Each week (or not), Dan McQuade reviews a baseball movie. He's also reviewing MLB Network's six-episode reality show The Pen, featuring the Philadelphia Phillies bullpen, airing Sundays at 8 p.m. on MLB Network. Previous installments: Episode 1, Episode 2.
We didn't even get three episodes into The Pen and already people are claiming curse. Last week, the Philadelphia Daily News implied the three Phils relievers on the DL could be the result of a curse. I'm not quite sure how going on a reality show could curse a team; maybe reality shows can only be broadcast on television if producers desecrate an Indian burial ground first.
But there's more exciting Phillies bullpen news, and I'll cover this one here since I think there's a 0% chance a show on a network owned by Major League Baseball will: A fan at a Tampa Rays game says J.C. Romero attacked him for making a steroids comment; Romero could face battery charges in St. Petersburg.
It is a minor incident, of course. St. Petersburg police spokesman George Kajtsa: "Remember, this is a simple battery. No weapon was used. There were no injuries to the victim whatsoever, except as he says in the report he was embarrassed because it happened in front of other fans and his family." Perhaps the DA will charge Romero with intentional infliction of embarrassment.
All of this brings us to Episode No. 3 of The Pen, which basically follows the bullpen during the Phillies horrid 1-9 homestand earlier this month, as well as Brad Lidge's rehab assignment in Reading, Pa.
So: Yes, it's another ridiculously boring episode of The Pen. That makes three straight! It's weird: The only people likely to watch this show are Phillies fans and hardcore baseball fans, who probably already know (or at least have a general idea of) how the Phillies are doing this season. Yet the show is full of baseball highlights, which those people would have already seen.
The best parts of the show are the interactions between bullpen members, and the little things you learn about the players. For example, Scott Eyre is apparently an undercover FBI agent, probably going not-so-deep cover on J.C. Romero:
Or maybe it means Full Blooded Italian. I'd suggest it's best to not leave your FBI hat around when you're an undercover agent, but -- as both Eyre and I can attest -- it's hard to concentrate with ADD. I'm always leaving my towel on the bed and getting yelled at by my girlfriend.
Now that The Pen has almost caught up to real-time, it's clear the producers are running out of things to fill roughly 22 minutes of airtime. In episode three, we're actually treated to an etymology of the word "bullpen." According to Wikipedia this is actually disputed, but on The Pen, a baseball historian tells us it simply comes from a pen for bulls; originally, bullpens were simply enclosures on the side of the field. That leads to this shot, in case you weren't sure what a bull is.
I believe that's actually taken from an MLB Network studio. But, hey, at least they show us some old-timey footage as well!
Speaking of old-timey footage (and running out of things to fill time), this episode of The Pen also waxes esoteric about how esoteric relievers are. For this, we're treated to footage of the pre-pitch ritual of former MLB reliever Mike Fetters, which I've reproduced here in animated gif form:
We also see some ridiculous footage of former Phillies reliever and current announcer Larry Andersen (who you may know as the pitcher the Astros traded for Jeff Bagwell):
Perhaps even less stylish than those maroon Phillies jerseys: The headband of The Pen narrator/former Phillies reliever Mitch Williams in the early 90s; this week's episode showed spraying hair-in-a-can on Andersen:
Despite the lack of content, there are no shots of any attractive reliever wives in this week's episode. As I know many of you only read this recaps looking for hot babes, I present the two female reporters shown this week.
I might feel bad about this, but female sports reporters are among our nation's most harassed women. This is nothing. Go to a college basketball game sometime and watch how all the old lecherous sportswriters hover around the cute girl from the college newspaper.
That second reporter pictured is from something called Service Electric, which shows Reading Phillies games. Lidge's rehab gives me a moment to pontificate on the R-Phils jerseys. (I'm like a regular Paul Lukas, only I don't have an irrational hatred of Mike Piazza!)
As you may know, Reading has a giant pagoda. The structure is also represented on the R-Phils jerseys.
(shrugs). I just think that patch is kind of neat. It's certainly better than the Phillies' stupid "World Series champions" patch. My uncle has deemed this "bad luck"; he is certain it's causing the Phillies' horrible home record this season. Hey, that makes more sense than The Curse of The Pen.
But back to Reading, home of at least one pagoda and the Geigle Complex. Here's what I don't like about the R-Phils jerseys:
What's up with those numbers? Yuck. Italics and a horrid font. I'm guessing the team would like to differentiate itself from the big league club, but they could do better. May I suggest 8-bit Nintendo font style numbers? Heck, it'd match the on-screen graphics of Service Electric's broadcasts!
Can you name the five games I used at the bottom by way of comparison? If so: Wow, you're as big of a nerd as I am.
Bonus! The next episode of The Pen could feature some baby mama drama. And by that I mean: Is Clay Condrey pregnant?