Tag Archives: Jimmy Rollins

Caps Off to J-Roll

11 Dec

This was originally written when Jimmy Rollins got his 2000th hit in 2012.  It seems appropriate to repost it tonight in tribute to the little guy who will leave a big shadow behind.  Make sure to check out the new material at the end of the post!

 

As a kid he excelled in both baseball and football.  In fact, if asked to choose between the two, the young athlete would have

 probably chosen the gridiron.  He loved the San Francisco 49ers and he dominated in Pop Warner football.

But when his height plateaued at 5’7”, Jimmy Rollins gave up dreams of a pro football career and opted for baseball instead.

And 2000 hits later, it seems the young Rollins made the right choice.

Many pro athletes will attribute their success to the many hours spent with their Dads in the batting cages and fielding ground balls in the back yard.

As for Jimmy?

His baseball inspiration was his Mom, Gigi, a top infielder in the fast-pitch softball leagues of Northern California.  Jimmy spent many an afternoon tagging along to his Mom’s practices, collecting balls in the outfield in exchange for a chance to take a couple of swings at the plate or field some grounders.  In fact, Gigi still claims that she was a better ballplayer than he is.

Hey, now we know where that Jimmy Rollins swagger comes from.

In high school Rollins stole 99 bases and hit .484, both school records.  Those numbers attracted the attention of some pro scouts who would normally have dismissed a 5’7” kid as just too small to make it in the majors.  He was selected by the Phillies in the second round of the 1996 draft and Jimmy had found a home.

Jimmy’s parents had one rule for their children growing up:  You never quit.  And that rule would serve the 17-year old Rollins well as he worked his way up from the bottom.  He started his career playing for the Appalachian League’s Martinsville Phillies where he hit just .238.

A couple of years later he finally made the leap to Triple-A.   It was the first time he had played on artificial turf and the young Rollins, unused to the speed of the turf, struggled with his footing. On the first ball hit his way, a grounder up the middle, his feet got tangled up and Jimmy fell flat on his face.

But he took his parents ‘never quit’ rule to heart.  Just ten years later Jimmy Rollins would famously declare his Philadelphia Phillies “the team to beat in the NL East” then back it up,  leading his team to their first division title in 14 years.

As for Jimmy

He had some firsts of his own.  He became the first player in Major League history to collect 200 hits, 15 triples, 25 home runs, and 25 stolen bases in the same season. He also became the 4th player to have at least 20 home runs, 20 triples, 20 doubles, and 20 stolen bases with an RBI triple on the last day of the season winning him the 2007 NL MVP.

Not bad for a 5’7” kid who once had dreams of playing football.

But Jimmy wanted more than individual records.

“Records are meant to be broken and it’s good to have an opportunity to chase them. But I’m more focused on how we do as a team.”

And focused he was.   In 2008, the Philadelphia Phillies gave a championship-starved city what they had long been waiting for.  The Phillies won the World Series, their first title in 28 years.

As for Jimmy

The little shortstop with the big words backed them up again.  He became the first player to lead off two clinching games with homers in the same postseason and joined his teammates in a ride down Broad Street this city will never forget.

Now with his 2000th hit Jimmy Rollins joins some rarefied Phillies company.  Only Mike Schmidt, Richie Ashburn and Ed Delahanty had that many. And only 30 switch-hitters in history have at least 2,000 hits.

Not bad for the little guy who fell flat on his face fielding his first ground ball in Triple-A.

Yes, there are those who will point to some of Rollins’ controversial statements or his occasional failures to run hard to first on a ground ball.  Yes, there are those who will say that he doesn’t get on base enough to be an effective leadoff hitter or that he’s not worth the money the Phillies are paying him.

But this is not the time to debate any of that.  This is the time to celebrate the little guy with the big arm.  The shortstop with the swagger.  The guy who talked the talk, telling the world that his team was the “team to beat,” and then walked the walk taking us all along with him for the glorious ride.  This is the time to congratulate the Phillies diminutive shortstop on his big achievement.

As for Jimmy?

He’s not done yet.

‘It was great, but 3,000 is better,’‘ said Rollins “[It’s] pretty cool, but I still have work to do.”

