A colleague asked me a question a few weeks ago, given some recent retirement talk, and I'm still pondering my response:
If you knew that Chipper Jones was playing in his last game in New York, would you give him a standing ovation?
I don't have a good answer, not yet anyway (leaning yes, but reserving judgment). But I know a few rather intense Mets fans who do.
And just for fun, I expanded the question to include Yankees closer Mariano Rivera too. Here are their thoughts.
Former Administrator of the New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct
(Mets fan since 1962)
I would not be "forced" to give Chipper Jones a standing ovation. I'd really want to. I'd also want to be in a baseball environment not controlled by dumb fans who think they know baseball solely because they live in and around New York.
As a kid I learned to applaud when the opposing pitcher returned to the dugout after being knocked out. It was called respect for the game. That was in Ebbets Field. It's a myth that Brooklyn fans were uncivilized.
Oh sure, the Dodger Symphony toyed with the pitcher as he took a seat on the bench, but there was only good-natured kidding and respect for opposing stars.
I read recently that Brooklyn fans gave Stan Musial a rough time. I don't believe it. That was not my experience.
Since I didn't get a chance to applaud Musial on his final appearance, I'd love to express my admiration to Chipper Jones.
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Rivera also deserves our admiration. He's a great ballplayer and a classy gentleman. But between the two, Jones was more of an adversary and did far more damage to us.
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My answer is no. I don't believe in opposing fans having to lay out the red carpet for retiring players of other teams, whether they're bitter rivals or not. I'm there to watch my team win and they're still the opponents.
I don't resent either Mariano or Chipper as some Met fans might. Mariano's never done anything to offend the Mets and anything Chipper said was so long ago and not even that bad. Naming his son Shea is funny to me. I wouldn't discourage others from saluting them, but I wouldn't be leading the charge either.
I've pretty much decided that Mariano Rivera is an emotionless cyborg. Unless I saw Jorge Posada run out and activate his audio sensory chip, any boo or standing ovation is wasted energy on my part.
Chipper is a different story. He's an emotional guy who has made a career of beating the Mets, and his 1999 MVP was almost certainly given for his late-season demolition of our boys.
If boos were to fall like soft rain, Larry Wayne might enjoy it -- even relish it. Total indifference and silence would mess with his head.
Truth be told, if he wasn't a Brave and if he had dashed some other team's dreams time and again, Chipper would be one of my favorite players, non-Met division. So I'd say a short ovation would be in order --- a tip of the cap to a long-time warrior before telling him to scram.
You have to respect the game. Through all the jeers,cheers and tears supplied by these two guys, over the years, you have to tip your hat to them in the end.
After all is said and done, it's their competitiveness and high level of play that makes these rivalries what they are. So goodbye and thanks Chipper. BRAVO!
And Mariano anytime you'd like to leave, I'll help you pack, pal.
If I was at Chipper Jones' last game at Citi Field, I would give him a standing ovation. He has been a Mets tormentor but I respect him and I always thought that he was a classy guy. Besides I never hated the Braves. They were just better than we were.
On the other hand, if I was at Mariano Rivera's last game at Citi Field I would not give him a standing ovation. I do hate the Yankees. I am in the vast minority but I do not consider him the greatest reliever of all-time (Yankee arrogance).
The greatest during HIS time? Yes! But not all-time.
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I would stand and cheer for both players because of one word … respect.
In the steroid era it’s hard to find players who you can look at without a healthy dose of scrutiny and skepticism.
But Jones and Rivera have given me no reason to do so. Despite the fact they play for the teams I dislike the most, as a baseball fan I cannot turn a blind eye to their on-field performance and their dedication to their craft. Both play hard. Both respect the game.
In short, they play the way I would want my boys to play. No matter how many times they have inflicted emotional pain upon me, and it’s been very painful, I cannot deny their place in the game and their professional approach.
So I would stand, applaud, tip my cap, and be extremely thankful that I got a chance to watch them play and that they were finally out of my life!
