’s not gonna change. Time to go Chip….

Urban Meyer

June 17th, 2010
10:48 pm

Stop using steroids and the numbers fall and the injuries increase!

DaveinNEPA

June 17th, 2010
11:05 pm

Chipper has always been a team player and a stand up guy. His contributions to this team over the last 15 years have been above reproach.

That said, it’s painfully obvious watching him this season that he’s clearly not the player he was. It’s time and I believe he knows it.

Time waits for no man.

clmtigr

June 17th, 2010
11:33 pm

Chipper is a freaking stud, and he can still rake – he will prove that in the 2nd half of this season. May one of the greatest to ever put on the Braves uniform go out any way he pleases – it was awesome watching you play Chipper, we welcome you back next year if you decide to come back.

Jeff Schultz

June 17th, 2010
11:44 pm

Rich — I was one of those dudes.

bfred

June 17th, 2010
11:45 pm

So half the comments so far claim that he was a juicer and/or some sort of degenerate? Do we have a Mets series comign up or something? This is pathetic.

Anyway, I think he would do well to announce now that he is retiring at the end of the season, barring some unexpected explosion in his production. He is respected around the league, let him enjoy the swan song while pouring his heart into a pennant run.

Joshua

June 18th, 2010
2:33 am

@Navigator:
And every single writer that ever addresses the topic of Chipper Jones’ HoF credentials seem to emphatically agree that he will be a near unanimous first ballot hall of famer. Yes, he is a shoe in for the hall. Yes, he is going in the hall on the first ballot. Period. It is not even open for debate.

Matt

June 18th, 2010
2:48 am

Chipper, don’t let the door hit you where the good lord split you. In your big more than likely injured vagina.

turkeycaller

June 18th, 2010
6:53 am

Larry said no more retirement talk now men. Best thing for the Braves would be for him to get his out of shape frail little whining and attention wanting ass out of the way.Sickening image for baseball and a joke when it comes to being a player.

Bulldog59

June 18th, 2010
7:20 am

His story parallels that of Mike Schmidt, who could have gone to the AL as a DH at the end of his career as he put it, “to pad his stats.” Anyone who watched #20 throughout his career knows he was an all or nothing player. The game was always more than just a paycheck to him.

No matter your opinion of Chipper, he and Schmidt are cut from the same cloth and you have to admire that.

It is not at all surprising that the current Braves management didn’t handle this more discreetly.

Dozer

June 18th, 2010
7:33 am

He came to his senses – no way he leaves $28M on the table – if he waits until the end of the season he’ll probably get another extension….

Bulldog59

June 18th, 2010
7:40 am

Guys, it’s “shoo-in” not “shoe in” and I agree with you Joshua. If I had to bet, I’d say he goes in 1st ballot. 16 full seasons (forget the few games in 1993) with 430 HRs, a .306 lifetime BA, and a host of other solid stats. That’s sustained production and HofA career.

Rich

June 18th, 2010
7:47 am

So how exactly does that work, Jeff? Do you owe Zach an armrest at a later date, or was he paying you back in that instance?

D.Langner & B.Newton

June 18th, 2010
8:10 am

Joshua, let’s save the debate for 5 years from now, when Mr. Jones receives about 23% of the HOF vote (and 75% is needed for induction).

[...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Jeff Schultz, Jeff Schultz. Jeff Schultz said: By the way, here's what I think of the Chipper Jones' circus. And it HAS been a circus. http://bit.ly/bl1NlR [...]

Dawglasville

June 18th, 2010
8:16 am

You put Adam Dunn in this line up, move Glaus to third, and make Medlin the fifth starter and I think this team has a real chance to win it all. It won’t happen but it sounds great.

fieldofdreams

June 18th, 2010
8:22 am

I don’t know when or if Chipper plans to retire, but I do know he needs to meet the Risen Son of God before he leaves this earth. Reject Him now, be rejected then.

DBCOOPER

June 18th, 2010
8:29 am

Where do we find these sports writers? Holy Cow a guy that’s been in a Braves uniform for 20 years gets this? What happened to our paper?

[...] ♦ Chipper Jones’ retirement shouldn’t be a punchline [...]

Dawglasville

June 18th, 2010
8:42 am

fieldofdreams – You don’t know where Chipper is in his walk so I’m not sure why you would say that. David was an adulterer and I’m sure you speak very highly of him.

