Rollins Wins 2008 Wanamaker Award

By Bob Cooney
Updated: July 10, 2008

PHILADELPHIA – After posting one of the best all-around seasons in baseball history, Phillies shortstop Jimmy Rollins allowed himself a little time to reflect on just how special his 2007 National League MVP year was.

A very little time.

“From the time I received the MVP award, I kind of sat back and looked at it and said ‘Wow’ a little bit,” Rollins said Wednesday at the Wanamaker Building, where he was presented the 2008 John Wanamaker Athletic Award by the Philadelphia Sports Congress for his performance last season.

“I did some things I never expected to do [last season]. But when we started playing catch and started taking batting practice [in spring training] it was all over. It’s a whole new year. That’s all I’m really dwelling on now.”

Though he posted a .296 average, 30 home runs, 94 RBI, 212 hits, 20 triples and 41 stolen bases, Rollins thinks he can improve on some of his numbers.

“There are still some things I want to do,” he said. “I want to hit .300. I want to try to get 250 hits and score 150 runs. Those are things that I still work on year in and year out.”

But more immediately, Rollins is anxious to find a cure for this year’s team, which entering Thursday’s game against the Cardinals, has lost 17 of its last 26 games.

“We need to find a way to scratch out these last games with victories and go to the All-Star break still with the lead,” he said. “If not, we’ll be where we didn’t want to be and that’s right in the middle of the pack.

“We’re a little ahead of the pack right now, people are still looking up. We don’t want to be the ones looking up at people. Although it seems like we play better that way, which is a funny story. I don’t know why. Hopefully we don’t have to find out.”

If the grind of the season is starting to wear on Rollins, he certainly didn’t show it Wednesday as he greeted fans with his easy smile and talked of the team trying hard to help out Mayor Nutter, who said his staff is working on plans for a parade on Broad Street sometime after the baseball season.

And while it was a day to reflect more on the individual heroics of the Phillies shortstop from last season, Rollins was eager to point out what his ultimate goal really is.

“We didn’t win it all last year, but we did do enough to finally put us over the hump to make people focus back on baseball,” he said. “I don’t know if I can have a better all-around year [which also included a Gold Glove], but it will be a better year if the team wins it all.”

He also was excited to talk about the new big-name player coming to Philadelphia. Of course, we’re talking about new Sixer Elton Brand and not about the quality starter everyone in the city seems to believe the Phillies need to make a serious march in the playoffs.

“I saw that [the signing of Brand] and I said, ‘That’s a pretty good pickup,’ ” he said. “He’s a good power forward and they can play real basketball now. They’ve got a good young team in Andre [Iguodala] and Thaddeus Young and Elton Brand, that’s a pretty good three.”

As for his award Wednesday, Rollins said he was unfamiliar with what it meant until a coach filled him in.

“When I was first told that I won I had no idea what it was,” he admitted. “I talked with Milt Thompson and he put me up on it. I said, ‘Oh, OK, that’s pretty good.’ I guess that means something. They must think pretty highly of me in this city and that’s a good thing because this is not an easy city to become accepted.”

An MVP award didn’t have to validate Rollins’ acceptance into this city. No award could do that. He was accepted long before that.

However, imagine his status if that parade Nutter is planning does come off.