Philadelphia Phillies: 11 J-Roll Moments from Jimmy Rollins
Rollins, No. 11, will make a reported $11 million annually for the contract to play with the team he's been the starting shortstop the past 11 years.
So what can we expect from J-Roll the next few years? Maybe some more J-Roll moments. He's had many already.
Here are the 11 greatest moments of the Phils $11 million/year shortstop, from the past 11 years.
11: He's Baaaaaaaaaaack!
This is the most recent of the set, coming in 2010. Rollins was coming off of two stints on the DL with calf injuries. He was in his second game off the DL and since coming back was hitless in eight at-bats. The Phillies were stumbling, barely over .500 as they hit their annual slump against interleague opponents, and they had fallen to third place. They had a bad Indians team in town and were in a see-saw game started by Kyle Kendrick and Jake Westbrook.
After the Indians had taken the lead in the ninth inning, the Phillies came up for their last chance with the bottom of the order. After the leadoff hitter walked and advanced to second, Jimmy Rollins came up with a chance to drive in the tying run with a hit. It would be a good time to get his first hit since coming back. He did better; he drilled a line-drive home run down the right field line for his first "Jimmy Rollins" moment of 2010, one Phillies fan had all been missing.
Tom McCarthy's call of "He's baaaaaaaaack" let everyone know that the leadoff hitter for much of the century was back to being himself, despite the injury problems. It was his first career walk-off home run.
10: Bobby's Not Here Anymore
The Phillies were dead with a record of 46-54 in late July of 2006. As they appeared out of it, general manager Pat Gillick dumped Bobby Abreu's salary on the New York Yankees.
The 2006 Phils then took off immediately after. The Phillies would go 39-23 in their final 62 games to get right back in the wild-card race, though they ultimately missed the playoffs.
A big part of the club's resurgence was Jimmy Rollins, who hit nearly .300 the rest of the way and starting flashing a lot more power. During the season's final week, Rollins went through a stretch where he hit three home runs in three games. All three were in big games, at big points.
When asked about what was happening for not just him, but the team, Rollins explain it all. He said they could no longer wait for Bobby to come back up to bat. "Bobby's not here anymore."
This is when he took off as leader of the Philadelphia Phillies.
9: J-Roll Becomes a Star
In moment No. 9, we see J-Roll's first chance to shine and be a star. At the 2001 All-Star game, Rollins was the lone representative from the first-place Phillies. As Tim McCarver said, he was "representing Larry Bowa's bunch".
Rollins took advantage of his chance to shine in front of the country as a rookie and in his only plate appearance he worked a walk. Making himself noticed, he stole second base off Jorge Posada sliding just ahead of the tag. During his brief appearance in the game, he also looked pretty slick in the field
This was J-Roll's first shot of being noticed and beginning his process of becoming a star.
8: Christmas in July
What a magical play this one was during a magical season Jimmy Rollins put together.
Trailing Washington 5-4 in the ninth inning after Mike Zagurski had blown a save during a top half that saw the Nats score three runs, the Phillies looked down and out. They made two quick outs to start the inning and Jimmy Rollins was their only hope.
Rollins roped a line drive into the left-center gap that was booted by Ryan Langerhans and Ryan Church. He raced to third, only to sprint home once he saw the cut-off man mishandle the relay on a hop.
He created his own run, needing no help from anyone else in the lineup other than his own. He drove himself in, and scored by himself.
It was when you began to seriously consider him as the MVP.
7: Phillies Fans Are Front-Runners
The only moment on this list that could be seen as a "negative", Rollins went on "Best Damn Sports Show Period" and told the country like it is: Phillies fans are front-runners.
Though it may have upset people to hear the truth, it was refreshing to hear an athlete be honest while still not being all too insulting.
If anyone needed any justification, the Phillies attendance continued to rise each year as their win totals grew, creating the trend that the more they win, the more people will cheer for them. That's fundamental front-running.
It also demonstrated Rollins as a leader.
6: Hit Streak Extended on Opening Day
Jimmy Rollins had finished the 2005 season on a 36 game hit streak as the Phillies were grinding and pushing for a wild card berth.
