Almost is if it were clockwork, the Jimmy Rollins hate-train departs from the station yet again. This time, it’s over a contested play in yesterday’s Marlins blowout. Rollins was up at bat in the sixth inning when he hit a routine grounder to Jose Reyes. Ordinarily this would seem like any typical at-bat that ended in a bad attempt at a hit, but no. Jimmy Rollins committed the cardinal sin of Phillies baseball players: He didn’t hustle enough. And that’s reason enough to be run out on a rail in this town, apparently.
Never mind the fact that he “hustles” out nearly every other ground ball he hits. Casually disregard the fact that his home run was the sole reason the Phillies beat Josh Johnson the other day. Just look the other way at the fact that since 2007, he’s ranked fourth among active shortstops in overall batting statistics, with a respectable 25.0 WAR (ranked above Derek Jeter!). And just throw away the fact that he’s now the sole record-holder for most games played at shortstop in Phillies history. No, we must disregard the facts because Jimmy Rollins doesn’t play like a True Phillie™ by attempting to “beat out” an obviously routine play that would’ve had virtually no chance of affecting the outcome of the game regardless of his running speed.
Now, I love Philly sports. But if it’s one thing I loathe about it compared to other cities, it’s the knee-jerk reactions and anger toward players over the slightest of things, many of which simply don’t make sense. Hunter Pence could commit as many errors in the outfield as he wanted to and the fans would not care, because (and I’m sure you’ve heard this phrase before) he “plays the game the right way”. But Jimmy Rollins, despite being consistently one of the better shortstops in the NL and currently the longest-tenured member of the Philadelphia Phillies, deserves to be fired or traded or what-have-you because…he jogged instead of ran.
I’ve got a newsflash for you, 97.5: “Grit” and “Hustle” are buzzwords; meaningless platitudes that speak for absolutely nothing of a player’s skill. So why is it that those two characteristics, and not any measure of how good a player actually is or some amount of prior loyalty, are often what matters the most for a player in Philadelphia? At least some of that blame has to fall on radio shows like this one, who make bank off of irrational anger in the fanbase instead of trying to foster a deeper understanding of the game.
“We speak for the fans?” 97.5 The Fanatic, you and your sports-radio ilk do not speak for me.