Congratulations, Chipper, on being elected to the Hall of Fame last night!
Also, you're welcome...
Jones, who retired after the 2012 season, hit .309 with a .406 OBP, 49 HR and 159 RBI during what was essentially two full seasons worth of at-bats against just the Mets.
"He beat us up so much, he may as well wear a Mets hat in the Hall of Fame," WFAN morning host Boomer Esiason jokingly, but fittingly, said this morning.
Chipper did similar damage against the Marlins, Nationals, and Phillies, but New York seemingly provided him a different level of motivation and satisfaction, so much so he named his son, Shea.
"There was something about the aura of Shea, the electricity, when we walked in there," Chipper told me during an interview in 2014. "When I walked in to Shea Stadium, I was under scrutiny the entire time. That being said, any time you played on the stage in New York it demanded the absolute best of you. And, the only way you could do that was to be completely focused. It was a test, but it was a fun test. Because, if you could do it, you prove to yourself you can do it anywhere."
Despite his arrogance, comments and success, I loved to hate him. I never viewed Chipper Jones as an arch-enemy in the way I did his former teammates, John Rocker or Greg Maddux.
Instead, I view Chipper as our greatest nemesis. He's not an archenemy, which is why I'm actually happy for him getting in to the Hall of Fame.
"You kind of like your nemesis, despite the fact that you despise him," author Chuck Klosterman perfectly explained in his book, Chuck Klosterman, IV. "If your nemesis invited you out for cocktails, you would accept the offer." On the other hand, "You would never have drinks with your archenemy, unless you were attempting to spike his gin with hemlock," Klosterman continues. "The satisfaction you feel from your own success pales in comparison to the despair you feel at this person's triumphs."
Chipper played a major part in my pain and suffering as a Mets fan for roughly two decades. It's very possible I may have attended more postseason games than I have had he chosen to plat football instead of baseball. Nevertheless, because I can't deny the pleasure I got from rooting against him, I can't deny that his success was -- at the very least -- entertaining.
In addition to having incredible ability as a baseball player, he also understood how to play the role of rival and villain. However, what made it unique is that I think he enjoyed doing it. Chipper often provided post-game quotes that got under our skin, yet did it with a wink and smile. He tortured us on field, but also repeatedly complimented Shea Stadium. He would make Mets fans cry, then showed genuine appreciation for our passion. He'd taunt us, pump his fist, goof on the franchise, then proclaimed himself a Mets fan during the 2015 postseason. He actually sang Meet the Mets for host Pete MacCarthy on WOR 710 AM.
"The Mets and their fans were the closest thing I had to a rival," he told me during my talk with him a few years ago. "It's been an evolving relationship. In the late 90s, early 2000s, I was a lot more brash. I would say things that probably would have better off not being said. I would get up under the fan's skin a bit, but I would never do or say those things at the end of my career. But, I did it and I also know it added a little spice to things, so it wasn't all a bad thing."
In the end, Jones told me he's happy with how things played out for him and Mets fans, who he believes have come to respect him more for the man and player he became than the person he was when younger.
"I'm so glad that is the case," he concluded. "Whether or not we were on the love or hate side of the relationship, I thoroughly loved playing in New York. I cherish every opportunity I got to go there because I knew I would be pushed and pressed by the team and the fans."
Glad we could help, Chipper. Have fun in Cooperstown this summer...
Matthew Cerrone (Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Contact) is the host of SNY's MetsBlog Q&ACast and the lead writer of MetsBlog.com, which he created in 2003. His new book, The New York Mets Fans' Bucket List, details 44 things every Mets fan should experience during their lifetime. To check it out, click here!