Leading 6-1 after two innings, the offense shut it down through the next seven frames only to watch their lead collapse, as the Dodgers edged the Phillies 7-6 on a walk-off homer by Nomar Garciaparra.
When I opened the comments this morning and saw the pitchforks and torches, I knew I would be writing a different kind of entry. In the original, I talked about how the offense lost the game because they couldn’t tack on the extra runs. At 6-1, it was clear that neither pitcher had it and the B-listers from each 'pen would shoulder the load. Knowing they needed to apply the pressure, they managed just one hit over the final six innings, squandering several golden opportunities. To me, this six-run night was just like all the rest.
I'd discuss the set-up situation and how the pre-season predictions are coming true. They have no eighth-inning fallback now that Tom Gordon’s season is officially over. Chad Durbin is learning that it’s a different ball of wax when his back's to the wall. His freelance career is finished for now; he’s been given a title, a promotion. Responsibility. The over-anxious right-hander walked the first two batters in the eighth and surrendered a game-tying double to Jeff Kent, something everyone who stayed up to watch could sense coming. Johnathan Broxton dusted aside Ryan Howard, Pat Burrell and Greg Dobbs in the top of the ninth, and with Clay Condrey set to enter the home half, it was bedtime for the Phillies.
Now to Jimmy Rollins, who was asked his opinion of Philadelphia sports fans on “The Best Damn Sports Show Period,” a rubbish talkshow that’s syndicated to fill space on Fox Sports and Comcast outlets. Here’s what he had to say (from Scott Lauber’s blog):
"It can be, yeah. There are times, like, it's one of those cities. I might catch some flack for saying this, but, you know, they're front-runners. When you're doing good, they're on your side. When you're doing bad, they're completely against you." When the show's co-hosts argued that many cities fit that description, Rollins said: "I hear you. But, for example, Ryan is from St. Louis, and St. Louis, it seems like they support their team, they're out there and encouraging."
The comments become the latest controversy surrounding the 2007 MVP. These issues are getting lumped together in a dangerous way, and it's a shame. J-Roll has become the new boogyman in town, the latest in a long line of great Philadelphia athletes to become vilified after setting new heights. Less than a year after sailing into third for his 20th triple of the season, capping the club's first playoff berth since 1993, there's a different portrait being painted of him now, mastered by typical Philadelphia fandom.
J-Roll's problems are threefold and should be viewed separately: There were the benchings, which are disappointing, but ultimately, forgivable.
There are the comments about fans, words spoken out of frustration, and the difference between St. Louis, where banjo-hitting reservist So Taguchi received a 20-second standing ovation in their last visit, and Philadelphia, where the cheers are muted and mixed with boos for the best shortstop in franchise history. Sometimes the truth hurts, even if the topic should be taken off the table. Sometimes it pays to have a thicker skin, on both sides of the fence.
Last, but not least, there’s his dropoff in production, and by extension, the struggles of the team, and if you want to get to the bottom of fan unrest in Philadelphia, look no further.
“When you're doing good, they're on your side. When you're doing bad, they're completely against you."
Readers weigh in: “So what do you want Rollins to do, borrow a wig from Larry Andersen? Just ridiculous. Who gives a sh*t. He isn't the first player to have issues with the way fans behave in Philadelphia. Yes, he should probably be aware of the larger context and why the city is so short on patience. But why do people get so affronted, like Philly fans are somehow above reproach - like because you've all *suffered*, that entitles you to act however you want and any player who dares say anything critical about it is a vicious heathen who must be shouted down. And what, he can't say how he feels on TV, he's just supposed to say what pleases you - because "you" pay his salary? Get real. Can you just pause for a second and question the mentality which produces such a reaction? ... No. It's more like saying, I'm a good player and I've done a lot for this team, but unless I'm having an MVP season, the fans have never been behind me. Rollins has every damn right to say that, because it's completely true.” -- RSB