Chipper focused entering Wild Card playoff
Chipper Jones allowed himself to be emotional as he was overwhelmed by the love and support fans showed during the final regular season games of his career.
But as the Braves prepared to play Friday’s one-game playoff against the Cardinals at Turner Field, an unnerved Jones did not seem the least bit fazed by the fact that he could be preparing for the final game of his storied career.
“I was riding in with my mom and dad today and I turned around and told my dad, I was like this is why I know I’m ready to go,” Jones said. “I’m not even nervous. I don’t know whether that is being prepared , you know and being confident. But usually first game of the playoffs, I’m nervous before the workout the day before.
As Jones prepared for the 93rd postseason game of his career, he appeared focused on experiencing a new challenge, one that he does not support from a competitive standpoint.
This matchup between the Braves and Cardinals will serve as the first one-game playoff created by Majo League Baseball’s decision to add an additional Wild Card team this year. This would have benefited the Braves last year when the Cardinals leapfrogged them on the regular season’s final to gain the only available Wild Card entry.
This new arrangement could produce a sour an abrupt end to Jones’ career. After collecting 94 wins in the regular season, the Braves have been presented with this winner-take-all matchup against the 88-win Cardinals. The winner advances to the National Division Series and the loser begin the offseason.
“I think if we’re going to continue to left teams in year after year, we might as well just say screw it,” Jones said. “Let’s have everybody in. Let’s play 162 games to see yourselves and then we’ll let the Astros have a shot at it and whoever else wants a shot at it.
“We’ll just have a (30)-team single-elimination March Madness tournament. That’s the way I think we ought to do it.”
Coincidently, Jones’ first postseason memories take him back to his 1995 rookie season when baseball was introduced to the Wild Card era. As the Braves played that year’s Division Series against Rockies, the NL’s Wild Card entrant, Jones hit a pair of Game 1 home runs. His only other two-homer performance in a playoff game came in Game 4 of the 2003 Division Series against the Cubs.
But as Jones prepared for Friday’s matchup against Cardinals right-hander Kyle Lohse, he was not interested in thinking about what he had experienced in Octobers past.
“I think reflection is more for when it is all over,” Jones said. “I’m one of those guys who likes to look out the front windshield, not the rear view mirror. I’m not going to get overly mushy and sentimental here. I’m going to stay focused on the task at hand. We’re in a Game 7. It’s crunch time. Nobody cares about what I did in 1995 or 1999. It’s all about what you do Oct. 5, 2012.”