Welcome new editor Jeff Schafer to the site. Lee Trocinski is remaining as a staff writer.
If you are one of the select few who are not an Atlanta Braves fan, the first name you think of when someone mentions the Braves is Chipper Jones. Why not? He’s beloved by Braves fans everywhere, he’s respected by all organizations, even the Mets, and he was the face of an organization for almost two decades.
When I was eight years old in 1993, I remember watching a Braves game in September with my father and brother and seeing an energetic, young superstar in the making just called up to the Braves. Wearing a number sixteen on the back of the jersey but a number fifteen on his helmet, I recall the announcers building this baby-faced youngster up, claiming, “He just looks like a ballplayer”. I sat there watching the game on our red-carpeted floor and thought to myself, Chipper Jones has added a fan. I began tapping my toe at the plate, running side ways while rounding the bases and even unbuttoning my jersey that extra button so it could flap in the wind on a homerun trot. But, all the games I attended, all the seasons we watched, all the memorable moments are in the past as we bark on a new season, a new path, a new venture without our hero, Chipper Jones.
As we all look forward to the 2013 season, the Braves organization and the fans will be looking for our next captain. Yes, Chipper could come in the locker room and get everyone going, or Coach Fredi could spike up the troops through words of wisdom but teams need more than that to succeed. Usually a team needs a leader, a captain, a mentor; to push the team through the tough times. But, in my mind the Braves will succeed because they have a group of core young talent who have been together now for years. I see Jason Heyward and Freddie Freeman stepping up this year to command the Braves to the promise land.
With spring training approaching, this will be the first time in twenty years that the Braves will not have Chipper Jones as their cornerstone. But, if we reverse time and go back to the two years prior to the Chipper era, the Atlanta Braves made back-to-back World Series Championships. Now I’m not saying I wouldn’t love to have Chipper back in the number ten jersey again this year, but time moves on and we have to look on the brighter side of things. If the present season without Chipper looks like 1991 and 1992, the two seasons prior to the Chipper era, I believe fans will be happy – well maybe with the exception of a few more victories in the World Series.