Chipper: MLB's Arizona Plan "A Logistical Nightmare"

Chipper Jones explains why the Arizona Plan won't work and reflects on his career, including his first game after 9/11

Zach Gelb
April 17, 2020 - 9:35 am
Chipper Jones Braves

USA Today Images


It remains to be seen when baseball will resume, or how, but MLB is reportedly considering playing games – all games – in Arizona. Players would essentially be quarantined for months, wouldn’t be allowed to see their families, and would play games in fan-less stadiums.

Hall of Famer Chipper Jones isn’t a fan of the plan.

“No, I wouldn’t be all for that,” Jones said on The Zach Gelb Show. “I think they’re throwing around a lot of ideas and just hoping that something sticks, hoping that something makes sense to everybody. I don’t know that this is particularly what’s going to stick. I would have to think something such as that would be a logistical nightmare for the league to try and put together.”

Several players, including Mike Trout, have voiced displeasure with the plan.

“The bottom line is I don’t think anybody’s going to feel comfortable until we have a vaccine, we have a cure that is going to be able to knock this thing out right away,” Jones said. “If baseball comes back and one person tests positive, then you got to shut everything down again. I would just much rather we get this thing fully in the rearview mirror. We get a clean grasp on what it is that’s going to help cure this thing and continue to flatten the curve, so to speak, before we get back to playing sports.”

Jones, who played almost two decades for the Braves, understands that fans miss baseball – and sports in general. But right now, the coronavirus has to be our primary concern.

“Look, I miss sports – all sports,” he said. “Golf, football, basketball, baseball – I miss them all, and I want to see them on TV. But it really isn’t worth it if we don’t have a clean grasp on the coronavirus.”

Jones, 47, was a first-ballot Hall of Famer in 2018. Asked to reflect on his career, his mind immediately went to Shea Stadium on September 21, 2001

“I think that first game after 9/11 kind of is one, two, three, and four – and whatever number five is, is a distant fifth,” Jones said of his top baseball memories. “That was not a kind place to me over the years from the standpoint of their fan base and the vitriol that they threw my way. There was no vitriol that night. It was a whole bunch of thank-you’s, a whole bunch of tears, a whole bunch of love coming towards the Atlanta Braves from the New York community.”

Jones remembers so much from that game. The bus ride from Philadelphia to New York. The police and military presence. Snipers on the roof. The 21-gun salute. Both teams embracing after the national anthem.

Mike Piazza hitting the game-winning home run was just “icing on the cake.”

“It was a chill-bump moment for everyone involved not only in the game, but all over America who watched it and kind of was pulling for the New York Mets,” Jones said. “I won’t say I was pulling for the New York Mets, but I will say I was not all that disappointed that we lost that game, and it will be etched in my mind forever.”

At the time, Jones was more interested in seeing justice than playing baseball, but he understood his role in society and what the country needed at that time.

“I wanted some retribution,” he said. “I would have much rather we took care of business and went and tried to take care of bin Laden before we got back to playing because I was not in the right frame of mind to be playing at that particular time. But my job was to play third base and hit third for the Atlanta Braves, and when duty calls to go do that, that is my job. I just looked at it as we were giving the fans of New York and the fans of baseball all over the country three hours of therapy. It was three hours that they could take their minds away from what just happened 10 days earlier. That was my job, and that was my duty to be able to provide that, and I hope everybody was entertained for three hours. I think the way everything kind of transpired, I think they were.”