Seething a Good Thing for Phillies Right Now

Seething a Good Thing for Phillies Right Now

Heading into last night's game in Washington, the Phillies still had a slim chance to prevent being on the other end of another team's celebration. Who ever said that would have been a positive?

By now you know the Nationals lost, but experienced their moment of glory anyway because the Braves couldn't take care of business against the Pirates. Know what? That's okay, and not just because it was bound to happen anyway.

For once, it was good the shoe was on the other foot this time, because now the Phillies are mad. Charlie Manuel said as much as after the game, and in this instance, it's safe to say he was speaking for a number of guys in the clubhouse. Via John Gonzalez:

While the Nationals – clad in division championship hats and T-shirts – stood on the field and addressed their fans following the game, Charlie Manuel sat in the visiting manager’s office. He didn’t look or sound happy. The Phillies won the game, but Manuel said, “we got beat” as reporters filed into the room and stood around his desk.

“It made me mad, yeah, yes it did,” Manuel said about the Nationals claiming what the Phillies had owned for the last five years. “I’m a bad loser. Nobody should be a good loser. I’m a bad loser and I always will be.

“I’ve been mad for three or four weeks. It just hadn’t been coming out.”

Sure, the Phillies have watched opponents celebrate during their unprecedented run of success, but I'm not convinced anger was ever quite the emotion it elicited.

When they lost the World Series to the Yankees in '09, there was still a sense of accomplishment in that. When the Giants beat them in the NLCS the following year, it was more a feeling of crushing disappointment. When the Cardinals upended the Phillies in the Divisional Series last season, they were stunned.

This is something else entirely. After a group as talented and as decorated as this roster has played 160 games, already knowing they won't even get a sniff of the playoffs, seeing their rivals jump for joy could only incite rage.

It's a picture they will carry all offseason.

Not that motivation was the problem for the Phillies in 2012, or that they needed any more of it to get back on track. The single biggest factor that led to their being on the outside looking in was injuries, a problem that we can only hope will remedy itself next year. I don't buy this notion they ever became complacent, either -- not with the personalities in that dugout, not when they set a franchise record with 102 wins only a season ago.

I also don't think the added slight of being completely powerless to stop the Nats from winning the NL East can hurt, either. The Phillies may have had better teams since winning the World Series, but they were at their absolute best back in '08 when they still had everything to prove.

That sense of having something to prove will be alive and well when pitchers and catchers report in February. Good, because it suits them well.

Safety Malcolm Jenkins ready to man the slot with Ron Brooks out

Safety Malcolm Jenkins ready to man the slot with Ron Brooks out

With slot cornerback Ron Brooks out for the year, the Eagles have a big hole in their secondary.

And safety Malcolm Jenkins is happy to fill it.

Jenkins, the Eagles’ Pro Bowl safety, said he hopes to replace Brooks as the Eagles’ slot corner. Brooks went on injured reserve Monday after rupturing his quad during the win over the Vikings Sunday.

Jenkins spoke Monday evening on CSN's Quick Slants from his Malcolm Jenkins Foundation fundraiser at Union Trust.

“I played 60 percent of my snaps last year in the slot so it's a position that I'm very, very comfortable with and that I prefer as opposed to playing deep,” Jenkins said. “So I'm comfortable in that role.”

With Brooks out, the Eagles are thin at cornerback, with only Nolan Carroll, Leodis McKelvin and rookies Jalen Mills and recently activated C.J. Smith.

Carroll can play in the slot, but Doug Pederson indicated Monday that he’s leaning toward using Jenkins to cover the opposing slot receiver, like he did Sunday, after Brooks got hurt.

“Yeah, I would think that it would be very similar to what we've seen with Jalen on the outside and then Malcolm coming down inside and playing the nickel spot, and Jaylen Watkins being back there a little bit.

“And with Leo being healthy now, (it) gives you a little more depth. But we've got to continue to look at getting C.J. some more reps probably during the week to have a full complement of secondary help.”

Mills is a rookie seventh-round pick, and Smith is an undrafted rookie who spent the first seven weeks of the season on the practice squad.

McKelvin has missed three games this year but appears healthy now. Mills started Sunday but McKelvin played the bulk of the snaps.

Sunday will present a huge challenge for whoever mans the spot since Cowboys slot receiver Cole Beasley is so dangerous. He’s the Cowboys’ leading receiver with 33 catches for 390 yards and three touchdowns.

Beasley caught nine passes for a career-high 112 yards against the Eagles in the second meeting last year. He’s one of six receivers in the league this year with at least 50 yards in six games.

Jenkins said there are a number of ways the Eagles can defend the slot this weekend in Dallas.

“Now that we’ve got Leodis McKelvin back, it's another option,” he said. “We could put Jalen Mills in there. Just basically depends on matchups and what we want to do.

“I think the coaching staff right now is weighing those options and we'll see [Tuesday] or Wednesday what that package is really gonna look like.”

Brooks played 228 snaps in the Eagles’ first five games, or about 46 per game. That was fourth-most in the secondary before he got hurt.

“It's a tough loss,” Jenkins said. “But we've got so many guys that are interchangeable on our defense that it won't affect anything that we're doing.”

Flyers recall forward Taylor Leier from Lehigh Valley

Flyers recall forward Taylor Leier from Lehigh Valley

The Flyers on Tuesday made an unexpected roster move as they have recalled forward Taylor Leier from the Lehigh Valley Phantoms, general manager Ron Hextall announced. The 22-year-old will be available for Tuesday night's game against the visiting Buffalo Sabres (see game notes).

Now the question is why the call-up?

There were no reports of injuries following Monday's 3-1 loss to the Canadiens. But knowing the secretive nature of hockey injuries, it's possible a Flyer was indeed nicked up in Montreal.

It's also entirely possible that the upper-body injury to Michael Raffl, who hasn't played in a week's time since leaving the 7-4 loss to the Blackhawks in Chicago, is more serious than originally thought and needs more time to heal. The Flyers could place Raffl on long-term injury reserve retroactive to last Tuesday. That would free up a roster spot and make room for Leier.

This will not be Leier's first stint with the Flyers. Along with Shayne Gostisbehere, he was called up last November and made his debut in a Nov. 14 win in Carolina. He played six games in the NHL before he was sent back down to Lehigh Valley for the rest of season. He did not record a point with the Flyers last season and averaged 7:43 of ice time a night.

In three games with the Phantoms this season, the 2012 fourth-round draft pick of the Flyers has three assists. He scored 20 goals for the Phantoms last season, including a team-high 10 power-play goals.

Leier will wear No. 58 for the Flyers. It remains to be seen if he will crack Tuesday's lineup.