This Week In The 'Drome: Preds won't hush, Chris can rush, Gary gets flushed and more
Anger vs. Ennui: This week in the dead tree, I give a little mid-lockout update.
While the NHL is cancelling games — they've done so through the end of this month already — I'm not so sure they are ready to dump the whole shebang quite yet, if for no other reason than their paying customers are still raging about the lack of hockey.
In the U.S. generally — and especially in the Sun Belt markets, like Nashville, that Commissioner Gary Bettman shepherded into the league in the 90s — hockey is forever competing for attention. At its best — during the playoffs — it does OK. It's not stupendous and the NFL isn't running for its life, but people watch and pay attention and, most importantly for hockey, they buy tickets. The increase in revenues tells that tale.
When the product is compelling, people are willing to pay for it. And judging by the vitriol — aimed mostly at Bettman, but now increasingly also at the players union and their leaders, Donald and Steve Fehr, who hopefully can form a super-negotiator called "The Sum of All Fehrs" — the fans certainly miss their hockey.
And that's fine.
But every week, a little bit of the anger is replaced by ennui. And that's something the NHL can't risk. They can't risk people not caring because the increase in fans which resulted in the increased revenue came from people, naturally, who weren't into hockey before. And while they say there's no zealot like a convert, there's no guarantee the catechumen won't go backsliding.
People who don't care don't get mad.
So the cynical will snarl as the NHL and their teams — the ever-vociferous Predators with their free food promotions and their good works in the community — trumpet whatever news they have. But as long as you're mad enough to rage, you care enough to want hockey back.
The Week Behind
Fade Into Blue: For four quarters Sunday against the Colts, it was actually difficult to criticize the Titans defense.
They played reasonably well and kept golden child Andrew Luck and his merry band of youngsters out of the end zone. The game wasn't a first-to-40 affair, for once.
They did what they haven't done all year: They played 60 minutes of acceptable defense.
Unfortunately, of course, this game went into overtime, and the Titans defense checked out like a senior during finals week, the Colts winning 19-13 on a touchdown four minutes into the extra period.
The AFC is like commercial radio: nothing but forgettable middle-of-the-road mediocrity. Some bad teams will thus be less bad than others, because the NFL still wants a 12-team playoff. There are lots of opportunities for wins on an AFC schedule. But every loss to another bunch of ho-hum so-sos is devastating. This was a game the Titans would want to win, indeed probably one they thought they could win, especially since Chris Johnson is running again (eventually this will stop being surprising).
At the least, an ever-improving bunch of Two Toners proved the defense can play four quarters. If only they'd played four more minutes.
People Paid To Watch This: Night fell on Dudley Field. It was homecoming for the far-flung Commodore alums, back on campus to relive the glory days.
I'm sure it was all very pleasant to get back with the old classmates and at the very least, it doesn't appear there was a repeat of this homecoming-related unpleasantness.
Anyway, Vanderbilt beat the rails off UMass, a thrashing of Minutemen not seen since the Battle of Long Island, probably.
After that rough early-season schedule, James Franklin has the 'Dores settled in for the easy pickings of October and November. Make bowl plans now. Hotel rooms in Birmingham go quickly.
Garbage Time: TSU kept their playoff hopes alive with a win against in-state rival Tennessee Tech. ... Kevin Stallings suspended one of the few returners on the team, indefinitely sidelining Dai-Jon Parker for a non-academic violation. ... Cool story from Jerome Boettcher on the secret scrimmages college basketball teams use to prepare for the season.
Doolean Algebra : Derek Dooley's bad counting skills have migrated west on I-40, it seems. The Titans can't count to 11, according to David Climer:
Incredibly, the Titans lined up on back-to-back plays with just 10 men on the field in Indianapolis’ drive for the tying touchdown in the fourth quarter of the Colts’ 19-13 overtime victory on Sunday.
Trailing 13-6 and facing third-and-10 at the Titans’ 17-yard line, Colts quarterback Andrew Luck completed a 9-yard pass to the 8. Then on fourth-and-1, the Colts gashed the Titans for a 7-yard gain.
Both of those plays came against a 10-man defense.
Kiss The Rains While You're There: Nashville's Best Team, the Goodlettsville little leaguers, are raising money to go to Africa and help out their friends from Uganda, who were definitely the feel-good story of the tournament in Williamsburg.
The Week Ahead
Joker's Wild (and Out): Ah, the good old days, when the Vandy-Kentucky game was weirdly the penultimate game for both teams, with the 'Dores and Wildcats ending the season with Tennessee.
The rejiggered SEC schedule has changed all that. Now Vandy is just as likely to wrap up the season with some basketball school from the ACC as they are with the Big Orange or, really, any other relevant team.
Nonetheless, this annual warm-up to basketball season is one fans from both team often circle, for it has been, too frequently, the best chance of avoiding the ignominy of going 0-for-the-conference.
