Phillies' bullpen mic'ed up for series
'The Pen' reality show will air on MLB Network on Sunday
NEW YORK -- Rich Dubee believes in the baseball gods.
So the pitching coach said he had his reservations when he learned MLB Productions wanted to film the Phillies' bullpen for a reality series called "The Pen." The six-episode series, which debuts at 8 p.m. ET on Sunday on MLB Network, follows the Phillies bullpen on and off the field, with microphones recording everything along the way. Cameras are everywhere, too, including one attached to the catcher's mask in the bullpen.
"I like to fly under the radar," Dubee explained. "It always seems like when you start to try to bring notice to yourself, the baseball gods catch up to you."
But the Phillies' bullpen has thrown pretty well this season. It has also had its share of drama, which should make for interesting TV. It entered Thursday's series finale against the Mets at Citi Field with a 3.52 ERA, which ranked fifth in the National League. It had a 2.72 ERA since May 15.
That said, Dubee commented, "The experience has been fine."
Dubee also understands that winning brings extra attention, so he said he gladly would have "The Pen: Season 2" if it meant Phildelphia could win another World Series.
Some of the Phillies already caught a sneak preview of the series premiere, which left-hander Jack Taschner said establishes the different personalities in the bullpen.
"I thought it was phenomenal," Taschner said. "I thought they did a great job. They kind of give you a feel for each player in the first episode. What we're all about."
The series will follow the bullpen from Spring Training through the All-Star break. Former Phillies closer Mitch Williams narrates. The series premiere is one hour and spans Spring Training through May. The second through sixth episodes will be 30 minutes. The second episode, which airs at 9 p.m. on June 21, covers the Phillies' just-completed road trip through San Diego, Los Angeles and New York.
"I'm anxious what kind of take the audience will get from it," right-hander Clay Condrey said. "I guess this comes with the job. To me it's OK because of the guys who are involved. Everybody gets on each other. We rib each other. I like that part. It's been OK. It's been fun."
Condrey has been miked for the series.
"I try to get guys to say stuff that they normally don't say," Condrey joked. "I brought up ghosts. Who believes in ghosts? They got a couple pretty good quotes out of Mad Dog [right-hander Ryan Madson]. I hope they show it."
The shows promise to have behind-the-scenes access. In the premiere episode, cameras are inside as general manager Ruben Amaro Jr., manager Charlie Manuel, Dubee and others discuss the makeup of the Phillies bullpen.
Left-hander J.A. Happ or right-hander Gary Majewski?
That is access afforded no one.
Of course, there are some things the Phillies have asked not be included. For example, they don't want conversations between Dubee and one of his pitchers talking about a particular hitter, so that hitter could use that information against them in the future. Otherwise, "The Pen" hopes to give fans a sense of what life is like in the bullpen and what the pitchers' lives are likes away from the ballpark.
"A lot of the stuff I say they're probably going to end up deleting it because they can't understand it or because they know the people that are going to be watching it can't understand it," joked Condrey, who speaks with a thick Texas drawl. "I guess I talk a little fast. The audience might not even know I'm in the bullpen."
They probably will. The show's producers hope fans know a little more about everybody in the Phillies episode after the series concludes July 26.
Todd Zolecki is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.