And that’s not bad for those of us who will get to watch him do it.

◊          ◊          ◊          ◊          ◊

We knew this day would come. We even knew that it should

But that doesn’t mean that it has to feel good.

After 15 seasons of sporting Phillies red

J-Roll’s trading coasts; he’ll wear Dodgers blue instead

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He loved to play the game;  he lived loved living life with style

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And no night was complete without that Jimmy Rollins’ smile.

Jimmy Rollins

  Yes, he gave our team his swagger, some might call it attitude

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But he leaves with something, too, our undying gratitude.

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So our caps are off to J-Roll as he heads to La-La land

And when he’s at the Bank we’ll even give him a hand

But there’s one thing that we’re keeping, actually 5 to be complete

Words that live in Phillies history: “We’re the team to beat.”

Chicago Cubs v Philadelphia Phillies

 

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“Who Said That?” I’ll Tell You Who!

22 Aug

Yes, the Phillies had a walk-off win yesterday beating the Rockies 4-3 on a Michael Young single in the bottom of the ninth, driving in Carlos Ruiz who had a out-out double. It gave the Phillies their third victory in four games, two of them walk-offs.  This comes after a 4-21 stretch that ended with manager Charlie Manuel losing his job Friday.

But enough about the Phillies.  I know you’ve all just been waiting in suspense for the answers to yesterday’s “Who Said That?” quiz.

And just in case there were a couple of you who didn’t happen to read yesterday’s post (and you know who your are!) I have kindly included the questions along with the answers.

  1. He’s my guy and it hit me hard.  It was a very difficult day for me.  Charlie is a father figure to me.  I respect and cherish everything he has done for me.”

Yes, this one is from perhaps Charlie Manuel’s biggest fan and supporter, Jim Thome.  The close relationship between the two men is legendary and began when Thome was just a 20-year old in Triple-A.  Thome has always attributed much of his success to Charlie and will alway consider him his greatest mentor and friend.2

2.  “I probably was a little overzealous in throwing out that balk.”

This one comes from home plate umpire Jim Joyce who called a controversial balk on Phillies pitcher Jake Deekman in the eighth inning of Monday’s 5-4 win against the Rockies Joyce actually later admitted that he “implemented the balk [rule]wrong.” An umpire admitting he was wrong?  Now that is quote worthy!

3.  “You hear his country accent and you think he’s a little bit slow but he’s sharp as a tack.  I guess I’ll have a fishing buddy now down in Florida.”

You may have guessed this one.  Jimmy Rollins said this about his former manager, now friend Charlie Manuel.  Although Manuel was known to be hard on Jimmy at times, making him an example when he broke some of Charlie’s basic team rules, the two men were often seen together in the dugout laughing and talking baseball.  Now those will be some great fish tales.

4. “I achieved a couple of firsts today personally.” 

Phillies new manager Ryne Sandberg on getting his first win as a major league manager and his first runs (The Phillies were shut out in his first two games as skipper.)

5.  ”The fans have been great.  It’s obvious they’re extremely passionate about the [team.]  That’s evident no matter where you go. But we haven’t played a game yet either, so that could change.”

OK, I cheated a little with this one.  It was from first year Eagles coach Chip Kelly on how the Philly fans have treated him so far.  He’s right about one thing, though…his team hasn’t played a game yet!

6.  “I definitely didn’t come here for this. I would like to stay here. But if I’m going to have to put up with this year after year, then no, I don’t want to be here. Why would you? Why would anybody?”

Who else but Phillies often outspoken closer Jonathan Papelbon.  But enjoy his wacky quotes while you can.  He may be blowing saves and making headlines somewhere else next year.

7.  ”I think if Charlie could adopt Chase Utley I think he probably would. He loves him that much… Chase was the model of who Charlie really wanted everybody to play like. Plays hard, plays the right way, keeps his mouth shut.”

This one surprised me.  It’s from none other than Jayson “take the money and run” Werth.  It sounds like Jayson may be the one with the man crush.

8.  “I’m not playing for money at this point.  I’m fortunate to have played a long time. If I have a situation where I can win, I might be paying them to play.”

