Is Jimmy Rollins Almost a Derek Jeter Situation for the Phillies?

Is Jimmy Rollins Almost a Derek Jeter Situation for the Phillies?

Derek Jeter could never be confused with Jimmy Rollins. Jeter is an internationally-recognized star and first ballot Hall of Famer. He has over 3,000 hits, is an 11-time All Star, and a five-time World Champion. I don't like the guy -- at all -- but ordinarily I would never even think to use J-Roll's name in the same sentence.

Except this time last year, Jeter was embroiled in bitter contract negotiations with the New York Yankees. He had spent 16 seasons in the Bronx, defined his legacy wearing those pinstripes, and did his part to re-establish the franchise as a Major League powerhouse. Yet despite everything he accomplished, everything he meant to the organization, there was a very real possibility he could have wound up finishing out his career someplace else.

It's from there we can begin to draw some parallels.

Rollins played for the Phillies before it was cool. He toiled away on losing ball clubs, risked his livelihood on the unforgiving Vet turf. When the time finally came to talk extension, Jimmy signed on for five more years during the '05 season, committing the prime of his career to Philadelphia without so much as testing the market.

And he became a nice little ballplayer, too. Maybe he's not on Jeter's level, but Rollins has been the catalyst for this offense for the last decade. He's a three-time All Star, three-time Gold Glove winner, the National League MVP in 2007, and part of the 2008 team that delivered this city it's first World Championship in 25 years. Some would argue they would not have won it all were it not for his swagger... that he's the heart and soul of that clubhouse.

Wouldn't it be weird, almost wrong, seeing Jimmy Rollins under another hat?

Has he perhaps earned the opportunity to retire with the Phillies?

For the purpose of full disclosure, I thought the business with Jeter was bull when it was going down. Loyalty in professional sports, while a concept I fully appreciate and endorse, is just that: a concept. It's a romantic ideal that simply doesn't mesh with the reality that executives have to make cold, hard decisions with the resources that are available to them in order to put the best possible product on the field.

With that in mind, I am not advocating some type of sign-Jimmy-at-all-costs strategy. The number of years has to make sense, the trade-off probably being they would have to overpay a little.

I would be okay with that.

Obviously he's going to decline. In fact, it's started already. He seems prone to injury. His power numbers have dipped, his speed has diminished, and he's not even hitting for as high an average as we've become accustomed -- which wasn't always that high in the first place.

Yet there are some advantages to retaining a Rollins. His defense is as good as ever, and there is no reason to think he couldn't play a better shortstop than anybody who might replace him. Speaking of replacement, we still have no idea where that will come from. Clear-cut options are limited: spend a butt-load more money on Jose Reyes, or promote the untested Freddy Galvez. If another solution pops up, besides bringing in some stopgap, I'm all ears, but that's all we've got so far. At the very least, Rollins is serviceable.

And here's a factor the front office needs to consider: Jimmy's name alone might be worth a contract. Shirts with "Rollins 11" will continue to sell, maybe even more so as fans become increasingly appreciative of his service, as will jerseys, collectibles, and all of his other personalized merchandise. He's a popular player -- as he should be after 12 seasons -- and as much as some fans would like to see the team upgrade, I don't get the sense there is a huge contingent trying to run the guy out of town either.

To be perfectly honest, I can't even entirely sell myself on the positives of Jimmy Rollins staying in Philadelphia, or the very idea of re-signing a player whose best days are behind him. I only know it feels wrong he might leave. This incredible run, it all started with him, all started with his famous remark, "This is the team to beat."

Maybe the Phillies should be the team to beat if another town wants to acquire Jimmy Rollins. Then again, maybe Jimmy Rollins doesn't mean quite that much to Philadelphia.

Flyers-Blackhawks 5 things: Matinee showdown with Western Conference leader

Flyers-Blackhawks 5 things: Matinee showdown with Western Conference leader

Flyers (12-10-3) vs. Blackhawks (16-6-3)
1 p.m. on CSN and CSNPhilly.com

Behind captain Claude Giroux's two goals and overtime heroics Thursday, the Flyers enter Saturday's matinee with the Chicago Blackhawks on their longest win streak of the season.

That and more as we get ready for the afternoon showdown at the Wells Fargo Center.

1. Three's company
With their 3-2 OT win over the Senators, the Flyers have now won three (3!) games in a row for the second time this season, a sign the ship might be turning in the right direction.

Flyers head coach Dave Hakstol applauded his team's 61-minute effort afterward. Comparing it to Tuesday's win over Boston in which Steve Mason single-handedly stole two points from the Bruins, Hakstol said the Ottawa game was a "real, good, consistent effort" throughout the lineup, which the Flyers will have to mimic again Saturday in order to beat Chicago.

On Friday, Hakstol rewarded the Flyers with an optional practice. Brandon Manning, who has missed the last two games because of a possible concussion, returned to practice Friday and was cleared to play. If Manning returns Saturday, Andrew MacDonald seems like the likely candidate to come out.

