For starters, the team was still waiting in buses to go to the airport when I walked out of RFK at a shade past 3 a.m. this morning. Though they went through security clearance at the ballpark and the buses will drive right on to the tarmac so that the players can hop get on their chartered flight to Florida, a best-case scenario has the team getting into the air at 4 a.m. at the very earliest.
And that depends upon if they went to National, BWI or Dulles.
There's more, too. It was 2:30 a.m. when I walked into the tight and cramped visitor's clubhouse at RFK where the first person I saw was Jamie Moyer, tonight's starting pitcher, sitting in his locker waiting to head to the airport. Moyer had the option of flying ahead so that he could be properly rested for tonight's important game, but the veteran thought it would be better to wait the night out with his teammates.
Make no mistake about it -- Moyer was going to wait. According to sources and Charlie Manuel, the Phillies were going to play the game against the Nationals no matter what. It would not have mattered if the rain finally stopped at 2:07 a.m. (which is when the game ultimately ended); the game was going to be played before the Phillies left for Miami. That, they say, was the edict from MLB in New York. Apparently, they did not leave themselves any wiggle room in next week's playoff schedule, which seems to be their M.O.
No wiggle room on performance-enhancing drugs and no wiggle room on the TV schedule. Way to go, MLB!
Nevertheless, the Phillies clubhouse was as quiet as a crowded room could be. Forget that it was 2:30 a.m. and there was another ballgame looming after they arrived in Florida as the sun was rising. The Phillies, it seems, see the graffiti on the wall.
"I'd say [the team's mood] is down, yeah," Manuel said at 2:24 a.m., standing against some dungeon-like corridor wall in the bowels of RFK. "But when you don't hit and don't play real well, I don't know what you can do about it. That's the way baseball is sometimes. But it's hard to live with it."
Sometimes it's hard to live without, too. That seems like the way it will be for another October in Philadelphia.