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Seasons Don’t Fear the Chipper


Larry Jones has been hard to miss, but we’ll manage.

First responder caps…Bobby Valentine embroiled in controversy…wondering how the Mets are going to handle Chipper Jones…

What decade is this anyway?

I’m not in the mood to be overly outraged at the moment, so I’ll just say I agree with Jason’s assertion that the Mets are not doing the right thing [2] by not fully honoring a tradition they started in 2001 when they looked outside themselves and honored the true heroes of their community with a small but significant gesture. It’s a demerit against a franchise that does so much right in the realm of active September 11 remembrance when it comes to working with Tuesday’s Children [3], to name just one worthwhile example. It’s a total mark of shame against MLB, but what else is new there?

Bobby V isn’t our story anymore, but the figurative heat rising from his managerial tenure in Boston feels like the smoke from a distant fire…say, any of the media-stoked conflagrations that sporadically ignited when he summered on Roosevelt Avenue between 1996 and 2002, particularly toward the end of his Met residency. Given the contentious interview he gave to WEEI [4] and taking into account how stories sizzle that much quicker and so much hotter when it’s the Red Sox imploding in Beantown, this may be the end of his residency there, too. For all the bad press he’s brought on himself lately, it’s hard to recall the image of Bobby V wearing the NYPD cap in September 2001 [5] (during games, mind you) or leading the support efforts in the Shea Stadium parking lot before play resumed and wish anything but the best for a man who gave so much of himself to others. Bash Bobby Valentine all you want. He’ll always be my manager, even if he’s not our story anymore.

As for Chipper, he’ll be out of our hair three games hence. He’s been a fixture in our scalp since 1995, causing his most persistent itch right around the turn of the millennium [6]. Chipper Jones and his teammates always seemed to rise head and shoulders above the Mets when it mattered most. They still seem to do that [7], even though it doesn’t matter all that much to us in September 2012 the way it did circa September 1999. But he’s still Chipper, except now he’s a retiring legend and he’s worked diligently to soften his prickly edges. The man’s done nothing but attempt to ingratiate himself to the Mets fan mindset since around 2008 [8], when the stadium for which he named his son was coming down, and I’ve learned to appreciate him for the rare self-aware [9] superstar he grew into. I also appreciate that he won’t be bothering us anymore after Sunday. I hope the Mets shake off their insecure nature [10] for two minutes and offer up a brief ceremony of some sort before his last game. I hope the Mets fans remember exactly who he is, in every sense of the word, and give him theĀ LARRRRRRYing he so richly deserves. Standing and applauding while indulging the ancient at-bat ritual for the man we called a lot of things but never simply “Jones” would be a nice touch. Sitting and booing would be understood, if a little tacky. Let’s offer up our own recognition, whatever legal form it takes on. Chipper and Larry have both earned that.

Chipper…Bobby V…the caps. All of a piece, in a way. Certainly all of an era, a complex era when the brass ring loomed so tantalizingly close for so long. There are days from the heart of that period I’d like to forget, but there are emotions I am destined to remember for as long as I root. They’re a decade removed from the present yet I’m feeling them all over again.