This Week In The 'Drome: Nashville's a Youngs' town, Titans go dizzy with Disraeli, echoes of the General and more ...
Dickey vs. Price: There's no reason to choose when both options are great.
Nashville capped off its baseball annus mirabellis in a big way Wednesday night, as both R.A. Dickey and David Price won Cy Young Awards.
Of course, we in the Music City are doing collective back-patting and chest-thumping as if we had anything to do with the stellar seasons had in Tampa and New York by these two. Both Price and Dickey are definitely 'Drome favorites.
They are, though, two very different kinds of pitchers. Let commenter PKVol over at the CP tell it:
On the surface, these two would appear to be complete opposites: Righty / Lefty, Knuckleballer / Flame-thrower, Finesse / Power, UT / Vandy, Private school (MBA) / public school (Blackman), Back end of career / most of career remaining, White / Black, however, none of these things matter in life or baseball. They are both humble, giving and classy guys, which is what you'd want to represent Middle Tennessee.
No reason why you can't like 'em both. Off the field, they are interesting dudes, too. Price took the time to thank his dog, Astro, for his contributions to the season. R.A. Dickey famously brushed off the Mets' concerns in the off-season and climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro.
Does this sudden burst of baseball prowess make Nashville a new diamond hotbed? With the success of Vanderbilt at the collegiate level and the emergence of these two at the big leagues, more kids may want to pick up a bat. Perhaps Nashville won't go decades without a Little League World Series entrant again.
Just don't get me started about bringing an MLB team here. This means you, Powers Boothe.
The Week Behind
Sybil; or The Two Football Teams: In pop culture, the name "Sybil" is more likely to invoke memories of Sally Field playing a woman with dissociative identity disorder, carrying around 13 personalities in one tiny flying nun's body. That story was an adaptation of a book about a real-life woman whose psychiatrist referred to her as "Sybil" to protect her identity.
Now, I don't know if Cornelia B. Wilbur was a big Benjamin Disraeli fan, but delayed props to her if her pseudonym was a sly nod to the Earl of Beaconsfield's novel, Sybil, which wasn't about mental illness, but instead about the two very different worlds of 19th century Britain: a rich, high Tory upper class and an increasingly angry and marginalized working class. Out of this emerged One Nation Conservatism, which our own Republican Party would do well to learn about. By the way.
But enough about politics. This is about the Titans. This is about a team that gets run out of town, embarrassed in front of a "home" crowd by the Bears, but then goes to Miami and looks like playoff contenders, tuna-netting the hapless Dolphins 37-3.
So who is this team, exactly? Are they top-hatted toffs, masters of all they survey? Or are they gruel-covered urchins, scraping for every scrap?
In 10 games (four wins, six losses) the Titans have done nothing to change anyone’s opinion of them. Unless of course you reassess your thoughts each week based on the result, in which case you’re probably just dizzy at this point from the extreme swings.
So think what you will. There’s ample evidence to support your stance.
Disraeli's fin de siècle Britain was either an industrial morass or a glistening juggernaut of wealth and power, depending on where and when one looked. The fact was it was both simultaneously — good and bad, prosperous and impoverished. The Titans aren't dissimilar.
Still Waiting For That Inevitable Collapse: In the third quarter at Ole Miss, Vandy had fallen behind by 17. It was a crucial game: a win would make Vandy bowl eligible for the second time in two years. And, as in many crucial games in years past, the 'Dores were laying an egg.
But James Franklin's team picked up that egg and threw it against the wall of doubt. Whereas old Vandy would have simply watched the Rebels run away after building a lead, this new vintage stormed back, winning 27-26, completing the school's biggest comeback in three decades.
Franklin has found comfort in risk and indeed, his gamble to go for it on fourth-and-2 led to the go-ahead score. Eventually the hope would be the talent level on West End raises to the point the coach doesn't have to roll the dice with such frequency, but for now, his long shots are paying off and the 'Dores will go bowling in consecutive years for the first time.
Downside from Oxford, star running back Zac Stacy left early with an injury.
Garbage Time: More sad news for TSU as legendary coach Joe Gilliam Sr. died Wednesday night at 89. ... Belmont beat Lipscomb 89-60 in the Battle of the Boulevard draining 11 three-pointers along the way. ... Tim Corbin found a new pitching coach.
Tuesday, the team promised free pizza for folks who'd come down to the A-Game Sportsplex in Franklin for some kind of surprise. While this would have been a hilarious and unexpected way to announce the end of the work stoppage — Scene: NHL Office. Gary Bettman on phone: "Here's how we'll do it — the Predators will announce it with free pizza! It's genius!" — the Predators had something else in mind.
Franchise officials recruited about 200 fans to A-Game Sportsplex and shortly before 7:30 p.m. they executed a "Smash Mob." While the Junior Predators teams went through pre-game warm-ups fans poured into the seating area led by a drum line, the Predators Dancers and Ice Girls, and mascot Gnash. The game operations staff and public address announcer were on hand to re-create the sounds and atmosphere at Bridgestone Arena..