Said by none other than two-time Cy Young winner Roy Halladay after pitching in a rehab start, his first action since May 5th.  In the last year of his contract, it certainly doesn’t seem like money will be a problem if the Phillies want him back.  But about that fast ball…

9.   “All Charlie did was come to the park every day with an attitude to win. We didn’t uphold our end of the bargain… He’s someone I’ll always have in my cellphone. “

Chase “You are the Man” Utley had this to say about his manager of nine years.  I hope he has an unlimited minutes plan.  So maybe that’s why Charlie wanted to adopt him.

10.  “I loved putting that uniform on. I would have wore it over here today if I could.” 

We end appropriately with this comment from Charlie Manuel at his farewell news conference at Citizens Bank Park.  No one loved talking and being around baseball more than Charlie.  And though he will turn 70 in January he hopes to be wearing a uniform again soon.

We hope you will, too, Charlie.

Well, how did you do?  Any perfect scores???

My Thank You Note To Charlie

17 Aug

I was always taught that when someone does something nice for you, the proper thing to do is to write them a thank you note.  So here goes.

Dear Charlie,

I have to be honest.  When you were first named as the Phillies new manager back in 2005 you weren’t my first choice.  In fact, you might not even have been in my top three.  I’ll admit that I just didn’t think that your laid back West Virginia style would be a match for Philadelphia’s anything but laid back fan base.

And I’m afraid I wasn’t alone.  Then when your first couple of weeks were filled with talk of not understanding the double switch and post game press conferences that would have benefited from a translator I was convinced that between the fans and Philadelphia’s tough press corps that you, Charlie, our new folksy manager, would be eaten alive.

But a funny thing happened on the way to your demise.  Your team, our team started winning and winning and winning.  It seemed that your laid back style and overwhelming public and private loyalty to your players did wonders in the Phillies clubhouse. The team followed your lead supporting each other both on and off the field. They played hard, they played with intensity, they played to win.

So I, like many fans who had unfairly written you off as a good old country boy, began to realize that you, Charlie, knew more about the game of baseball and the men who play it than any of us gave you credit for.  And just like that the love affair between a city and its baseball manager began.

You gave us the best years we have ever had as Phillies fans filled with excitement, passion and just plain old fun.  Going to the ballpark was a party and you, Charlie, were our gracious host.  We had a team and a manager to be proud of on and off the field which is saying a lot in this age of baseball.

As to your accomplishments, they will always remain legendary.  In your almost nine seasons as manager, the Phillies won five NL East championships, two National League pennants and one World Series title. You leave as the Phillies winningest manager with a regular-season record of 780-636 and a postseason record of 27-19.  And I’m glad you stayed around long enough to get your 1000th win overall.

But the highlight, of course, will always be that magical 2008 season when you led the Phillies to their first World Series Championship in 28 years and only the second in franchise history. And the huge and well-deserved ovation you received at the joyous parade that followed cemented your place forever in Phillies history.

You showed your class once again that day when, at a moment that could have been filled with personal victory and vindication after what this city had put you through, instead you chose the high road.  For me, Charlie, I will always remember the picture of you holding that World Series trophy high in the air for the fans in the stands to see:

“This is for Philadelphia!  This is for our fans!  I look around here and who’s the World Champions?  I thank you!”

But today Charlie, it is all of us who must thank you.  Thank you for helping to bring baseball back to our city.  Thanks for all the fun and winning and the championships but even more importantly, thanks for showing us that you really can lead with dignity and class.  In the world of professional sports where many say you have to treat your athletes like babies, you treated your players with loyalty and respect and they in turn gave you everything they had.

So Charlie, I will miss you.  I will miss you standing behind the cage watching your batters hit as you so loved to do.  I will miss you chewing your gum on the dugout steps, keeping your calm demeanor in good times and bad.  I will miss you jawing with  Jimmy Rollins during the game never failing to make him smile.  I’ll even miss your Post Game press conferences where we never knew what we might hear but we always knew that it came from the heart.  As did your words yesterday:

“I can’t explain to you guys what the last nine years have meant to me. I have had some of the best times of my life here. Philadelphia has been the high light of my career.”

And you, Charlie, have been a true highlight for us.  One we will certainly never forget.

