One player has an entire desert left in his career’s hourglass, the other mere grains of sand.
Chipper Jones, the Atlanta Braves’ 40-year-old third baseman, and Bryce Harper, the Washington Nationals’ 19-year-old center fielder, stand at polar opposites of their career spectrums, but find themselves going toe-to-toe in this year’s National League All-Star Final Vote to determine the last player to make the roster.
No offense to other candidates Michael Bourn of the Braves, David Freese of the St. Louis Cardinals and Aaron Hill of the Arizona Diamondbacks, but the vote for the NL’s 34th man will likely come down to the rookie and the future Hall of Famer.
It comes down to new vs. old. Fresh vs. vintage. Entertainment value vs. nostalgia.
My vote is going to Chipper. This is his last chance to make one more memory at the Midsummer Classic. The Braves are having a solid season in the wide-open NL, but they’re far from a favorite to make the playoffs. That means the All-Star Game could be Chipper’s last chance to shine on a big stage.
Will Harper have another opportunity to play in the All-Star Game? That’s a clown question, bro (sorry, I couldn’t resist).
Even as a high schooler, Harper seemed destined to be a slugging superstar. He only has 57 major league games under his belt, but the Nationals teenage sensation is already fulfilling that destiny. Possibly the most impressive thing about Harper is his approach and professionalism.
Once known as a brash, cocky loud mouth who wore ridiculous amounts of eye black and blew kisses at opposing pitchers, Harper has done, and even said all the right things. His reaction to the Final Vote is a perfect example.
“[Jones] should have already been in the All-Star Game no matter what. He’s an All-Star, and he’s been an All-Star for 20 years. I think Chip should have been there and, like I said, if I had a vote, Chip’s going.”
Though my support is behind Larry Wayne Jones Jr., you can’t lose either way. Heck, even if one of the other three guys miraculously wins the Final Vote, they’re all deserving, too. The only shame is that Chipper and Harper can’t be teammates (barring unforeseen injuries that result in alternates to be named).
On a slightly unrelated note, I’m only 27, but both these guys make even me feel old. I can remember collecting Chipper’s rookie cards when I was a kid. That was in 1991. Being just 19, Harper was born in 1992. Both these guys, in very different ways, are physical reminders of how time flies.
The Final Vote polling closes Thursday at 4 p.m. ET, with the winners announced on MLB.com shortly thereafter. The American League candidates for the Final Vote are Jonathan Broxton from the hosting Kansas City Royals , Japanese rookie Yu Darvish of the Texas Rangers, Los Angeles Angles closer Ernesto Frieri, Jason Hammel of the Balimore Orioles and Comeback Player of the Year candidate Jake Peavy of the Chicago White Sox.