Friday, July 25, 2008

Jimmy not on a roll

Let’s make this clear: Jimmy Rollins is wrong.

Rollins is the reigning National League MVP and the supposed leader of the Phillies.

But the leader of the Phillies had a seat on the bench while his punchless teammates lost a crucial Game 3 of their series with the Mets at Shea Stadium yesterday afternoon. In the process they tumbled out of first place for the first time since June 1.

Rollins was benched by Manager Charlie Manuel because he was late arriving at the stadium for the early 12:10 start. That in itself apparently is not news to the Phillies. Rollins has a reputation as being the last guy to arrive at the ballpark, in particular for home games.

He was not on the team bus that transported the Phillies from their hotel to Shea yesterday. He was driving his own car. Why is not exactly clear. What is abundantly obvious is that he did not get to the park when he was supposed to, and Manuel apparently had seen enough.

Perhaps just as telling as the team “leader” who decides he does not need to ride the bus with his mates is the way Rollins reacted.

This of course is not his first trip to the pine courtesy of his manager. Rollins was pulled from a game on June 5 after he failed to run out a pop-up.

That time he sheepishly agreed with the manager’s move to banish him to the bench. Rollins made it clear it was his fault, that Manuel has two rules, to be on time and to hustle.

In that instance, he ignored the hustle part. This time around, it was the on-time factor that he failed.

Rollins was 40 minutes later getting to the park.

But he made it clear this time around he did not agree with the benching.

Rollins, the reigning NL MVP, is not exactly having an MVP season. His production is down in almost every category. The Phillies have consistently struggled to score runs. Part of that has been the vacuum at the top of the lineup. That’s his territory.

Rollins fancies himself a team leader. Last year he boasted that the Phils were the team to beat, and in the process painted a bull’s eye on his back, especially in New York. But Rollins delivered, carrying the Phils to an NL East title.

He was chirping again this year, saying he believed the Phils capable of winning 100 games.

But his play on the field this year has not backed up those words. And his off-field actions are threatening to shred team unity and pose a challenge to Manuel.

Rollins wants to be considered a leader. This year it’s time he started acting like one.

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