Philadelphia Phillies: Ranking Jimmy Rollins' 7 Greatest Philly Moments
Ruben Amaro of the Philadelphia Phillies was able to lock up the longest-tenured athlete in Philadelphia for another three years at a price that seems fair for all parties. Jimmy Rollins may not be the MVP-caliber player from the plate and on the base-paths that he once was, but he still has a slick glove and pop in his bat that will be needed with Ryan Howard on the mend and Chase Utley in decline.
Rollins will now have the opportunity to climb the Phillies record books and establish himself not only as the best SS in team history, but as one of the all-time greats to ever lace up the cleats for the Phightin's.
The voice and swagger of the greatest era of Phillies baseball ever has had some pretty remarkable moments. Here are just seven of J-Roll's most memorable moments.
7. 38-Game Hit Streak
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It's incredible to think that Jimmy Rollins' hit streak during the 2005-2006 season still ended almost 20 games short of Joe Dimaggio's record of 56 straight. Every day, Phillies fans were on the edge of their seats hoping that Rollins would continue his terrific run, and they had to wait an entire offseason to watch it continue.
Chase Utley had a similar hitting streak to Rollins, but the way the two superstars handled the publicity was much different. Rollins obviously welcomed the added attention, while Utley shied away.
On the day when Rollins' hitting streak came to a halt, he said, "I had a chance to do it and I came up short. I still have another chance. I have a lot of games left."
It's almost laughable to look back at that statement; some outsiders could take those words for a smug athlete just yapping his mouth. Philadelphia will forever love Jimmy for being the one guy on the team who was willing to but a bulls-eye on this teams back.
He has never been afraid to be great, and we don't have to look any further than what he said back in spring training of 2006: "How am I going to be regarded? I have no doubt that I'm going to be regarded as one of the best shortstops ever."
Pure swag, ladies and gentleman.
6. A Nice Debut for the Kid
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Philadelphia Phillies fans have gotten to endure the good and bad times with Jimmy Rollins over the years. They have watched him grow and mature as a person and a man right before their eyes.
They also got to see a top prospect deliver in a big way back in 2000. Rollins was called up in September of the 2000 season and was widely regarded within the organization as a future star. Rollins gave the fans a reason to believe the hype as he went up hacking (like usual) and picked up a triple for his first major league hit on September 17, 2000.
The first of many for J-Roll in Phillies pinstripes.
5. Rollins Dares to Call out Philly Nation
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Not many athletes can call out the most loyal fan base in all of sports and still be a fan favorite, but that is exactly what Jimmy Rollins did back on August 13, 2008. Rollins has never been a guy that is afraid to say what is on his mind, but this little incident on Fox Sports' Best Damn Sports Show Period still leaves a bad taste in the mouths of many.
After being asked whether Philadelphia was as tough a place to play as the national media sometimes portrays, Rollins answered:
"There are times, I might catch some flak for saying this, but, you know, they're front-runners. When you're doing good, they're on your side. When you're doing bad, they're completely against you."
Rollins proceeded to get booed at the next few home games, but the 2008 World Champion team was pretty hard to stay mad at. Still, Rollins will never be loved the way guys like Kalas, Utley, Ashburn and even Lee are because of this statement.
4. Rollins Sends the Phillies Back to the World Series
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What a moment for a player, a team and an entire city. What a moment for Jonathan Broxton, as well. The reigning World Series champions were in serious danger of heading back to LA for at least one more game.
The Phillies were down to their final out against the mighty Jonathan Broxton, whose minuscule ERA was the complete opposite of his gargantuan (Joe Blanton-esque) belly. Broxton continued to throw fastball after fastball to Phillies hitters, and it seemed like every drinking establishment in the city knew what was about to happen.
Everyone knows that J-Roll can hit a fastball, no matter how hard it's thrown. Well, Broxton threw it 99 mph, but that didn't stop Jimmy from turning on it and giving the Phillies a commanding 3-1 series lead.
The series changed the moment that Rollins hit the ball deep into right-center field where no Dodger was in the vicinity. Jimmy Rollins' two-run double with two outs in the bottom of the ninth turned defeat into victory and the Phillies back to the WS for the second time in consecutive years.
Clutch baby, clutch.
3. MVP Is His Name-O
Jimmy Rollins looks more like a wide receiver (miniature Plaxico Burress anyone?) than a MVP SS with that hat, but that is exactly what he did back in 2007. Rollins made a bold prediction in 2007 (which we will get to later), and he seriously backed up his statement with a season for the record books.
Rollins beat out Matt Holliday in a close race after propelling the Phillies to their first playoff berth in 14 years. His numbers were ridiculous; it was the combination of speed, power and terrific defense that garnered him 16 of 32 first-place votes.
Rollins batted .296 with 30 homers, 94 RBIs and 41 steals for the Phightin's during his MVP season (all from leadoff spot). His spectacular play—along with another crash and burn job by New York—allowed the Phillies to steal the division right away from the Mets.
He led the league in runs (139), triples (20), was second in hits (212), second in extra-base hits (88) and played every single game during the regular season. Rollins was everything to a team in which he believed had what it took to win the NL East.
Five straight NL East championships later...
2. The Wait Is over
Many Phillies Phanatics may think that Philadelphia winning the 2008 World Series is J-Roll's most memorable moment, but there is something else that he did individually that is more memorable.
Rollins followed up his MVP season with an injury-plagued 2008 where he was benched twice for dogging it on the base-paths. Those two moments in themselves were pretty memorable for Phillies Nation, but Rollins was solid in the playoffs where he hit lead-off HRs in the NLDS and NLCS clinchers.
Rollins gave the Phillies leads and the momentum in both games and provided the same outstanding defense that has been his hallmark all along. The City of Brotherly Love hadn't seen a championship in 25 years, and the 2008 championship parade saw more than two million Phanatics turn out to honor one of the most beloved teams in city history.
The 2008 playoffs were the epitome of what Rollins has been as a pro player. A leadoff hitter with a lot of pop who has a knack for coming up big in clutch situations.
1. "The Team to Beat"
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In January of 2007, Jimmy Rollins made the Philadelphia Phillies enemy No. 1 in New York. He told the Associated Press:
"The Mets had a chance to win the World Series last year. Last year is over. I think we are the team to beat in the NL East, finally. But, that's only on paper."
The quote became viral as the New York Mets won the NL East in dominant fashion and had spent huge dollars on the likes of Johan Santana and K-Rod, Francisco Rodriguez. The Phillies were known as the franchise with the most losses in sports history and had been off the championship radar for nearly a decade.
A franchise that couldn't keep the likes of Scott Rolen and Curt Schilling happy finally had a guy who believed in what this team was building. Rollins believed in the core of the team and believed that himself, Chase Utley, Ryan Howard and Cole Hamels were ready to become superstars.
Many may not remember that early in the season the Phillies were playing awful and Rollins joined Howard on the Late Show with David Letterman. Letterman gave Rollins the opportunity to back down from his preseason statement, but Rollins refused to do so.
It is that never surrender attitude that made Rollins the player he is today and has the Phillies amidst their greatest stretch of baseball ever.