Sure, the Philadelphia Phillies, with their $173 million payroll, are 10 games under .500 and scrambling to catch the Mets for third place in the division. They have an OPS+ of 89 and only one position player on the active roster who was born after 1983. But they're unafraid to confront the real problem with the franchise: Shortstop Jimmy Rollins totally dogged it on this ground ball he hit the other day.
The Philadelphia Inquirer reported that manager Charlie Manuel called Rollins into his office Thursday to admonish him for his lack of hustle. Then he put Rollins in the lineup, where Rollins stole two bases and scored a run. Problem solved, right? Not at all. We're talking about team culture here.
Three team sources, each of whom requested anonymity out of respect for Manuel, believed it was a larger problem that no player in the Phillies clubhouse chided Rollins for his mistake.
"That was terrible," one of the sources said.
Philadelphia is outraged. Here's radio sportsmouth Angelo Cataldi:
"I care about the children. And the children don't need to see baseball played the way Jimmy Rollins plays it." -Angelo bit.ly/JiliUr— SPORTSRADIO 94WIP (@SportsRadioWIP) August 17, 2012
Who will think of the children? How could the other Phillies players have tolerated such disrespect for the game? Back to the Inquirer's pool of "team sources" (who presumably could have rebuked Rollins themselves if they had been players, which starts narrowing down the possibilities):
Another noted Rollins has done similar things in the past that were easier to overlook with the team's success. Headed for a long winter, there is more criticism. "Winning kills all," that source said.
Building on the Inquirer report, ESPN added some analysis:
Manuel admitted he considered benching Rollins, but opted against it because he wanted to win the game.
Got it? The Phillies would love to punish Jimmy Rollins for not playing baseball right, but they're afraid of losing games without him. And they failed to make Rollins play baseball right before, because they were too busy winning pennants and a World Series with him. Why do the Phillies keep refusing to act as if hustle is important?