Out the back door
Chipper fails to stick around for post-game interviews
Posted: Sunday October 24, 1999 02:05 AM
Chipper Jones was feeling anything but after the Braves' 4-1 loss, ducking out of the post-game press conference. AP
By Jamal Greene, Sports Illustrated
ATLANTA -- When members of the media asked Mets reliever Turk Wendell to discuss his team's 15-inning barn-burning victory over the Braves in Game 5 of the National League Championship Series, his response was memorable and controversial.
"It was a 25-man effort," he said. Then he added, "Except for the one guy who quit." The mysterious reference was to Rickey Henderson, who left Shea Stadium before the end of the game because he was upset about being pulled from the field.
Of the mood in the Braves' clubhouse subsequent to the team's loss to the Yankees in Game 1 of the World Series last night, one could say that it was a 25-man class act -- except for the one guy who quit.
Chipper Jones, Braves third baseman and soon-to-be National League MVP, whose fourth-inning solo homer was the only hit off of Yankees starter Orlando Hernandez, dressed and left before the hustling throng of media made it into the locker room. Leaving early is uncommon for Jones, normally a willing if not eager post-game interview.
As is typical of losing teams, most of the Braves lingered in the shower and in the deep recesses of the clubhouse's off-limits area before heading out to their testimonials. The situation was so dire that the first starter to emerge was light-hitting shortstop Walt Weiss, and the crowd he attracted was nearly as big as the sprawl awaiting the arrival of Braves' hard-luck starter Greg Maddux.
But once the quote party got under way, it was business as usual for the veteran Braves. The players were subdued, but none appeared beaten. Brian Hunter had nothing but praise for Hernandez, and took in stride his eighth-inning error, when he botched the throw on a Chuck Knoblauch sacrifice bunt to load the bases with no outs.
"I probably should have taken more time to set my feet," he said. "I did the best I could." Such was the over-riding theme. You play your hardest, and sometimes you lose."
Second baseman Bret Boone arrived early, saw the mob in front of his neighbor Maddux's locker, and decided it was best for him to conduct interviews in the center of the clubhouse. He surely understood that Maddux was the story.
The four-time Cy Young award winner was the reason the Braves, despite having just one hit, appeared victory-bound at the start of the eighth. He allowed just three hits in his first seven innings of work.
"The way Maddux was pitching, I thought we were in good shape in the eighth," Braves outfielder Brian JOrdan said. "You hate to see that happen. But it's over with. Tomorrow's a new day."
Weiss gave patient company lines. Gerald Williams smiled through his interviews. John Rocker uttered a mild expletive as he blew off those reporters who wanted him to comment on his poor performance before heading to his customary post-game workout. In other words, it was business as usual -- minus Chipper.