A pattern has emerged over that time and really since the summer of 2010, when the Phillies dug themselves a hole from which they impressively climbed out. All along, no one worried. Jimmy, Chase, Ryan and Cole didn’t worry. Mostly Jimmy. He never worries about anything. We’ll bounce back. We’ll be fine. They were fine in 2010 and 2011 (more than fine, actually), but they weren’t so fine in 2012 and 2013. Jimmy didn’t worry those years, either.
Manuel was disappointed by his team’s showing in the series.
Jimmy Rollins was not.
“No,” he said. “I’m not disappointed at all. This series could have been 3-1 in either direction or 2-2. They played a little better. They got the job done and that’s all that matters.”
Rollins said he has faith.
Some might call it delusion.
“It’s a journey,” he said. “You jump on that plane and enjoy the ride. As long as that plane is in the air, you have a chance to do something. Last I checked, we haven’t made it to the All-Star break. We’ve been in tougher positions with much less time.”
You know how that worked out. And it shouldn’t really come as a surprise when, yesterday, Rollins, speaking exclusively to the Daily News, said we shouldn’t be worried:
It is only March 10, but . . .
“There is no ‘but,’ ” Rollins said. “Who cares?”
“[People] are going to think and feel and say what they want regardless,” Rollins said. “We’re not here to change opinions. We’re here to put wins in the left column. We’re going to lose some, too, but we’re not here to lose. We’re here to put wins up.”
And if the offense comes around and the wins pile up in April, no one will care about March, right?
“As long as those wins are coming in October,” Rollins said.
I almost spit out my coffee at that last line.
I appreciate Jimmy’s optimism, and I kind of hate myself for even writing about spring training struggles. But there is a pattern here. The Phillies no longer get the benefit of the doubt. If they are in first place in June, will people still be talking about the spring? No, of course not. But that’s unlikely. We’ve seen literally no evidence that it’s even a possibility. The problem is that for a few years now the Phillies have been too cocky for their own good. You can get away with that attitude when your core players are all in their primes and the team is in the midst of five-straight division titles. You can’t get away with that attitude after two miserable, injury-plagued seasons and a spring, in which skepticism was already high, where you come out of the gate about as terribly as one could imagine. This perverse delusional that everything is gonna be alright, Shawn Mullins, is getting old.
There are two ways to look at things: 1) legitimate trouble (a team is 10 games out with two months to play) or 2) signs that trouble looms (a team expected to be horrendous starts off the spring horrendously). The Phillies are in the second camp right now. Rollins needs to understand that. This isn’t 2009.