June 15, 2009 1:53 AM

"The Pen"- Episode One

MLB: World Series 2008 - Game 5 - Phillies Win World Series

The long-awaited premiere episode of "The Pen", the "reality show" featuring the Phillies' bullpen, aired tonight. It wasn't bad. It was a little more documentary, and a little less "fly on the wall" than I would have preferred. But, it was the introductory episode, and subsequent editions may feature more behind-the-scenes shenanigans. We all want the shenanigans, and we all know that Scott Eyre and Clay Condrey can bring us the aforementioned shenanigans.

In the months of waiting for Episode One, I have pondered many possible storylines for the series:
  • Brad Lidge taking Sergio Escalona to his first rodeo.
  • J.C. Romero shopping at GNC, meticulously studying the warning labels.
  • Ryan Madson winning an immunity challenge, by placing 147 snails on the head of a slumbering Matt Stairs.
  • Clay Condrey and Chad Durbin cooking at CBP, with Emeril Lagasse. (Durbin spends most of the episode peeling garlic.)
  • Scott Eyre climbing the roof at CBP. While wearing a cape.
  • Jack Taschner fighting crime, on the cold, hard streets of South Philly. (Also wearing a cape.)
  • The whole bullpen celebrating Taschner's birthday together. At Dave and Buster's!

Future episodes may include some, or all, of the above. (Spoiler Alert: The only thing certain is that Taschner will play a crucial role as the series progresses. Otherwise, it just doesn't make sense that he is still on the team.)

Episode One did include a number of memorable moments:

  • Clay Condrey indicating that "only pretty boys smile" at an 8am photo shoot for the show.
  • Scott Eyre with his Little League-playing son. Spring Training in Clearwater afforded Eyre the opportunity to attend a lot of his son's games. Eyre's son, a pitcher, claims "it's easier to throw strikes, if I throw slow."
  • Kyle Kendrick's demotion is a "step backwards, to step forwards."
  • Ruben Amaro wants to tell J.A. Happ that Happ has made the club, in order to help the pitcher "get the monkey off his ass."
  • During the (World Series) Ring Ceremony, Muffin calls the ring a "pretty good piece of bling."
  • Chad Durbin says that Harry Kalas' voice is the "narrator for your dreams."
  • Jack Taschner's wife, son, and brand new daughter are introduced. How can we root for his demotion now? (Well, he gets his $835K, even if he is coming out of the Lehigh Valley bullpen, so I think I am still OK with his demotion.)

The best part, at least to this fan, was when they showed the Phillies' management team discussing their roster decisions for the pitching staff. Though I was disappointed that Muffin and the Phanatic didn't appear to be involved in the meeting, it was surprising that the cameras would be allowed to tape such candid conversations about Phillies' players. I wonder if the cameras caused the management team to speak more diplomatically about the players, than they would have otherwise?

Naturally, part of the focus of that conversation was Taschner's status with the team. Manuel spoke bluntly about Taschner's lack of command. But Taschner's left-handedness won out, and he made the team, at the expense of right-hander Gary Majewski. If only someone had realized that Taschner wasn't particularly effective against batters of either handed-ness...

The next episode promises to answer questions, such as "Are Brad Lidge's issues real?" and "Who will lose his roster spot, when J.C. Romero returns?" Phillies fans already know the answers to these questions, but we'll tune in, just in case they show Condrey, Durbin, and Eyre fishing together. The question "Who is the second-best fisherman?" remains unanswered. (Condrey is, obviously, the best of the trio. No questions asked.)

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