by J.R. Lind
This Week in The 'Drome: Olympic suitors, sudden shooters, fickle rooters and more ...
Nashville vs. The 34 : Maybe It Cities have a tendency to homogenize into one great anonymous Portlaustinashville casserole, and maybe we should get over ourselves. And maybe Major League Baseball isn't happening.
So maybe we should just take a deep breath, be thankful for what we have and stop chasing every wild sporting thing that bats its eyes coquettishly in our direction.
And maybe the United States Olympic Committee should stop sending out so many letters like a poor schlub on the prowl for a mail-order wife.
Nashville was one of 35 cities the USOC asked maybe if they weren't doing anything later they'd like to come over and watch Dr. Who and, oh yeah, we can order a pizza or something and then, if you aren't busy, maybe bid on the 2024 Olympics.
This all comes on the end of a string of host cities failures for USOC culminating in Chicago coming up miserably short in the running for 2020. The USOC's new strategy? Ask everybody, in hopes that someone will be so flattered they'll actually go through the tedious, expensive process of bidding for the right to host a bankrupting 16-day event (which, by the way, I love).
The USOC's winnowing process appeared to be going to this page and then combing through their trash to find cities (Rochester! Tulsa!) that had expressed even an iota of interest at some vague point in the past.
Fortunately, unlike with the baseball pipe dream, Nashvillians are taking this one in stride, vacillating between surprise and confusion.
We've been in enough GQ profiles. Let's let Tulsa have some fun for once.
The Week Behind
There Can Be Only One : The firing of Buffalo's Lindy Ruff — hired just weeks ahead of Barry Trotz back in 1997 — left the Predators' coach as the longest-tenured coach in the NHL and the second-longest — behind Gregg Popovich of the NBA's Spurs — in North American pro sports.
We assume there was some kind of elaborate ceremony conveying the regalia of this august position. Surely Trotzy gets a chain of office at the least, right?
Trotz took it in stride — he's been the second-longest tenured guy for awhile so like the first son of a viscount, saddled with the subsidiary title too long, he know it was only a matter of time.
What's incredible to think about is that Trotz has been able to keep his job in hockey — where there was a period of time when it was fashionable to swap coaches as one swaps short-pants — and in an expansion market. Two ownership groups have shown a remarkable level of patience.
Now No. 2 on the list — the current Earl of Arundel, if you please — is Detroit's Mike Babcock, with his current team just six years.
Fun Belt Title Belt : During wrestling's Monday Night Wars, there was a very real concern that the holder of either the WCW or (then) WWF belt would bolt to the other federation with the title. In part, this led to the fake sport's most famous real event.
Thankfully, Earl Hebner wasn't at the Murphy Center Thursday night (just the usual collection of Sun Belt ineptitude) as MTSU, on its way out the door to Conference USA secured a regular-season Sun Belt title in fairly comprehensive fashion over what is considered the league's second-best team.
El Dorado: Is Nashville truly a City of Gold now? Maybe — certainly it's closer than it ever has been, 20-some-odd sellouts in a row, with the caveat those attendance numbers were aided by giveaways, vouchers and Bands in the Stands.
"Don't bring me down," you say and I won't.
On Saturday, birds chirped happily despite the cold and the clouds parted for Teemu Selanne, the NHL's Mr. Blue Sky. Selanne and his Ducks were game, out-Predatoring the Predators. The home team outshot (!) somebody for once, but lost in the shootout. Shea Weber finally got off his duck with a cracking wrist-shot goal that careened in on Luca Sbisa.
The President's Day afternoon celebration in Denver was meant to be a rest day for Pekka Rinne, but six goals allowed by back-up Chris Mason forced the Finn into action. He did indeed turn to stone and keep the Avs off the board, but it was too late. This horrid missed offside will get the blame, although a goal is like the butterfly in Brazil flapping its wings and creating a tornado in Tulsa — there's no guarantee the Preds win if the linesman makes the right decision (not that it makes the no-call any better). While it's tempting to get on the telephone line and complain about the official being an evil woman, the Preds really must keep the opposing team under 6.
The hated Red Wings came to town Tuesday and brought Jordin Tootoo along. The pugnacious former Preds was booed during his first shift, cheered during his tribute video and booed the rest of the way. (He was even credited with the goal on a fluky play, its ugliness contrasted by the strange magic of Pavel Datsyuk's dazzler.) The reaction was both bizarre and appropriate.
Weber scored, again, by the way, in overtime to get the bonus point.
