2008 Phillies

Phillies great Jimmy Rollins at retirement ceremony: 'We should have gotten three rings'

Phillies great Jimmy Rollins at retirement ceremony: 'We should have gotten three rings'

Turns out that 2007 wasn’t the only time Jimmy Rollins made a bold prediction and backed it up.

Shortly after being selected by the Phillies in the second round of the 1996 draft, Rollins broke out the crystal ball for his mom, GiGi.

“I got drafted, didn’t know much about the city,” Rollins said Saturday. “I knew Mike Schmidt. I knew Veterans Stadium. I knew it wasn’t a good-looking stadium. Not a lot of people came to the games.

“I told Mom, 'When I get up there, we’re going to win and if we win, they’ll come.' That was the only mission I had. All the other stuff came along with being healthy and playing every day.

‘If I’m there, we’re going to win. If I’m getting there, I’ll find a way to have an impact that we’ll win.’

“That’s what I told my mom the day I got drafted. That was my only goal.”

Well, if the little dynamo didn’t back up his words.

Eventually, the Phillies moved into beautiful Citizens Bank Park, won five straight NL East titles, two pennants and a World Series. And the people, as Rollins told his mom, came. The Phils sold out 257 straight games during their great run.

“Even when we were winning, we felt like this was an Eagles-town first,” Rollins said. “But we established that we’re right up there with the Birds and (the fans) cared about us just as much as they care about them.”

Rollins was right in the middle of all those sellouts as the team’s Gold Glove shortstop, leadoff man and predictor of big things.

A decade after his draft-day prediction to his mom, he proclaimed the Phillies the team to beat in the NL East in 2007 and with that statement ignited the best era the Phillies have ever had.

And Rollins, the NL MVP in 2007, still believes it could have been even better.

“Shoulda, coulda, woulda, but I would say we should have gotten three rings,” he said.

Rollins, the club’s all-time hits leader, was back at Citizens Bank Park in front of a roaring crowd Saturday night as the Phillies honored him with a terrific retirement ceremony. It included a highlight video that captured Rollins’ big smile, entertaining personality and electricity on the diamond.

Ryan Howard and Chase Utley, the two other big core members of the 2008 World Championship Phillies, each delivered a video salute to Rollins. Both will be honored with similar ceremonies later this season.

Rollins gave a touching speech in which he saluted his mom and dad. James Rollins Sr. was a track and field athlete and not much of a baseball player. But he learned to throw batting practice and hit ground balls to his two sons. Jimmy’s brother, Antwan, played professionally in the Texas Rangers organization.

“He made sure we’d have an opportunity to achieve our dreams and I’m thankful for that,” Rollins said of his dad.

Former Phillies officials Ed Wade and Lee Elia were on hand. Rollins thanked them, as well as former scouting director Mike Arbuckle, for their role in his development. He singled out Wade, the former general manager, for the role he had in putting together the 2008 championship team.

Charlie Manuel and Larry Bowa, two of Rollins’ managers, were on hand, as were a number of former teammates and coaches such as Milt Thompson.

Rollins thanked them all then turned his attention to the sellout crowd.

“Thank you for all of your support,” he said. “You pulled the best out of us and you pulled the best out of me. I’ll always be grateful for that.”

The fans loved Rollins back with several huge ovations. It was almost like old times.

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Could this year's Phillies starting 8 be better than the 2008 Phillies lineup?

Could this year's Phillies starting 8 be better than the 2008 Phillies lineup?

The 2008 Phillies will forever have a place in the heart of every Phillies fan, for one obvious reason: they won it all. A big reason they were able to win the World Series is the strength of their offense. Led by Ryan Howard, Chase Utley, and Jimmy Rollins, the 2008 Phillies led the National League with 214 home runs, and finished second in the NL with a .438 team slugging percentage.

But the Phillies' offseason shopping spree netted them three starting position players who all made the All-Star Game last season, the first time that has happened in MLB history. It also gave them perhaps the most dangerous lineup in the game today.

With Bryce Harper now in the fold, I raise the question: how does the 2019 starting 8 stack up offensively with that of the 2008 World Series champs? Let's take it position-by-position.

Catcher: Carlos Ruiz vs. J.T. Realmuto
Make no mistake: we all love Chooch. But as much as we value him and his place in the Phillies' golden run, he was not strong offensively, especially in 2008, when he hit just .219 in 117 games. Ruiz managed four homers and 31 RBI on the season, numbers I expect Realmuto to eclipse by about May 15. Verdict: 2019

First Base: Ryan Howard vs. Rhys Hoskins
Hoskins has a lot of potential, especially with the protection that will be around him in this lineup, but Ryan Howard in his prime was a force of nature. Fourty-eight homers, 146 RBI. Just an absolute monster out of the cleanup spot. Verdict: 2008

Second Base: Chase Utley vs. Cesar Hernandez
This one is also not close. Utley hit 33 homers and had his fourth straight 100-RBI season in 2008. Hernandez is a good player, and a nice on-base guy at the top of the lineup, but you can't argue this one. Verdict: 2008

