Back when I was younger, I didn't know too much about baseball. Hell, the first real baseball player I'd ever heard of was Derek Jeter. But, at a young age, there was always some way of showing 7 or 8 year olds which players were awesome, in any sport. And it was called Backyard Baseball.
For the unaware adults, BB was an old computer game where you'd make your own team and essentially play a 6 to 9 inning game, with cool hitting or pitching bonuses. As a bonus, they'd throw in actual players. The ones I already knew at the time were obvious: Jeter, Giambi, Rodriguez and Ichiro were easy ones. I knew Barry Bonds, Sammy Sosa and Jim Thome. But through the game I learned about others like Jeff Bagwell, Frank Thomas, Ken Griffey Jr, and even obscure ones like Jeff Conine and Richie Sexson.
Then there was Chipper Jones. I remember him cause he was the skinny one, and he seemed kinda young. Also, because I was 7, I thought it was funny that his name was Chipper.
So the years go by, and I keep playing that game. I learn how to assemble my hitters, so that the bigger hitters were kept to the middle of the lineup, and the young, fast ones would lead off. Due to my thinking, Chipper Jones always led off. He was the young one.
2007 comes, and that's when I first get into baseball cards. Thankfully I'm older now, but I'm relearning about who's good and who I put in the binders. Finding cards of all the players I knew from BB sure helped, cause I already knew Ken Griffey was good, and I already knew Randy Johnson was good, and so on.
Then I pull my first Chipper card. At this point I was flustered because a lot of people (Bagwell, Sosa, Nomar) weren't showing up on cards. I saw Chipper, and I was thankful that The Young One had stuck around.
It is at this point that I turn his card over. This is the exact moment that I stopped calling him the Young One. Cause he was 35.
Of course, I've learned to respect Chipper over the years, and he's definitely an Atlanta legend. Hell, I don't think there's anyone that really hates Chipper; he's just a great player, and a fun player to watch. And no matter how old he gets, he's still a pleasure to watch play.
This year, Chipper announced 2012 would be his last season. I can admit I saw this coming, but it's kinda weird. I've gotten accustomed to seeing Chipper on the Braves for all my life. It's just weird seeing him not there, not at third. It would be like turning on NBC on a Saturday night at 11:30, and finding some other show on.
Still, even as his career winds down, you kinda have to marvel at Chipper Jones. He'll always be The Young One, and he'll always be an Atlanta Brave.
(No, I will not do that for YOUR birthday)
Coming Tomorrow- The other aging infielder who celebrates his birthday today. Only this guy's 46. And started playing before Chipper.