Baseball Insider

N.L.'s 34th man vote takes a happy twist with Chipper's surprise early selection

The decision to add Braves great Chipper Jones to the National League All-Star team makes everyone chipper. Even a prime opponent in the 34th man vote, 19-year-old phenom Bryce Harper, was supporting Jones' candidacy over his own.

And so was Harper's manager, Davey Johnson, who sniffed that no one should be going to Kansas City after just 200 at-bats. And just about everybody else was, as well.

Sure, the retiring Jones may not have the numbers of teammate Michael Bourn, another of the 34th man candidates, but Jones deserved a nice All-Star sendoff. And Kauffman Stadium is as good a spot as any to do it considering it's the only stadium he's never played in (fact courtesy of Royals p.r. man extraordinaire Mike Swanson).

After Harper told the Washington media, "If I had a vote, Chipper's going,'' Jones, whose selection came courtesy of injured outfielder Matt Kemp's inability to play, said he texted Harper to tell him how much he appreciated it, saying to Harper, "That's a very classy thing for a 19-year-old kid to say.''

(Side note: Harper has turned out to be a lot nicer kid than he was portrayed on his quick run through high school, junior college and the minors. That's great for baseball because, as Chipper pointed out, he's going to be making a lot of All-Star Games in the future.)

Actually, this whole 34th man episode has been a wonderful display of class all around in a year with some crazy All-Star controversies. I agreed with Harper that Jones already should have been named to the team based on his wonderful career, and he had a much greater right to complain than the biggest complainer out there (I won't mention the guy again, but it's the fellow who was threatening to file a grievance over his nonselection).

Anyway, the 34th man vote can carry on now without this Larry Legend, and could be a fairer fight among the classy kid, World Series MVP David Freese, Jones' deserving teammate Michael Bourn and the Diamondbacks' surprise cycle king Aaron Hill.

I've got a hunch that not one in this group of nice young men will complain regardless the result, helping to make the National League's 34th man story one of the nicest All-Star tales of the year.

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