As someone who lives his life in such a relaxed state that many people mistake it for a coma, I tend to recognize most of the signs. And while it's a little harder for a professional athlete to be calm -- big stage, bright lights, etc. -- it has always been the Jimmy Rollins style, especially off of the field.
On Wednesday, somebody from out of town asked him about the overall looseness he perceived as he watched the Phillies prepare for the National League Championship.
Rollins: "What do you see?"
Questioner: "It's pretty loose."
Rollins: "That's how we are. We're a bunch of loose guys. That's how we play the game. That's how we approach every game. That's how Charlie (Manuel, the Phils' manager) wants us to approach every game -- go out there, have fun. The way to have fun is to win. We have to keep that rolling."
There have been times this season, many times, when you wondered if the moment was finally going to jump up and take a signficant bite out of the Phillies. You wondered during those long, long offensive lulls that were part of a really uneven 2008 tapestry. You wondered as they waited for the home runs to bail them out again. The Phillies have been brilliant in bursts this season, but only bursts -- and those great flashes just seemed sometimes to accentuate the periods of darkness that surrounded them.
Now, watch them prove me wrong -- but I don't think they can rely on home runs this time to get it done. For whatever it's worth, Rollins doesn't, either.
"We just have to manufacture runs," he said. "We were able to get some walks -- I believe it was in Game 2 (against Milwaukee in the NL Division Series) -- and one big hit (Shane Victorino's grand slam). So was that stringing hits or manufacturing runs? What was more important in putting runs on the board?"
You can argue this in a circle but, well, put it like this: the Phillies scored runs in only three innings in the first three games against Milwaukee. If that happens in this series, the Phillies are going to lose. Rollins, as always, will be a big key. One of the stories I wrote today was about the comparison betwen Rollins and the Dodgers' Rafael Furcal, igniter vs. igniter, and how the winner of that matchup could very well win the series. The more I think about it, the more I think it's going to come out that way.
So, watch Rollins. He wouldn't have it any other way.