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Jimmy Rollins not setting good examples for anyone with lack of hustle


Before I go any further with this article, let me preface everything I’m about to say by stating that I am a Jimmy Rollins fan. 
Ok. Now the gloves are off.

Thursday’s game against the Mets was the second time in several weeks that Rollins has failed to run out a ball. On any occasion where you see a multi-million dollar athlete not give it their all and it’s blatantly obvious, that doesn’t fly here.  In Philadelphia sports, the fans let you know if they’re not happy with your performance, and despite being the best shortstop in Phillies history, Rollins has been no exception to this ruJimmy Rollins photo: Getty Imagesle. What is so hard about playing hard? You’re playing a kids game!

The relationship between Rollins and the Phillies fans throughout his thirteen seasons with the team is probably best described as one of  “give and take.”  A player of Rollins’ stature should be absolutely loved in this town. Instead, he’s just really liked, which is a shame. Barring some sort of trade, this is the man who is positioned to break Mike Schmidt’s all-time Phillies hit record in a few seasons.

However, while Schmidt’s Mr. Cool persona was a combination of insecurity and being wrapped too tight, what you see is what you get with Rollins, and whether it’s justified or not, he’s not afraid to give it right back to the fans (remember the Best Damn Sports Show?)  Yes, for being so “tough,” the fans here have thin skin at times, but for the most part they know their sports, and they don’t like any player phoning it in. They pay good money to see the Phillies play and expect and deserve the best effort possible.

Make no mistake: the Phillies stink this year. They only have a handful of games to give away before they are eliminated from playoff contention. I get that. But there’s $11 million reasons why Rollins should be busting it if he’s healthy. It’s not like he’s having an MVP season like 2007. With Rollins’ offensive inconsistency, he has to take everything he can get these days from an offensive standpoint.  Unfortunately, he has done what he did Thursday too many times to get a free pass.  Charlie Manuel has two rules: be on time, and hustle. Rollins has violated them numerous times over the last five seasons. It’s gotten so obvious that not even Rollins’ teammate and good friend Ryan Howard could back him up on  this.

If Rollins is the leader he says he is, he wouldn’t be disrespecting Manuel, and he would be setting a better example for his team. You have players like Kevin Frandsen, who are giving it their all just to earn a spot with the big club next season, as well as players like Steven Lerud, who has spent a decade in the minor leagues before making his debut Thursday. What kind of message does the longest tenured Phillie send those guys when a player of his caliber takes off a play or two? I hate to use the Derek Jeter card, but would Jeter EVER get caught dead dogging a play and getting reprimanded multiple times for it? The fact that this happened just two weeks ago in Florida shows that it’s obvious Rollins just doesn’t get it or doesn’t care, and that’s a problem.

What can you do about it? Well for starters, if Ruben Amaro Jr. is smart, he could try to land a veteran leader this offseason (there’s plenty of positions open) to give some of these players a kick in the pants when needed. The Phillies police themselves in their clubhouse, and Manuel has insinuated this season that there is a form of complacency there that he’s none too happy with. A player who has accomplished more than the current batch of Phillies players might be what they need- on and off the field. It might not be possible with the possible financial handicaps the Phillies have, but it might be worth exploring. While you can never rule anything out, it's probably unlikely the Phillies would trade Rollins. Despite the occasional headache, he is the best option the Phillies have at shortstop.

Jimmy Rollins has done a lot of good for this Phillies franchise, but there's no excuse for the team “leader” not to grasp a simple concept Manuel has preached for years.

I guess you could say it pretty much sums up the Phillies’ season as a whole. 



Contact Joe Vallee at jvallee@philly2philly.com

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Photo: Getty Images