Results tagged ‘ Chipper Jones ’

Sending Him Off

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Ever since Larry Wayne Jones, better known around the baseball world as “Chipper,” announced his plans to retire following the 2012 season, his final campaign has become something of a celebratory sendoff in every city in which he has played. Wednesday night’s game in The District marked the final regular season game that he would play in Washington, a place where he certainly made his presence felt since the franchise moved to town. Jones hit the first-ever home run in the inaugural game at Nationals Park in 2008, a fact often overshadowed by Ryan Zimmerman’s indelible game-winning blast later that same evening. Not forgotten, though, especially by Nationals pitchers, is that Jones’ 23 longballs against Washington trails only Ryan Howard and Hanley Ramirez for the most by any single player.

Former teammates Mark DeRosa (middle) and Adam LaRoche (right) celebrate with Chipper Jones.

Prior to Wednesday night’s contest, Jones was honored in a pregame ceremony on the field, one that included a video tribute from former teammates Mark DeRosa and Adam LaRoche, who were joined on the field by Zimmerman. They presented Jones with the third-base bag from Monday’s matchup, as well as a framed, signed photo with DeRosa and LaRoche. Nationals EVP of Baseball Operations and GM Mike Rizzo joined the party to present the framed bat with which he hit the first home run at the ballpark.

Prior to the gift-giving, the video below played on Nats HD, and when it reached the :30 mark noting that Jones finished second in the Rookie of the Year voting in 1995, Zimmerman turned to Jones, an incredulous look on his face, and asked, “Who won?” That the answer was Hideo Nomo is of no real importance for this story – all that matters is that Zimmerman couldn’t believe the honor had gone to anyone else.

Carroll Rogers, who covers the Braves for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and who has seen every team’s ceremony for Jones to date this season, called the tribute, “The most personal pregame sendoff ceremony yet.” Jones was clearly moved, and shared hugs with his old teammates, doffing his cap to the crowd of fans behind the visiting dugout before taking the field.

Of course, even though Atlanta won the finale, the Nationals did send the Braves away with another series defeat and another game to make up in the standings from when the three-game showdown began. Washington’s 10-5 head-to-head record against their rivals to the south has comprised nearly the entirety of the six games of separation between the clubs as we enter the season’s final five weeks. And while it would be great for baseball to see Jones get one last shot at the postseason, the Nationals will be far happier to see him get it as part of a Wild Card team.

What to Watch For: 8/21

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Atlanta Braves (70-52) vs. Washington Nationals (76-46)

LHP Paul Maholm (11-7, 3.39) vs. RHP Stephen Strasburg (14-5, 2.91)

The Nationals and Braves took a 4-4 tie into the 13th inning in the series opener on Monday night before Washington was able to finally push across the game-winning run on Chad Tracy’s infield single. Game two of this crucial series pits deadline acquisition southpaw Paul Maholm against All-Star Stephen Strasburg in another marquee pitching matchup.

NATIONALS LINEUP

1. Werth RF

2. Harper CF

3. Zimmerman 3B

4. Morse LF

5. LaRoche 1B

6. Desmond SS

7. Espinosa 2B

8. Flores C

9. Strasburg RHP

CATCHING UP ON LAST NIGHT/THIS MORNING

Chad Tracy plated Danny Espinosa with a pinch-hit, infield RBI-single to lift the Nationals to a tense, 5-4 victory in 13 innings over Atlanta on Monday at Nationals Park. With the win, the Nationals moved a season-high 30 games above .500 and 6.0 games ahead of second-place Atlanta in the NL East. The 6.0-game lead is the Nationals largest since landing in D.C. in 2005. Washington won its fifth straight extra-inning contest, and has played in a Major League-high 17 games that have gone past the regulation nine innings so far this season.

The game – which ended at 12:28 a.m., or five hours and 23 minutes after its scheduled start time – included 439 pitches/270 strikes, 37 players and 26 runners left on base.

HEY…YOU AGAIN

Stephen Strasburg will face the Braves for the fifth time in 16 starts and the first time since the Nationals squandered a 9-0 lead on July 20th in D.C. Strasburg is 2-1 against Atlanta so far in 2012, with the wins coming in back-to-back assignments on 5/26 in Atlanta and 6/2 at Nationals Park. He last pitched on 8/15 at San Francisco when he allowed two runs on four hits en route to the victory.

