The Hippodrome: Bob Mueller, Sports Puppetmaster

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This Week In The 'Drome: The Mueller Code, the East Coast notices us, in-state hate and enough onomatopoeia to fill a pre-school reader.

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Opening Face-Off

Bob Mueller vs. All Who Stand In His Way: Two pieces of basic, transactional sports news. Unrelated. Unconnected.

Or are they?

Jeff Fisher — our mustached and mulleted former pro football coach — lands a new gig in St. Louis.

Chris Mueller is called up by the Predators and then sent down before the team returns to Nashville. Presumably, Bob is a big Brandon Yip fan.

And who would have such an interest in ridding Nashville of such a glorious crumb-catcher and a specific fourth-line mucker? Who would have the power to do it with the elegant and brutal efficiency of a staple gun?

Bob Mueller — Nashville's sports Illuminati.

Mueller was obviously not content just to foist from the Nashville collective consciousness the only mustache that's ever challenged the supremacy of his own. Fisher had to leave town. And where did Fisher land? St. Louis. Which just so happens to be Bob's hometown. Hmmm....

Oh? And what was the single most embarrassing off-field moment of Fisher's Titans tenure? Perhaps when he donned the Peyton Manning jersey at the Rocketown fundraiser. And who just so happens to be on Rocketown's board? Mueller, you savvy genius. Convenient that TV cameras were there to capture Fisher's bizarre moment of tone-deafness.

After knocking off and shipping out a long-tenured football coach, keeping The Lesser Mueller down on the farm must have been a breeze for WKRN's Grand Master Of The All-Seeing Eye.

Need more convincing?

Fisher spent parts of 17 seasons with the Titans/Oilers franchise. Chris Mueller's number? 17. No, Bob "Bilderberger" Mueller doesn't deliver the news for the local Fox affiliate, of course. Just a coincidence, though, that at the time the Titans and Preds came to town, Fox 17's newscasts were being produced by Mueller's WKRN?

I'm not suggesting Bob Mueller is some sort of evil genius hellbent on controlling you, me, the Predators, the Titans, the Cumberland Bulldogs and the Elite Giants — he's not Craig James, after all — but I'm not seeing evidence he's not.

The 'Drome's watching you, Mueller. The truth is out there.

The Week Behind

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East Coast Feel Me: A win at home against the Flyers — replete with genuine stars like Jaromir Jagr and Claude Giroux and made-from-TV celebs like Ilya Bryzgalov and Scott Hartnell. A win against the hapless Islanders — but in a noon start when everyone (or at least, puckheads with a day off) was watching.

Suddenly, the hockey world noticed Nashville. Even as Ryan Suter misses games — it's an upper-body injury but it's not his head; presumably it's the kind of injury that happens when someone's eyes turn into dollar signs — the national (read: "East Coast") hockey minds declare Nashville "one of the best teams in the League" and "on the prowl" with Cup contender symptoms.

OK, OK. So the East Coast types are a little prone to hyperbole and a lot of times they use their hype machine to pivot into rare meat for the salivating masses of eager fans of bigger teams (that rare meat is the all-caps of "HOW WILL DAVID POILE KEEP BOTH RYAN SUTER AND SHEA WEBER? HE PROBABLY CAN'T SO HERE'S WHY ONE OF THEM IS COMING TO TORONTO/PHILLY/VANCOUVER/NEW YORK!").

As heavy as it got last week, imagine how thick it would have been slathered on had the Preds actually beaten the Rangers in the Garden. Yowzahs. Nice to see the boys can keep their heads on straight and still beat the Blue Jackets the way God intended.

Replacing Another Mustache: Bud Adams, famously, has remained in Houston even after relocating his football team to the Midstate. He needed eyes and ears here and those responsibilities were held by Steve Underwood, a quiet man whose role in the Houston-to-Memphis-to-Nashville transition and the solidification of the franchise in Music City went largely unnoticed by the public at-large, but cannot possibly be overstated.

But Underwood's retired now, and last week the organization made moves to fill his role, bumping GM Mike Reinfeldt to the COO position and forcing a trickle-down of moves.

Clearly, this is an indication Adams trusts Reinfeldt — and another indication that nearly every move Adams makes is colored by the nostalgia of Love Ya Blue — but it's frustrating since Reinfeldt's 2010 draft looks to be an early success. Hopefully Ruston Webster was taking notes.

Garbage Time: Murfreesboro native and former Vandy superstar pitcher David Price got himself a nice, fat paycheck from the Tampa Bay Rays, avoiding arbitration. ... Another old Commodore Former Vol and Nashville Sound R.A. Dickey completed his climb of Mt. Kilimanjaro. ... MTSU's men's hoops team is now officially off to its best start of all time. ... Vandy continues to take care of business in the early going of the SEC slate. The 'Dores are jelling into the team the prognosticators suspected they'd be. They brutally dispatched Alabama in Tuscaloosa's Coleman Coliseum Thursday night.