Anyone who loves baseball, appreciates its history and knows the definition of a true competitor, gentleman, and warrior than you cant do anything except give Mariano Rivera a standing ovation. There is no debate.
He is the best closer of all time and there will never be another one like him. Everytime you need to be reminded of that fact, you turn on a game and watch a stopper NOT named Mariano Rivera.
He's a game-changer, a winner, a champion. Tood bad he ended up with the wrong New York team.
As for Chipper Jones. Why in the world would any Mets fan give this guy a standing ovation? Unlike Rivera, Jones, a.k.a. Larry, was an all time Mets killer ... a clutch figure on the Mets main rival, the Atlanta Braves. Let the Braves fans honor Chipper any way they want. He deserves the accolades. But from them, NOT from the Mets fan. "
When Chipper Jones steps to the plate for a final time, I will not hesitate to greet him in the manner he deserves. 'Larry, Larry, Larry' will be the chant. It is, after all, his given name.
As for Mariano Rivera, the man has handles himself with nothing but class, and has defined excellence. Unlike some other Yankees, he doesn't find it necessary to claim his greatness. He just goes out and performs.
For Rivera, a standing ovation will be necessary. Hopefully, he'll get it after allowing the game-winning hit to end the 2010 World Series."
I never considered it before but I actually might give Chipper some love during his last game. Perhaps a standing O immediately followed by the good old "Larrr-ry" chant just to put him back in his place.
I liken him to Reggie Miller at the Garden. The guy always brought his "A Game" and you've gotta respect that. Chipper definitely gave us some of the most classic baseball contests ever played at Big Shea.
Re: Mariano: The heck with him. The guy gets enough love in this city he certainly doesn't need any more from Met fans.
At some point a few years back I surrendered to the notion that despite all the damage he'd done to the Mets, I admired Chipper Jones: Best switch-hitter I'll probably see, a superstar who changed positions whenever it helped his team, and he always helped his team. The Mets should have such a guy.
He made a rather lame villain anyway: That remark about Met fans “changing into their Yankee gear” was about the worst thing he ever said and only proved to me that although he got a kick out of the passion Met fans showed, he was kind of a dumb jock who didn’t really understand it.
In summary, I hate Keith Lockhart a lot more.
I'm kind of indifferent to Mariano Rivera, who has a vocal cheering section in the media and probably doesn't need my recognition. He gets polite applause from me. I will enjoy watching the Yankees try and fail to replace him for the next few dozen years.
I would be disappointed if Mets fans booed Larry Jones or Mariano Rivera’s “final game” at CitiField. Though they are enemies, there is a respect that needs to be paid to two greats.
My philosophy on why New York Rangers fans still boo Denis Potvin is a “respect” thing, and that’s why Mets fans love taunting Jones (Rivera to a lesser extent, since we only see him six times a year).
They kill us, but we’d love to have ‘em on our team. Respect. I would applaud as a baseball fan.
Chipper Jones’s final at-bat as a visiting player in Queens should be an event. We should stand because he’s a Hall of Famer to be. We should applaud in recognition of our “special relationship,” a la the U.S. and the U.K.
And we should never stop reminding him of his given first name. One long string of “LAA-REE!!!” would be most appropriate for the man who tormented us regularly and the man we taunted continuously across 16 unforgettable seasons. Then he can go home and put on his Gators stuff.
Nobody else deserves this kind of acknowledgement. Nobody else is Larry "Chipper" Jones.
Mariano Rivera would almost certainly be coming in to save a Yankee win over the Mets. Except for knowing it would never happen again, I'd see no reason to salute that.
I would absolutely cheer Chipper, without reservation. He has been a worthy adversary for all these years, and done what he was supposed to against us many a time.
Regarding Rivera, I imagine I would sit in stony silence, then realize I was being petty and unhappily get to my feet and give him his due. Blasted better angels of our nature and all that.