Welcome to New York, Jimmy

New York, Jimmy Rollins.

Jimmy Rollins, New York.

Oh, you've met? That's right. Forgot about that whole "team to beat" thing last year. The Phillies open a three-game series tomorrow afternoon against the Mets at Shea Stadium, and it should be fun. And when I say fun, I mean lots of over-the-top insults directed at the players and fights in the stands between Phillies and Mets fans.

Rollins is ready to return to the scene of the crime.

"It's definitely a fun place to play in New York," Rollins said. "You know what the media is going to be like. If you do something in that series it's probably going to be on ESPN, in the paper and be talked about. You do something somewhere outside of New York, you might get a little press. But up there they love to run with it. A lot more writers. A lot more people wanting a story."

He gave them a story last year.

"Yeah," he said. "It was a lot of fun."

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Pat Burrell is hitting the (stuff) out of the ball. He hit two homers in yesterday's 5-3 victory over the Reds at Great American Ball Park.

Burrell doesn't show much emotion on the field and sometimes people take that for indifference. But I can say this: Burrell is one of the earliest arrivers in spring training every year and one of the earliest arrivers at the ballpark every day. He talked about his spring training preparation for perhaps his final season with the Phillies.

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In the Phillies Notebook, Cole Hamels pitched well and Brad Lidge survived a scary ninth inning to pick up his first save with the Phillies. Lidge's last pitch to Javier Valentin appeared up and away from the pressbox. It looked the same to the Reds, who think there's absolutely no chance the pitch was a strike. The Phillies? Charlie Manuel swears (kind of) the pitch went down the heart of the plate, but others in the Philliles clubhouse kind of winked and nodded at the suggestion the pitch was a strike.

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Did the '77 Phillies scar the psyche of the Philadelphia sports fan?

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I had hoped to go the entire season without a major travel problem (that's a million-to-one shot with US Airways based in Philadelphia), but I couldn't even make it through the first city of the first road trip without a snafu. My flight out of Cincinnati tonight had to return to the Queen City after just a few minutes in the air because the cabin couldn't pressurize. My first reaction was, "You've GOT to be kidding me! This sucks!" Then I realized, "We're alive. So I've got that going for me, which is nice."

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