It is one of the great modern manager-player runs going, Chipper Jones and Bobby Cox, together in Atlanta, 17 seasons strong.
Now, with news that Jones has blown out his left knee and is finished for the season, the Braves' last gasp under the retiring Cox is guaranteed to have a bittersweet ending no matter how it finishes.
Jones' wrecked knee wrecks Atlanta's playoff hopes? Awww.
Braves overcome Jones injury to make the playoffs while Jones forced to watch? Awww.
Braves win World Series to send Cox out with another ring while Jones helpless to help? Awww.
Sentimental as some stories become, the game has a way of stripping sentiment in favor of cold reality, and that's what the Braves are dealing with now. Fighting for their lives to fend off two-time NL champion Philadelphia -- dealing with a significant injury of its own with Chase Utley sidelined -- life now becomes much more difficult for the Braves.
Jones, 38, was hitting .265 with 10 homers and 46 RBI in 95 games with the Braves this season, but that doesn't tell the whole story. Struggling so badly earlier this year that he spoke of retiring at season's end, Jones over his past 11 games was hitting .368 with three homers, five RBI and eight runs scored.
Short-term, Jones' loss vastly increases the degree of difficulty for the Braves, who now will plug Omar Infante and Brooks Conrad into third base in place of Jones while searching the waiver wires for a spare-part match.
Long-term, this injury means we very well might have seen the last of Jones. If he does decide to retire -- a very real possibility, given the normal six-month recovery from this type of injury and his advanced age -- the next time Jones' name comes up in earnest in baseball circles very well might be in Hall of Fame discussions.
He's not a slam-dunk first-ballot guy, but his 436 career homers (37th all-time), 1,491 RBI (52nd all-time) and .941 OPS (30th all-time) certainly put the six-time All-Star -- and 1999 NL MVP -- onto the front porch of Cooperstown.
It's just a shame that if the Braves do make the playoffs this fall, Jones won't be at Cox's side as a couple of Atlanta icons swinging for one more shot at glory.
Likes: Tell you what, glad there were no serious injuries in the Cardinals-Reds brawl, and this might not be the most mature or politically correct reaction, but I love the emotions that were injected into that rivalry this week. Baseball, in the free agent era, has gone corporate and too many players are way too friendly with each other. The result is, it takes the edge off of too many rivalries. No worry about that down the stretch in St. Louis and Cincinnati now. ... The Kids Are All Right. Great cast, great acting. Next up: The Other Guys. Gotta see Derek Jeter's acting debut. And I hear WIll Ferrell is actually funny again. ... Finally catching up with Pat Conroy's Beach Music, a long ago best seller, and man Conroy can write. Enjoying the book, but the plot goes a little too far in the back half of the book in some areas. ... Wrote off Mad Men a couple of years ago, decided to give it another chance this year and I'm glad I did. Finally, belatedly, enjoying it. ... Hard to go wrong with any Apple products in my book. My iTouch went bad after just a year-and-a-half, turned out the battery malfunctioned and they replaced the entire unit with a new one. ... Look, the former drummer for the Greg Kihn Band now ... cleans carpet? It's true. But don't ask him about pet hair in the carpet.
Dislikes: The fact that Manny Ramirez is earning $20 million and can't be bothered to rehab his calf strain, or whatever he's calling it, with the Dodgers is a joke. Of course, nobody's surprised, are they, that Manny's off on his own? And the Dodgers were the suckers who gambled with him.
Rock 'N' Roll Lyric of the Day:
"You could lie on a riverbank
"Or paint your name on a water tank
"Miscount all the beers you drank
"Back where I come from
"Back where I come from
"Where I'll be when it's said and done
"Well I'm proud as anyone
"That's where I come from
"We learned in a Sunday school
"Who made the sun shine through.
"I know who made the moonshine, too
"Back where I come from.
"Blue eyes on a Saturday night
"Ttan legs in the broad daylight
"TV’s, they were black and white
"Back where I come from"
-- Mac McAnally, Back Where I Come From