By: Stache Staff

When it comes to Chipper, think of the good times

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When I heard this morning that Chipper Jones was planning on retiring after this season, I was struck with what emotionally confused people call “mixed feelings.” I used to hate Chipper Jones a lot back in the days before the rise of the Phillies and Shane Victorino. Besides those two years when John Rocker was relevant, Jones was the premier public enemy for Mets fans from 1998 until 2006.

I should be glad that “Larry” Jones will finally be retiring, but of course, things are never that simple. The peak times of “Laaaarrrry” chants and Jones hate coincided with the rise of the Mets from mid-90s obscurity into the thrilling pennant chases provided by the last few years of the decade. Nowadays, every time Jones steps up to bat, I end up flashing back to a simpler time before Ponzi schemes and ownership struggles. Suddenly, Mike Piazza is behind the plate, Al Leiter is on the mound, and behind him is perhaps the greatest infield ever to play the game together.

The fall of the Mets from contenders to punch line has transformed my stance on Jones. No longer do I fear and despise him like I did with Reggie Miller and Victorino. To me, Jones is more like a time capsule. He is the only remaining figure from the great Mets vs. Braves battles of my youth. Piazza, Leiter and John Olerud have long since retired. Even Bobby Cox has moved on, while Bobby Valentine was fired by the Mets, won a title in Japan, joined ESPN and finally returned to Major League Baseball all in the past decade.

At least for one more season, though, we have Jones. I remember when first I heard he was naming his son after Shea Stadium, I was angered and offended. How dare he! Jones was supposed to hate playing at Shea Stadium, where he was verbally abused in every at-bat. Even if he hit a couple of home runs there, he still shouldn’t like the place enough to name his kid after it.

Now things are different. Now that Shea is gone, I’m glad the name will live on in Jones’ family for many years to come. I know Shea will never (and probably shouldn’t) be properly immortalized like those “classic” ballparks such as old Yankee Stadium, Fenway Park, Wrigley Field and Dodger Stadium. In the Jones family, though, our dump will always be remembered. Besides, how many Mets fans are even hard core enough to name one of their kids after Shea Stadium?

I’m not asking that everyone find an appreciation of Jones like I have. If you still hate him, I think that’s great as well. I think it would bring fondness to every Mets fan’s heart, though, to remember whenever Jones steps to the plate our heroes that he used to play against back in the day. If you do that, I think you have to like the guy a little bit. A really little bit.

That doesn’t mean you have to cheer him in his last at-bat in Queens, though. I think it would be proper to do whatever you would have done if “Larry” had stepped up to the plate in the middle of the ’99 pennant race. If that means yelling, then yell. If that means calling out his first first name, then do that. If you want to boo, you can boo, but I think he always liked that a little too much.

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