Wednesday, April 4, 2012

What If Wednesday

Boomer, here back with another installment of "What If" Wednesday's for all the followers/fans of "The Rock". With the Opening Night of the 2012 MLB season later tonight with the newly named Miami Marlins hosting the defeating World Series Champion St. Louis Cardinals, in their new ballpark (Marlins Park), I thought I'd talk a little baseball for today's post. With the career of Chipper Jones coming to an end at the conclusion of the 2012 season, I wanted to reflect back on his baseball journey with the Atlanta Braves for the past 20 plus years. Another guy I'd like to mention who's career is in the final chapters, Derek Jeter, the Yankees shortstop for almost two decades. After Cal Ripken and Tony Gwynn both retired, having sent their entire careers with one club (Ripken with the Orioles; Gwynn with the Padres), Jones and most certainly Jeter would have to fall into the same category as being very loyal players to one franchise in this era of Free Agency. So lets take a trip down memory lane and ask the question(s) "What if...".

Chipper Jones as a Brave

You know you are pretty special when you are referred to by one name, "Chipper". Initially positioned to play shortstop, Chipper spent most of his career as the starting third baseball for the Atlanta Braves. For the seasons of 2002 and 2003 Chipper moved to Left Field, before coming back to the "hot corner" in 2004. Chipper debuted in 1993, and would later win the 1999 NL MVP Award, as well as the 1999 and 2000 NL Silver Slugger Award as the Braves 3rd basemen. Atlanta Braves records that he currently holds are having the best career OBP (.406) and is third all-time on the career home run list for the Braves franchise. As of the beginning of the 2012 season, Chipper is a .304 hitter with 454 homers, close to 1,500 walks and just a little over 1,500 RBI in 2,387 games. Known for being able to hit from both sides of the plate, Chipper is considered one of the games best all-around hitters, and one of the best "switch hitters" ever to play the game of baseball. Despite, winning a divisional crown 12 times and playing in the playoffs 13 times overall, Chipper was only fortunate to play in three World Series, winning one (1995). On a personal note, Chipper Jones has been Gainer's all-time favorite MLB player, and at the end of this 2012 MLB season, Gainer will no longer have any interest in the Atlanta Braves, thus starting the search for his next MLB team to root for/gain interest in.

What If
Lets say the Atlanta Braves selected one of the other future All-Stars in the first round of  the 1990 amateur MLB draft, players such as: Tony Clark, Carl Everett, Mike Mussina, and Jeremy Burnitz, instead of Chipper? Where would Chipper have landed if not with the Atlanta Braves (Detroit?, Philly?, New York?). What sort of minor league career would he of had, in another farm system? Without Chipper, what's 3rd base look like all these years down in ATL? Who's the 1999 NL MVP? How long would his career have been somewhere else? Clearly, these are all "what if" scenarios, but it does make you think, how the game of baseball would have looked over the years with one of its well-known players somewhere else than Atlanta? What if...
Derek Jeter as a Yankee
I "heart" NY
What kid hasn't tried to field a grounder in the middle of the hole at 3rd-Short, jump off his back foot and lace a rocket to first base from shallow left field? That's the play that Derek Jeter has made time in again during his 12-time All-Star and 5-time World Series Champion career. Derek Jeter for almost two decades has been the face of the NY Yankees. Drafted right out of High School in the 1992 MLB draft, Jeter debuted for the Yankees in 1995 (Rookie of the Year Award honors). Since, then when you talk about the greatest shortstops of past seasons and even all-time, Jeter's name is one of if not the first to be mentioned in the conversation. Leading the NY Yankees to World Series Titles in 1996, 1998,1999,2000 and 2009, Jeter's been at the core of the Yankee's franchise the past two decades. Winning both the 2000 All-Star Game MVP as well as the 2000 World Series MVP, Jeter has served as the team captain since 2003. He has the most hits by any shortstop all-time in the game of baseball, as well as being on top of the all-time hits list for the New York Yankees, with over 3,000+ hits. The 2012 MLB season will mark Jeter's 18th season with the Yankees, batting .313, with 240 HR's, close to 1,200 RBI's and a highlight reel of fantastic and unbelievable plays from his shortstop position. I can't see Jeter wearing another jersey, but the Yankee pinstripes.

What If

If he would of just went to college at that University up north, baseball and the Yankees, could look a lot different now a days. Offered a scholarship out of High School, Jeter decided to turn pro, where the Yankees drafted him 6th overall in the 1992 MLB draft. Having feared that Jeter would ask for a 1 million dollar signing bonus, the Houston Astros with the #1 overall pick, passed on Jeter. Jeter signed with the Yankees for 800,000. What's the career of Jeter's look like if he would of went to Houston? What if someone besides the Steinbrenner family owned the Yankees and won't all about winning and getting the best possible players via free agency? Would Jeter still been able to win with farm system guys? This one is great to think about because there are five teams to this day probably wondering, "What if we selected Derek and not the Yankees?" How the storybooks would have read....What if...

With the way the game of baseball is now, we will NEVER see what Ripken, Gwynn, Jones, and Jeter have accomplished playing for one franchise their entire careers, truly something special to have lived during and watched (for the most part) the four guys careers.