Chipper tops off All-Star news with 5-hit game
JUL 04, 2012 1:40a ET
Hey, why not? That's the kind of day it was for Jones.
He found out about 5 p.m. ET on Tuesday that he had been picked to play in his eighth All-Star Game, canceling the need to think about MLB's Final Vote popularity contest.
By 11 p.m. Braves fans were chiseling his face on Mount Rushmore.
Somehow, some way, Jones, creaky knees and all, had added five more hits, four more RBI and even a stolen base to his Hall of Fame resume, practically carrying his teammates to a 10-3 victory over the Chicago Cubs at Turner Field.
As he has continually proven this year, that just because this is his final season doesn't mean it will be his worst. The 40-year-old with sound mind and not so sound body isn't ready to write his baseball obit.
"Tonight was just one of those dream games," Jones said. "I'd be hard pressed to find another game where I've played better. ... Yeah, that was fun. That was a lot of fun. It's just another one to file in the memory bank from my last year. It's been pretty special up until this point."
It would have been nearly impossible to predict that Jones would be having the year he's having in his 19th season in the majors. It's not just the numbers, it's been his ability to conjure magical moments like he was Harry Potter with a bat.
• There was the home run he hit in his first game off the disabled list to help knock off the Astros on April 10.
• There was the one he hit on his 40th birthday in a win over the Dodgers on April 24.
• There was the game-winning home run to beat the Phillies 15-13 in the 11th inning on May 2.
And even though Jones didn't hit a home run on Tuesday, he provided even more evidence that he continues to be the Braves' undisputed leader, the guy his young teammates all look up to, who they all admire and respect.
"Impressive," Braves starter Jair Jurrjens said. "He stole the show today. He carried us."
Jones learned early in the day that he was leading the voting for the final spot on the NL's All-Star roster in the Final Vote competition (by fans). His participation in that later became moot when NL manager Tony La Russa selected Jones to replace injured Dodgers outfielder Matt Kemp on the roster.
Perhaps invigorated by the knowledge that he would be going to his eighth All-Star Game — his first since 2008 — in his final season before retirement, Jones went out and had the third five-hit game of his career and first since Aug. 11, 2002.
He was 30 years old then. Now 40, Jones had a game for the ages.
He drove in a run with a single in the first. Singled again in the fourth. Doubled in the fifth. Hit a three-run double in the sixth for the final runs. And singled again in the eighth.
Jones was then pulled for a pinch runner and left the field to a standing ovation, his batting helmet held high, his night done.
He left the game with a .313 average, six home runs, 33 RBI, a 10-game hitting streak and perhaps even more respect from his hometown fans who have long admired his skill and ability to get results.
Jones has been disgusted by the Braves' inconsistent play lately, voicing his issues on almost a nightly basis. He's even said they have a tendency to resemble the "Bad News Bears."
Well, Jones showed his teammates how it's done on a Tuesday to remember. The newest oldest All-Star had a night for all time.
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