Debate of the “Face”: Why Jimmy Rollins is the “PHace” of the Phillies

J-Roll is clearly the "PHace" of this team.

So I got caught up in a debate with my good friend and fellow BLS writer Mark Whited (all the result of a facebook post). We were discussing Jimmy Rollins tweet about the fans not being loud enough in Game 2. I was pro J-roll and he was con. He argued that Chase Utley is the “face” of the Phils while I argued that it was Jimmy. He posted his argument on BLS, and here is mine. Check them out, and let us know who wins.

It was 2001. This Phillies franchise that we all know and love today was mired in a state of mediocre baseball. Winning was an oddity. Fans were nowhere to be found. Mentioning winning and the Phillies in the same sentence was like mentioning Andy Reid and smart coaching in the same sentence today…pointless. The only good thing about that time was the Phillies found their “PHACE”.

Enter James Calvin Rollins. 2001 was the shortstops rookie season. He was called up to the big club known for his stellar defense and his hot bat. He did not dissapoint. In 2001, he finished third in rookie of the year voting while swiping a league leading 46 bases. And by the way, he was an All Star. The only Phillie to make it.

Rollins followed up in 2002 by making a second consecutive All Star team as the starting shortstop. In 2004, Rollins recorded his third career quadruple double. For you non baseball statisticians, thats double digits in homers, doubles, triples, and stolen bags.

He followed up in the next season with another quadruple double and a 36 game hitting streak. In 2006 he set the team record for homeruns by a SS with 25.

I can sit here and pad my debate with stats (I’ll probably get back to that later), but let’s talk about why J-Roll is the “PHace” of the Phillies.

“The Mets had a chance to win the World Series last year. Last year is over. I think we are the team to beat in the NL East, finally.” -Jimmy Rollins, 2007

There were hints for a few seasons that the Phils were getting close. But this was different. Someone stepped up and said it. Jimmy Rollins’ statement did not come off as cocky. Oh no, it was confidence. And on that day four years ago, the mentality of the Phillies changed. They were reborn. Since he made that statement, they have undeniably been not only the team to beat in the NL East, but in all of Major League Baseball.

Anyone can make a prediction right? I can sit here and predict that the Eagles will never win a Super Bowl under Andy Reid. Just because you say it, doesn’t mean it will happen. (Although, that probably will).

Anyway, Rollins backed up his prediction by leading the Phillies to the 2007 NL East championship while also winning the NL MVP Award. That’s leadership. And the five consecutive crowns that have followed have been because Rollins is the face of this team. Plug another SS in his spot. Reyes, Ramirez, Jeter, doesn’t matter. None of them would connect with this team like him.

Sure, he’s had his battles with the fans, but the fans love that. The fans want that fiery connection. What relationship doesn’t have bumps in the road? If it exists I sure haven’t found it yet. Ummm, sorry, I’m getting a little off topic here. Let’s get back. He calls the fans out when he sees that they need it. We may get angered when he does it but who doesn’t get upset when they get called out. I know I do.

The major reason that Rollins is the face of this franchise is simple. He takes the criticism and the spotlight and a “PHace” has to do that. For everything that Utley brings on the field, he does not connect with the fans…good or bad. Rollins is visible and that means hearing the good when the Phils succeed and the bad when they don’t. Rollins may come across as attention grabbing but that’s because he is on a team with players like Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee and Chase Utley who do not like attention. Rollins is doing them a service. Part of being the “PHace” of the best team in baseball is taking attention off your teammates to let them perform. I love Utley’s game but there is a reason why he received a demotion in the lineup. His scrappy play is hurting him…bad.

Haha, “PHaces” of franchises have commercials like this…classic.

Last but not least. I want to thank Mark for coming up with the idea for this debate. I think I speak for both of us when I say one of the joys of doing what we do is debating sports with people who REALLY know what they’re talking about.

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