Jimmy Rollins. Superstar. Photo credit: Rick Scuteri-USA TODAY Sports
Jimmy Rollins spoke at length to the bow tie man himself, little baby Ken Rosenthal. I’m assuming both men spent the interview standing on wooden lifts in front of a life-size cutout of Kevin Hart just to make themselves feel tall. Rollins, for his part, said many things, only some of which I dislike:
Q: What do you feel like now that you no longer are in Philly?
A: Free. I feel like I’m free to be myself without someone on my shoulder. Obviously, everyone has parameters and limits. You have to play within the boundaries. But when you’re a leader, rules are a little different for you. When you’re a superstar, rules are a little different. You’re held to a higher standard, which I love. But it brings added pressure. Which I love. But if someone buds, let ’em bud. Instead of trying to keep ’em within this framework. Just let ’em be who they are at that moment.
The general area, the city [of Philadelphia] being blue-collar, it’s not conducive for a superstar. You can be good, but you’ve got to be blue-collar along the way, keep your mouth shut, just go and work. Where obviously, this is LA. It’s almost like it’s OK to be more flamboyant. You kind of appreciate that the more you’re out there. Because LA loves a star.
So in that sense, I feel free. If I want to “show out” a little bit — from the outside looking in, people might say, “You’re in Hollywood.” But no, in some places you couldn’t do that.
Q: I remember when you said the Phillies would beat the Mets (Before the 2007 season, Rollins said, “I think we’re the team to beat — finally. But, that’s only on paper.” The Phillies had finished 12 games behind the Mets the previous year.) There were only a few times you said stuff that was perceived as controversial.
A: See, that stuff I don’t see as controversial. I don’t perceive that as controversial at all. That was fun. But don’t get me wrong. That’s pressure. What did I say that was so crazy? Everyone wants to win. You ask anyone in our clubhouse. We think it’s our turn. I didn’t think that was controversial.
The knee-jerk reaction here is that you’re supposed to hate this. But you know what? Love it. Generally speaking, Jimmy’s right– we hate individuality unless it’s in the context of being absurdly working man (see: Werth comma Jayson’s hair, Phillies comma 1993). People did make too much of his team to beat comment. CSN, for years, treated it like he declared war on Iran, like it was some crazy proclamation that scared the masses, some of whom undoubtedly wanted the fight.
My issue is that Rollins speaks so openly about being a “superstar.” I think that label’s a bit much, but whatevs. There are, however, only a handful of athletes that can talk about that sort of thing without seeming douchey or overly desirous of putting themselves in that pantheon– guys like LeBron James, Derek Jeter. Rollins isn’t at that level. Speaking freely about the burden of being a “superstar” is exactly the sort of thing that prevented him from becoming fully embraced in this city. And this, too:
Q: Some people felt at times that you acted too much like a superstar. That you weren’t always on time. That sometimes, you didn’t hustle. Did you feel that? Was any of that true in your mind?
A: The superstar part, not even close. On time? When I was late, I got benched. On time, if stretch is at 4:05 and you have to be there at 3, yeah, I’m late. I’m not getting there at 3. Some people get to the clubhouse at 1, but they’re playing cards, nothing to do with baseball. That wasn’t me. If stretch is at 4:20 and I’m walking in at 4 o’clock, I’m on time. Once I get there, I’m about baseball — stretch, batting practice, my cage work. I’m not sitting around hanging out. That was never me. That wasn’t my M.O.
Hustling? Hit the ball to second base, 70 percent is what I gave. When I hit it to the left side, I can’t really see, so I usually run a little run harder, because I don’t know what’s going on. But when it’s in front of me, that’s how it was.
The struggle, of running 90 feet to first and showing up at 3 p.m. to sit around, play cards and watch film, is real.
Read the full thing here.