One would be surprised, behind the scenes, how close sports mirrors any office job known to man. The one thing that ties the two situations together is that human beings with varying personalities dictate how successful that team or that business is over a certain period of time. But the cliché that always seems to make it into the mix is why there’s always one guy who can rub the nicest people the wrong way?
In the annals of MLBbro history, maybe no story fits this scenario better than the short feud between MLBbro, Jimmy Rollins and Class of 2005 Baseball Hall of Famer, Ryne Sandberg. After playing for several years under Philadelphia Phillies managers, Terry Francona, Larry Bowa and Charlie Manuel, let’s just say the Ryne Sandberg era was memorable for the wrong reasons.
Well, it seems around March of 2014, Ryne Sandberg didn’t take too kindly to our MLBbro’s words when he stated that he didn’t care about spring training results. Without any warning from Sandberg, Rollins was benched for three games.
These days Rollins is co-hosting a baseball podcast named “Unwritten: Behind Baseball’s Secret Rules” with former MLB pitcher Ron Darling. On a recent episode, the two former players had a discussion on the different managerial styles throughout their respective careers and how they handled them. It was then when one of the more interesting behind the scenes stories was told by Rollins.
Rollins: “Given a full explanation, from there to being benched in spring training over an interview ‘cause I said ‘I don’t care about spring training results,’ which is the truth,” Rollins said (At the 22:50 mark). “Who cares about spring training results? They matter none. When a closer comes in the fourth inning, this is not real baseball.”
Ron Darling: “This is your Allen Iverson moment by the way,”
Rollins: “Practice? We’re talking about practice. And it really was.”
Believe it or not, a few months ago marked the 20th anniversary of the “Iverson moment.” Sure it is the joke that will never die, but few go past the rant to understand what Allen Iverson was going through AND how his relationship with his coach Larry Brown contributed to his frustrations. Two years ago, Stephen A. Smith talked about that situation on ESPN.
Now, understand a regular NBA season is spread out over 82 games. A Major League Baseball season is nearly double that amount at 162 games. If you add the postseason and spring training, baseball players — particularly the stars — have a lot of wear and tear on their bodies. Like the analysis of Iverson’s thinking during the press conference, Jimmy Rollins was thinking of body conservation to make it through a grueling baseball season. But, the media didn’t shine the light on the manager/coach at that time, just the star players. As Rollins says here, Sandberg’s managerial style left much to be desired.
“From a point of saying I don’t care about spring training, to not even getting a call from the manager, getting a call from the clubhouse guys like, ‘Hey, they said you don’t have to come in today.’ Alright cool, that’s strange. Tomorrow, which was the next day, it happens again. I’m like, ‘Really? Here I am, a supervet, on the brink of breaking Mike Schmidt’s all-time hits record. Just the lack of respect that was given, like wow.”
Our MLBbro has quite a resumé considering he was the 2007 NL MVP and a part of the Phillies 2008 World Series championship squad going into his 14th year as a pro.
Then on June 14th, 2014, our MLBbro added his name to the history books by breaking Phillies icon Mike Schmidt’s all time franchise hits record. But, by the time this special event in history happened, the damage was already done.
“Then I show up the third day – and those were both two road games. I think it was back-to-back road games, so I wasn’t too upset about it. And I got to choose which days I traveled anyway.
“So, I get in the clubhouse and it’s like ‘Why haven’t you played?’
“My answer: ‘Go ask the manager. Don’t ask me. I got a call from the clubhouse guy. Don’t ask me why I’m not playing.’
“Then getting called to the office and told why and being, ‘I hope you learned your lesson,’
“I’m like there is no lesson, period. I don’t know what you’re talking about. Whatever you’re trying to do, it didn’t work.”
That’s putting it mildly. Think about how the game has changed. Try comparing this situation with Rollins and Sandberg with the Minnesota Twins and fellow MLBbro Byron Buxton.
Not only does the franchise keep spring training low on their priority list below health, there are scheduled rest times for their star throughout the season just so Buxton can be healthy late in the year.
The Iverson comparisons don’t stop in the aftermath of Rollins’ backstory, though. After the season, our MLBbro was traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers and Iverson was eventually traded to the Denver Nuggets.
Before Iverson was traded, his coach Larry Brown fell out of favor with the front office and resigned. As for Ryne Sandberg, over time it was beginning to show that Jimmy Rollins might not have been the bad guy in this story.
In 2015, Sandberg ended up resigning with a below .500 record spanning parts of three seasons. At the time, the Phillies were the worst team in baseball.