I wish you well with wherever your path may lead.  And even if you do not choose to accept the position offered by the Phillies, I hope you know, as they say, that you will never have to buy a beer in this town again.  Or a cheesesteak.

With great respect and appreciation,

A Devoted Fan

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Phillies Cause Blogger Strike

29 Jul

OK, OK, I give.  After numerous requests from readers, and with the Phillies riding an eight-game losing streak, I have decided that the only course of action left for this blogger is to stop blogging, at least temporarily.

I  call it Strike 2.

After the Phillies just completed one of the worst road trips (1-8) in franchise history culminating in a humiliating 12-4 loss Sunday to the Detroit Tigers, I have exhausted all of thesaurus.com’s listings for “dismal.”

I’m afraid it’s time for Strike 2.

After a nightmarish sixth inning where the Phillies gave up eight unearned runs, three walks (two with the bases loaded), three errors and one grand slam, even the normally positive Jimmy Rollins couldn’t spin this one:

“If there’s a bottom, this has to be it,” Rollins said. “I can’t imagine things getting worse than they have this past week, culminating the way they did today.” 

Note to Jimmy:  You should never say things can’t get worse.

We all know what comes after Strike 2.

Man, I hope J-Roll’s right but if he’s not, at least I won’t have to write about it because I refuse to write another blog post until the Phillies win a game.  (Last time I said two games if you remember but I’m afraid if I wait for that, I might never write again.)

So I call this Strike 2.

 Note to Phillies:  Please don’t make me go any further than that!

Not the Start the Phillies Were Hoping For

24 Jul

They started with a bang but since their 13-8 win against the Mets, the Phillies have now lost three straight.  They are seven games behind the first place Atlanta Braves and seven and a half games behind in the Wild Card race.

This is not the start we were hoping for.

The Phillies inconsistent offense is still, well, inconsistent.  After that offensive outburst against the Mets, the Phillies have scored only one run in their last two games.

This is not the start we were hoping for.

What makes it even worse is that the teams ahead of the Phils are almost trying to hand them the division.  The Braves are 2-3 since the Break and the Washington Nationals are 0-5!  Yes, the Cardinals have the best record in baseball but it was critical for the Phils to win at least 2-3 from a not-so-good Mets team.  And, by the way, teams that need to play at an above .600 clip to make the play-offs need to beat the good teams, too!

This is not the start we were hoping for.

And it doesn’t get any easier for the Phillies on this critical road trip.  They have two more games against these Cardinals and then a series against the first place AL Detroit Tigers, and interleague play has historically not been this team’s strong point.  They have a total of six games remaining before the 4 p.m. Trade Deadline next Wednesday.  If the Phillies can’t find a way to win at least four of them, this team could look a lot different a week from today.

This is not the start we were hoping for.

And if you really want to hear some bad news, in the nightmare scenario that has many fans seeing red, the Phils iconic second baseman Chase Utley could be one of those Phillies not wearing red real soon.  He had three hits last night and is eight for his last 16.  He has raised his average to .286 and his troublesome knees have just not been an issue this year.  In short, he has been one of the most productive offensive middle infielders in the game.  He’s also in the final year of his contract all of which make him a big target for a team looking for some help down the stretch.  Would they, could they, trade the beloved second baseman?

This is not the start we were hoping for.

But…this Phillies team does have a habit of making their runs when everyone has counted them out, when their backs are against the wall, when all they’ve got is each other and their will to win to stay together as a team.  But every year they get a bit older and those runs are harder to find.  Does this team have one more run left?  Can they at least win enough in these next six games to stay together just a little longer?

This is not the start we were hoping for.

Well, I for one am, not a bandwagon fan.  Yes, the losses and inconsistency frustrate me but I am always a fan win or lose.  Yes, deep down I know whether it’s now or later this team must make some changes to keep up with a league getting ever-younger. But I’m hoping for a min-run starting tonight so we can watch the Utleys and Rollins play together just a little bit longer.

Call me sentimental but I’ll be at the ballpark August 1st, when the Phils will  honor Brad Lidge who has chosen to retire as a Phillie.  The night will surely bring back memories of that great 2008 team, you know, the “World F-ing Champions.”  It sure would be a shame if I’m there but the man who uttered that famous phrase is not.