When players got to the bench, side-by-side with their regular coaches were Predators coaches, including Barry Trotz and Peter Horachek with the Blizzard and Lane Lambert and Brent Peterson with the Cyclones
Best part of that story is Trotz talking about having to console a kid who took a penalty, something he's not had to do since Sergei Krivokrasov retired (probably).
People Might Need Some Tension To Relax: In the furtherance of Nashville's new status as the bacon of cities, Sean Maloney wrote an expansive piece for New York magazine about things to do here.
He asked me to contribute some thoughts on the underground side of sports in town and, being a sport (ahem), I advised hip Big Apple types to come to town and go to the Stadium Inn to see wrestling.
The Week Ahead
The Team That Makes The Fewest Mistakes Will Win: Our state's version of mob football — ancient hatreds based on geography played out on fields of green — returns this weekend with the fortunes of the Volunteers and Vandy headed in different directions, as I wrote this week.
Not in decades — maybe since Gen. Neyland — has Vandy been so ascendant while UT is in decay.
In all likelihood, the Volunteers will be seeking a new coach, while Vandy says it's committed to doing what it takes to keep James Franklin on West End. Friend of the 'Drome Eric from Springfield thinks UT must go after the fiery Franklin lest he wrest away gridiron supremacy. Problem there is that most UT folks have little time for Franklin — of course, these are the same people who defended Lane Kiffin full-throatedly until about two seconds after he quit, at which time they claimed he was never a real Vol.
Whomever replaces Derek Dooley will have a tough task. The Vols have been floundering for a few years now. Alabama, LSU, Georgia, Florida and South Carolina are all leaps and bounds ahead of UT and now the lesser lights of the SEC — including a certain private school in Nashville — are either nipping at Smokey's heels or passing him altogether.
As for the game, look for a high-scoring affair. Tennessee is as uninterested in defense as Sri Lanka and India on a fluffy track in Colombo. Vanderbilt, improving though they are, does not have the skill to keep up with the high-powered Tennessee offense. And if the Vols are the least bit interested in protecting Dooley's job, they'll need to win at Dudley Field, where Vandy hasn't beaten UT since Whit Taylor ran for the end zone in '82.
James Franklin wants a packed house at Dudley Saturday. And he wants it packed with black and gold.
Vanderbilt's managed a few sell-outs this year and it's likely Saturday will be one again, but the coach is committed to filling the bleachers with Vandy people. As he put it on the Twitter machine: "Few tickets left 4 game but ONLY 4 VU fans, ticket office has been instructed 2 only sell 2 our people, let's pack the house w/ Black & Gold."
By the way, that can be read as there are only a few tickets left for the game and that there are only four VU fans, but I don't think that's what he meant (even if that's funnier).
The question here is, how the ticket folks are going to suss that their buyers are "our people?" Will there be a quiz? Passwords? Will you have to produce a Vanderbilt car flag? Recite the reservation number at Jimmy Kelly's? It's an ambitious and worthy goal by Franklin. I've just got questions about the execution here.
Worthless Prediction : Thirty years is far too long. Vandy 31, UT 28.
We've Got Hex Appeal : A few weeks back, CONCACAF — soccer's governing body for North America, Central America, the Caribbean and also Suriname for some reason — set the schedule for the final round of qualifying for the 2014 World Cup.
The U.S., like its opponents, has five home games between February and October 2013 and, as yet, U.S. Soccer hasn't announced the locations for the games.
When the U.S. lost the Gold Cup Final to Mexico, I suggested that we oughta stop playing Mexico in places like Pasadena and move those games to places like Nashville. I also suggested we build a soccer-only stadium at the fairgrounds, which is still a good idea if we're going to build a soccer stadium, but it's not the point right now.
U.S. Soccer has shown some enthusiasm for putting big games at LP Field — we got a hex game last go round and Olympic qualifiers earlier this year.
So will they return and who will they play?
We can probably scratch off the games in September and October. It's hard to schedule around football — the Titans would be reticent to share in the autumn anyway — plus the Mexico game in September will likely be in Columbus, as it tends to be (although there is some talk the U.S. promised not to play in Ohio if Mexico agrees to put their home game against the Stars and Stripes somewhere other than Mexico City).
That leaves Costa Rica in February or Panama or Honduras in June. The first June date (6/11 against Panama) is probably out because of difficulty scheduling around the CMA Fest and its massive load-in and load-out. So should U.S. Soccer decide to come back to Nashville — and they like doing so as the city is centrally located, draws from all over the South and has the advantage of not being Atlanta (which only has a domed stadium of size) or Birmingham (which is Birmingham) — that leaves Costa Rica or Honduras.
Now if the U.S. is into playing up its climatological advantages, they won't want Honduras to come here in June, when Nashville is so humid it might as well be Tegucigalpa. But Nashville in late March? Against Costa Rica? Keep La Guerra Fria. We'll beat those Ticos with our pleasant temperance and slight chance of rain.
Drop me a line with your favorite Tory politician of the 1800s or send along whatever to jrlind[at]nashvillescene[dot]com and be sure to listen Tuesdays from 6-7 p.m. when I join Willy Daunic and Darren McFarland and maybe we'll talk about how you can best me in a crossword tournament (for a good cause).