Jimmy Rollins says blue-collar Philadelphia is not “conducive to a superstar”

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FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal sat down with Dodgers shortstop Jimmy Rollins (it still feels weird writing that) to discuss a wide range of topics, including how he’s adjusting to his new team and a look back at his time with the Phillies. The entire interview is worth a read.

Rollins was a second-round pick of the Phillies in 1996 and played 15 seasons in Philadelphia, so he essentially grew up there and experienced the bad and the good and the bad again. He told Rosenthal that he “loved” playing in the city and it made him what he is today, but it also sounds like he has a load off his back.

Q: What do you feel like now that you no longer are in Philly?

Free. I feel like I’m free to be myself without someone on my shoulder. Obviously, everyone has parameters and limits. You have to play within the boundaries. But when you’re a leader, rules are a little different for you. When you’re a superstar, rules are a little different. You’re held to a higher standard, which I love. But it brings added pressure. Which I love. But if someone buds, let ’em bud. Instead of trying to keep ’em within this framework. Just let ’em be who they are at that moment.

The general area, the city (of Philadelphia) being blue-collar, it’s not conducive for a superstar. You can be good, but you’ve got to be blue-collar along the way, keep your mouth shut, just go and work. Where obviously, this is L.A. It’s almost like it’s OK to be more flamboyant. You kind of appreciate that the more you’re out there. Because L.A. loves a star.

So in that sense, I feel free. If I want to “show out” a little bit – from the outside looking in, people might say, “You’re in Hollywood.” But no, in some places you couldn’t do that.

I think most fans like in Philadelphia like good players and players who win. Rational ones, anyway. So they aren’t too different from other places. It’s a very tough place to play, similar to other East Coast cities like New York and Boston, but I grew up watching Allen Iverson and he’s beloved there. Los Angeles might be a place where a flamboyant player is more likely to be embraced, but as we see regularly with Yasiel Puig, the criticism is still there too. The main difference for Rollins now is that he was looked as one of the faces of the franchise in Philadelphia and now he can fade into the background with this team. That’s probably a nice change of pace for him.

While Rollins’ comments about Philadelphia will almost certainly get the most attention, perhaps my favorite part of the interview was his thoughts on hustle and why he doesn’t always run 100 percent. It’s something he was criticized for at times, even by his former manager Charlie Manuel, but it’s pretty logical stuff. It’s refreshing to see someone be so forthcoming about it. Anyway, good interview by Rosenthal. Read it if you get the chance.

The Indians are unveiling a Frank Robinson statue on Sunday

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The Cleveland Indians will unveil a Frank Robinson statue at Progressive Field on Saturday.

Robinson’s tenure in Cleveland was not long, but it was historic. On April 8, 1975, he became the first African-American manager in Major League history. He was a player-manager. One of the last ones, in fact. He spent two years in that role and then a third year — a partial year anyway — as a manager only. Robinson would go on to manage the Giants, Orioles and the Expos/Nationals, compiling a career record of 1065-1176 in 16 seasons. He is now a top MLB executive.

Robinson was, of course, a Hall of Fame player as well, lodging 21 seasons for the Reds, Orioles, Dodgers, Angels and Indians. He won two MVP awards and hit for the Triple Crown in 1966. Overall he hit 586 home runs – 10th all time – and was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1982. For an inner-circle Hall of Famer with that kind of resume he is still, strangely enough, underrated. I guess that happens when your contemporaries are Willie Mays, Hank Aaron and Mickey Mantle.

Anyway, congrats to Frank Robinson for yet another well-deserved honor in a career full of them.

Hey kids: don’t swing a weighted bat in the on deck circle

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Here’s an interesting article in the Wall Street Journal. It’s about some studies of hitters who use weighted bats or doughnuts on their bats in the on deck circle. Turns out that, contrary to conventional wisdom, using a weighted bat for practice hacks does not speed up one’s swing when one uses a naked bat in the batter’s box. In fact, it slows it down.

There are lots of caveats here. The sample size in the studies are small and they all involve college and high school players, not big leaguers. The results, however, are consistent with previous studies and they do make some intuitive sense. This is particularly the case with batting doughnuts, which add weight to a very concentrated portion of the bat, thereby changing the center of gravity and thus the swing mechanics of the hitter.

Whether this is applicable at large or to higher level hitters or not, I still find it kind of neat. I always like it when people scrutinize ingrained habits and ask whether or not that thing we’ve always done is, in fact, worth doing.