Friday, May 3, 2013

The Hippodrome: The Long Summer

Posted By on Fri, May 3, 2013 at 7:43 AM

This Week In The 'Drome, after a dreadful winter, we open the curtains and see the sunshine.


Opening Face-Off

Sit vs. Reach: The Titans made a very curious move to open the second round of the NFL Draft. They traded their second rounder, a seventh rounder and next year's third to San Francisco — who clearly didn't need this pick, by the way — for Kansas City's pick, the second round's selection.

And with it, they added UT wide receiver Justin Hunter. To be clear, Hunter is a talented player and will make a useful NFL wide receiver and he probably should have been drafted somewhere in that range.

But for the Titans, whose defense, lest we forget, was the worst in the NFL last season, to take a wide receiver — or any offensive skill player — is a little suspect.

Historically, the Titans haven't worn out I-40 to bring Vols into the fold — whether that's by design or coincidence is a matter of some discussion — but here they paid heavily for the chance to take Hunter. With two years of "sellouts" that looked more like stadium-seat trade shows than football games, perhaps this was a marketing play as much as a football one.

No, the Titans didn't draft Hunter because he'll bring people back to LP Field — as someone noted to me on Twitter, the strategy didn't work in Knoxville — but he certainly doesn't hurt. All things being equal, why not bring in the guy your fans have heard of as opposed to someone from the Big 12 they don't care about?

If nothing else, the Hunter pick is a reminder that, ultimately, sports teams are businesses designed to take our money. Winning helps them do that, but there's more than one way to skin that cat.

The Week Behind


Win By Losing: For the first time, all 14 teams that missed the NHL's playoffs had a chance at the No. 1 pick in this year's NHL Draft Lottery, which was a thing that was actually broadcast on television.

The Predators — slotted at fourth — had a 10 percent chance of moving up to No. 1 but could also slip to 5. That one spot makes a pretty big difference, as there are four players in the draft who, we're told, are can't-miss. The fifth, a Russian, will also likely be a great NHL player, but is no guarantee to come over to North America right away and the Predators need right-now help.

Moving up to first would have also been troublesome. The top-rated player in the June 30 draft is Seth Jones, son of Popeye. Jones — whose nickname obviously should be "Sweet Pea" but isn't — is a defenseman and while the Preds could absolutely use help on the blueline, it's not what people are clamoring for. Moving into first would force David Poile to either take Jones, try to trade a pick that 29 other GMs know he didn't want anyway, or draft a forward out of order.

Fortunately, those decisions will remain hypothetical. Colorado, where Jones first learned hockey when his dad was with the Nuggets, got the top pick and will draft Jones. The Predators will take either Alex Barkov (don't worry, he's Finnish) or Jonathan Drouin. Both are dynamic forwards with a scoring touch: Drouin a bit more dynamic, Barkov a bit more of a big man.

Local Boy In The Photograph: Congratulations to Hendersonville's Scott Wietecha, the winner of the Country Music Marathon and latest famous person from Nashville's best suburb.

The 31-year-old missed Boston due to training fatigue and then ran a 2:22:41 (which is very good, I guess?) in the rain and muck to win Nashville.

Very Very Good To Them: Vanderbilt, in two polls, is the best team in college baseball. And it's hard to argue with the logic — last weekend they swept, without much trouble, the No. 10 Mississippi State Bulldogs, running their SEC record to 19-2, the best record through 21 games (that's seven series, math majors) in SEC history.

Halftime Entertainment

Welp Of The Week: We love David Price here at the 'Drome, but maybe umps disagree:

Price took exception to what he thought should have been a called third strike to Dewayne Wise with two outs. Hallion called the pitch a ball and on the next pitch he retired Wise on a comebacker to the mound.

As Price walked to the dugout it appeared Price and Hallion exchanged words. And Price accused Hallion of using an expletive during the exchange.

“I’m walking off the mound I’m just mad at myself. I didn’t say a single word or look at him. He (Hallion) yells at me,” Price said.

Hallion vehemently denied Price’s claim.

“I’ll come right out bluntly and say he’s a liar,” Hallion told a pool reporter.

Tweet of The Week: Big week for our buddy Big Joe Dubin. First Alan Jackson, now this:

The Week Ahead

The Big East:
Vandy heads into the stretch run of baseball with a big series in Columbia against South Carolina this weekend.

A sweep, on the road, of the Gamecocks is probably asking a lot, but the way Vandy is dismissing SEC opponents — ranked SEC opponents — with impunity means it's not out of the question.

It's absurd to even put voice to this, but, last season — when Vandy went 35-28, after opening the year ranked in the Top 10 (which was silly) — was a down year. And they lost in the Regional Final. For Vandy fans, whose football team spent 75 years rebuilding, one year away from the SuperRegional is a pill they're willing to swallow.

Winning this series in Carolina locks in Vandy as one of the teams-to-watch when attention eventually shifts to Omaha. A sweep and people will be calling them the favorites.


Unpredictable, Utterly Predictable: Less than a week after former MTSU kicker Alan Gendreau came out as he tries to make a run at the NFL, the Big Four American sports got their first out active gay athlete: Jason Collins, the very definition of the journeyman center.

Now there's lots of qualifiers here — out, male, major sport, active (and since Collins is a free agent and 34, "active" may be pushing it). The scolds will point out that female athletes have been out for 30 years and individual athletes and a player in the MLS. An out women's tennis player isn't the same thing, in a broad cultural sense, and the pedants know it.

Then there's a discussion about how "out" someone has to be before it counts. Glenn Burke, a baseball player perhaps best known for being one of the "inventors" of the high-five, was out to his team in the 1970s, but not out more broadly because, well, the newspapermen didn't want to talk about it.

Things are different for Collins — except for a few knuckleheads and the truly cynical who say he came out for fiduciary reasons — than they were for Burke. The media is thrilled to write about Collins and they'll be thrilled when the first football player and the first basketball player and the second baseball player and the first star and so on.

How things have changed since Burke — and how they'll change since Collins.

Have a sporting event coming up that please oh please you want to tell me about: jrlind[at]nashvillescene[dot]com.

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