The last few months the Philadelphia sports fan has been focused squarely on the local football team and with good reason. The Eagles are 9-4 heading into a pivotal showdown against the arch rival Dallas Cowboys. But then news broke late in the day Wednesday December 10 about long time Phillies shortstop Jimmy Rollins being traded to the LA Dodgers. Rollins in many ways epitomizes the good days had by all Phillies fan during the playoff runs of 07-11. The playoff run is long gone and what’s left is a museum of once great Phillies. With that said it was time to start the dismantling of our local baseball heroes and no one represented the great era of Phillies baseball more than Jimmy Rollins.
Rollins was the longest-tenured athlete in Philadelphia. I was a little surprised he would be the first to go this offseason. Most of us were expecting Cole Hamels, Marlon Byrd, or even Ryan Howard to be the first off the chopping block. Instead GM Ruben Amaro parted ways with the 36 year old Rollins who leaves as the Phillies all time hits leader. Rollins had a no trade clause which he decided to waive in order to be dealt.
Rollins finishes with 2,306 hits in 15 seasons with the Phillies. He won the National League MVP in 2007, a season which Rollins coroneted with 3 words “Team to beat”. Starting in 2007 the Phillies were just that, the team to beat. Rollins was the catalyst for all the great things we had the opportunity to experience down at the ballpark. Since June 4, 1996 Rollins has been a member of the Phillies organization when he was selected 46th overall in the draft that year.
This trade also serves as a sudden change as Rollins himself predicted back on September 24 that he would return to Philadelphia in 2015. Well, he’ll be here, just not the entire season, circle your calendars as the Dodgers come into town August 4th for what will be a series dedicated to the greatness of Jimmy Rollins the Phillie. Only Mike Schmidt played more games for the Phillies. Rollins ranks among the franchises top 10 in runs, singles, doubles, triples, home runs, RBI’s, walks, and stolen bases.
Reportedly the Phillies will receive two minor league pitchers from the Dodgers. It’s better than nothing or watching Rollins suffer through another losing season with the Phillies. Rollins is one of my favorite players of all time and I hate to see him go but the Phillies are a franchise in turmoil and they needed to make this move and many others in order to start the rebuilding process. Attendance at Citizens Bank Park has dropped tremendously since the last post-season berth in 2011. The fans have grown tired of seeing the same product which wasn’t getting any better. For the time being the Phillies will use Freddy Galvis at shortstop most likely. They have JP Crawford waiting in the minor leagues and most say he’s the heir to the shortstop position but at just 19 years of age won’t be ready for the big leagues for a few more seasons. I would have loved to see Rollins retire as a Phillie and he deserved it but it was time to move on. Rollins will now have a chance to win again with a contender in LA. He’ll serve as a stop gap for a few seasons before the Dodgers stud shortstop prospect is ready to come up. Rollins still can provide solid defense for any team and also the occasional power numbers and he’s still a threat on base with his speed. I think Rollins will be just fine out in LA and possibly even capture another ring before he retires.
The memories of Jimmy Rollins in Phillies pin stripes are endless. From winning a World Series in 2008 to proclaiming the Phillies the team to beat prior to the 2007 season I could go on and on about Rollins. He meant the world to baseball fans in the Philly region and brought a winning attitude to a franchise that did anything but win prior to the 07 season. For me though my greatest memory of Jimmy was from October 20, 2009. That night was game 4 of the National League Championship Series between the Dodgers and Phillies at Citizens Bank Park. I was lucky enough to be sitting in right field for that game. The Dodgers entered the bottom of the 9th with a one run lead. With two outs to go in the bottom of the 9th Jimmy Rollins had a 1-1 count and the Phillies had a man on first and second. Then the unthinkable happened and it was a feeling like no other being in that stadium during that moment. Rollins proceeded to hit a shot to the right/center field gap. The runner on second score to tie it then Carlos Ruiz rounded third and slid in safe at home to give the Phillies a walk-off win in game four. Rollins was mobbed by his teammates and fans everywhere in the stadium hugged/high fived each other and cheered. It was an unreal scene to be there in person and something I’ll never forget as a sports fan in Philadelphia.
Let’s face it; Jimmy Rollins is a huge reason why any of us in this town had the chance to witness winning baseball for a few seasons. He’s partially responsible for making people tune in on a regular basis to watch the Phillies. He wasn’t alone though as he had a great cast of teammates along the way in guys like Chase Utley, Ryan Howard, and Cole Hamels. Only time will tell if any of these other names are traded during the off-season but I wouldn’t be shocked if they all are gone by the time we start 2015. All I can say is whenever I see the face of Jimmy Rollins I’ll think back to a great time to be in this city. For that, I thank you Jimmy Rollins for all the great memories and wish you nothing but success in LA.