As per MLB rules, the hit streak would be recognized at the beginning of the next season so it was still in play.
On Opening Day 2006, the Phillies were hosting the Cardinals in a cold, rainy day. Trailing 13-5, some of those front-running fans may have left earlier if not for wanting to see if Rollins could extend the streak.
Having been hitless going into the eighth inning, Rollins stepped in for what was likely his last chance to keep it alive. He roped a double down the right field line and extended the streak, rewarding those who stayed with at least something enjoyable. The streak would run to 38, a Phillies franchise record.
5: The Division and History-Saving Double Play
The next moment opened up the door for an entire additional month of Jimmy Rollins moments as well as preserving some history.
Bottom of the ninth, the Phillies lead the Nationals by one run. Washington's best hitter, Ryan Zimmerman is up with one out and the bases loaded. Brad Lidge's perfect season is on the line.
Zimmerman rolled up one the middle that Rollins made a diving stab at to stop. He flipped it to Utley and they completed the double play, saved Lidge's season, and won the National League East.
Rollins went on to have a postseason full of memorable leadoff home runs and moments, but this one is what allowed each of those to happen.
4: The 20th Triple of 2007
What a season he had in 2007. He pushed the Phillies over the top in the season's final game to win the NL East. In that game, he picked up a personal achievement as well.
Coming up for his last at bat of the season, Rollins needed at triple to reach 20 doubles, 20 triples, 20 home runs and 20 stolen bases. Going into the year, it had only happened twice.
He hit one that was just hard enough to carom of the wall and away from right fielder Austin Kearns and allow his speed to get him just under the tag at third base for a triple.
It set off the snow globe of white rally towels at Citizen's Bank Park and was the cap on his MVP season.
More importantly, it also opened up the game for the Phillies as it knocked in two runs to give them a 6-1 lead, in the division-clinching game.
3: "Rollins Has Won It!"
As exciting as the last moment was, this one was slightly above it because of it occurred in a month later on the calendar. It also nearly assured a pennant, and not just a division title.
Just like two other moments on this list, the Phillies were trailing in the ninth inning of Game 4 of the NLCS against the Dodgers. Leading 4-3, the Dodgers had big Jonathan Broxton on the mound to try and close it out, and tie the series at two games apiece.
Having managed to get two men on base to start the ninth, but down to two outs, Rollins came up and perfectly placed a ball in the right-center field gap. Eric Bruntlett and Carlos Ruiz raced home to score the respective tying and winning runs.
Chooch scored and immediately got up from sliding and went right from Jimmy Rollins. He held his arm open to allow his teammates to come get him as he stood just past third base.
With it, he sunk the Dodgers' hearts and the Phillies blew them away in Game 5 for their second straight NL pennant.
2: We aRe the Team to Beat"
These were the most published words of the 2007 season. They are his legacy in Philadelphia. When you think back to what Jimmy Rollins provides the team, this is it.
What it did was challenge the way the team saw themselves, the way the carried themselves and played, and the way the organization did things.
Look back at the other J-Roll moments on the list from 2007 and beyond, and it is clear that he was playing the game with this in mind.
For the latter part of his 11 years here in Philadelphia, they were the team to beat in the National League. Citizen's Bank Park became the gate to the World Series from the National League. To get there, you had to stop them.
Rollins did his part to keep them from doing that, and it resulted in the No. 1 moment.
1: Becoming a Champion
"Champion" is one word that immediately comes to mind when describing Jimmy Rollins. In any way you look at it, he led them to the 2008 World Series title.
His leadoff home runs led them to the next level in the 2008 NLDS and NLCS. They let you know that they weren't like any other past Phillies team, they were going to finish. He led the way in the 2008 World Series with two key pep talks with Geoff Jenkins and Pat Burrell in the resumption of Game 5, each resulting in leadoff doubles.
As Phil Sheridan wrote in his Philadelphia Inquirer column following the series victory, "Remember Jimmy Rollins for the leadoff home runs and for leading the way all along."
He led all the way that postseason and World Series, and he led them all the way for the past 11 years.