The Phillies have something they want to hide, especially at the beginning of a season with unprecedented promise. One of their players is selfish. His name is Jimmy Rollins. Phillies legend Mike Schmidt said so.
It took no less a legend than Mike Schmidt to speak the unspeakable last week, but by the time his wise and courageous words had made it onto the Internet and into the newspapers, they were twisted and mangled. The point of Schmidt’s address wasn’t that Rollins needs to become Pete Rose. The point was that Rollins needs to care more about the Phillies than he does about himself.
It should be obvious that the game’s greatest third baseman was asking for something from the declining shortstop that Rollins refuses to ask of himself. Maybe to lessen the sting, Schmidt included Shane Victorino in his criticism, but the dart was aimed at Rollins.
“Jimmy needs to be more Pete Rose-like in his approach to the game and more accountable for getting on base,” Schmidt said. “I look for Rollins to push a 200-hit year … [Rollins] wants to look at the USA Today every day or the Inquirer and see his name right up there in the top three of hitting.”
Last year, Rollins (.322) ranked 26th in on-base percentage among lead-off hitters, behind non-entities like Fred Lewis (.337) and Rajai Davis — and his own teammate, Victorino (.348). The fact is, Rollins has never been a traditional No. 1 batter because of his unwillingness to take the walk and his lust for power. He got away with this approach earlier in his career thanks to a much higher average, but in the past two seasons he has become a liability at the top of the lineup.
This basic logic doesn’t impress Rollins. When asked last week if he would be willing to move down to the No. 5 spot vacated by Jayson Werth, Rollins said he much preferred to stay in front of Placido Polanco, Chase Utley and Ryan Howard. Why? “Because I’m a lead-off hitter,” he snapped.
Then maybe he should start acting like one. It’s time for the 32-year-old to either
acknowledge the demands of the No. 1 spot or drift down the order without complaint. It’s time for him to learn to play small ball, to take pitches, to bunt — all basic tools of the trade. It’s time for him to grow up.
Mike Schmidt doesn’t deserve all the criticism he has received for giving Rollins a much-deserved kick in the pants. Schmidt deserves our gratitude for saying something that no one on the Phillies has had the courage to say, for speaking the truth about Jimmy Rollins.
Yes and absolutely
In an executive suite filled with dreamers, the happiest hallucinator is Eagles GM Howie Roseman. If you’re still seeking an explanation for president Joe Banner’s delusional behavior, a good place to start looking is his top accomplice.
Roseman’s office is somewhere between “yes” and “absolutely” in the NovaCare Complex. To him, every draft pick is a master stroke, every public statement a pearl of wisdom. When Banner needs some positive reinforcement, Roseman is a one-man booster club.
As Banner whined about the way his absurd comparison of the Eagles and the Steelers was being interpreted, Roseman popped up at the NFL combine with a bounty of new superlatives. He called Kevin Kolb “a great player” and managed to put a happy face on the team’s stupid decision last year not to draft an offensive lineman.
He saved his highest praise for Andy Reid, who “does a great job in terms of evaluating himself and his staff.” Yeah, that’s why the coach still can’t figure out how to use a timeout or a challenge.
Roseman seems like a bright guy, but he is symbolic of what is wrong. He is programmed to say what his bosses want to hear. More than a pass rusher or a top blocker, this team needs a bold soul to tell Joe Banner and Andy Reid when to change their tired acts.
A mission statement
While the nation was debating who was more culpable in the ugly incident at Holy Family University, the real villain got away relatively unscathed.
The camera never lies. Coach John O’Connor knocked to the ground and kicked sophomore Matt Kravchuk during an angry drill. As a dazed Kravchuk slinked away, O’Connor then added one final insult: “You got a little bleepin’ blood? Good!”
Nothing that O’Connor said could explain the damning video of his bullying, and he ended up resigning at the end of a chaotic week. Kravchuk refused to accept his apology on TV and hired the best lawyer he could find.
But neither the coach, nor the player is the real story. The real story is Holy Family, which took no action until a tape of the incident aired on Fox 29. For 18 days, nothing was done at a Catholic institution. Even now, the school has offered not one public word in response, other than to announce O’Connor’s departure.
The people running that school should read their own mission statement, in which they advocate “free and conscientious pursuit of truth.” For the past month, a more accurate motto would be: “Hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil.”
–Angelo Cataldi is host of 610 WIP’s Morning Show, which airs weekdays 5:30 to 10 a.m.
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