Halftime Entertainment

Rumors that Tootoo hip-checked these fish are unconfirmed
  • Rumors that Tootoo hip-checked these fish are unconfirmed

What's Inuktitut For 'Ouchie'?: Predator Jordin Tootoo was named the NHL's second-hardest hitter, finishing runner-up to the Bruins Brobdingnagian Blueliner Zdeno Chara. Chara should indeed lead the way in the league for hard hits, given that he is roughly 42 feet tall and weighs (approximately) the same as a Ford F-250 with towing package. And while Tootoo is noted for his speed, Chara's movements are often imperceptible, like the Earth's rotation. Anyway, here's Tootoo tumbling Michael Frolik. It's fun.

Awwwww Of The Week: Jeff Fisher had one more chance to do some good before he saw himself to St. Louis. The coach was the first on the scene at a Brentwood traffic accident and stayed with the young victims until help arrived.

Hmmm Of The Week: At the New Year, pending Titans free agent Cortland Finnegan owned a house in Bellevue, a house in tony Annandale and a condo on Long Boulevard. He sold the Bellevue house this week. Is he getting his ducks in a row?

The Week Ahead

Here is a picture of Welsh treasures Stereophonics
  • Here is a picture of Welsh treasures Stereophonics

Just Enough Education To Perform: UT's men's basketball team is the most dangerous kind of team in college basketball: tough defensively and just good enough offensively to scare the bejeezus out of someone every week.

Last week, the a-feared team was Kentucky on the Big Blue's visit to Knoxville, a turn of events that, depending on which kind of UK backer was reacting to it — there are only two kinds — means the Wildcats are doomed to failure (the annoyingly pessimistic 'Cats fan) or predestined for the national title (the cloyingly entitled 'Cats fan). Of course, UT followed that up by an in-bunk defecation at Georgia.

Which team Cuonzo Martin will bring to Memorial next Thursday to take on Vandy is anybody's guess. Both teams have the same glaring shortcoming: an inability to close the game down the stretch. In Vandy's case, that's not been much of a problem as late, as the team is putting the game away early enough. But, for UT, it cost the Vols the Georgia game for sure and denied them a chance at a season-defining win against the Cats.

Worthless Prediction: Memorial will prove too much for the young Vols, but don't count out the Big Orange long-term. They are better than expected.

Fight To the Break: In the run-up to the All-Star break, the Predators have an interesting little schedule quirk. The Blackhawks come in tomorrow, followed by a visit from the woeful Blue Jackets Monday and a quick hop up to Chicago for the 'Hawks again Tuesday before the week off.

While the stretch against the Big East Coast Teams may have pushed the Predators into the limelight, this spell is more telling about what the fate of the team will be. The Preds sit in fourth in the division, but are within shouting distance of the lead. Every team in the Central — with the exception of the historically bad Blue Jackets — are in the top eight in the Western Conference. The recognition coming from taking on the TV teams is nice. Points against the foes are dear.

Worthless Prediction: Four in three would be great, but all six points and the hockey world is going to really pay attention.

Overtime

Wonder what Martha thinks the Preds should do with Ryan Suter
  • Wonder what Martha thinks the Preds should do with Ryan Suter

Insider Treading: Web 2.0 broadly and the rise of social-media generally have created a bit of a cottage industry in professional sports: the "Insider." The guy with the hot scoop on the hot stove. Who is trading with whom? Who is signing where? What do the rumors say?

In hockey, the most well-known — and thus most derided — "insider" is the anonymous Eklund at HockeyBuzz. He has, in fact, spawned a spin-off industry of debunkers. Everyone, seemingly, has a favorite Eklund rumor which never came to fruition (mine, from 2008: J.P. Dumont, Marek Zidlicky, Ryan Suter and picks to Washington for Alex Ovechkin and Olaf Kolzig).

Tons of Eklundesque guys are out there now, and they keep proliferating. Why? James Nelson at The Predatorial:

Ultimately, human nature is always going to win out over our better judgement. The right brain will continue to tell you that there’s no way what you’re reading is true, and that the author would have no way of knowing if it were. But…the tiny voice that emanates from left brain will persist in being heard:

“Maybe his information is good, this time…”

Because of that, you’ll keep reading these rumors, even if you laugh them off to your friends and followers. And I will, too. We just need to be cognizant of what we should and should not get our hopes up over.

This week, we saw the emergence of another type of insider. Rob Lowe, of all people, tweeted he was hearing Peyton Manning would retire. Of course, it's easy to dismiss this on its face (as we all know, C. Thomas Howell is the real insider). But then you look and see Lowe pals around with Colts owner Jim Irsay. And then you think about it: Would Irsay use Rob Lowe to leak this news? And then you think further: Jim Irsay is a delightful wackadoodle, a man so touched he makes Bud Adams seem like Solon The Lawgiver. And then the rumor has just enough behind it to be just a bit believable.

Just like everything all the "insiders" say.

Tips and tricks? Local cricket scores? E-mail The Drome at jrlind[at]nashvillescene[dot]com.

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