NOTABLE

Washington has scored at least five runs in 10 of 13 games against the Braves this season. Beginning with Ryan Zimmerman’s memorable game-ending homer on March 30, 2008 to open Nationals Park, the Nationals are 48-37 (.565) against the Braves. Since MLB returned to D.C. in 2005, Washington has more wins over Atlanta (72) than any other club (Mets, 2nd at 67). The Nationals are 9-2-1 in series play against the Braves in D.C. dating back to April 28, 2008. Meanwhile, Chipper Jones’ 23 homers against the Nationals (2005-present) rank third behind only Ryan Howard (35) and Hanley Ramirez (27).

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The Buck Commander: Adam LaRoche

It takes a special breed to love bow hunting–the sport where you spend 99 percent of the time questioning why you are uncomfortably sitting in a tree stand just to see a deer–but Adam LaRoche is the right person for the job. He is very even-keeled and rarely shows any emotions, traits that are imperative to watching paint dry and hunting, two things that seem synonymous at times. He speaks slowly with a southern drawl and a monotone voice–as if he was giving a lecture on quantum chemistry. He just doesn’t like talking about himself or his accomplishments on the baseball field–the numbers speak for themselves. That being said, he sure lights up the room when he talks about Buck Commander, the company he co-owns with a few talented baseball players: Chipper Jones, Ryan Langerhans, Tom Martin, Matt Duff and Duck Commander’s Willie Robertson.

 “It is our hobby,” LaRoche said, “but it is also a pretty serious passion.”


Adam LaRoche deer tattoo.JPGSerious enough that LaRoche made sure the rest of the Buck Commander team was as committed as he is. He persuaded the group–cameraman included–to get the brand logo tattooed somewhere on their body while they were all in Las Vegas together… proof what happens in Vegas doesn’t always stay in Vegas.

It is tough to determine if Adam LaRoche is a hunter who plays baseball or a baseball player that hunts. He does both equally well and partakes in one almost as often as the other. He has been plying his passion since he was a little kid but the wheels didn’t get turning on the Buck Commander until 2004.

LaRoche lost his lucky Duck Commander hat, nothing about that actual hat made it lucky but he needed a replacement. He couldn’t find the hat online so he called the one business number they listed on the Duck Commander web site. He envisioned he would be calling some immaculate headquarters with gold phones and airline-long wait times. Well, he didn’t quite envision the gold phones, but he expected a secretary to answer the phone.

“They are the world famous Duckmen,” he said.

Much to his surprise, he was greeted by Jase Robertson, one of the Duckmen. The number was Jase’s house number. Any business number that is the house number tells you one of two things: a) the business isn’t doing well or b) their No. 1 goal is customer service. Let’s just assume they love their customers.

“I told him I played baseball for the Atlanta Braves,” said LaRoche, retelling the story. “He was like, ‘Yeah, I am sure you do. I have never heard of Adam LaRoche.’ I was a rookie then. He said they didn’t make the hat anymore but thought he had one in his closest.”

Sure enough, Jase sent LaRoche one of his used, dirty hats with sweat stains and hair still attached.  What started with a lost hat, quickly turned into a friendship that led to an idea and finally a TV show on the Outdoor Channel.

“Wow, that was seven years ago. Now we are making a show, DVDs and a few pretty cool products.”

And they are shooting some pretty big deer, the type of deer that would be the wrestling hybrid of Hulk Hogan and Andre the Giant.


The Buck Commander Team.jpg“We want to get across the point that we hunt some really good farms,” LaRoche said. So they aren’t tied up or slipped a little HGH?

“People have no idea,” he said. “The days that go by without seeing deer… There aren’t enough minutes to show every miserable hunt so you end up seeing the good ones.” Thank you for sparing us the monotony of hunting.

Tyler Clippard often talks about the similarities between golf and baseball–it turns out that baseball can be used as a metaphor for just about anything in life as long it requires patience, endurance and a little bit of adversity. So it shouldn’t come as a surprise that Adam LaRoche sees a few similarities between bow hunting and baseball.

“I think it is all about being competitive,” LaRoche said who spends the majority of his offseason bow hunting–one of the more arduous and time consuming styles of hunting. “It is a very passionate, grueling and relentless sport. You can go out for a month straight and never draw the bow back. You have to have it in you. It is the same in baseball when you play seven days a week–if there isn’t something driving you deep down, then you aren’t going to make it. We come across guys all the time in the Minors that have all the talent in the world but they don’t want it bad enough. It is the same thing in hunting… it can be a real pain sometimes.”

Yogi Berra is known for his Yogisms and in the 2006 Aflac commercial he says, “If you don’t have it, that’s why you need it.” If you haven’t seen the Buck Commander, that’s why you need to. If you like baseball, you’ll like the show. If you like deer hunting, you’ll love it. If you like deer–especially trophy bucks–you will salivate like Pavlov’s dog during it. If you don’t like any of those three things… why are you reading this blog?

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