They’ve been the two most frightening words for Braves fans for more than a decade: “Chipper’s hurt.” But not since the spring of 1994, when Chipper was still a kid waiting for his first full season of big-league arrival, has he been hurt this way.
Chipper’s hurt. Torn ACL. Surgery required. It gets no more chilling than that.
Later we will discuss at greater length what this means for the Braves, and obviously it means a lot, and none of it good. But here we must think first of the man: The second-best Atlanta Brave after Hank Aaron, already considering retirement at 38, his knee requiring reconstruction, his distinguished career perhaps at an abrupt end.
Chipper Jones wanted to go out on his terms. Every great ballplayer does. These were not the terms he had in mind. I know there’s a part of him that will want to have the surgery, do the rehab and try again to play. (Tom Glavine did the same, you’ll recall, and it ended badly.) I know there’s also the pragmatic part of Chipper, the part that will say, “That’s it. I’ve had enough.”
It will be intriguing to see what he decides. And it’s sad he has to decide anything. And if the whirling stop-and-throw in Minute Maid Park was indeed the final act of Chipper Jones as a player, at least he can take some tiny bit of solace in this: The final act of a great athlete was in fact a great play.
Cold comfort, I know. But on such a cheerless day, we take what we can find.