Chipper Jones: I'm "Less Optimistic" There Will Be A 2020 Season

Jones gave some pointed advice to MLB players as they negotiate return-to-play proposals and explained why today's game leaves a lot to be desired

May 21, 2020 - 6:58 am
Chipper Jones Braves

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As MLB owners and players negotiate return-to-play proposals, Chipper Jones has some advice for the players: don’t be greedy.

“In all honesty, I’m a little less optimistic than I was say, 10 days, two weeks ago, having listened to some key players come out and speak out on it,” Jones told JR SportBrief, when asked about the likelihood of a 2020 season. “It’s made me a little less optimistic that they continue to squabble over dollars and cents, salaries, revenue sharing, all that kind of stuff. Blake Snell came out last week, and as a former player, it was not a great look for the players. I think if he had stuck to the narrative of the health issues and concerns over that as opposed to ‘I’m not going to play because I’m not going to get my money,’ that was a little bit of a bad look.”

Jones, a former NL MVP, World Series champion and eight-time All-Star, said that the public will “normally always” fault players for labor issues, especially in the midst of a pandemic that has left tens of millions of Americans unemployed.

If baseball can make the game safe under these circumstances, Jones says, then players need to follow suit.

“If they can come out and assure that teams and individuals on those teams, as well as some of the older coaches who might be 60, 70 years old – this virus poses a huge threat to those guys,” Jones said. “If they can assure everybody that clubhouses and stadiums and airplanes and hotels are all going to be completely safe, then I say we get back to it. And if that is the case and the squabble continues to be over money, then the players are going to look real bad. But I think there’s going to be enough players out there that say, ‘You know what? Those who don’t want to play don’t have to pay. We’ll field our teams, we’ll field our rosters, and we’ll make the best of it because nobody wants to sacrifice a full season. I was in the league the last time we sacrificed he last two months of the season and the postseason, and the players paid for that for many years after that.”

MLB outlined a specific set of rules for the 2020 season, including a universal DH. Jones, who spent his entire career with the Atlanta Braves, isn’t a fan of that, but he understands it.

“There is so much money sunk into starting pitching now that they have become extremely valuable to their ball clubs,” he said. “And let’s face it: when they get a bat in their hand – I’m not going to say all of them because there are some very good hitting pitchers out there – but most have a better chance of getting hurt than they do of having a quality at-bat up there at the plate. So I can certainly see where teams would be willing to go to a universal DH and get the bat out of the hands of the pitchers, just because of the possibility of injury. But I’m a National League guy. I like the strategy of the National League. That’s kind of where I stood on that.”

Jones, 48, added that the current state of the game leaves a lot to be desired.

“It’s all or nothing,” he said. “Starting pitchers go out there and give it all they got for four or five innings and turn it over to a bullpen arm that’s specializing in one inning. You’re sometimes going six, seven, eight pitchers deep during the course of a game. You don’t see the fundamentals practiced all that much. Pitchers can barely get down bunts anymore. You’re certainly not asking one of your position players to do that The hit-and-run, the straight steal, the days of guys stealing 75, 80, 100 bases a year and manufacturing runs so that you can win games 3-2 – everybody is sitting back and waiting for the two- or three-run home run that’s going to be break the game wide open. 

“Look, it’s just the way the game is evolving,” Jones continued. “You’ve got a lot of smart guys that are heading up and general managing baseball teams now that never really played the game. But they’re relying on a lot of this information and a lot of this data to build their ball clubs. Some of them have done some great jobs over the last few years. Just like I tell hitters there are a thousand different ways to hit a baseball, there are a bunch of different ways to put a ball club together – and this just seems to be the hot fad right now.”