During the Golden Age that is drawing to a close, one mantra around these parts has been "as goes Jimmy, so go the Phils".
Well, Jimmy keeps on going. Last night he played his 1731 game at shortstop surpassing Larry Bowa to claim the top spot in number of games played at that position in Phillies franchise history. He celebrated by stroking the 41st lead-off home run in his career, a shot that proved to be the game winner in a 1-0 victory over Miami.
One byproduct of longevity is almost certainly a modicum of abuse. Perhaps only a Cal Ripken managed to avoid it in his long career (actually, some argued his streak was hurting the team at one point). J-Roll has endured his share, largely because he isn't seen as the prototypical lead-off hitter. He isn't patient, doesn't walk and generally swings for the fences rather than play small ball.
That said, he is nearing 2,000 hits, a milestone reached by only three other Phillies players (Mike Schmidt, Ed Delahanty and Richie Ashburn) and is among the team leaders in doubles and steals. All of this while playing Gold Glove or near GG shortstop for all these years.
Oh, and one other small matter: he loves to play the game and it shows. His smile is electric. He chats up every first baseman in baseball. He has energy. He motivates his teammates. Look in the dugout nearly every time the camera catches Jimmy he's chatting away.
No wonder "as goes Jimmy, so go the Phils"!
P.S. They've gone pretty damn well for the last five years.