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Pitching coach reportedly draws managerial interest from Phillies

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Pitching coach reportedly draws managerial interest from Phillies

We know of only two men the Phillies have interviewed for their managerial vacancy: Juan Samuel and Jorge Velandia, according to NBC Sports Philadelphia's Jim Salisbury.

Another name to keep an eye on is Mickey Callaway, the Cleveland Indians' pitching coach. The Phillies are "taking a close look" at him, per ESPN's Buster Olney.

Callaway, 42, has been Cleveland's pitching coach since 2013, a period during which the Indians have had one of the best staffs in baseball. Over that span, Cleveland has posted a team ERA of 3.65, which is lowest in the American League by a significant margin (the Rays are next at 3.84) and fourth-lowest in the majors.

Let's be real, though, that has much more to do with Corey Kluber, Carlos Carrasco and an elite bullpen. On the flip side, guys like Mike Clevinger, Trevor Bauer, Josh Tomlin and Danny Salazar have shown some improvement through the years, which reflects well on Callaway.

Before working his way through the coaching ranks in Cleveland's farm system, Callaway pitched in the majors from 1999 to 2004 with the Rays, Angels and Rangers.

Callaway's offseason began Thursday, the day after the Indians were shockingly eliminated from the playoffs by the Yankees after building a commanding 2-0 series lead.

Mike Lombardi backtracks on Doug Pederson criticism – sort of

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Mike Lombardi backtracks on Doug Pederson criticism – sort of

Having previously stated Doug Pederson is unqualified, former NFL executive Mike Lombardi is finally walking back his criticism of the Eagles’ head coach. Kinda.

It only took a 13-win season and a trip to the NFC Championship game for Lombardi to admit he might’ve been mistaken.

Even now, Lombardi doesn’t sound entirely convinced about Pederson, who’s a strong candidate for Coach of the Year.

Lombardi garnered attention back in September after questioning Pederson’s credibility.

“Everybody knows Pederson isn't a head coach,” Lombardi said during one of his regular NFL podcasts for The Ringer. “He might be less qualified to coach a team than anyone I've seen in my 30-plus years in the NFL.”

The comments grew beyond meaningless banter when Lombardi was tied to Jim Schwartz, and a report stated the Eagles’ defensive coordinator was actively working to undermine Pederson — just days before the start of the regular season.

It all seemed like a bunch of nonsense at the time, and the entire narrative over whether Pederson is the right person for the job hasn’t aged well. So four months and an Eagles win over the Falcons in a divisional playoff game later, Lombardi was finally ready to go back on his podcast and say he was wrong.

Well, sort of.

"I admit, I’m wrong. Okay, Doug Pederson was way better than I thought he was going to be in terms of his ability to lead that team. I think Jim Schwartz is a tremendous defensive coordinator. I think he deserves a lot of credit here. But I thought (Pederson) did a really good job with Nick Foles (Saturday). So all you Philly fans give me all this crap about, ‘Give Doug Pederson his due,’ yeah, okay, I was wrong. He’s a better coach. Now he’s going to have to do it again this week, and we’ll see how that is, but for me, I think when you win a playoff game, and you beat a team that you’re an underdog to, and you beat (Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan), and Nick Foles plays well enough, I think you deserve it. I think I have to admit — hey look, I think I was wrong in terms of how far I went with Doug, I’m not sure how great of a coach Doug is, but I was wrong in terms of how far I went with it."

Lombardi almost immediately praises Schwartz, before going on to say Pederson needs to prove himself again in the conference title game, he still doesn’t know how good Pederson is and the actual problem with his comments was the extent of his criticism, not necessarily that he was critical of Pederson in the first place.

Again, the Eagles won 13 games this season, earning the top playoff seed in the NFC, a postseason bye and home-field advantage throughout the tournament. Then they defeated the reigning conference champion Falcons and are now one victory away from a trip to the Super Bowl. He absolutely should win Coach of the Year. Even last season, Pederson won seven games as a first-year head coach with a rookie quarterback, so the idea he was ever wholly unprepared, as Lombardi suggested, was always a laughable take.

It’s safe to say Pederson has put any and all doubt to rest. There’s no need to qualify that statement or assign credit to somebody else. Pederson is good at his job. That much is a fact.

Look, almost everybody had concerns about Pederson when he was hired in 2016 and coming into this season. Perfectly reasonable. What Lombardi said in September was as preposterous as it was inaccurate, and anything less than saying he was completely, 100 percent incorrect isn’t backtracking nearly enough.

Eagles are letting the dogs out ... or in on Sunday

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Eagles are letting the dogs out ... or in on Sunday

The dogs will be out in full force on Sunday night and the Eagles are all too happy to allow it. 

After the Birds’ 15-10 triumph on Saturday, Lane Johnson and Chris Long, among others in the Eagles’ locker room, wore dog masks that the duo bought on Amazon as a reminder to everyone who picked the Falcons to win and to the oddsmakers that made the Eagles home underdogs for the tilt.

Once the masks appeared after the game, fans began buying them up, selling Amazon out of the look and also creating a huge market on eBay as well. For fans who were lucky enough to get the mask, they were probably wondering if they could wear it to the game on Sunday vs. Minnesota. Well, the Eagles answered that question in a tweet Monday morning.

The Eagles have completely embraced the role of the underdog and they’ll be underdogs again on Sunday night as they look to punch their ticket to the Super Bowl for the first time since 2004.

The city has been completely behind the Eagles all season long and there will be hundreds, and perhaps thousands, of dog masks inside the Linc on Sunday night.