Garbage Time : Vandy hoops split the week winning against A&M and losing at Kentucky.
... Some MTSU football players were arrested for alleged general Main Street dumbassery. ... Vandy took two of three from Long Beach State on the diamond and won in their longest road-trip of the month at Belmont.
Keep It Down Home, Cuz : You know the joke about class schedules, Auburn and the donkey? No? Well, you see...
You know what, nevermind.
Given the long history of woefulness on the hardwood down on The Plains — interrupted only by brief periods of Charles Barkleyness and the occasional Cliff Ellisitude — the Barners might want to give this kid a full grant-in-aid. Not like it could be any worse than what they flop out every third day and pretend is basketball.
The Week Ahead
Be Chrool To Your Scuel : Oh, like you don't remember this gem from Twisted Sister?
Belmont hosts Ohio tomorrow in the ESPN Bracket Buster game, starting at the not-ready-for-primetime 9 PM. Bongo Java welcomes your business.
Belmont has struggled a bit here in recent weeks — perhaps the slight step-up to the OVC is wearing on them, or, maybe, you know, they are college kids and sometimes they've got a lot going on. Ohio can score just as prolifically as the Bruins and the guard play — as is often the case in these ESPN-generated mid-major match-ups — should be fun to watch.
Worthless Prediction: I like the Bruins to get on track a bit here. Belmont by 6.
West Coast, Feel Me: Three games in four days and four in six: thus is the world of the compressed NHL schedule.
The Preds draw another back-to-back to end this week as they began it. They'll host the always-dangerous, double-goalied Vancouver Canucks tonight and fly to Detroit for the second game of the week against the Red Wings, somehow even more damaged by the injury ninja than they were just a few days ago.
The long mostly-home-except-for-a-couple-of-one-day-road-trips stand comes to an end Monday against Dallas and then it's Horace Greeley time, starting with a Wednesday nighter in Anaheim, home of the inexplicable second-best-in-the-West Ducks.
Worthless Prediction: What an exhausting stretch. Detroit and Dallas should be wins and the other two are certainly winnable — Vancouver, in particular, has looked quite vulnerable at times. All but once — in that wackadoodle game against the Avs — if the Preds have scored, they have earned a standings point. Expect a similar pattern.
Chaos : Friend of the 'Drome Eric from Springfield has an opinion that, if I had to guess, he's not alone in holding:
I'm actually in the very small camp that believes the Titans will leave well before the lease expires. The idea of Nashville being an NFL team was a joke in 1995, yet there was Bud and the Oilers in 1997 at the Cumberland River's (actually Memphis') doorstep ready to move in. So, just as Nashville defied popular opinion and logic to become an NFL city, the same can be said for defying popular opinion and logic when it comes to the team leaving.
The Titans lease with the city at LP Field expires in 2028 — actually before everyone will be done paying for the improvements completed this summer. It's obvious to anyone who's watched a game that oftentimes, many Titans fans have come dressed as Lord Lucan. But the tickets themselves are still sold, so Bud Adams still gets his money.
To a degree.
Invisible men don't spend disappearing dollars on ghostly beers. They don't buy T-shirts to cover their transparent girth and they don't shell out the zillions of dollars for a parking space for Wonder Woman's Invisible Jetplane.
At some point, Adams will notice the loss of that ancillary revenue.
But Bud — the newly-minted nonagenarian — isn't really the issue. It's his heirs and assigns. Will they want to keep the team? And if they do, do they want it here: a city where their father had few ties and they have even less? Will they sell? And if they do, will they sell to someone local? And who would that be? The Haslams? The Mannings?
There's a lot of questions and no one seems to be concerned by them because every Sunday, the PA announcer declares a sell-out, even as the declaration bounced off the empty seats.
The fact remains Adams obviously has no concern for the feelings of the fans. He didn't get what he wanted from Houston and he did a reverse-Crockett ("I'm going to Tennessee and you all can go to Hell"). What we now call LP Field was behind the times the second it opened and while the team should be lauded for doing their best to spruce up the joint, the fact remains there's only so much to be done.
At some point — and here's a guess: it'll be around the time LA finally gets its stadium built — the Titans owners (whomever they may be) will want a new stadium. And they won't want to pay for it. And the city will look at the $585 million box on Demonbreun and look at its balance sheet and its debt projections.
And then it's loggerheads.
Who likes turtles? Hit me at jrlind[at]nashvillescene[dot]com. And listen when I join Willy Daunic and Darren McFarland on 102.5 The Game from 6-7 p.m. Tuesdays.