Chipper in the Hall… I always grouped him and Piazza together when Chipper was young. Both could rake and both were defensive liablilties . Chipper maybe the best switch hitter in the history of the game after Mantle. Chipper has taken one for the team several times and his defense has improved over the years. I was shocked when Gary Carter got in. I think it is a no brainer.

chief pitchanono

June 18th, 2010
11:50 am

I think Bobby, Wren and Sherholtz talked him out of making any anouncement. Something changed between Monday and Thursday. I believe that the upper management still has not seen enough to believe that he is done from a performance stand point. The money situation is really the only thing about this that makes this a huge story. I mean it will be a big deal (when) he does retire, but only then. The money situation and how it could effect a cash strapped team like Braves could be very important. With Chipper’s history of renegotiating contracts ect.. it makes me believe that this was the main reason for the timeing of this recent meeting with the upper Brass. If there was some type of significant change in the finances by whatever Chipper may be putting on the table, then all this would make sense with the trade deadline approaching. Time will probably tell, but for rite now there has got to be more to this story than we know.

[...] ♦ Chipper Jones’ retirement shouldn’t be a punchline [...]

Ronald Millsaps

June 18th, 2010
1:15 pm

“navigator”– Chipper didn’t fall short in the playoffs. Get your facts together.

[...] lacking passion. This year’s team is different. They are playing above their depth, certainly when you consider the “stars” who aren’t performing. We’ve all noticed it. Tim Hudson has noticed [...]

scottbravesfan

June 19th, 2010
1:53 am

The people on this blog are idiots. Where else are you going to get a 3rd baseman that gets on base 40% of the time? You people place way too much value on batting average. His power is gone because he’s 38 years old and this is when people retire in baseball. Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens pitched into their 40s because they did steroids. Ken Griffey Jr. and Chipper Jones skills fade when they get old it’s natural. But like I said unlike Griffey, Chipper is still has one of the highest on base percentages in the national league and the object of hitting is to get on base.

Also Navigator,

You are an idiot if you don’t think Chipper gets into the hall of fame. He’s one of the 3 best switch hitters in the history of the game and one of the 5 best third basemen on the history of the game. He gets in on the first ballot with ease.

[...] ♦ Chipper Jones’ retirement shouldn’t be a punchline [...]

[...] ♦ Chipper Jones’ retirement shouldn’t be a punchline [...]

[...] lacking passion. This year’s team is different. They are playing above their depth, certainly when you consider the “stars” who aren’t performing. We’ve all noticed it. Tim Hudson has noticed [...]

[...] Also: Chipper Jones Retirement Rumors: Not going to address retirement until after the season, Chipper Jones’ retirement shouldn’t be a punchline, Chipper Jones and Kenshin Kawakami Lead Braves to 4-3 Win Over Tigers, My 2010 All-Star Picks, [...]

[...] PDRTJS_settings_2219832_post_200 = { "id" : "2219832", "unique_id" : "wp-post-200", "title" : "I+Will+Still+Miss+You+Chipper", "item_id" : "_post_200", "permalink" : "http%3A%2F%2Foliphantjack.wordpress.com%2F2010%2F07%2F07%2Fi-will-still-miss-you-chipper%2F" } http://blogs.ajc.com/jeff-schultz-blog/2010/06/17/chipper-jones-retirement-shouldnt-be-a-punchline/ [...]

[...] more talk of the ‘R’ word will be reserved until the end of the season,” Jones said. “I’m here. I’m playing the rest of the year. Any decision I make on my future [...]

[...] more talk of the ‘R’ word will be reserved until the end of the season,” Jones said. “I’m here. I’m playing the rest of the year. Any decision I make on my future [...]

[...] Also: Chipper Jones Retirement Rumors: Not going to address retirement until after the season, Chipper Jones’ retirement shouldn’t be a punchline, Chipper Jones and Kenshin Kawakami Lead Braves to 4-3 Win Over Tigers, My 2010 All-Star Picks, [...]

[...] Braves third baseman, who incited 38 in April, pronounced progressing this year that he would make known his decision upon either to keep personification after a season. On Thursday, a Braves pronounced Jones tore his [...]

[...] Braves third baseman, who turned 38 in April, said earlier this year that he would announce his decision on whether to keep playing after the season. On Thursday, the Braves said Jones tore his anterior [...]