In Thursday's game vs. the Mets, Phillies manager Charlie Manuel chose to bench reigning NL MVP Jimmy Rollins because he arrived late to the game. It doesn't matter that the game started at noon, or that Rollins is not hitting nearly as well as he did last year (and Rollins was on the DL for a few weeks in April this year), but I find it hard to defend Manuel on this.
J- Roll wasn't making any excuses, which was good—he says when he plays in NY he gets to the game by driving, and there happened to be more traffic than he expected.
So what can the poor MVP shortstop do? It's only July, but all games against good division opponents are of great importance and significance. The fact is, Rollins is still a very good player and starting Eric Bruntlett or anyone else at SS is not a better option and decreases the likelihood of a Phillies victory.
Apparently Manuel was really pissed and had a short meeting with J-Roll to try to send a message to him, using the "you can't be late to the game or else you won't start, you lame excuse for a middle infielder" line.
Does anyone think Rollins is not as motivated as his teammates to play hard on a daily basis? Or perhaps that because he won the MVP, maybe he thinks he doesn't have to play hard anymore?
Can anyone think of a reigning MVP, either in the AL or NL, who did anything similar to what Jimmy has done, like arrive later than everyone on the team to a big divisional game?
Earlier this year, Jimmy was benched by Manuel for not running on a pop up—how can a reigning MVP make a mistake like that? Is something motivating J-Roll to be a nuisance to his teammates, perhaps saying that it's not important to get to the ballpark on time?
J-Roll is supposed to be a leader—perhaps something that Chase Utley is trying to become—because most MVPs have that leadership swagger, or else they wouldn't be voted in as the MVP.