In 2008, he sparked controversy by calling the fans front runners. In 2011, Jimmy Rollins comments on how quiet the crowd was at Game 2 of the NLDS and Twitter is in an uproar.
After Sunday night’s 5-4 Game 2 loss, Rollins tweeted, “Not the result we wanted but that's the way it is!! Now we just gotta handle biz on the road! Also fans were waaay to quiet tonight (sic).” With more than 100 retweets and hundreds of fans (and otherwise) sharing their two cents with the Phillies shortstop.
Reactions varied from defensive (@M_C__McKenna tweets “@JimmyRollins11 don't ever say "us" fans weren't loud enough #thatspunk good luck with the fans in oaklyn or mets fans next yr when u leave”) to supportive (@rachie919 tweets “@JimmyRollins11 digging the positive attitude..Think positive & positive things will happen! #redoctober”).
Rollins wasn't just heating up Twitter with his rheotoric. Before he powered up his iPhone to do the talking, John Clark reported, "Jimmy Rollins said after the game 'You could hear a pin drop out there. Fans were a little uptight. It was not a good atmosphere.'"
Jimmy followed up Monday evening by tweeting “So I'm hearing that the media said I blamed the loss on the fans last night??!! Smh if you believe what they said... U should know better!”
I admit when I woke up Monday morning and read through both Jimmy’s and commentary from various members of the media, I was angry. How dare they try to blame the loss on the fans! What do they want them to cheer about when their team blows a four-run lead and only hits in three out of nine innings -- held scoreless for the last seven innings of the game?
To his credit, Rollins is on fire so far this postseason having gone 5-for-8 scoring five of the Phillies’ 15 total runs in the first two games of the series, so perhaps he’s the best candidate to “talk the talk” since he is in fact walking the walk.
For some people, though, his hitting doesn’t make the loss any easier of a pill to swallow.
But amid the interpretation and possibly misinterpretation of Jimmy’s words over the past 24 hours, it begs the question of what role the fans really have at the game.
Are they really the “10th man on the field” as the commercials boast? For the past five years, Citizens Bank Park has been known to house the toughest fans in baseball. Analysts and players alike will tell you how rough it is playing in that park when the fans are not on your side -- and that goes for the visiting team and the Phillies.
But what happens when the gas tank runs dry? Maybe the game is boring or slow or just flat out bad. So bad that the fans can’t even be bothered to boo -- something they’re known for especially in South Philly. Sure, these players are getting paid millions upon millions of dollars to do their job (as envious of a job as it may be), but how easy is it to turn it up a notch when a ballpark that’s packed with the most fans ever in attendance is so quiet you can hear a pin drop? I mean, they don’t hand those rally towels out at the door for nothing.
Perhaps it works both ways. The fans are quiet because the team isn’t giving them something to cheer about in that moment. The players are just going through the motions because the fans aren’t giving them anything to feed off of. Just like the Phillies fans can get under the opposition's skin (Jamie Moyer vs. Johan Santana, anyone?) the visiting club can get to the fans. The same fans that have been seemingly spoiled yet almost justifiably cautious in letting too many of their emotions get in the way of reality after being disappointed day after day, week after week, season after season for the 25 years prior to 2008 and once the fans are out of it, the Phillies can get sucked into a vicious cycle that churns for nine straight innings, maybe even nine straight days, making it harder and harder to break out of a funk.
The point, however, is that the Phillies don’t have nine days -- they have two. The Cardinals are bringing the momentum of Sunday’s win back with them to Busch Stadium and the Philly faithful aren’t going to be in St. Louis to be that 10th man for the Phillies.
So let the team hear you when they get home, because they’re going to need you in the NL Championship Series or even Game 5 of the NLDS. Cheer for every at bat; get in the pitcher’s head; get in the dugout’s head and make them feel like they have something to play for. Something more than a ring.
They wouldn’t even have this opportunity if it weren’t for you filling the stands every single night giving Ruben Amaro, Jr. the financial flexibility he has to bring in star players like a Cliff Lee or a Hunter Pence to give the team the edge. Prove it wasn’t all for naught.
Let’s face it -- this isn’t Tampa. You aren’t part of an average 9,400-person crowd every night. You’re one of 45,000-plus waving those rally towels above your head.
Make them proud. Be heard, Philadelphia.