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Jimmy Rollins Now Feels “Free” in L.A.

Jimmy Rollins sat down with Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports for an interesting one-on-one about his time in Philadelphia and moving on to his new home of Los Angeles. Rollins, who spent 14 years here, had some relatively critical, yet not untrue, things to say about the city and its fans.

When asked about leaving Philadelphia, here’s Jimmy’s comments:

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: But in Philly, you were yourself …

A: “I was definitely myself. But if I was going to talk trash, that was going to rub people the wrong way. Because it wasn’t blue-collar to talk trash. That’s more of a showboat type of thing. But I’m from California. You talk it, and you go do it. Here, you talk trash, it’s like, “Let’s see you do it.” Not, “He said this. You’ve got to get him out of here for that reason. He no longer fits in.” It’s just the way it’s perceived. Out west, out in LA, those things are perceived as being OK.”

You know what – he’s not wrong. For my radio show, I began to think about this last week. Maybe it’s media driven – although dare I say I hear fans who talk this way often – but there’s always something to complain about. And being flamboyant never really flies here.

In special cases, it does. But only when it doesn’t appear that you’re showing up the city and its loyal base.

Take for instance Allen Iverson. He could get away with murder in Philadelphia. Iverson had fans of all ages, all colors, because he laid it all out on the line every time he stepped on the court. We forgave him for his shortcomings and off-court antics because on the court he was Philly – he was as blue-collar as it gets. And it was exceptional to witness.

Why did we never give the same love to Jimmy Rollins? Is it because of his laid back style? No one worked harder off the field. I saw it for five years with my own eyes – the guy was always there, in the cage, same routine, tossing the ball with Chase Utley pre game. Is it because he never spoke to the media? Could be, that does rub some people the wrong way. I’ll admit, it pissed me off when he big-timed me a time or two on pretty easy questions. Other times, he was as thoughtful as could be with his answers. Should that play a role?

Is it because of the HANDFUL of times he didn’t run out slow roller to second base?

Jimmy also discussed his perceived lack of hustle on ground balls, etc:

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?

“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.

That gets back to the higher standards. No one goes hard all the time. But with a reputation, once you get that, if you’re not going 100 percent, then you’re never hustling. That’s OK. It kept me on the field. But if I had an opportunity to score a run, I scored that run. If I had an opportunity for a hit, or to take an extra base, those are the things I did. That’s where hustle counts.”

To some, giving 100 percent when you make millions of dollars is all you ask. But why not apply that to being available to earn those millions? Jimmy Rollins rarely missed considerable time during his tenure here. Part of that is due to red-lining it when it mattered most.

Yet, the perception still exists that Rollins never gave it his all – I guess that’s now reality; he admitted it. It still doesn’t bother me like it bothered some. I’m not saying I’d take Utley’s way over Rollins’ way or vice-versa – but not everyone will conform to our overarching beliefs that you have to play a game a certain way. Rollins did it his way and had great success, Utley did it his way and found the same.

If you’re from Philly, ask yourself about the superstars that have come through this town in recent memory.

Utley normally seems to get a pass, despite missing large chunks of time with injury. Yet Ryan Howard doesn’t, saddled with a huge contract, aging body, and numbers that don’t hit the gold-standard, or even average-standard.

Andre Iguodala maybe wasn’t quite a superstar in every sense of the word, but he was a fantastic player who was loathed by some because of the contract – and because he didn’t put up huge numbers every single game. Add that to the fact that the Sixers never won anything with Iggy as the leader, and the love for him never truly blossomed.

Donovan McNabb was one of the best quarterbacks of his era. Couldn’t win the big game, choked under pressure, wasn’t Philly enough.

One day we’ll all allow ourselves to enjoy what’s in front of us, flaws and all. Now that Jimmy is gone, we’ll start to miss what we once had. Sometimes, that’s all it takes.

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