Friday, October 12, 2012

The Hippodrome: A Lot of Talk About Towels, Oddly Enough

Posted By on Fri, Oct 12, 2012 at 10:15 AM

This Week In The 'Drome: Still no hockey, winning is suddenly allowed in football, bright lights in the big city and more ...

Raddatz could solve that lockout, dont ya think?
  • "Raddatz could solve that lockout, don't ya think?"

Opening Face-Off

Meaningful Silence vs. Meaningless Chatter : There was no hockey Thursday night.

The season was supposed to start; it didn't.

The Predators season was supposed to start tonight with a game at Detroit's Joe Louis Arena — a game that was supposed to be chock full of story lines. Jordin Tootoo's first time in a Wings sweater playing his old team. The Wings' recovery after an offseason in which, y'know, Jordin Tootoo was their biggest free agent acquisition. The Predators begin the post-Suter era. And so on.

Instead, we get increasingly weird updates from the CBA negotiation sessions between the NHL and its union. The two sides continue to meet every so often and everyone emphasizes the discussions are on "non-core economic issues."

They are talking about things like ice conditions, drug testing and putting the tittles and crosses on various legal issues.

There's been a little chatter that the players are making their demands on quality of life concerns — that every player stay in a single room on road trips (because sharing a room in the finest hotel in town is such a burden), for example, or that the locker room towels be of a certain thread count.

Yesterday there were hints from the ubiquitous Sources Close To The Situation that the two sides couldn't even agree on what they had talked about.

Not only do they not agree on the basic question — how to split $3.3 million billion in revenue — now they don't agree on the contents of a meeting they were both attending.

Every day this goes on endangers things farther down the road, but talking is better than not talking. If only they could agree on what they were talking about.

The Week Behind

Grab your towel and dont panic
  • Grab your towel and don't panic

October Surprise : The surprising Vikings gave the Titans the expected stomping in the Twin Cities Sunday, a display of Two-Tone ineptitude so comprehensive, it put the perfect interrobang on the first five weeks of the season.

The defense gave up more than 30 points and another quarterback looked like he was headed for Canton. Chris Johnson continued his record-setting quest, this time for "Player Cut Fastest After Signing a Bazillion-Dollar Deal." (Doesn't quite have the ring of "2,000-yard season.")

The 30-7 defeat bore a strong resemblance to the other three Titans losses — there were times the team looked in the mix only to see everything slip away.

So heading into Thursday's game against Pittsburgh, a team which was showing signs of bouncing back from its own early season struggles, there were not many reasons for hope at LP Field, and there were even fewer Titans fans there.

With some (very liberal) estimates putting the towel-waving faithful from the Steel City at a 70-30 majority (Matt Hasselbeck even admitted the Titans had to go to a silent count because the Steelers fans were so loud), presumably because Titans fans stayed home to watch the vice presidential debate, the Titans were playing on a short week in an unlikely hostile environment against a team who, on paper certainly, out-matched them.

Bolstered by some key injuries to the Steelers — especially on their offensive line, which was depleted to just four healthy bodies by game's end — the Titans took advantage. From the moment Rob Bironas' opening field goal rattled off the upright and through, everyone should have sensed it would be one of those nights.

It was a night when dropped passes aren't back breakers, because an unnecessary defensive penalty gives another chance.

It was a night when fumbles bounced miraculously back into the Titans' possession.

It was a night when Alan Lowry, that old special-teams magician, pulls out the stops and gets a big play — this time a momentum-seizing blocked punt.

And it's night when even Chris Johnson runs for 91 yards (still no touchdown, though).

When Bironas' game-winner went through — perfectly, unlike the one in the first quarter — the pro-Pittsburgh crowd was as stunned as the rest of us.

Franklins & Bashed : It was a good week to be a team from Nashville playing a black-and-gold clad opponent with untimely injuries.

The Battle of James Franklins was an abortive one, as the Missouri signal caller was injured early Saturday in Columbia. That forced the Tigers to roll with the unproven and delightfully named Corbin Berkstresser, and Coach James Franklin's charges responded.

Aided by a missed extra point and a mishandled punt (itself the result of a very Penn Wagerish sequence of reviewed incompletions) resulting in a safety, the Commodores won their fourth road game since 2008 and their first SEC game of the year 19-15.

It was a timely win for the 'Dores, who struggled in close games in the early going but now have a schedule which opens up a bit on a path to .500.

The Commodores were also able to do something they've been unable to do all too often — run out the clock with a lead. A savvy play by running back Zac Stacey — converting on a third down and then wisely sliding to the turf rather than going out of bounds and stopping the clock —┬ásealed the deal late.

Beating a team winless in the conference isn't going to suddenly push the 'Dores to SEC relevancy, but at this stage, a win's a win.

Garbage Time : MTSU was unable to continue its winning ways, losing 31-17 at home to ULM after a big win at Georgia Tech. ... On the other hand, TSU moved to 6-0, squeaking past the Colonels of Eastern Kentucky with a late touchdown. The Tigers moved into the FCS Top 20. ... Snowboarder Shaun White's Nashville court date was rescheduled.

