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Staring at the Back of a Chair: Nationals 9, Phillies 1

The Phillies lost to the Nationals. It turns out that the Padres are a bad team and the Nationals are better than them.

Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Here's what happens on every flight of 4 hours or longer I have taken in my life. I start out excited: I've packed a couple books I've wanted to read and am going to take advantage of all this time without the force of distraction that is the internet to churn through the pages. After about an hour of intense reading, I start to lose interest. Sometimes I turn to one of the other pieces of reading I packed; sometimes I show off some grit and power through another chapter of the book I've started. But by the time the second hour ends, I've given up on reading and given up on the flight. The remainder is a mix of staring at the chair in front of me, willing the plane to move faster, and almost, but never quite, pulling the trigger on purchasing some in-flight alcohol.

Some baseball games are enthralling from the first pitch to the last; others quit being even remotely compelling after the second pitch. Yesterday, Vince Velasquez kept us on the edge of our collective seat for two hours and twenty-seven minutes. Today, Jeremy Hellickson rendered the game unwatchable after he gave up a home run to Michael Taylor on the second pitch of the evening. Today's game was a lot like my flight from Philadelphia to Los Angeles, except instead of two books, all I brought was a single Dr. Seuss book.

These are the Phillies that we grew nihilistic about last year, not the Phillies we've developed warm, fuzzy, sort-of-parental feelings toward through the first two weeks of this season. So, Michael Taylor hit a home run on the second pitch of the game from Jeremy Hellickson, and it wasn't long after that that everyone started watching the game like I watch the back of the seat in front of me on flights.

But, like those flights, this game didn't end after that first run. Hell, the first inning didn't even end after that run as the Nationals scored four more on a bases-clearing double from Jayson Werth and a single from Danny Espinoza to drive in the former.

Hellickson was cool in the second inning, I guess, even though it appeared that he benefitted from a pity strike zone. Still, he gave up no runs in the inning, which is something for today.

Brett Oberholtzer ended up pitching more innings tonight than Hellickson, which, well, I don't need to tell you what that means. What a Friday night, indeed. Some other stuff happened, but to be quite honest, I was one half paying attention; come at me. If you're reading this, you probably weren't paying attention at all, so sit back down.

Bryce Harper hit a home run, the 101st of his career, the Phanatic took a crap on the field, and Bryce Harper hit 26 more home runs. I'm told that's a record, but I couldn't possibly be bothered to look that up for confirmation.

One thing that is actually true is that the left-handed tag-team of James Russell Terrier and Elvis Araujo combined for two innings pitched, no runs, and four strikeouts. Maybe Daniel Stumpf's PED suspension wasn't so bad after all.

Another true fact is that Ryan Howard hit another home run. I've been told he attributes his success to a recent call with his Little League coach who told him, "pretend the ball is the head of a person you hate, and smack the living shit out of it." Howard took that advice to heart and is envisioning the baseball as the head of a beat writer who doubted his ability to hit lefties, which changes after each home run. How long can this last? Well, how many Phillies beat writers are there? Not much longer, then, I think.

You've arrived at your destination. The local time is 10:20 pm; the temperature is 52 degrees Fahrenheit.