It's easy to be sad about Jimmy Rollins leaving the Phillies. He's been with this team for his entire life, was a major part of the franchise's best run ever, and seemed to be a good guy, both on the field and off. To have a player like that leave is one of the more disappointing aspects of sports.
However, if you're reading this, you're most likely an adult who also understands that there's good that comes from this. The Phillies get two prospects who can hopefully help the team in the future. And Jimmy Rollins gets to spend this coming year (and maybe others down the road) on a team that will play games that matter.
In other words, as crushed as I am to see one of my favorites go, I'm happy for Jimmy and hopeful this improves the Phillies in the long run.
As an adult, I can hold these contradictory emotions at the same time. But put yourself in the shoes of a fan who is a kid. As hard as the Rollins trade may be for you as an adult, trust me, it was much worse for the kids around Philadelphia.
I haven't taken a scientific poll, but I think it's safe to say that Rollins was a kid-favorite among the Phillies. He played an important position, he hit home runs, he stole bases, he was talkative, he smiled, he was out in the community, and quite simply, he looked like he was always having fun. That's a combination kids love.
My sons were two of the many in this area who fell for Jimmy. They are 8 and 6 now, and understand baseball pretty well, but when they were younger and didn't, they still fell for Jimmy. Every morning they'd ask me if he had hit a home run the night before. When he had, we'd sing the Jimmy Rollins home run song over breakfast. (You can sing too - just sing "Jimmy Rollins hit a home run" over and over to the tune of "Happy Birthday." Trust me, it's fun!)
They both have a Phillies jersey that we got them for their birthdays. Naturally, they're number 11s. When we go to the park, they want to see Jimmy at bat. There's no contest - Jimmy Rollins is their favorite.
So Wednesday was tough on them. I left work before any word had trickled out about the trade, but in the 15 minutes it takes me to bike through Center City to get home, the Internet exploded with the info. When I opened the door, they were the first to tell me about the news. (Thanks to their Phillies-obsessed grandma who was watching them at the time.)
They couldn't believe it. They hoped that I knew it wasn't true. They wanted me to tell them that it wasn't possible. They were, in short, heartbroken.
When I checked my email and Twitter feed and told them it was probably true, they decided they had to do something about it. What were they going to do? They were clear. "Dad, let's protest!"
Of course there's a back story here. With the news out of Ferguson and Staten Island in the past two weeks, we've been talking in our family about what that means and why we're upset about it. We've also talked about the responses around the country, including the protests. Given our political leanings, we've even told them we'd try to bring them to a protest in the near future. We told them that protest has changed the world in the past and will change the world in the future, so they are eager to go and be a part of it.
In their minds then, it made total sense - Jimmy Rollins, their favorite baseball player and probably favorite athlete, is traded to another team; they don't like it; it's a grave injustice; so let's do something about it and protest.
At that moment, I wished I could have told them that we were heading down to Broad Street to join a massive protest that was already on the march. I wished I could have said that if enough kids got together, we could make sure Jimmy stayed in Philadelphia. I wished I could have told them we mattered.
But instead, I was the one who had to make their heartbreak even worse Wednesday afternoon by telling them that this just wasn't something we could protest. That all we can do is accept it and look forward to him returning to Philadelphia this summer so we can give him a standing ovation as a thank you.
To me and my adult mind, that doesn't cure the sadness of Rollins' departure, but it helps. To two kids who love Jimmy Rollins, what I said made no sense. And it left them where they were - sad and wanting, with all their heart, to protest Jimmy Rollins leaving Philadelphia.
If there's a protest, we know this girl is going to join it: