Friday, February 1, 2013

The Hippodrome: Could It Be...?

Posted By on Fri, Feb 1, 2013 at 9:42 AM

This Week In The 'Drome: Franklin's exorcisms, Randy's euphemisms, Preds' errorisms, and more

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Opening Face-off

James Franklin vs. Satan : Maybe the Devil made him do it.

While speaking at a high school down in Georgia, Vanderbilt football coach James Franklin made a cunning little play on words:

“There is this guy at Alabama. I think his name is Nicky Satan,” Franklin said. “You guys have probably heard of him before. I am going to outwork him. I am going to outwork him and that is kind of our plan every single day.”

To be clear, there's nothing really wrong with what he said — it's red meat — it's just that it's not particularly clever. Oh, the hours he must have spent coming up with that bon mot! It would have been better if he'd called him Little Nicky, because then it's a short joke and a devilish disparagement.

As he's often asked to do when his mouth gets ahead of his brain — for example, when he openly claims to violate human resource policy by scoping the assets of his potential assistants' spouses — Franklin issued a relatively quick explanation:

"[I was] really talking about the work ethic that he has a reputation for and that we’re going to outwork them," Franklin said. "I made a joke, and in today’s society with all the media and social media and people with tape recorders and things like that, it doesn’t come off that way. I know people have tremendous pride in Alabama, and their fans are fanatical. So I understand. But it was a joke, and I didn’t mean to offend anybody."

Indeed, coach. The first thing we all think of when we think of The Evil One is how hard he works. Not everyone can be cast down from heaven. Only the real go-getters. Also? That's not an apology, that's an excuse.

Franklin can be excused his slip of the tongue and his ill-advised vade retro Satana. He had a tough week, losing out on prized recruit Rudy Ford and back-up plan Matt Dayes.

Let's hope that when he has his big celebration of the actual recruiting class — the guys who sign, not the guys who verbally committed in the fall — he doesn't disparage their manhood. Or he'll be "apologizing" again.

The Week Behind

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Straight Bass Homey : In order to justify going to the Super Bowl, writers and radio men from non-Super Bowl cities have to come up with stories related, no matter how tangentially, to the team they actually cover. Or, as actually happened to a local radio team years ago, they end up interviewing Yanni.

The Tennessean's Jim Wyatt scored himself a doozy of a story down in the Big Easy, sitting down with Randy Moss, the man who should have saved the Tennessee Titans in 2010.

Moss, back in the big game with the 49ers, said while Jeff Fisher was all right, he was "blackballed" by Titans coaches. Presumably, this would include whoever was running the offense that week and the wide receivers coach.

Anybody who watched Randy Moss turn into the league's skinniest offensive lineman during his Titans tenure is probably not shocked by this revelation. Nonetheless, Wyatt's story is an insider-y look at the downfall of the Fisher regime and a nice score in a week where it'd be easy to re-hash the same-old "here's a guy who once played for the home team" tripe.

Mutiny On The Bounties: For reasons passing understanding, the Titans are allegedly in talks to bring back controversial suspended defensive mastermind Gregg "Old Gregg" Williams to be a defensive assistant.

This is such a Titan-y thing to do. Bring back someone from the old days who Bud Adams probably remembered because he saw him on the news to assist a guy who shouldn't still have a job in the first place.

Heck, Jeff Fisher canned Rob Ryan after employing him for like four days in St. Louis. If the Titans hired him, it would hardly register as a surprise.

50, 440, Or Fight : If Vandy can ever consistently score in, at least, the 60s, they'll be dangerous.

Meanwhile, they are throwing out more 50s than Sachin Tendulkar. Last week, the 'Dores scored 59 in being trounced at Missouri and dropped 57 on UT — and lost by one.

There were, however, signs of improvement in Knoxville. Even in a game that seemed in serious risk of having all the thrills of a carpentry convention, even as Tennessee sprinted to a big lead as Vandy struggled to score like a seventh-grader at a high-school party. Even through all that, Kevin Stallings' crew looked better.

Maybe things are looking up. And maybe they'll get to 60.

Gold : Knowing me knowing you, the poor beginning to the Predators' road trip had you sending out an SOS. The shootout loss at Anaheim — the third such defeat in the winner-takes-it-all skills contest for the Preds and a game in which they lost useful scorer Patric Hornqvist for as much as a month — followed by the shutout to (previously) defensively inept Coyotes had you saying "Mamma Mia, this is awful!"

So heading into Thursday's game in LA against the defending Cup champ Kings, it seemed the Predators had as much chance at winning as Fernando Valenzuela at a beauty contest. As so often happens when the team is struggling, line-shuffling was the name of the game, with Barry Trotz moving Roadhouse Scott Hannan onto the top pairing with Shea Weber. Hannan may have said, "Take a chance on me," but Trotz may be reticent to try that again as Hannan took three penalties playing against the Kings' best competition.

On paper, the Kings outplayed the Predators, outshooting the visitors 24-14, though at even strength, it was a much more closely matched 7-6. Despite a furious flurry at the end of overtime, the super trouper Preds couldn't find the odd goal — and again to their Waterloo: the shootout.

