Chipper Jones lends some advice to the youngsters as he plays out his final All-Star game
40-year-old Chipper Jones was asked by Tony La Russa at the beginning of the night to give a pep talk to the National League team before last night’s 83rd annual MLB All-Star game at Kansas City’s Kauffman Stadium.
“We’ve got an opportunity here tonight. And I am not going out losing my last one, alright? You guys with me?” Jones asked his fellow NL teammates. Cheering and clapping came from everyone, especially rookies including 19-year-old Bryce Harper and 20-year-old Mike Trout.
Fans and athletes alike wanted to make Jones’ last All-Star game a good one, including using his same walk-up song “Crazy Train”, as he does with the Atlanta Braves. A career tainted with consistency and modesty, it suited him well to hit a single off of Chris Sale’s 97-mph fastball.
However, Jones’ speech seemed to stick with Mike Trout a bit more than Bryce Harper last night. Mike Trout was able to fend of R.A. Dickey’s knuckleball for a single and snatched a base on balls from Aroldis Chapman, a pitcher who is known for bringing the heat. Trout even pushed his luck by successfully stealing second off of Dickey. Trout is the youngest player to get a hit in an All-Star game since Al Kaline in 1955.
Harper had a more difficult night. He started off strong with a walk in the fifth inning and tagging up to second base on a deep flyball. But that was the extent of his highlights. He ended up in a pickle between second and third when he was caught leading off of second too much, and in the field, he had less then a stellar performance. A high fly ball that looked to be fairly routine was a bit of a challenge for him. After repositioning, he quickly lost sight of it, and it ended up landing a few yards behind him. Without much confidence, he froze at his next at bat, striking out by looking.
Taking away some of the most likely rookie-influenced errors, the future of both young players looks very promising, and Chipper Jones agrees, telling ESPN, “Those two kids right there are going to be the face of baseball. Pretty soon. As guys like myself and [Derek] Jeter and A-Rod shuffle off, the torch is going to be passed to those guys. Those two are going to be the marquee guys for years to come. I would say that the game of baseball is in pretty good hands.”