Sometimes big moments occur sadly in relative obscurity, deserving a much more grandiose and illumined stage.
Chipper Jones of the Atlanta Braves waved good bye to New York, the Mets, and to his vociferous detractors, the fans, one last time in Citi Field today (September 9). It was a relatively subdued environment, given the state of the Met franchise, and the length of time the fans have had to endure the failures in Flushing. And that's a shame.
Certainly, Chipper will have plenty of time to celebrate his career as the year winds down, and ultimately will have an opportunity to do it all over again when Cooperstown calls. But there was only one chance for New York to declare fare thee well, and it happened in front of sparse weekend crowds, across the street from the semifinals and finals of the U.S. Open, and on the NFL's first weekend. Talk about burying a lead story.
Jones was a lightning rod for the Met fan, mostly because he was a key figure on a team New York could never defeat. For years, and goodness knows currently as well, the Braves were the obstacle between decent to good Met teams and further playoff success. They were the Jordan-led Bulls to the New York Knicks of the '90's. They were in the way - always in the way.
Nobody enjoyed being in the way more than Chipper Jones, who crushed 49 homers against the Mets, and became the storybook villain. In truth, it may seem miraculous he was received as well as he was this year by Met fans, who understand torment better than most other fan bases. Perhaps the softening began when he admitted the Mike Piazza home run game, the first one after 9/11, was one he didn't mind losing. It was a comment that might have indicated to Met fans, this competitor of the highest standards understood, and stood by, New Yorkers in a moment of need - regardless of the uniform color.
He was not the only player to drub the Mets like a disciplining father. In fact, the Mets have suffered at the hands of many during their more than 50 years in the league. But the nature of the Braves-Mets rivalry during his time helped fuel his identity as a Met killer. It happened during a time the town was buzzing and undulating with Met possibilities. It seems like such a long time ago.
Glenn Vallach has been a New York Mets fan since foolishly abandoning the mighty Yankees in his youth after Mickey Mantle retired. Since the fond, fleeting memories of the Tom Seaver, Cleon Jones, Tommie Agee years, he sits quietly yearning for a fraction of the success enjoyed annually by the team that inhabits the borough in which I was born...waiting and hoping...waiting and hoping.
- · Yahoo! Sports New York Mets page
- · Yahoo! Sports Atlanta Braves page
- · Yahoo! Sports Chipper Jones page
- · Rick Freeman, The Associated Press, Jones gets farewell from Mets fans, Braves win
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