Third base: Pedro Feliz vs. Maikel Franco
The only reason Feliz didn't hit eighth in the 2008 Phillies lineup is because Carlos Ruiz was also playing that day. Meanwhile, Franco quietly has been productive. Three straight seasons with at least 22 homers, and he also led the Phillies in batting average last season (not a huge feat, but .270 is a good average) Verdict: 2019 

Shortstop: Jimmy Rollins vs. Jean Segura
Fairly even matchup here. Both Rollins and Segura have pop, and a lot of speed. I'll give the nod to J-Roll here, because he has more of both. And Jimmy could always bring it when the red light was on. Verdict: 2008 

Left field: Pat Burrell vs. Andrew McCutchen
McCutchen is a former NL MVP and a five-time All-Star, but I'm giving the edge to The Bat here. Thirty-three homers, 86 RBI, 102 walks, and an OPS that was just a few ticks behind Howard's for the season (.875, compared to .881 for Howard). This was Burrell's last good season, and he was an underrated force in the middle of the lineup. Verdict: 2008 

Center field: Shane Victorino vs. Odubel Herrera
The image of Victorino leaping on top of the pile following the final out in the World Series is indelible. But this one is closer to me than you may think. I feel like these two players are similar. Streaky hitters, good speed-power combo, even down to the occasional mental errors on the field. I'm hopeful Herrera shakes off last year's second half and gives the team more of what we saw in early 2018. Verdict: Push

Right field: Jayson Werth vs. Bryce Harper 
We are through the looking glass here. A player who left the Phillies to head south to D.C. against the new addition, who did the opposite this week. I don't think this is a close race. While Werth was a significant cog in the 2008 machine, Harper gives you so much more offensively that it's not a fair fight. Verdict: 2019 

Based on the individual matchups, I'm giving a slight edge to the 2008 team. I will say that the fac it's close enough to argue will make for a fun spring and summer, with the hopes for many more to come.

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10 years ago today: Brad Lidge fell to his knees as Phillies became World (Bleeping) Champions

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10 years ago today: Brad Lidge fell to his knees as Phillies became World (Bleeping) Champions

Ten years ago this month, the Phillies won their second World Series title in franchise history. Over the next few weeks, Jim Salisbury will look back at the team’s run through the NLCS and World Series.

Where do we even begin this one?

With Geoff Jenkins’ pinch-hit double after a 46-hour rain delay?

With Pat Burrell’s last hit as a Phillie, a double that eventually became the winning run?

With Chase Utley’s heads-up, run-saving, defensive gem?

How about we begin with Brad Lidge falling to his knees, looking to the heavens and embracing Carlos Ruiz as the huge crowd erupts in delight?

Yeah, that’s a good way to start this great memory.

“The Philadelphia Phillies are 2008 World Champions of baseball,” the late, great Harry Kalas shouted in the broadcast booth.

“Hey, this is for Philadelphia. This is for our fans,” manager Charlie Manuel told the crowd during the trophy presentation on the field.

Ten years later, the memories remain indelible. Heavy rain forced the suspension of Game 5 of the World Series with the score tied 2-2 in the sixth inning. Forty-six hours later, Citizens Bank Park was packed again for what turned out to be a 78-minute sprint to a championship. Jenkins, Burrell and Pedro Feliz had big hits and Utley made a play that still gets talked about today as the Phillies beat Tampa Bay, 4-3, to win their second World Series title in franchise history.

With two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning and everyone on their feet, Lidge was one strike away from nailing down the title when Ruiz visited him at the mound. Lidge wanted to throw a slider to Eric Hinske.

Ruiz didn’t want the backdoor slider or the get-me-over slider. He wanted Lidge's hard, biting slider, the unhittable one that would corkscrew into the dirt.

“Give me the good one,” Ruiz told Lidge before trotting back to his position.

Lidge’s pitch torpedoed into the dirt and Ruiz, as usual, blocked it as Hinske flailed at air.

The crowd erupted in joy.

Lidge completed a perfect season — 48 for 48 in save chances — and fell to his knees. He looked skyward and shouted, “Oh, my god, we just won the World Series!” He hugged Ruiz then was piled upon by euphoric teammates.

“My heart was going 100 mph,” Lidge said later. “This is the greatest moment of my life.”

That sentiment was echoed all over the champagne soaked clubhouse.

“This is better than I dreamed it would be,” 45-year-old baseball life Jamie Moyer said as he enjoyed the first and only World Series title of his career.

Cole Hamels won the MVP award, capping a brilliant month of postseason ball that saw him allow just seven runs in 35 innings.

“Winning is the best thing you can do in this game and having the World Series trophy and seeing these fans go nuts is what we’ve been shooting for all year,” Hamels said.

Two days later, the fans went nuts again as the team paraded down Broad Street, the celebration punctuated by Utley’s famous declaration: “World Champions! World (Bleeping) Champions!”

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