Remember when Phillies fans used to invade Nationals Park? Well . . .

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A couple of years ago there was a thing where Phillies fans would descend on Washington and buy up all the Nats-Phillies tickets for games played at Nats Park. Citizens Bank Park was always sold out. No one went to Nats games. The cities are relatively close. It made a lot of sense that Phillies fans would do that. Even if it really ticked off Nationals fans who hated to have their park invaded by outsiders. It became such a thing that they invented “Nattitude” as a counter-marketing effort. Really, all of that sprung from Phillies fans taking over and the Nats trying to take their park back.

A couple of disappointing seasons for the Phillies later and it’s a totally different deal. The Nationals are in Philly this weekend. The weather forecast looks grand. Cliff Lee is on the mound. And the Phillies are offering discounted tickets in earnest. Crossing Broad says it’s a buy-one-get-one-free sale. The Good Phight says it’s more of a 50% off deal of select seats, but notes that it is a pretty early promotion suggesting sluggish ticket sales.

Which, hey, it happens. As all of you are quick to point out every time some NL East thing comes up, the Braves don’t do all that well at the gate so they’ve probably been discounting tickets since the second game of the season. That’s undeniably true.

But Braves fans have never claimed fan intensity, passion and support as some singularly awesome trait they possess like Phillies fans have over the past few years. The thing that set them apart and made them better than any other fans. The abject rejection of the notion that, as is the case with most teams, winning teams draw and losing teams don’t and that, rather, it’s a function of their exceptional enthusiasm for their team. Now they’re discounting what should be a pretty hot ticket, relatively speaking. Like any other mediocre team does.

Here’s hoping a bunch of Nats fans get on a bus and make it Nats Park North. That’d be cool. And next year we’d get self-helpy-sounding promotions like “Phillatude” or whatever.

There was another miscommunication between the Phillies and Pat Neshek

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Back in June 2017, then-manager of the Phillies Pete Mackanin and reliever Pat Neshek had some miscommunication. In a series against the Cardinals, Neshek worked a five-pitch eighth inning and it was believed he would come back out for the ninth inning, but he never did. Mackanin said Neshek said he didn’t want to pitch another inning. Neshek said he was never asked. There was also some miscommunication the game prior. Neshek thought he had the day off; Mackanin said Neshek said he wasn’t available to pitch.

Mackanin is no longer the Phillies’ manager, but the miscommunication between Neshek and the team apparently persist. Neshek was notably absent during the Phillies’ hard-fought 5-4 win over the Cubs on Monday night. The game featured a struggling Seranthony Domínguez pitching two innings, yielding three crucial runs in his second inning of work.

Manager Gabe Kapler called the bullpen and instructed Neshek to begin warming up to prepare to face Albert Almora, Matt Breen of the Philadelphia Inquirer reports. Kapler rang the bullpen after Domínguez walked Jason Heyward, who batted ahead of Almora. Neshek wasn’t warmed up yet. Domínguez was able to retire Almora on a sacrifice bunt, which was reviewed and gave Neshek some extra time to get ready. He was ready for the next batter, Daniel Descalso, but at this point Kapler no longer wanted to bring Neshek into the game. Descalso lined a triple to left-center field, scoring two runs and came home himself when shortstop Jean Segura‘s throw caromed off of his foot out of play.

Recounting the situation, Neshek said, “I got on the mound and threw two pitches. [Kapler] said, ‘Is he ready?’ And I said, ‘No. I’m not ready yet. I’ve thrown two pitches.” Neshek was asked how long it takes him to get ready. The veteran said, “A minute. Not 20 seconds. I’m, like, the best in the league at getting ready. My whole career has been coming in like that.”

The Phillies were able to eke out a 5-4 win. Had they lost the game, Kapler and Neshek would likely have been under the microscope for the awkward situation leading to a crushing defeat. Kapler drew plenty of criticism over his bullpen management last year in his rookie managerial season. That included bringing in lefty reliever Hoby Milner into a game in which he hadn’t yet warmed up.

Maybe it’s just a coincidence that the manager who struggled with bullpen management last year nearly mucked up a win last night, and maybe it’s just a coincidence that a reliever who’s had prior issues with communication had another communication mix-up. Maybe it’s not. It’s worth noting that the Phillies needed three innings from the bullpen to protect a 2-1 lead over the Cubs on Tuesday. Kapler called on rookie Edgar Garcia for two outs, lefty José Álvarez for four, and then brought in Juan Nicasio to close things out in the ninth. No Neshek, even as Nicasio got into trouble. Nicasio would surrender the tying and go-ahead runs, resulting in a deflating 3-2 loss.