Things have changed there too. Kentucky was, ya know, pretty decent for awhile (and they beat UT last year, lest you forget), and Vandy is better-than-terrible now.
The 'Dores are 4-4 and this is the first of four very winnable games — Ole Miss, UT and Wake Forest follow. Could ... could Vandy go 8-4? It seems likely. But first they have to get through this Big Blue Behemoth.
OK, "Behemoth" is over-selling it a bit. "Laughably bad" is more accurate, if a bit on the nose.
Worthless Prediction: As Auburn's Gene Chizik learned, there's nothing that will crank up a coach's seat thermostat like losing to Vandy. Not that anyone feels like Joker Phillips is going to keep his job anyway. Vandy 24, Kentucky 3.
Your Brofriend's Back: If insouciance could be bottled, Chanel would call the fragnance "Eau d'Cutler."
Former Vanderbilt quarterback Jay "Why didn't we draft him instead of Vince Young, thanks I'll hang up and listen" Cutler brings his Chicago Bears to town Sunday and, uncharacteristically, he expressed an emotion about it: He said it was going to be fun.
If Jay Cutler can muster the enthusiasm to call something fun, then it's destined to be a barnburner. The guy has all the vibrant energy of a discarded jar of grout in the stands during a rain delay on the third day of a Cricket Test.
And maybe Jay's right here. There's an intriguing match-up between the rejuvenated CJ and the Bears run defense, who don't offer much room up the middle — where CJ has decided to try running again — or on the outside, where he makes his money.
Jake Locker is still "recovering" from his "persistent" injury, so Matt Hasselbeck is under center for Mike Munchak "for now" until Locker "gets" healthy "again."
Worthless Prediction: Don't like the Titans' chances here. Jay will briefly bend the right side of his mouth into something that resembles an eighth of a smile if you hold your head just right. Chicago 34, Tennessee 21.
The Glitter's Gotta Go : This week, disgraced glam rocker Gary Glitter was arrested in connection with the sex abuse investigation of late BBC personality Jimmy Savile.
This is, of course, not Glitter's first run-in with the law on child sex charges, having previously been convicted in both the UK and Vietnam.
Glitter, of course, is best known musically for his catchy "Rock & Roll (Part 2)," long a mainstay at sporting events because of it's easily scannable tune and easy-to-learn chorus (...."HEY!"....).
The Nashville Predators have used the song to celebrate goals and wins — for the former it is appended to the end of Tim McGraw's hockeyified "I Like It, I Love It." With it, it brings the "Hey, You Suck!" and everybody has a grand old time.
But Nashville's Best Sportswriter Jim Diamond thinks it's time to retire Gary from Bridgestone Arena:
The Predators pride themselves on creating a very family-friendly environment at their games in Bridgestone Arena, and for the most part, they do accomplish this, save for the use of “Rock and Roll Part 2” and its implied prompting of fans to yell “you suck,” whenever it plays.
Surely the fine folks at Bridgestone, who have laid out millions of dollars to put their name on the building located at 501 Broadway can’t be happy with that song being played in a barn that bears their name, can they?
The National Football League banned its member clubs from using the song six years ago. While the NHL is a little slow on the uptake in this manner, nothing precludes the Predators from enacting a self-imposed ban of this horrible person’s song.
Just a little sidenote here: the NFL very specifically bans Glitter's version of the song, but allows a cover version by Tube Tops 2000, which the Chiefs use for their own "Hey You Suck" cheer. It's unclear whether the Preds use the original or this cover, not that I think it makes any difference, because arguing, "No, it's this virtually indistinguishable version, not the original by the convicted sex offender," is a little silly if no one can tell the difference.
I'm not opposed to the yelling of "Hey You Suck," but my daughter isn't yet of the age where she repeats things and maybe I'll feel different when I get the first note from her pre-school teacher about inappropriate language.
As for Gary's song (or its facsimile): I'm on board, it's got to go.
As Diamond notes, the Preds game ops staff has plenty of time to come up with another song to bridge the gap from McGraw to the ensuing face-off. One suggestion I saw on Twitter was for The Black Keys' "Gold On The Ceiling," which has all kinds of advantages over Glitter's tune. It's not lame. The Black Keys live in Nashville now. It says "gold" right in the title. And nobody involved with the song has been convicted of horrific crimes on two continents.
I'm open to other suggestions (e-mail below, I'll send some 'Drome merchandise your way*). In the meantime, here's to hoping the Preds send Gary away forever.
* - There is actually no merchandise
Shoot those song suggestions and other bits and bobs to jrlind[at]nashvillescene[dot]com. And be sure to listen Tuesdays from 6-7 p.m. on 102.5 The Game. Me, Willy and Darren would love to hear from you.