I just logged on to Weather.com and on the forecast for this weekend I saw a strange orange orb with the word "sunny" printed underneath. I'm not sure what that means, but in ancient times here in the Northeast, I believe it referred to days when there was not a blanket of overcast hovering ominously overhead and emitting a light stream of cold drizzle.
I talked to Jayson Werth last night after the game and he essentially agreed with the premise that I set forth in my game story last night. It will be nice for this Phillies team to get home and play a six-game homestand in decent weather and then go on to play seven more days in a row without a break. These guys don't like to use weather as an excuse, and it really shouldn't be one. Every team north of the Mason-Dixon line deals with the same conditions. But the Phillies have dealt with some unique circumstances the first week-and-a-half of this season, when they have played eight games and had four off days while dealing with both the exuberant fallout from their World Series celebrations and the mournful fallout from the death of Harry Kalas.
Frankly, I think the first situation has affected their performance more than the latter. While Kalas was held in high esteem by everybody in the Phillies organization, I can't imagine it is the same type of pall that the Angels felt with Nick Adenhart or the Cardinals felt with John Hancock and Darryl Kile. Kalas was an important figure in the history of this city, but it is important to remember that he lived a good, long life. And I think that the memorials planned for the next couple of days will take on the feel of a celebration of his life rather than a mourning of his death.
But the reason we like sports is much the same as the reason we like music: rhythm. The professionals who play sports and the professionals who play music captivate our attention because they have a rare ability to turn that rhythm into art. And over the first week-and-a-half of the season, what the Phillies have displayed has only occasionally resembled the art of a good baseball. There are two potential reasons for that: Either they are a .500 baseball team who will spend the rest of the season getting inconsistent performances out of their line-up, starting pitchers, and bull-pen, or the disjointed nature -- physically and emotionally -- of the past week-and-a-half has affected their ability to get out of first gear and find a groove.
The next 13 days will provide a better barometer of the true identity of this Phillies team.
In the notebook today, I looked at the case of prospect Antonio Bastardo, whom the team has decided to change into a reliever down at Double-A Reading. Bastardo only threw five ininngs in spring training, but the Phillies saw enough to decide that his most immediate big league future is likely out of the bullpen. It is important to note because while the Phillies have three lefty relievers, only Scott Eyre is a true lefty specialist-type. Jack Taschner, who allowed four runs in the eighth inning last night, has better numbers against righties than lefties. And J.A. Happ, who has pitched well out of the pen thus far, including one out last night, is still viewed as a future starter.
According to pitching coach Rich Dubee, the decision came because the Phillies believe that if Bastardo gains enough consistency on his slider to compliment his low-90's fastball, he could develop into a weapon at the big league level. Bastardo had started all but five of his appearances in the minors up until this season, but the team felt like he didn't have a diverse-enough repetoire of pitches to break into the majors as a starter.
The Bastardo situation isn't a pressing one for the immediate future of the team. But Dubee did say that he thinks the lefty could contribute at some point this season. So it will be interesting to monitor the situation.