A Heartfelt Goodbye to J-Roll

To say that the trade of shortstop Jimmy Rollins to the Los Angeles Dodgers was unexpected would be to admit that you were in complete denial. Although the team he would be traded to was kept a bit secretive, everyone knew that someone of the Core Four would be gone this offseason. J-Roll, the greatest shortstop in Phillies history was the first casualty of the inevitable restructure.

Jimmy Rollins was first welcomed in to the Phillies organization in 1996 when he was drafted in the second round of the MLB draft and was called up to the big club on September 17, 2000. Rollins fought through the mediocre early days of his career with the club in the early 2000s. The significant breakthrough and turning point for the organization came in 2007. The year of 2007 started the greatest 5 years in Phillies history (2007-2011) as the Phillies won 5 straight NL East division titles, 2 league championships, and the 1 illustrious World Series in that span. J-Roll was a catalyst on and off the field as he said, “I think we are the team to beat in the NL East… but that’s only paper.” Rollins obviously backed it up as the Phillies came back from 7 games back in the NL East with 17 games left and he won the NL MVP with an average of .296, 212 hits, 139 runs scored, 38 doubles, 20 triples, 30 home runs, and 41 stolen bases as the leadoff hitter.

Rollins and the Phillies were riding high off of 2007 but the Phillies wanted to get back in the playoffs. Rollins recorded a career high 47 stolen bases in this year which featured the amazing World Series victory against the Tampa Bay Rays. J-Roll had some big moments in the postseason on this ride to sit atop the baseball mountain but arguably his biggest moment was when he started off the double play to clinch the 2008 NL East crown.

After the Phillies took home the World Series crown, Rollins made his speech at the World Series celebration in Citizens Bank Park,  he had the pleasure of following Chase Utley and his amazing one liner. Rollins took some shots at the Mets saying, “It takes  more than one player to bring home a championship.” Rollins was a team player for his career here and was always very vocal about supporting his teammates.

The span of 2009-2014 was an interesting ride for J-Roll. J-Roll struggled in 2009 but picked it up after being benched by then manager Charlie Manuel, in 2010 he was hit by injury and only played 88 games, in 2011 he resigned a 3 year deal worth $33 million with the Phillies, in 2012 he hit his 4th career inside the parker, in 2013 he struggled and was scrutinized. While his play did diminish later on, Rollins was a fan favorite.

Rollins also accomplished major career milestones and became the Phillies all time hits leader at 2,235 and on June 14, 2014 as he passed the greatest 3rd baseman in MLB history, Mike Schmidt. Rollins finished with 2.306 hits on his Phillies career. One of the reasons Rollins was scrutinized was that he said he would not accept a trade because he wanted to achieve personal records. His seemingly selfish statements got fans heated, they expected him to want to do good by the team and accept a trade while his worth was still high so that they could start to rebuild. Shortly after Rollins passed Mike Schmidt’s all time hits record and the fans were on their feet for him.

Rollins has done so much for the Phillies organization and the fans entertainment, it will  be sad to see him in another team’s uniform, no matter how much criticisms we could come up with about him. J-Roll was a 3 time All-Star, 4 time Gold Give winner, 1 time Silver Slugger, and 1 Roberto Clemente Award winner. Rollins always had this swagger about him that made it seem right for him to say that the Phillies were the “Team To Beat”. With Rollins being the first of the Core Four to go, you can speculate that he’ll be the first one to go on the Phillies Wall of Fame and I know damn well that we will be cheering and thanking J-Roll for allowing us Phillies fans to live vicariously through his and the teams success.

P.S. Nostalgia is awesome.

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