Opposing clubs have been pretty gracious to Chipper Jones as he makes his final rounds throughout the country’s National League ballparks. The retiring third baseman has received his fair share of gifts on his farewell tour, all from people whose lives he helped make miserable at one point or another. The influx of good vibes from his rivals harks back to two years ago, when Jones’ former manager Bobby Cox, who hauled in some pretty nice gifts of his own during his grand farewell tour.
It’s no mystery so many of their peers are, and were, happy to see Jones and Cox retire. You know, because they terrorized their teams for so long. So it begs the question, which Brave made life more of a living hell for opposing clubs, garnering the cooler gifts? Let’s examine.
Chipper Jones’ Gifts
Perhaps it’s unfair to size up Chipper’s reception just yet, considering he hasn’t played his last games at Citi Field. The Mets have already given him the name of his son, so we can only assume his retirement gift from the Amazins will actually be majority ownership of the team. But before the Wilpons hand the Mets over to Larry Jones for good, we can only go by the gifts he’s received thus far. Oh well.
Big League Stew compiled a list of the presents Chipper has accrued so far, and it makes it pretty easy to tell which teams will be sincerely happy he’s gone, and which just couldn’t give a fuck and got him a third base (it’s like, the gift card of Chipper’s retirement party). Among the coolest gifts were a surfboard courtesy of the Padres, a Braves pennant straight from the grandstand of Wrigley courtesy of the Cubs, and the bat he used to hit the first home run in the history of Nationals Park courtesy of the Nationals. A stellar combination of the practical and sentimental, with a little bit of local flair from all parties involved. Good job, guys.
In the second tier were a 10-gallon hat from the Astros, and an autographed photo and a Stan Musial jersey from the Cardinals. Not necessarily as cool as the gifts mentioned above, but still a step above the teams who mailed it in and got him a third base, which were: the Reds, the Yankees (though I guess it’s cool an American League team got him a gift altogether, considering their World Series history), and the Nationals (as a supplement to the bat and a picture of Chipper with Mark DeRosa and Adam LaRoche).
A nice collection, but does it measure up to…
Bobby Cox’s Gifts
Because Bobby wasn’t actually on the diamond to torment other clubs (though let’s face it, he was on that diamond often enough), he didn’t receive the flashiest gifts, but they were still pretty solid. Among them: a bottle of wine from the Mets, a home plate ceremony, screen time on the scoreboard, and colleague Lou Piniella’s simultaneous retirement from the Cubs, a signed, framed photo of Stan Musial from the Cardinals (because all Stan Musial does now is send off retiring baseball personalities), a U.S. flag that flew above the Capitol and a Navy band introduction from the Nationals, a $5,000 donation from the Pirates and Twins to the Homeless Pets Foundation (a charity which Cox strongly supports), and a charter plane emblazoned with his number 6 for his last road trip courtesy of his own Atlanta Braves.
Bobby’s retirement bash consisted of less gifts that were real and tangible, but things more along the line of concert tickets or “experiential” gifts. Both have merits in their own right – I guess it’s just different strokes for different Atlanta Braves legends.
Aside from the fact that he’s going to have a whole lot of third bases collecting dust in his probably very large garage, I think Chipper was the recipient of the flashier showcase in this Showcase Showdown. Granted, a surfboard probably isn’t the best gift to get someone like Bobby Cox, but it’s certainly cooler than a bottle of wine. And a pennant from Wrigley Field? That’s hallowed fabric right there.
Plus, need I remind you Chipper hasn’t made his last trip to Flushing yet? Once the Mets slap his face on the home run apple, erect a statue of him out in front of the park, and rename the stadium after him (this is all on top of giving him ownership of the team, remember), it should really be no contest.
[SB Nation, Big League Stew, photo via Getty]