The Cincinnati Reds just completed a series in Philadelphia, and Scott Rolen was soundly booed by the Philly fans. This makes me sad, for I have nothing but respect for Scott. I appreciate him and will always consider him one of my favorite baseball players.
Rolen was drafted by the Phillies in 1993. He was a kid from Jasper, Indiana. Quiet, private, and competitive. I watched him play at AA Reading in 1995 and 1996. His rise through the minor leagues was rapid, he debuted with the Phillies at the end of the 1996 season and won the N.L. Rookie of the Year award the next year in his first full season. Scott played wonderful defense at third, had a strong and accurate arm, hit well, and was smart on the bases.
The Phillies were a bad team in the late ’90s. Philly is a brutal place to play most of the time, and it gets even worse when the team is losing. Scott didn’t like the city, the fans, or the way the team was run. In 2001 he refused to sign a contract extension, citing the team’s lack of commitment to winning (a very valid concern at the time). This led to fallout with the fans and hostility between Scott and then-Manager Larry Bowa. During the 2002 season Scott was traded to St. Louis.
So why do Philly fans hate Rolen? They hate him because he prefers the Midwest to the East Coast. They hate him because he doesn’t love Philadelphia. They hate him because they think he is greedy (an opinion I call asinine–he didn’t refuse to sign over more money for himself, he wanted more money to be spent on the team). They hate him because he was very good, and after he left third base was a point of weakness in Philly for years.
And many hate him just because others do, they are ignorant of the facts and have no real reason. It is a pack mentality. That is sad.
I think Scott Rolen is an honest baseball player. I don’t think he ever gave less than his best, on the field or during his off season training. He is a quiet person who likes to work hard and be left alone. As a professional athlete that will not happen, but some cities are more respectful than others (respect in Philly tends to fluctuate with wins and losses). I enjoy seeing Scott play and wish him the best. I’m grateful for the years he played in Philly, and I’ve continued to root for him after he left. Thanks for everything Scott, I wish you were still wearing red pinstripes, you’ll always have at least one fan in Philly.