Being the defending World Series champions doesn't change anything about the way we go about our business in 2009.

People ask me all the time what it's like playing as the champion. To me, nothing comes with it. We treat every game like just another game.

That might be different if we were to win a couple of championships in a row, but, in recent history, nobody has defended their championship. If you look at the last nine years you're looking at nine different champions. The Red Sox have won it twice, in 2004 and 2007, but nobody has been able to hold onto it after winning it the year before.

It would be nice if we were the team that changed that pattern and held onto the title. That's our goal. We want to be a team that is a perennial champion, a team that seems to have a good chance to win it each and every year.

But championships in baseball have really been like a free-for-all. It seems to go to the team that is playing real well at that particular time of the year.

I don't really get the sense that clubs are really "getting up" to face us. We've played pretty good baseball. So, even if the opposition has been extra focused on us, we've still found a way to win most of our games.

I've been on the other side of the equation, too. I remember when Florida won it all, but all I could think is that we beat up on them so much during that regular season. The thing is that they caught fire during the second half and won it all. I think that could have been us who did the same thing. It can happen that easily.

I wonder if some teams look at us that way this year. They might ask why they aren't the champs if they beat up on us last year. They figure we got hot at the right time and went on to win the World Series. So they probably figure they can do the same thing this year.

Coming off of last year, I look at us as being the champs but maybe it was just our turn to win it. Nobody has yet to really grab that championship and say, "it's ours." So that's the goal going forward.

All-Star shortstop Jimmy Rollins won the National League's Most Valuable Player award in 2007 and helped lead the Phillies to the World Series championship last year. Rollins and the defending champion Phillies have won eight of their last 10 games and hold a three-game lead over the second-place Mets in the NL East as they arrived in New York for a three-game series starting Tuesday.