For many sports writers, the temptation to dash off an emotionally resonant article while glossing over certain insignificant details like facts and supporting evidence has proven too great to resist.
Such is the case with Atlanta Journal-Constitution columnist Terence Moore, who recently wrote an article headlined, “Chipper Not Appreciated Enough,” where, as the title suggests, Moore tried to prove that Larry Wayne “Chipper” Jones was underappreciated as a player. Who exactly is supposed to be underrating Jones as a baseball player is unclear in the article, most likely because there is no such person and Moore realized it the more he wrote.
However, this knowledge did not stop Moore from interviewing Chipper’s choked-up parents to see if they could shed some light on the mystery of the culprit behind Chipper’s non-existent underappreciation:
Larry and Lynne Jones nearly wept on Saturday at Turner Field after hearing my [Billy] Williams analogy. They are the parents of baseball’s most unappreciated player of consistent goodness along the way to ultimate greatness. When I visited their suite and asked them whether they thought their son would reach the Hall of Fame someday, the mother closed her eyes tightly before crossing her fingers.
See what I mean about emotionally resonant over concrete evidence? A common misconception among journalism is that making an interview subject cry means the journalist has done an award-worthy job. Wrong. The real responsibility for a journalist is to present information in a creative, interesting format. It is not to coax the interviewee into incoherent, tear-filled mumbling.
The father tried to speak, but a lump in his throat kept getting in the way. “It’s hard to believe that my son, from Pierson, Fla., with one caution light and a convenience store, would even be considered for the Hall of Fame,” said Larry Jones, Chipper’s high school coach, talking and blinking. “Just to make it here [pointing toward the field, where Chipper stood at third base for the Braves] for that matter, but to be considered for the Hall of Fame, it’s unbelievable. Unbelievable.”
Even though Chipper’s father cannot tell us just who is the source of Moore’s witchhunt, Moore does not let that throw him off the scent of idiocy.
Actually, it’s believable. You just haven’t been paying attention. Few have, and given his swagger of a gunslinger preparing for high noon in the Old West, Jones couldn’t care less what you think — especially if you don’t have a tomahawk across your chest.
Looking at a player’s All-Star appearances and how he fared in the MVP voting is probably the best way to determine how appreciated he is by the public, since the voting for these honors is done by fans and sports writers, respectively. And in both categories, Chipper has acquitted himself very well.
He has had five All-Star appearances in his eleven full Major League seasons, which is not bad for a poor defensive fielder playing a defense-intensive position. Also, Chipper has placed in the top 11 of MVP voting seven times. Perhaps he is getting more credit than Moore would like to believe, although thinking you are the only one who realizes something is fun.
His selflessness caused him to agree to the second-worst move in the history of Georgia sports when he spent those 2 1/2 years in left field.
Actually, wherever Chipper Jones has played, be it third base, shortstop, or left field, he has proven himself to be a below average fielder. The Braves knew this, and so they moved Chipper to a less demanding defensive position, in the hopes he would hurt the team less in the field. Also, Chipper and the Braves had to make way for Vinny Castilla, who was a better defensive third basemen. Unfortunately for the Braves, Castilla performed below average during his stint in the Braves infield.
Chipper, meanwhile, performed better defensively in left field than he ever did at third base until a hamstring injury sent him back to third. The three years Chipper spent in the outfield just happens to be the three years where he posted his best Fielding Runs Above Average (-21 FRAA). In no other three year span has Chipper been better defensively.
Still, whether or not Chipper Jones is appreciated enough to garner votes on 75% of Hall of Fame cast ballots remains to be seen, but Baseball-Reference.com’s HOF Monitor has him listed as a likely Hall of Famer.
So is Chipper Jones really underappreciated? Of course not.
Was Terence Moore up against it and looking to type up anything that resembled a modicum of effort? Yes.