Just a Bit Outside

MLB's show needs to go deeper into the bullpen
June 21, 2009

The Pen is an interesting proposition. The six-part show that follows the Phillies' relief corps is produced by MLB Network, the one entity that presumably has enough pull to get players to abandon their devotion to the maxim that what happens in the clubhouse stays in the clubhouse. But instead of burrowing in and giving a slice of life in the bullpen, the show (which premiered on Sunday at 8 p.m.) focuses on broader, character-driven arcs, with mixed results.

Much more compelling are the occasional fly-on-the-wall moments, such as the spring training discussion among manager Charlie Manuel (page 58), G.M. Ruben Amaro and various coaches about the last cut: former starter J.A. Happ or journeyman Gary Majewski. Pitching coach Rich Dubee points out that Happ is likely struggling because he had been told that not only was he out of the rotation but also that he wasn't guaranteed a roster spot. "All of a sudden he got kicked in the gut and the teeth," Dubee says. So Happ stays. It's a rare look at what happens behind closed doors—and the kind of moment the show needs more of in its remaining five episodes.

PHOTOJIM MCISAAC/GETTY IMAGES (BULLPEN)REAL RELIEF The Phils provide the drama in The Pen.

HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
OUT
HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
IN
Eagle (-2)
Birdie (-1)
Bogey (+1)
Double Bogey (+2)