What a drag it is getting old. That’s one of my favorite Rolling Stones’ lyrics. A Twitter follower reminded me of it this week and it’s so true. My back aches, my knees hurt and I can’t stand the heat OR the cold anymore. I find most new music irritating and I have the strangest desire to make sure kids stay off my lawn. I DO NOT believe that “skateboarding is not a crime” even though I’m not old enough to want you to “ask me about my grandkids”. We get old. It sucks. And lamenting about days gone by is not productive, no matter how great they seemed to be. Like another lyric, this one by Billy Joel, says “the good old days weren’t all that good and tomorrow isn’t bad as it seems”. Age and getting old is on my mind because of a modified Stones’ lyric that’s running through my head…What a Drag it is Seeing Chipper Get Old.
Larry Wayne Jones, Jr. (Chipper) is 39 years old. And the fact he’s still playing at the highest level is amazing. He won a batting title at 36 and was an All Star at 36 and 39. He’s a seven time All Star and a two time Silver Slugger Award winner. And this is on top of his 1999 MVP and 1995 World Series ring. But from 2004 to present, he’s averaging less than 120 games a season (this is assuming he’ll play 120 in 2011). He’s been on the DL so much the last few years, they’ve given him Mike Hampton’s old locker. Now don’t get me wrong, Chipper is one tough dude. I think his ability to play through pain and rush to play hurt (or not totally healed) is a big reason he’s so vital to the team. But is THIS Chipper really that vital anymore. I had a friend that had an old VW Bug. It ran like a POS, needed water added daily, you could hear the gears shifting through the radio speakers and the car would lock/unlock itself at random. My friend simply would say “but it’s a good car, it’s been such a good car”. While Chipper is more valuable than any Volkswagen will ever be (sorry hippies and Fish fans), he’s breaking down and no amount of duct tape will help. Would you take a road trip with a car if you knew there was a decent chance it would break down? Would you ask a friend to help you move if you knew deep down they wouldn’t show up?
In 2008, when Glavine came back to the ATL, a buddy called me. “Dude, I didn’t know Glavine and Smoltz were both back with the Braves. Good staff now, huh?” My reply, “Yes…if it was 2001”. I feel the same about Chipper now. Yes…the Braves need him. Yes…Hall of Famer in my mind, no question. But if Atlanta can’t count on some modicum of health and the organization is constantly scrambling to fill the lineup card with someone else and flip things around, how valuable is he really? And while we’re all waiting for Chipper to remain healthy and we all keep thinking he’s the key to the Braves success…I’d take a “performing to expectation levels” Jason Heyward over a “healthy” Chipper Jones right now. And I’d take that because it truly is a drag getting old. And Father Time is still undefeated.
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