Monday, September 10, 2012

Goodbye, Mr. Chips

I'll be straight: I probably watched about 3 innings in total of the Mets/Braves series over the last weekend. I also missed tonight's forgettable affair with the Nationals (I only assume it was forgettable; I was out late and had put on Football rather than the Mets game, primarily because I forgot the Mets were on, and only later did I get an ESPN ScoreCenter buzz telling me the Mets had lost). Judging from the results, I can only assume I didn't miss much, outside of the weekend-long Chipper Jones Farewell Party (and yes, the cynical part of me wanted to call it the Chipper Jones Crotch-Grabbing Festival. But I'll be nice for once).

I can get behind the Mets honoring Chipper Jones, since he was, more or less, as worthy an adversary as they have ever seen. Whenever the Mets and Braves were locked in battle, particularly when they were both doing well, there was Chipper Jones, coming around to screw everything up for the Mets. In his younger days, Chipper was that swaggering, arrogant prick of a ballplayer who always beat the Mets and made us dislike him in the process. He played the part of the villain perfectly. He routinely killed the Mets and generally wrecked whatever aspirations of greatness they might have had in the process. In fact, he almost singlehandedly ruined the 1999 season in September, before a miracle finish righted the ship. And, of course, in the process, there was the famous quote that endeared him to basically nobody, and led to years of his being booed, heckled and called "Larry," repeatedly.

Chipper Jones had made himself the kind of villain that John Rocker only wished he could have been. He talked his shit, he backed it up, and then he spent the next several years keeping his mouth shut. In later years, Chipper would soften, eventually shedding some light on his quote, and even naming his son for Shea Stadium. But, he was still Larry. He'll always be Larry. Larry is to the Mets what Reggie Miller was to the Knicks: The ultimate adversary. The guy we loved to hate. And with Larry finally heading off into retirement, sure, the Mets/Braves rivalry may still exist, but it won't be the same again.

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