Halftime Entertainment

Oh. You were home the whole time
  • Oh. You were home the whole time

You Never Call : Social media is a funny thing. In fact, people actually get jobs because of Twitter, and not just as social-media consultants, whatever that is. Twitter had a hand in getting me this job, for example. (So now you know who to blame.)

So it wasn't totally out of left field when former UTC Moc Terrell Owens tweeted directly to the New York Jets, straight up asking for a job. Good for TO. A man's gotta eat.

On the other hand, Vince Young's passive-aggressive plea to the Titans clanged.

Hey, here's a picture of me handing the ball off to Chris Johnson. Remember when Chris Johnson ran for 2,000 yards in a season and not 200? That was cool. I was the one who handed it off to him when he did that. Me. The very available Vince Young. That's when I was YOUR GUY, Mr. Adams. Remember that? That was cool. Are you seeing anybody? Is it serious? I mean, if you're not serious about him, we can just go get a cup of coffee or whatever. I just want to see how you're doing. But me? Oh, I'm doing great. Yeah. Anyway. Um. Call me.

The Board of Trustees of the University of Nashville Does Not Endorse This Message : Deadspinner and Friend of The 'Drome Sam Page — one of those for-some-reason Mets fans — wrote a very cool piece about his relationship with R.A. Dickey and their relationship with their shared alma mater, MBA.

The whole thing is great, but this section I found both illustrative and strange:

Many of his old teachers were still around, the ones who made him the Cy Young of demerits. One such teacher, hearing me talk about Dickey, shook his head and offered simply: "Second-class citizen."

The Week Ahead

Obligatory Intense Muschamp Face
  • Obligatory Intense Muschamp Face

Black and Gold or Orange and Blue, Everybody's Money Is Green : Vandy is super-excited about telling everyone that Dudley Field is sold out tomorrow for the game against Florida.

What they won't tell you is what will be painfully obvious at kickoff: As much black-and-gold as was at LP Field Thursday will be matched by the jorts-and-blue visitors from the Sunshine State Saturday.

Florida is having a much better year than many people expected, and are coming off a big win against LSU last week, thrusting the Gators back into the national title conversation. With Georgia's loss to South Carolina, at the least, Florida will be in contention for the SEC East.

But the events of last Saturday may be a boon for Vanderbilt. This has the makings of a classic double-trap, hangover sandwich game (as Bill Simmons would probably dub it). Florida got its signature win against LSU last week and looks to what is all but the SEC East championship next week against the Gamecocks.

In the middle? A trip to Nashville to face the 'Dores who, finally, remembered how to win in the SEC. After beating Missouri, Vandy got off the mark and avoided the duck (note: Cricket references will continue until morale improves) and now, maybe, can relax as much as any team coached by James Franklin can relax.

Vegas seems to think Vandy indeed has a chance. The line opened at 9 points and actually has moved towards the 'Dores since.

And were Florida the Florida of old — what with its passing and its short time of possession and its risky maneuvers and what not — I'd buy that Vandy could score the upset.

But this is a bruising, pressing Florida team with hawkish man-to-man defense and a propensity to wear down opponents — a strong, punishing rushing game deflated LSU, regarded by many as the country's most athletic team.

Worthless Prediction: It'll be close-ish, but not close enough. Florida 28, Vandy 16.

Overtime

Cobra Kai: Fourth place finishers in Best Dry Cleaner
  • Cobra Kai: Fourth place finishers in Best Dry Cleaner

You're The Best Around : This week's Scene dead-tree is the annual Best of Nashville behemoth. It comes in at 216 pages, so please lift with your legs.

Being such a corpulent volume, some things get lost in the noise, so I'd like to acknowledge the sporting winners here.

In the People & Places Reader's Poll, you declared Pekka Rinne, Shea Weber and Mike Fisher the best Predators; Jake Locker, Chris Johnson and Rob Bironas the top Titans; Eric Farris, Taylor Green and Brooks Conrad your favorite Sounds; and RambO SambO, Lady Fury and Slayla the best Rollergirls.

In the P&P Writer's Choice side, read about Nashville's Best Homegrown Sport, Roster Move, Win, Anthem Singer, Team, Place to Watch Little League Baseball and Steven Hale's expert trolling of me with his pick for Fake Sports Team. Also see my selections for Best Predator, Commodore and Titan. (Rob Bironas really celebrated his win last night, didn't he?)

In the Media & Politics section, congratulations are due to Sports Writing Jims Diamond and Wyatt, podcasts 303:30, Monday Night Forehand and the late, lamented Southside & Hosie show.

And please visit the blog winners at On The Forecheck, Section303.com and OutkickTheCoverage.

Speaking of the last, I've got to apologize to Clay Travis — who we all love to hate, per the BON voting — for doubting the veracity of his daily pronouncements that his timeline is blowing up with X-talking-point. He proved me wrong, and when I'm wrong, I'll say it. It's the right thing to do.

It's also meet and sweet to acknowledge you guys, because it was you who voted for me for Best Twitter Account and made a real-estate reporter the city's third best columnist and sportswriter. I appreciate the votes and I appreciate you reading.

I've been wrong before and I'm probably wrong in here somewhere. Tell me about it at jrlind[at]nashvillescene[dot]com and listen Tuesday nights at 6 when I join Willy Daunic and Darren McFarland on 102.5. We should be leading in hockey by now. Sad trombone.

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