By Chris Murray
For the Chris Murray Report
Among the players responsible for the Phillies success in one World Series championship, two National League pennants and five National League East titles is Phillies shortstop Jimmy Rollins.
He has been a team leader throughout this run and is basically a good guy, but there have been times when Rollins has done things on the field that quite frankly make you wanna use Internet speak such as WTF (What the F—), SDMH (Shaking My Damn Head) or better yet that now famous EPSN Monday Night Countdown phrase, “C’mon, man.”
In sixth inning of the Phillies 3-2 win over the New York Mets, Rollins was benched by Phillies manager Charlie Manuel for not running hard enough on a high pop fly in the infield that was dropped by Mets pitcher Jonathan Niese.
“It’s a reflection on myself, it’s a reflection on the person who does it, it reflects on our team and it reflects on the organization,” Manuel said.
After Rollins reached, he stole second and then made an out on a mental lapse that was simply unbelievable for a guy of his veteran stature. With the Mets infield in with pitcher Kyle Kendrick at third and Rollins on second, third baseman Kevin Frandsen hit a grounder to the second baseman.
Instead of staying on second, Rollins was half way down to third and was ultimately tagged out on a run down. That was the play I thought he was benched on because maybe his head wasn’t in the game.
All that said, Rollins was simply wrong for not hustling on that play and deserved to be benched. Granted, most pop flies are caught in the infield, but that’s why you play it out and you run it out because things like a guy dropping the ball can happen.
We’ve been here before with J-Roll and hustling. In 2008 against the Cincinnati Reds, Manuel benched Rollins for not running out a ball. Later that summer, he was a late arrival to the Phillies clubhouse in New York.
More recently, Rollins was taken out of the game against the Miami Marlins. In each of those instances, Rollins came before the media and at the very least gave his side of the story and acknowledged that his transgression to the fans via the media.
Rollins didn’t speak to reporters after Thursday’s and as he was heading out of the clubhouse, he said, “He already told you what happened.” That was another bad move on his part.
The hard part of taking Rollins to task on this latest incident is that if you look at his career with the team. He has been a model citizen, a guy who is involved in the community both locally and internationally with his involvement in building youth baseball in Uganda.
Rollins has not had any embarrassing the off-the-field incidents or got caught up any crime story, something that’s often portrayed as the norm for today’s athletes.
But when you’re a team leader and you don’t hustle, what kind of example are you setting for your teammates? If you’re the guy setting the tone in good times, you’ve got to do the same thing when things are going bad as well.
I also believe that Rollins teammates need to hold him accountable as well. Where’s Ryan Howard or Chase Utley or some of the veterans on this team? It used to be a thing in baseball where the team policed itself on issues like not running out balls in play and guys would let you know if you weren’t giving it your all.
If Rollins were a teammate of Frank Robinson or an Andre Dawson, those guys would emphatically let him know that any lack of hustle would not be tolerated by using words that decorum prohibits me from listing here.
After Thursday’s latest incident, the outcry for Rollins to be traded will grow a little louder on the sports-talk radio circuit. To some of you it may not be fair, but at the same time, you don’t give your detractors the ammunition to ultimately blow you up.
At the end of the day, Rollins should know better than that because I think he’s been too good of a player over the years to slack off like that in a game. It’s inexcusable. Would he want those Little League kids from Uganda to think it as okay to do what he did Thursday? I don’t think so. C’mon, man.