And while all the hullabaloo of Ryan Braun's did-he-or-didn't-he stories were swirling around another name came up. Chipper Jones. Long career. Great numbers. Certain Hall of Famer. Did or he didn't he?
There were articles written, an interview in the AJC and chatter all over local sports talk. I read and listened to all of it. It was very interesting and insightful. We all have our baseball heroes and we never, ever want to think or hear anything bad about them. These players are held to a higher standard, placed on a pedestal, and whether it's fair or not, we expect perfection. We often forget they are human.
In Braves Country, the one we expect perfection from is Chipper Jones. We all know that Chipper is human. He's made mistakes both on and off the field. And he's always owned up to them. That makes me appreciate him all the more. Believe me, I've had my moments of being mad at Chipper. Maybe he didn't field a ball that I thought he should have. Perhaps he seemed to be swinging at every bad pitch that came his way. He has had lapses in judgement off the field. But Chipper has never pretended to be perfect and he's always faced the music...and the media.
When I read Jeff Schultz' blog I smiled. Chipper was asked about the use of PEDs. He's a player of the steroid era. Yet when the Mitchell Report was released and names of possible offenders were bandied about, Chipper's name was never, ever mentioned. You can looks at the numbers. Many of those players who used PEDs had spikes in their numbers at an age where there shouldn't be any spikes. Chipper's numbers have ebbs and flows, but no unusual or unexplainable spikes.
Chipper was honest in the article. Yes, he saw it. Yes, he thought about it. Yes, he knew of others doing it. But when he thought about actually using PEDs, he thought his family and THEIR future. Chipper thought about what it would do to his children, though none of his four sons were yet born. He also thought about the man who's heart he didn't want to break. His father. The one person Chipper never wanted disappoint or hurt was his dad.
On Opening Day Chipper will take the field with 454 home runs and 2,615 hits under his belt. Most likely he wont reach two of the plateaus that many consider Hall of Fame musts. 500 home runs and 3,000 hits. Chipper wont reach those numbers because of injuries and his time on the DL. How many players did reach the gold standard because they used PEDs? That we'll never know.
Braves fans know one thing for certain. The day Chipper Jones is inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame will be a sunny day. A day with no clouds hanging over his head.
If you'd like to read it, here's the link to Jeff Schultz's article: