BOSTON -- A familiar face patrolled the area in front of the Red Sox's dugout hours before first pitch Wednesday, and although he wasn't in uniform, he could probably relate more with the players getting ready for game time than anyone else around him.
While former players often morph into media types post-playing career and are commonplace among the masses that gather to watch a team take batting practice, it's also not unusual to spot a current player or two hired to provide analysis during the playoffs.
Jimmy Rollins, still very much an active player, as part of that contingent.
Rollins, who just completed his 14th season with the Phillies, is working for FOX and FOX Sports 1 throughout the postseason. He provided analysis and insight during the American League Championship Series and is on site for the World Series, working the pregame and postgame shows for the national broadcast in both Boston and St. Louis.
Rollins was targeted for this gig not only because of his superb communication skills. He also falls into the category of been there, done that, having played in five postseasons and two World Series, winning the whole thing with the Phils in 2008.
"Having the experience of playing in the World Series, losing an LCS, winning an LCS ... just to give a different perspective of current players as opposed to guys that have been out of the game for a while," Rollins said. "Or people that are just professional writers, reporters. I think it gives a different view and definitely a more current view."
The Phillies won five division titles in a row from 2007-11, reaching the World Series in 2008, when they won it, and '09, when they lost to the Yankees. They lost the pennant to the Giants in 2010 and did not advance out of the first round in their last postseason appearance.
The mish-mosh of results over the years has given Rollins an appreciation for what the Red Sox and Cardinals are going through this week, having made it through the stress and anxiety (and yes, a little fun as well) of October to get to the point where there are only two teams still playing.
The World Series, Rollins said, is an entirely different animal.
"It's different than an LCS, because you're no longer qualifying," he said. "You're playing to get the next stage [in the LCS]. Now, you're at the next stage and this is the last week to nine days in baseball, no matter what. You want to be the last team standing."
And often, it's not the best team that wins as much as it is the team having a better week. Superior pitching staffs, flawless defense and timely hitting get a team through the long haul of a season. A bad week in October, however, can nullify everything in an instant.
Rollins has experienced both.
"We lost to the Yankees in 2009 -- I didn't think they were the better team," he said. "They just beat us in a seven-game series. In 2008, we won the World Series and I bet you [the Rays] would say the same thing -- we just beat them in a seven-game series. You just understand the importance of every game, situations, executing ... but you hope your team is hotter than theirs."
Rollins echoed the sentiment heard around baseball a lot since the end of the LCS -- the Red Sox and the Cardinals are truly the best two teams in baseball, having beaten the teams they were supposed to beat to get to this point. Many years, that hasn't been the case, proving Rollins' theory true -- sometimes teams advance because they simply had a better week.
Hours before first pitch of Game 1, Rollins picked the Red Sox to win the Series, although he said the fundamentally sound, deep Cardinals have done plenty so far to make a Boston championship seem less certain.
"I like the way St. Louis has come together at the right time," he said. "But Boston's doing the same thing. They found a way to win with a big swing from Shane [Victorino], a big swing from Big Papi [David Ortiz], without hitting, to win a series.
"Hopefully that changes for Boston, and hopefully St. Louis keeps swinging the bats. No one wants to see a dull World Series. That's a waste of everybody's time. These are the two best baseball teams in Major League Baseball this year. It's going to be fun. But I said Boston from the beginning. I can't change my mind now."