It took eight heart-wrenching rounds, but Sergei Kostitsyn proved to be The Man after midnight. The Preds earned Pekka Rinne his first win. One win isn't reason to order up dancing queens, but by gosh, I do feel better getting off the mark.

Garbage Time : Ashley Judd and Dario Franchitti are breaking up. No doubt because the latter realized the former really did like Kentucky basketball that much. ... TSU star Robert Covington returned Thursday in a Tiger win ... MTSU kept its stellar Sun Belt record alive with a 20-point comeback against one of the Florida Descriptors capped by a buzzer-beater.

Halftime Entertainment

Hello Old Pal : Former Predators and current Minnesota Wild owner Craig Leipold had some choice quotes for his hometown paper this week.

In relevant part:

"I run the business the way I think it should be run," he said. "I know what this market is looking for. This is not a southern market. I know how the fans will react when we're winning. The decision I made last summer is one I would make again. If the opportunity were to present itself, I would make it in a second."

I'm not really sure what Leipold knows about winning as the Predators didn't do much of it when he owned the team — and heretofore, the Wild haven't either. As for business? When he took over in Minnesota, there was a waiting list for season tickets. But this summer, after he signed Zach Parise and Ryan Suter, the team touted the rate at which season tickets were being sold. Seems like there was some availability, eh?

I can't figure out what he means by "this is not a southern market," though. Does he think Southerners don't understand winning?

Anyway, it's nice to see Leipold is willing to play the villain, even if Suter isn't.

Speaking of which.

Boobies
  • Boobies

Cliche Of The Week : Since imitation is the sincerest form of flattery — the usage of $8 words like "approbation," "oleaginous" and "verisimilitude" was a nice touch — we'll reciprocate by including a picture of a pair of boobies (see right).

Tweet Of The Week: Friend of The 'Drome Zack Bennett welcomes back the Tennessee legislature.

Cooking With Kamerion : The Titans' Kamerion Wembley will be cooking on today's episode of Rachel Ray.

Royals Story Alert! : Former Vandy pitcher and current Kansas City prospect Sam Selman worked an internship at the arena. KCRoyals dot com has the story of the young hurler's encounter with Aerosmith.

The Week Ahead

Dionne, W.C. and Neil : The Predators make their way to San Jose Saturday to take on the Sharks, who have elevated themselves among the league's top teams, led by Patrick Marleau who scored nine goals in his first five games.

Manifest Destiny? What was I thinking?
  • Manifest Destiny? What was I thinking?

Then it's back east to face the Blues in St. Louis for already the third time of the year. Last year's defensively tough Blues — the surprise team in the West — have added a skilled scoring element with young Russian Vladimir Tarasenko.

And while winning in LA's fine, it ain't home — where the Preds were unable to win before this interminable road trip. The Kings reciprocate last night's game with a visit next Thursday to Bridgestone.

Worthless Prediction : Preds fans may be tired of playing point-per-game hockey, but three points across this week against two of the conference's best teams and the defending champions would feel pretty good.

Roll And Geaux : Seems a donkey's age since Vanderbilt played at home, but they are back at Memorial tomorrow for a mid-afternoon game against Alabama, who ... might be good? Then it's on the road to LSU Wednesday to play the Tigers, who are not good.

Worthless Prediction : 'Dores play tough and fall short at home. Win in Baton Rouge.

Overtime

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The It Girl : We get an H&M and all of a sudden, the bring-baseball folks have to scratch that semi-annual itch.

So they've returned with a little more sophistication than before, in that this time the orthography of the Twitter account reflects American English and the PR strategy doesn't consist of being combative.

But putting a suit and a new haircut on an idea doesn't change the numbers, and the numbers are the same as they were when this idea got quashed more than two years ago.

We're riding high — maybe a little too high — right now. We're full of confidence — even hubris — and ambition, and that's not all bad, really.

But no matter what Buster Olney says and no matter how poorly the Rays are drawing and no matter how many baseball-less gaps on a map there are, big-league baseball is as likely as a ski park.

The Music City Center, LP Field and Bridgestone Arena are big pictures with big price tags and big debts that still aren't paid off — and won't be any time soon. If the Rays' — or A's — are looking for a taxpayer-funded stadium in their hometowns, they'll certainly be looking for the same in their new one.

And we don't have the cash for that. And we don't have the collective cash to buy the requisite number of tickets.

And all the wishing and hoping won't make it so.

The MLB Nashville folks clamor that at the least a study of interest should be conducted before we dismiss the idea out of hand. Here's what a study will show: a huge percentage of people saying that, of course, they want baseball in Nashville and of course they'd go to games. Guess what? Saying yes on a survey is a lot easier than writing a check for tickets or hauling the family to the game 81 times a year.

I don't need a study to know that I'll never play second base for the Royals no matter how badly I want it.

Ambition is good. Confidence is good. Be It City, not Icarus.

Have a baseball team to sell me? jrlind[at]nashvillescene[dot]com. Accept no substitutes and tune in 6 p.m. Tuesdays on 102.5 The Game.

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