Having spent six and a half years getting my undergraduate degree, I know what it's like to be part of an organization for a long time and then have everybody you know leave you behind. It's depressing! Poor Chipper Jones is going through that pain right now, having his last best bud John Smoltz leave the Atlanta Braves after seventeen years of playing together throughout the minors and majors.
Think about it: Chipper made his big-league debut in 1993; from that point forward, the Braves won twelve straight division titles, a few league championships, and even a World Series. Since that point, he's had to say goodbye to the best pitching trio of Maddux, Glavine, and Smoltz. Even worse, he's lost his hunting pals like Adam La Roche and Ryan Langerhans, so you can't blame him for lashing out in an interview with the AJC's Carroll Rogers:
Q. Fans are questioning why the Braves didn't offer Smoltz more money when this is an offseason when the Braves have said they had money to spend. Do you agree?
A. For Smoltzy! That's what I don't understand. That's what's frustrating. I'm trying to be as diplomatic and as upbeat as I can possibly be and it is being made very hard on me to be that way. John Smoltz has been one of the faces of this franchise for 20 years. There's no reason for him at 41 years old to be playing anywhere but here.
For Smoltzy, indeed. Don't forget, Chipper and Smoltzy had their own issues last year to deal with; imagine if this was one of Chipper's hunting buds taking the next Delta flight out of town!
To make matters worse, Carroll asks Chipper about his own future with the club:
Q. Were you expecting the Braves to make you an offer for an extension this winter?
A. I was told that it was going to happen by the Braves.
Q. Do you think it still might?
A. We've got over a month until spring training. Yeah, it could certainly happen. I've just been chalking it up to the Braves have bigger fish to fry. But it seems like somebody keeps coming along and eating all our fish.
Hot damn, if there's one thing you don't want to do to a dude who carries a rifle in his workout bag, it's steal his fish. Right now, Chipper's teetering between getting angrier and going on a massive deer-murdering spree, or getting sadder and ending up like his fifth cousin thrice removed, Andruw Jones. Now there's a guy who knows how to be a sad tomato.
So, the Red Sox and the Braves will meet in
a two! weekend series at the Ted and Fenway this year. If Smoltz comes up the rotation and faces Chipper, can you imagine that batter-vs-pitcher staredown? They'll probably both break down crying, meet between the plate and the mound, and sit down cross-legged to enjoy some bear jerky.