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Here’s another reason why the Phillies are 10 games over .500 with a 2.5 game lead in the National League East as they head to a Atlanta for a weekend series with the Braves.
With two outs in the third inning of yesterday’s 5-0 win over the Reds, Jimmy Rollins hit a weak pop-up to shortstop Paul Janish. Assuming it would be easily caught for the third out, Rollins casually sauntered down to first base. When the ball fell and Carlos Ruiz scored the game’s first run, Rollins stood at first base instead of second.
When the inning ended, Phillies manager Charlie Manuel told Rollins to grab a seat on the bench for the rest of the game. Manuel replaced Rollins with Eric Bruntlett, who later preserved Cole Hamels’ brilliant shutout by diving to snag a ground ball and throwing out the runner at first.
The Phillies field a team with plenty of stars, but there are no stars in Charlie Manuel’s clubhouse. Jimmy Rollins is a vocal team leader, the offensive catalyst and reigning league MVP, but Manuel didn’t think twice about sitting Rollins in a close game. Manuel handled it quietly, and only mentioned it briefly when asked after the game.
Nobody is above the law with Charlie Manuel, whether you’re a superstar or the fifth outfielder. I’ve said my piece more than once about Manuel’s strategy and decision-making during the game, but he has the respect of every single one of his players, and they don’t dare cross him.
Rollins’ response to the benching speaks volumes as well. "He has two rules,” said Rollins of his manager. “Be on time and hustle, and I broke one of them today. I know better." Rollins didn’t get angry, throw a tantrum or vent to the media. “It’s my fault,” Rollins said. “That’s like breaking the law and getting mad when the police show up.”
I love the fact that Rollins, arguably the biggest “star” on the Phillies, compares not hustling to breaking the law. He got busted, did his time and took it like a man. Charlie Manuel made his point. The rest of the team got the point. No feathers ruffled, no egos damaged. Just another win.