Video: Flyers-Rangers HBO 247 Preview

Video: Flyers-Rangers HBO 247 Preview

While we can't wait to be at Citizens Bank Park on January 2nd, we're really looking forward to watching HBO's 24/7 coverage of the Flyers and Rangers in the weeks leading up to it. On Friday night, HBO ran this preview.

Pumped? I think Peter Laviolette comes off quite Coach Eric Taylor-like while Torts is clearly the enemy coach who probably cheats.  Below, a look at what 24/7 does to humanize our enemies, and why we'll still hate them even if we learn to respect them a little more.

Last year, I remember watching each installment of 24/7 in amazement at one thing in particular. The Winter Classic would be played by two teams I hate, but usually enjoy watching, so the game at Heinz Field was going to be great no matter what. But 24/7 actually gave me something I wasn't expecting—respect for the Penguins and Capitals. I know, I feel pretty dirty admitting it. I went in anticipating begrudgingly watching an excellent production with a terrible subject matter. Instead, both were outstanding, and heroes emerged among a presumed cast of villains.

Will 24/7 change the way we feel about the Rangers?

The HD cameras showing men and their families around the holidays as well as select footage of a game that is even more brutal than it already looks brought us a lot closer to guys we essentially hate simply because of the sweaters they wear. (Case in point: How differently do you feel about Max Talbot, who featured prominently in last year's 24/7, now that he's tossed aside Black and Vegas gold for the Orange and Black?) But seeing them interact as teammates and normal guys off the ice, coaches talking about their players with their kids while cooking and getting ready for the holidays, and players getting mangled by the speed and sharpness of the game...

It was nearly impossible not to develop respect for just about every character on the screen, even those for whom there will always be on-ice dislike.

I bring this up because I'm not entirely sure how we'll feel about the Rangers over the course of the next month. While I'm fairly certain we'll still hate the crap out of them, I'm also reasonably certain there'll be a bit more respect for the individual guys because we'll know more of them then just the never-ending battle that's been waging between these clubs for years.

The outdoor battle on January 2nd should be that much more entertaining when we know the players a bit more like they know each other.

Update: In true The700Level highly organized fashion, both Rev and I posted about this just about simultaneously. Fortunately, we took different approaches, so you can read his here.

Phillies manager Pete Mackanin: Adam Morgan is a definite bullpen candidate

Phillies manager Pete Mackanin: Adam Morgan is a definite bullpen candidate

CLEARWATER, Fla. -- Just pitch.
 
Don’t worry about the role.
 
Just pitch.
 
That’s Adam Morgan’s mindset this spring.
 
“I’m just trying to show whoever needs to see it that I can be an asset to this team,” the left-hander said after his spring debut against the New York Yankees on Saturday (see story). “I’m just keeping it simple that way. I’m not trying to go out for that fifth (starting) spot. If the fifth spot opens up, I’d be more than willing to do that. If they want to put me in the bullpen, I’d be more than willing to do that. If they want me to be the backup catcher, I’ll be the backup catcher.”
 
The Phillies have plenty of candidates for backup catcher.
 
And the top five spots in their starting rotation, barring an unforeseen development, are accounted for.
 
But there is a way for Morgan to make this team.
 
“He’s definitely a bullpen candidate,” manager Pete Mackanin said.
 
Mackanin is on record as saying he’d like to have two lefties in what likely will be a seven-man bullpen. It might not work out that way, but that would be Mackanin’s preference.
 
Morgan is one of what appears to be four candidates along with Joely Rodriguez, Cesar Ramos and Sean Burnett. Ramos and Burnett are experienced major-league veterans in camp on minor-league contracts. Rodriguez is the only pure lefty reliever on the 40-man roster. Morgan, of course, is on the 40-man roster, but he’s mainly been a starter in his career.

There’s a long way to go in spring training and it would not be surprising to see general manager Matt Klentak add to the list of lefty relief candidates with some type of pickup before the end of camp.
 
But for now, it’s just these four.
 
Morgan, who turns 27 on Monday, started and pitched two scoreless innings against the Yankees on Saturday and will likely continue to have his innings stretched out throughout the Grapefruit League season, just in case he’s needed as a starter.

Ramos and Rodriguez both pitched an inning Saturday. Ramos allowed a hit and a run. Rodriguez had a clean inning. Burnett was tagged for two hits and two runs on Friday.
 
Morgan made 21 starts for the Phillies last season. He also made two relief appearances and finished the season with a 6.04 ERA. He was sent to Triple A in July and returned in mid-August. He made nine starts after returning and pitched at least six innings and gave up two or fewer earned runs in four of them.
 
During his time in Triple A, Morgan started throwing a two-seam fastball or sinker. He’s continued to throw it this spring and believes it will help him.
 
“I learned to trust the two-seamer last year and that’s what I hope to keep moving forward with,” he said.
 
Will it take him to the Phillies’ bullpen?
 
He hopes so. He got a taste of relieving last season and liked it.
 
“Oh, yeah, I loved it,” he said. “Every time the phone rang down there, I was on high alert. It was awesome. It’s a rush.
 
“But wherever I land, I land. I’d be willing to play anywhere on this team.”