Start Bronzing The Plaque!
Braves fans should be able to start making plans to visit Cooperstown in the first July that Chipper's eligible. Jones was the best third baseman of his era, a fantastic offensive player who hit for average and power, drew plenty of walks and even stole 15 to 20 bases per season at his peak. He won the NL MVP award in 1999 and finished in the top 10 five other times. During an era in which the postseason has become a crucial legacy builder, Jones, in 92 games (a representative sample), batted .288, with a .411 on-base-percentage and a .459 slugging mark, tremendous numbers against top-tier playoff pitching. His career .306 BA, 2,490 hits and 436 home runs would qualify him were he an outfielder; as a third baseman, he's well above the established standard at a position underrepresented in the Hall of Fame. Among switch-hitters, only Hall of Famers Mickey Mantle (536) and Eddie Murray (504) have more homers than Chipper. Jones has the stats, the hardware and the memories made. Right, Mets fans?
Not So Fast!
In Hall of Fame voting there is usually one contrary idiot who tries to keep a player from entering on the first ballot. Here's some ammunition for that idiot (and Mets fans).
1) Dearth of batting-category titles. For each player, the website baseball-reference.com has four "Hall of Fame Statistics" tests. One of them is labeled "Black Ink" and is a reflection of how many times a player has led the league in a major category. Chipper has one such title, a batting crown in 2008 (a splendid .364, at age 36). So his score is 4. The average Hall of Famer's is 27.
2) Less than classic Fall Classics. In 69 at bats in three World Series: a .273 average, a single home run and six RBIs.
3) Defensive deficiencies. As a third baseman Chipper's career total zone total fielding runs average (the number of runs a player is worth above or below average based on the number of plays made) is -18. By contrast his contemporary and the active leader at the position, Scott Rolen, boasts a +145.
Satisfied, idiots and Mets fans?
SIGNS OF THE APOCALYPSE
The Details Are Sketchy
When the English League One soccer club Southampton last week banned media photographers from attending its game against Plymouth, one local tabloid got creative: It hired a cartoonist to depict the game's action in the paper's pages. Jolly good! Taking that apocalyptic cue, SI employed a cartoonist of its own to reimagine a few recent events that (perhaps blessedly) flew under the radar.
[The following text appears within 3 illustrations. Please see hardcopy of magazine or actual PDF.]
A zoo in the Netherlands has hired a gymnast who competed at the 2008 Olympics to teach its orangutans how to swing through trees in their new enclosure.
The winless North Korean 2010 World Cup team was forced to listen to recriminations from an audience of 400 citizens, and its manager reportedly has been banished to a job in construction.
On Jerry Garcia Tribute Night at San Francisco's AT&T Park, Bill Walton and the Dead's Mickey Hart led 7,000 kazooing Giants fans in Take Me Out to the Ballgame, chasing the world record for largest kazoo band.
BOB ROSATO (JONES)
ILLUSTRATIONS BY TIM HARTMAN