Manning's return would be welcomed for the Flyers. The 26-year-old has been one of the team's most consistent players. He's been aggressive, both offensively and defensively, and his play is not deserving of a healthy scratch. But with no morning skate and limited player availability Friday, Manning's status for the Blackhawks' game remains unknown.

2. Power hour
For the Flyers to extend their winning streak to a season-high four games Saturday, they will have to do so not only with a sound, defensive game but also on special teams.

If there is one area Chicago has struggled this season, it has been the penalty kill. At 70.1 percent, the Blackhawks have the league's worst PK unit, and have a middle-of-the-road power play despite all of their offensive firepower.

The Flyers, on the other hand, have the league's third-best power play at 23.6 percent, and their penalty-kill units have improved lately, getting up to 80 percent. The Flyers have two PP goals in their last 19 opportunities.

Still, Chicago's power play is dangerous despite its recent struggles. The Blackhawks have just one power-play goal since Nov. 19, and went 0 for 4 on Thursday against the Devils.

3. Corey's crease
The Blackhawks also enter Saturday hot, winning three of their last four games; however, they have gone to overtime in their last three games. Chicago has had issues with slow starts in games recently, and the Devils' game Thursday was another example of that.

New Jersey took a 1-0 lead into the first intermission, but easily could have had a larger lead had it not been for Blackhawks goalie Corey Crawford, who's been excellent this season. Crawford faced 13 shots in the opening period Thursday and kept the 'Hawks in the game, as he has all season long. The Blackhawks sit atop the NHL with 35 points (at the time of this posting), and Crawford is a major reason for that.

Crawford has a 2.27 goals-against average and .927 save percentage this season. He's pitched two shutouts and has faced 33 or more shots in his last four games. Scoring on Crawford has not been easy for opponents this season, but the Flyers do average 3.1 goals, third in the NHL.

4. Keep an eye on …
Flyers: Let's stick with Giroux. The 28-year-old snapped a nine-game goal drought Tuesday with power-play goal, and then added two more Thursday — one at 5-on-5 and one in the 3-on-3 overtime. Giroux's play at even strength has been scrutinized, but his point production remains potent. Giroux has a four-game point streak — three goals, two assists — and has 22 points in 25 games this season. He also got engaged Thursday in Ottawa.

Blackhawks: So many players to watch, but let's highlight the ageless Marian Hossa. The 37-year-old continues to be an effective player even as he grows older. Now in his 18th NHL season, Hossa leads Chicago with 12 goals, including the game-winner in overtime against New Jersey Thursday. Hossa tallied his 500th career goal against the Flyers back on Oct. 18, and has 15 goals in 48 career games against the orange and black. He still has it.

5. This and that
• Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews is out for Saturday's game because of an upper-body injury, per CSN Chicago's Tracey Myers. Toews hasn't played since Nov. 23.

• Mason, Saturday's projected starter, is 7-12-3 with a 3.42 GAA and .890 save percentage in 23 career games against the Blackhawks. After a disaster start to the season, Mason has a 2.22 GAA and .912 save percentage over his last nine games.

• Chicago has five players with seven or more goals, and five players with double-digit assists.

TicketIQ: Affordable seats available to see Sixers face marquee opponents

TicketIQ: Affordable seats available to see Sixers face marquee opponents

Editor's Note: The following is sponsored content written by TicketIQ.

The improvements have been obvious for the 76ers this season. Just months removed from a franchise-worst 10-72 record, the Sixers have begun to see return on their rebuild with rookie Joel Embiid leading the charge.
 
December will be a big month for the team as it looks to rise in the Eastern Conference. Attending an upcoming game won’t come attached with big ticket prices, either. With several marquee opponents headed to Wells Fargo Center over the next four weeks, including the Lakers, Celtics and Raptors, fans can find relatively inexpensive ticket prices on the resale market all month long.
 
On TicketIQ, a ticket search engine that pools tickets and data from over 90 percent of the resale market, the average resale price for 76ers tickets in December is just $58. That makes December among the cheapest months to see the Sixers this season.

 
With the Lakers in town for a December 16 game, it will be the only 76ers home game this month that commands an average resale price above $100. On TicketIQ, 76ers vs Lakers tickets own a $112 average and the most inexpensive are listed from $27 each. It will be the Lakers’ sole visit to Philadelphia this season.
 
The Celtics will be the Sixers’ second most expensive opponent this month, but their December 3 visit is currently averaging nearly half the price the Lakers are seeing when they’re in town two weeks later. As it stands now the average resale price for tickets against the Celtics is $69 with a get-in price of $13.
 
The Nets, Pelicans and Raptors are all generating similar demand for their respective stops in Philadelphia later this month. With all three teams visiting over a six-day period between December 14 and 20, no game will average over $55 on the secondary market. Tickets start from as low as $7 each to when Anthony Davis and the Pelicans come to town on the 20th.
 
For those fans with interest in attending the most inexpensive games at Wells Fargo Center this month, the struggling Orlando Magic and Denver Nuggets will serve as the most affordable opponents to see in action in December. The Magic play the Sixers on Friday night, where last-minute 76ers vs. Magic tickets are averaging $43. Their next home game against the Nuggets have an average resale price of just $35.