Jeremy Guthrie, retired worse than the hard way

Jeremy Guthrie

Guthrie, on the way to begin what proved the birthday beating that sent him to retirement in April.

Ending a professional baseball career depends on the circumstances that provoked it. You’d like to see every player go out the way that’s most comfortable for him, but you know without being told that it won’t always work like that.

We hardly begrudged men like Chipper Jones, Mariano Rivera, Derek Jeter, and David Ortiz taking their bows all around the circuit, as happened when each announced the forthcoming season that would be their last. We also wondered whether it made the sting of retirement easier to bear while wondering just how far into self-congratulation those men might fall.

Mets, Schmets: There was a team Chipper Jones abused even worse . . .

Atlanta's perfect 10 celebrates his number's retirement . . .

Atlanta’s perfect 10 celebrates his number’s retirement . . .

The Atlanta Braves put paid to Chipper Jones’s singular career Friday night. They retired his uniform number, provoking a classically Jonesian reaction. (I played baseball. I haven’t cured cancer or anything.) So far as retired numbers go, Jones is in company very illustrious. His perfect 10 joins such Braves giants as Hank Aaron (44), Warren Spahn (21), Eddie Mathews (41), Phil Niekro (35), Greg Maddux (31), Dale Murphy (3), Tom Glavine (47), John Smoltz (29), and longtime manager Bobby Cox (6).

Chipper Agonistes

The look says it all, after the double play opening throw that sailed away . . .

The greats don’t always get to choose the manner in which they leave the game. But whatever you believe about instant or at least same-day karma, Chipper Jones surely deserves better than to have his Hall of Fame-in-waiting career end like this.

His own throwing error, opening an unwanted door to the St. Louis Cardinals in the National League’s first-ever wild card game; his own Atlanta Braves victimised by a soft fly to the shallow outfield ruled an infield fly when the Braves might have loaded the late-tying runs on base.

On to Vaudeville Wednesday

The Balfour declaration: We win!

Wednesday is when the regular season could end with a bang for two teams and a wild card settlement for one, after Tuesday ended with a wild card settlement for another team and a surety that Wednesday’s action merely ends the schedule for yet another.

Or: The Baltimore Orioles and the New York Yankees could end up in a dead heat for the American League East; either the Oakland Athletics or the Texas Rangers will end up as the AL West champions; either the A’s or the Rangers will end up with the American League’s second wild card; and, the Los Angeles Dodgers watched what faint hope they had of reaching for the National League’s second wild card die in a center fielder’s glove in Dodger Stadium Tuesday night.

A clearer postseason picture, without the Angels . . .

Mike Trout—The should-be AL MVP did what he could and then some, but even he couldn’t bury the Angels’ 8-15 season start . . .

Late surges did the Detroit Tigers all the good in the world and the Los Angeles Angels none of it after Monday’s proceedings were finished. The Tigers stood with the American League Central in their hip pockets and the Angels stood with no place to go the rest of October other than playing out a two-game string with the Seattle Mariners and praying what they managed to do down the stretch this time would mean anything better than what they didn’t do in the season’s first month.

Freeman’s Flog, and Other Flaggings . . .

Freeman’s flog fitted one more run at the flag for Mr. Chips and company . . .

Well, at least one of the teams who collapsed ignominiously last September has secured history’s failure to repeat itself. And when Freddie Freeman’s game-winning two-run homer dropped on the far side of the center field fence in the bottom of the ninth at Turner Field Tuesday, it couldn’t have seemed sweeter with retiring Hall of Famer in waiting Chipper Jones crossing the plate ahead of Freeman.

Met Fans Say Goodbye to Cheerful, Respectful Destroyer Jones

How many guys do you know get standing Os for bringing out the lineup card?

When the most interesting thing about your team, other than its star (and Cy Young candidate) knuckleballer, is the manner in which its home fans say farewell to a career-long tormentor, that’s when you can put paid, for the most part, to the season at hand.

If confession is good for the soul, I don’t know what good it does to confess I’ve been a Met fan since the day they were born. All I know is that weekend past, for us Met fans, brought nothing more interesting to our sights and sounds than saying goodbye to Chipper Jones in New York.

Do You Really Think These Nats are Strasburg Alone?

The guts-’n'-glory crowd arguing against the looming Stephen Strasburg shutdown has a powerful, or at least influential ally now. And, customarily, when Chipper Jones speaks even the opposition listens.

“If I were him,” the Atlanta Braves’ Hall of Fame-in-waiting third baseman says, to Yahoo! Sports columnist Les Carpenter, “I’d be throwing a fit.”

Jones must surely be aware that if it were up to Strasburg alone, he’d be pitching until a) the Washington Nationals actually take the ball out of his hand; or, b) until his arm vapourises. That isn’t exactly a secret, in Washington or elsewhere. He’s on record as saying as much.

Of All-Star Follies . . .

The Wright stuff for an All-Star start . . .

So you thought the Cincinnati All-Star ballot box stuffing scandal was scandalous? Try explaining the San Francisco All-Star ballot box stuffing this year. Once you’ve done that, explain to me how and why a guy (Pablo Sandoval) who’s only played in 44 games with decent numbers gets the fan vote to start at third base over the arguable first-half National League most valuable player (David Wright, New York Mets) who’s carried a team with an injury and inconsistency-wracked offence into the thick of the pennant races. Unless you think a 1.013 OPS through this writing indicates a player worse than one with an .848 OPS.

Goodbye, Mr. Chips?

Back in December, I pondered the incumbent class of Hall of Fame candidates, a subject that often brings forth both the best and the worst of thinking, from professional analysts, knowledgeable fans, and the witless alike. My very favourite of any of those was a response to the previous year’s such pondering, when a reader—anxious to make Edgar Martinez’s Hall of Fame case (he was and remains a ballot holdover and he has a case, though the DH bias is liable to keep him out of Cooperstown awhile longer)—decided to compare him to, among others, Chipper Jones: It’s pretty clear that Edgar was a model of consistency. And in terms of hitting, it’s clear to me that Edgar is a notch above modern-era players like Todd Helton, Frank Thomas, Chipper Jones, and Larry Walker. To which I replied: