09/29/09 11:53 AM ET
No more predictions coming from Rollins
Phillies struggling as they strive for division title
By Todd Zolecki / MLB.com
Rollins said before the 2007 season that the Phillies would be the team to beat in the National League East, despite the fact that the Mets had won the division by 12 games in 2006. But the Phillies came through, becoming the first team in baseball history to overcome a seven-game deficit with 17 games to play to win their first division title since 1993.
Then, before the 2008 season, Rollins said that the Phillies would win 100 games. They finished with 103, including the postseason.
Fans could use a strong prediction right about now from Rollins, except he said earlier this year that he does not make them anymore. The Phillies have lost five of their past seven games, and an 8 1/2-game lead over the Braves with 13 left to play has shrunk to four games, with six to play. The Phillies only need a combination of wins or Braves losses totaling three to clinch the division, but they are dragging toward the postseason.
"Don't care," Rollins said on Sunday in Milwaukee when asked about the hard-charging Braves. "I don't care who's behind us. All we have to do is win. Technically, all we have to do is win by one, you know? It makes it a little bit easier down the stretch if we knock it out before making it a [must]-win day. Fortunately, we were pretty good in that situation, but to a man, we would like to go out there and just handle our business and win it. Get on a good stretch, and by doing so, we will have some momentum going into the playoffs -- hopefully."
Seven of the past nine National League champions have finished the regular season with either the best record in baseball or the best record in the league, exhibiting that the hottest team typically carries its play into the World Series.
The Phillies are far from hot.
"It would be nice to get hot, then," Rollins said. "It would be real nice to get hot. Don't get me wrong. We're playing OK. We do some things good. Some things [are] like, 'What the heck is going on out there?' It looks like a Little League game right now. But let's put a nice homestand together and see where that takes us."
The Phillies lost the first game of that homestand on Monday, against the Houston Astros. They have six more to play, and they need to win just three. And though Rollins is not predicting three more wins, he must be thinking they can get them.
Todd Zolecki is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.