Here is an excerpt from an interview with Phillies shortstop Jimmy Rollins that appears in the April issue of Men's Journal, which goes on sale today.
The National League MVP talked to the magazine about, among other things, people calling him cocky, how being 5-foot-7 is not a disadvantage - except in a brawl - his feelings on the Mitchell Report, and advice he gives to teammate Chase Utley.
Men's Journal: A year ago, you said your Phillies were the team to beat and people called you "cocky." Then you edged out the New York Mets on the last day of the season. Still feeling cocky?
Rollins: I've never been cocky. But you've gotta have that swagger to play the game. If you don't have swag, you'll find yourself getting out of the game quick. Or you just won't be marketable. That's one thing I always tell Chase [Utley, Phillies teammate]: "Chase, smile a little bit. You're good; you have the looks. You just have to show that you have personality. You're a marketer's dream."
MJ: Do you feel your height is a disadvantage?
Rollins: Nah. I may only be 5-7, but on the field I'm 6-2. My game is a lot bigger than my height. I mean, I know I'm small; I'm an itty-bitty dude. I stand on the bag, and the other guy's still four inches taller. There are 10 short guys in the league. But it makes me more efficient at catching ground balls; I'm already really low to the ground.
MJ: What about in a brawl?
Rollins: I usually stay middle to back. Gary Sheffield schooled me early when we got into a brawl with Atlanta. I was running up front when Shef grabbed me and said, "Whatcha doin'?" I was like, "We're fighting!" He said, "You're not one of the big boys. Let the big boys fight." He asked, "You got your money [long-term contract]?" I was like, "Nope." He said, "Why would you take the chance? You're too small to be up here."
MJ: Did you ever expect to win the MVP?
Rollins: No, not at all. I was hoping I'd win some Gold Gloves, Silver Sluggers. Or be an all-star - that's pretty much the MVP for a shortstop. I guess everyone thinks about it at some point, but it's like thinking, What if I had $100 million? MVP is a great accomplishment, because you were the best player in the league. But to win a World Series is the ultimate goal. Unless you're the Yankees or Boston, it might only come by once in a career. And if you win a ring, you'll make some money. That's gonna happen.
MJ: What's your take on the Mitchell Report?
Rollins: I'm glad it's out. If your name was on there, come out and admit, "Hey, I did it." If it's proven Roger Clemens took steroids, or Barry Bonds, or any other big name, then they should get the punishment the league hands down and then get on with their life. It's the guys who try to fight it that are gonna keep getting pounded.
MJ: So should Bonds' records be taken away?
Rollins: No. Baseball has never taken away records. People have put asterisks by them, but baseball's never taken them away.
MJ: Are the Phils still the team to beat in '08?