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October 27, 2015

Flyers, Owls escape giant green shadow – even if it's only for a week

Although there is no doubt the Philadelphia Eagles dominate the local sports landscape there are plenty of other things going on in the sports world under the long green shadow of the Birds

The Phillies, for instance, just named a new general manager. And the Sixers, who open Wednesday in Boston, continue their odd rebuilding process, all the while denying the reported bizarre rehab antics of Joel Embiid.

So, with the Eagles off for a week, here is a peek at a few other things that you may have missed:

In a game that the NHL should replay over and over again, the Flyers had a huge overtime/shootout victory over the New York Rangers at the Wells Fargo center on Saturday night.

From a Philadelphia perspective, the game also had something else -- hope that this Flyers team will develop a winning attitude quicker than many had anticipated.

The game had every element you could ask for -- great goaltending by both Steve Mason and Henrik Lundqvist, big hits, lots of shots, a magnificent three-on-three overtime and then the final shootout victory over the King in goal.

From a Philadelphia perspective, the game also had something else -- hope that this Flyers team will develop a winning attitude quicker than many had anticipated. There was every concern that there would be a long learning curve for rookie coach Dave Hakstol, but he has done a great job getting the most out of this team in the very early season.

The Flyers have done a whole lot without having to depend upon just Claude Giroux and Jake Voracek and they’re off to a much stronger start than in the past seasons.

True, it is very early, but there is every reason to be hopeful that there is a playoff spot looming in April.

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File this under Amaro Bizzaro.

Somehow, the Phillies’ former general manager appears to have landed a job as the first base coach of the Boston Red Sox. That is a sports transaction you almost never see -- somebody going from the front office to on-field support.

This is hardly along the same lines as a GM taking over as manager or head coach. This is basically an assistant job -- a first base coach doesn’t even carry as much clout as a third base coach who must make often-crucial decisions as to whether or not to send a player home.

It is an odd career path, especially when you consider that Amaro had all the polish of a front office executive. It was a far more likely scenario to see Amaro join another club’s front office … or even baseball’s executive branch.

It was also realistic to imagine Amaro would end up in front of an open microphone. It’s no secret that Amaro was a good communicator -- he even had his own call-in show on local radio.

But first base?

It makes you wonder how much he really wanted to be pushing the buttons from up above and how many times he bit his tongue while watching Charlie Manuel -- and certainly Ryne Sandberg -- run the team.

The whole situation doesn’t seem to make much sense. The last thing any team needs is a former general manager on the field. It’s just a matter of time before he gets asked his opinion of a possible trade.

In the end you have to wonder what is more amazing, the fact that the Red Sox could hire a former GM to coach first base, or the possibility that for many years the Phillies had a first base coach running their franchise.

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With the Eagles off, the football spotlight in Philadelphia turns to Saturday night’s matchup at the Linc between Notre Dame and the Temple Owls.

Temple has already had a huge victory this season -- a program-building win over Penn State. If the Owls ever manage to double down on that victory with a win over Notre Dame … well, that will be the Miracle on Broad Street.

The guess here is that Temple is going to have a rough go. Although the game is in Philadelphia, the Fighting Irish have an army of subway alumni in every big city … and Philadelphia is no different.

Fans of the Owls owe it to their team to be loud and proud. It is never mandatory that fans show up for games -- that’s up to the teams to play well enough to earn your interest and your money.

However, once in the stadium you should be counted on for your support. The Owls will need it. On Saturday night, there will be thousands of Notre Dame supporters with fighting leprechaun tattoos on hand, and the Owns will need to counter with some very loud and proud fans in cherry and white.