I have been critical of Bryce Harper.
I’m not a fan of the cocky and he brought the cocky big time while he was in the minors. Coming into the bigs, he turned the cocky down a bit, and still I couldn’t warm up to him. Kid’s a great player so far, no doubt, but I just couldn’t take a shine to him. So I willfully ignored news about him and went along my way.
Then on Sunday it was announced he wasn’t chosen for the All Star Game and my first thought was “Well, he should have been” and my next thought (upon finding out that he wasn’t chosen by the fans or as a reserve but that he had been put on the “final” voting ballot against Chipper Jones) was “Man, I hate MLB!”
Now Chipper isn’t exactly putting up All Star numbers and he certainly isn’t playing better than Bryce Harper this year…but Harper is 19 years old and barring something terrible will probably be seeing a lot of All Star Games. Chipper is 40 years old and on his retirement tour. The Yankees have already given him third base and the Red Sox bestowed his number upon him when he visited their parks during interleague play. If we know anything about this baseball season, we know that it will be the last for Chipper Jones. So I thought it would be a no-brainer for Tony LaRussa to choose Chipper as one of the reserves, leaving Harper for the final fan vote…both get in and everyone is happy, right? No. Of course not. MLB has to engineer this rookie against the veteran voting thing, apparently just to piss me off.
Well there’s one player who isn’t buying into it…Bryce Harper.
“[Jones] should have already been in the All-Star Game no matter what,” Harper said on Sunday. “He’s an All-Star, and he’s been an All-Star for 20 years. I think Chip should have been there and, like I said, if I had a vote, Chip’s going.“
I mean, what the hell, Bryce? Way to mess up my narrative about you being a selfish brat.
Seriously, I’m thrilled to be wrong. I’m not saying the kid is a saint, but this shows a lot of class (and a whole lot of awareness) for the 19 year old phenomenon. Two things I wasn’t convinced he had. Now, if I want the National League to win the All Star Game (and, honestly, I’m getting to the point where I really don’t care which team wins. Thanks for that, Bud.) I probably want Bryce Harper in there over Chipper Jones (although Chipper really is having himself a decent year so, really, either one will help the National League). But given the way fans vote, they aren’t concerned with the All Star Game meaning anything so why should I be concerned? I want Chipper Jones in there.
As an aside, I’d like to mention that this could have all been avoided had the Braves fans actually motivated each other to vote their damn guy into the game. Although this is a fan base that doesn’t sell out their park when their team is in the playoffs so I don’t know what the heck I’m thinking there.
Chipper has been in the league since 1993 and, as anyone reading this probably knows, he’s spent every season of his career with the same team. He was Rookie of the Year, he has two Silver Sluggers and in 2008 was a batting champion. He’s already been an All Star 7 times, including last season when he was chosen as one of the reserves and in 1995 he was on a World Championship team. The Atlanta Braves made it to the playoffs every year from 1995 (his first full season with the team) through 2005 (the only time since ’05 that the Braves were in the postseason was 2010 when they lost the Division Series to the San Francisco Giants). I think it is fair to say that Chipper Jones has made a big impact on not only the Atlanta Braves but on Major League Baseball.
And I think if MLB thinks he’s important enough to mark his retirement with ceremonies at opposing team’s ballparks, then he’s important enough to give a sendoff to at the final All Star Game of his career.
So I’m with Bryce Harper…I’m voting for Chipper Jones…I’ll vote for Harper next year.