The closer for his beloved Oakland club had to retire a broken-down outfielder with a long postseason resume of big moments. There was the home run off Goose Gossage in Game 5 of the 1984 World Series and the shot in the 1987 American League Championship Series off Frank Viola. Though Gibson had batted .154 in 26 at-bats for the National League Championship Series for Los Angeles, he smacked two home runs.
Or he can be Alex Rodriguez, who is often criticized for poor Octobers, despite a .279 average with seven homers, or Barry Bonds (.245 average and nine homers, with four coming in the 2002 World Series).In the 2007 NL Division Series, Rollins went 2-for-11 (.182), part of a three-game team malaise that forced a first-round exit to the Rockies. Rollins, a player who relishes the spotlight, said he won't let that define who he is as a player. "No matter how many postseasons you play, you're going to play a lot more regular-season games," he said. "The stakes are just higher in the postseason. Every little thing is magnified, whether it's justifiable or not. October doesn't define who you are as a player, just who you are when you had that opportunity." "You look at [Rodriguez's] numbers and say, 'Well, he doesn't do it when it counts.' Well, it counts for something to get there, too. If you have six great months and happen to struggle for one week, hopefully, it's not that week, because if it is, you will get crushed. All of a sudden, you can't do it anymore. Sometimes you get tired. You've got to carry a team for a long season. That's why we've got to uplift Ryan Howard, to make sure he's not tired yet." Rollins said this while sitting in the Phillies' dugout Tuesday, less than 24 hours away from the Phillies' second playoff appearance in as many seasons. He has a second chance at a special opportunity, one he and his teammates can share together. He shrugged off a left ankle injury and a summer slump this season to bat .313 in September. He stole a career-high 47 bases. He sent his team to the playoffs with a division-winning double play, which served to prove his point about moments meaning more because of the calendar. He's heard teammates and announcers call the play "amazing" and "spectacular." That doesn't suit him. "I've seen the play," he said, with a laugh. "I wasn't impressed. I've made that play a number of times with a runner in scoring position. It's not like I was laid all the way out, and flipped it over my head. It's almost a routine play, a ground ball up the middle, and I make that play." Blame the time of year. Another good month and the Phillies will be the first of the four major Philadelphia sports teams to win a championship since 1983, when the 76ers did it. If they do, Rollins and his teammates will own a city hungry to celebrate. Maybe that will quiet what Rollins called the "noise" of playing in Philadelphia. "There's always noise in Philly, always," he said. "Nothing is ever going to be just great. There's always going to be something. That's how the town operates. [With a championship], we'd get probably a year break. We'd get about a year." And if Rollins could have a Gibson moment? "That would be fine," he said. "Because you know what that means? I have some rings."
Ken Mandel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.