Today in Philly Sports History: “Frontrunners,” 2008


It feels like a whole lot more than a year ago, doesn't it? This time last year, I was legitimately worried that Jimmy Rollins had written his ticket out of Philadelphia, with his performance on the August 14th, 2008 episode of The Best Damn Sports Show Period. The reigning MVP appeared with teammate Ryan Howard, and goaded a little by John Salley, the two offered a critique of Philly sports fans considered by many to be somewhat damning: "They're frontrunners," explained Rollins. "When you're doing good, they're on your side. When you're doing bad, they're completely against you." Jimmy and Ryan went on to bemoan that Philly was not more like Howard's home town of St. Louis, where fans supposedly cheer no matter what (or like Rollins's own Oakland, where fans just don't show at all).

Well, it's a good thing for Jimmy that things turned out the way they did for the WFCs, because man did he catch some bad vibes for his shenanigans here. It didn't help that he had only been hitting .250 so far that August, mired in a slump as the team desperately needed his help to keep pace with the Mets in the NL East. But really, what killed us (or me, at least) about the whole thing wasn't the dumb things that he said, but that he was dumb enough to say them out loud, to other people, in front of video cameras. He knew first-hand what a tough crowd Philly fans could be when their ire was drawn--did he actually want us to hate him?

Jimmy explained himself shortly after, claiming he believed the term "frontrunner" to mean something different than how it was being interpreted, but he still caught some boos from scattered hurt fans in his next few CBP appearances. I was certainly a little sore at J-Roll for a bit, but after his heroic effort against the Mets a couple weeks later--where he went 5-7 with a homer and three RBIs in a 13-inning, 8-7 victory at home--I couldn't stay mad at the guy much longer. Then a World Series victory, and suddenly, the entire incident was irrelevant--a rare and easily-forgotten blemish on a new feel-good era in Philly sports.

Good thing, too. I'd hate to ever see Jimmy hitting leadoff for the Royals or something.

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