Confessions of a Phillies Fan

15 Jun

Wow!  What a game.  What an amazing comeback.   I just had a feeling the Phillies were going to pull that one out last night.  And after Freddy Galvis hit his second two-run triple and then Charlie sent J-Roll (who was not in the starting line-up due to a sore foot) to the plate to pinch hit I…

OK, OK.  I can’t do this any more.  I just can’t….  Truth be told, I didn’t see any of that.  I didn’t see it because I turned the game off.  There I said it.

When the score was 7-2 I just couldn’t watch another pitch and I turned the game off.   I admit it.

I turned it off.   I’m not proud of it but I can’t lie to you my faithful readers.  I had to get it off my chest.

My only defense is that I was busy preparing for a special event in my household today (more on that later) but that is a weak excuse at best.

But can you blame me?  Has this been the kind of season where the Phillies have often come back from a 7-2 deficit and on the road no less?   I mean, for this Phillies lineup, three runs is a landslide.

And has this been a Phillies team whose strength has been in the bullpen?  Well, has it?

When Kyle Kendrick, who just didn’t have it last night,  had to leave the game in the fifth, let’s face it, the parade of pitchers that followed hardly puts fear in the eyes of the opponent, especially a high-scoring team like the Colorado Rockies.

But somehow, some way, the combination of Jeremy Horst, Michael Stutes, the recently called up Jake Diekman, Justin De Fratus, and Mike Adams (who has even  had his shaky moments lately) managed to hold down the fort until Jonathan Palbon could do his thing in the ninth earning his second save in as many nights making him 13-13 in save opportunities.

The offensive stand-outs were Freddy Galvis with 2, 2-run triples and of course, Jimmy Rollins who came in as a pinch hitter to deliver the game-winner.  But, sadly I didn’t see that.  If it helps any, I did turn the game back on in the eighth but I know that doesn’t forgive my lack of faith earlier.  All I can say is, I’ll try to do better.

The reason I was busy last night is that today is my baby’s 18th birthday.  OK, so he’s not a baby but give me a break; he’s our youngest and today he turns 18.  Now, that’s ironic because he’s the kind of sports fan that never gives up on his team.  Never.  Whether he’s playing himself or rooting along with us, he truly believes until the bitter end.

Hey, if you need any proof, in addition to the Phillies, he’s a diehard 76ers fan and he believed until the day of his surgery, that Andrew Bynum would play for the Sixers.

That’s only one of the many things my amazing son has taught me in his 18 years.  So I promise, in honor of Spencer’s 18th birthday, that I will try to be a better fan, that I will follow his example and believe in my team until the end (or until I just can’t take it anymore.)  Sorry.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, BIG GUY!

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, BIG GUY!

It Was A Night…

18 May

It was a night when pitcher Cliff Lee almost hit a home run and slugger Ryan Howard legged out an infield single.

It was a night when ‘The Big Piece‘ could sport a big smile and a laugh at his own expense:

“Speed kills,” he said. “It’s like a meteor coming through.”

It was a night when Lee needed 47 pitches to get through the first two innings before settling down to complete seven strong leaving with a 3-2 lead.

But it was also a night when it only took reliever Antonio Bastardo one batter to give up the tying run.

It was a night when one of the most important at-bats was a 10-pitch walk worked by Michael Young.

It was a night when, after making headlines earlier in the week saying that he and his team had to play better before “ the guys upstairs decide to blow it up and ship us out,” Jimmy Rollins let his bat do the talking with a 2-run shot in the third to give his team a 2-0 lead.

It was a night when a close play at the plate gave the Phils an insurance run but it was also a night when closer Jonathan Papelbon didn’t need it as he pitched a scoreless ninth to remain perfect in save opportunities.

It was a night when the near sellout crowd was loud and ‘in the game’ reminiscent of many nights and many crowds during the Phillies sell-out streak.

It was a night when for a moment we all had that “we know how this one ends” feeling and it wasn’t pretty but on this night the Phillies played some small ball and got a big win.

It was a perfect night at the ballpark and it had a perfect ending:  after singing a chorus along with Harry the K we all left with “High Hopes.”

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