by J.R. Lind
This Week In The 'Drome : Magic's not gathering, Preds are traveling, songs we're replacing and more ...
Pride vs. Duty : Where did the magic go? Jeff Lockridge ponders Vanderbilt basketball's dismal attendance but only, sort of, finds the answer.
We've watched as the Titans have seen their butts-in-seats (as opposed to tickets-sold) numbers drop. Now it happens at Memorial Gym, especially in the once-raucous, subterranean student section.
In the piece about the Titans Eric From Springfield wrote last week, Paul Kuharsky, he of ESPN and 104.5 The Zone, couldn't understand why people weren't coming to LP Field in spite of having bought tickets. It does seem silly on its face, except that by the time Sunday rolls around, the tickets have long since been paid for.
It's November. It's cold. The Titans are bad. The beer is expensive. The seats are made of plastic. At home, it's warm, the beer is cold and cheap, and I can LIE down on my couch. The Titans are still bad, but at least it's not raining indoors and there's no chance Phil Vassar will force me to listen to him sing.
Fundamentally, this is the problem at Vandy. Student tickets are free, but the product is bad. If there's some other free alternative — or even a paid one — why go watch bad basketball?
Ultimately, this is a question of the nature of fandom. There are people who consider supporting a team (or a school) some kind of duty. That not showing up to watch the Titans or Vandy or the Predators makes one a "bad fan" or even a "bad citizen" (or alum, as the case may be) even if the product isn't worth the price of admission (even if that price is free).
There are others — Darren Rovell is a particularly insidious extreme example — who see sports fandom as purely transactional. The fan is a customer. If the fan is displeased with the product, the fan will demonstrate that displeasure by not spending his or her money or time consuming it, as if the New York Giants are the same as a box of donuts.
As is so frequently the case, the answer is somewhere in that murky middle, a via media properly explaining the relationship we should have with our favorite team.
The students Lockridge talked to say they go to football games because James Franklin is exciting (and, in fairness, he is brash whereas Stallings, um, isn't) and because he's engaged. But no level of screaming on tabletops makes a 2-10 team a must-attend event. And frankly, Stallings is as beige as he was last year when the quirky old gym was packed to the rafters regularly.
The game's the thing.
The Week Behind
The Great Dismal : It's a world without music. Losing three of four — and, in those three, looking abysmal — has that effect.
In the three losses since last we Dromed, the Preds scored once — a nifty little tic-tac-toe in Anaheim that went from Rich Clune (who the team finally recognized made Brian McGrattan redundant) to Kevin Klein Lady Byng hopeful to Craig Smith, who has all the makings of a guy who will score 15 times in 12 games and then disappear for two weeks. This pretty pitter-pat came when the Preds were down 4-0 in a game they'd go on to lose 5-1.
The lone bright point came Monday against Dallas. Having fallen behind a few times, the Preds fought back and Roman Josi capped a four point night with an overtime game-winner. The 5-4 win seemed the kind of game which would set a dreadfully pedestrian offense into scoring mode.
It did not.
The Predators are not out of the playoff race — far from it. While they've played more games than much of their brethren, they've some breathing room with which to operate. They are just one point behind their pace through 21 games last season and if points were prorated to an 82-game rate, they're decimal points behind last year.
It's not fire sale time — far from it. The lack of scoring isn't concerning — a game stolen by the goaltender is as valid as a game stolen by a superb performance by any other player. It's the fact that, all too often, there is no scoring at all.
A 48-game year is shorter than normal, but it's still a long year. But something needs to click.
Trusty Cage : Vandy, who've been on the wrong side of a handful of close games this season, finally got one back.
Down by as much as 15 in the second-half, a 16-0 run against Georgia brought the 'Dores back into it and with tenths remaining, Kevin Bright got a shooter's roll and a game-winning jumper, carrying Vandy to a 63-62 win over the Bulldogs.
Meanwhile, Belmont won an OVC regular season title in its first year in the conference with a 30 point win over Directional Illinois-City You've Never Visited. Saturday, the Bruins topped the Ohio Bobcats in an ESPN Bracketbuster game.
Garbage Time : The Titans signed veteran safety George Wilson to a shockingly reasonable contract. ... Former UT basketball strength coach Troy Willis was arrested for sawing into an office at Thompson-Boling and stealing money. This is after he stole some tanning lotion? It's very odd. ... Down in Henderson, Freed-Hardeman has apparently decided its cheerleaders will wear pants, because skirts are immodest and boys turn into hormone-crazed devil-rhinos of sin upon seeing the barely-tanned flesh of a woman's calf. Or something. Friend of the 'Drome Wes Hartline, an FHU alum, blogs. ... Congrats to long-time TSSAA head man Ronnie Carter for his upcoming induction into the National High School Hall of Fame, presumably for his contributions in the field of "making sure 2-8 football teams have a chance at the playoffs." ... And finally, best of luck to former Vandy running back Warren Norman, once the SEC Freshman of the Year. He's decided to hang up the cleats.
Street Meat: Chris Johnson, I love you because when you do crazy things, they are things like this and not things like getting arrested or sending pictures of Lil' 2K to Jenn Sterger.
Tennessee Titans running back Chris Johnson is so damn fast ... he went to a nightclub, pulled a bunch of chicks AND scarfed a hot dog ... all in the blink of an eye.
Johnson hit up Supperclub in Hollywood last night ... sporting a pair of pants that sagged down below his ass cheeks. Hey, it's the style ...
But the chicks didn't seem to mind ... 'cause after Johnson was finished inside the club, he ordered some street meat (one of those sidewalk hot dogs) ... and proceeded to chat up a couple of ladies.
He's Always Dirty Dutch To Me: The wrestler once known as Dirty Dutch Mantel — a favorite of Scene Dear Leader Jim Ridley — has returned to WWE as Zeb Colter, manager to Jack Swagger. The pair are perfectly executed caricatures of the Tea Party, so spot-on they've sparked a shoot feud with Glenn Beck.
The fact is that, obviously, the McMahons are having a little fun with Linda's losses as a centrist Republican — but they are, oh by the way, making a smart business play (they didn't get rich being idiots). A large and still-growing part of the WWE's audience is Hispanics as Mexican-Americans embrace the North-of-the-Rio version of the lucha libre prevalent in the culture of their forebears.
Sending out anti-immigrant Tea Partiers as heels is just smart business.
Video Games: Lots of cool videos from around the way this week. Here's Gnash and some Preds with musical instruments. Here's the trailer for the perpetually-in-development TSU documentary "Will To Win" which looks like it finally may be close to actually being screened. Here's a doc about the old Nashville Dixie Flyers hockey team. And here's a GIF of Vince Gill not high-fiving. And, courtesy of our good buddy Sean Maloney, there's this which may qualify as the strangest Preds tribute video of all time.
The Week Ahead
Play Clean As Country Water : The OVC tournament opens at Fulton's Folly Wednesday. Belmont will carry in a No. 1 seed and, thus, favorite status. There's hints the OVC could, theoretically, be a two-bid league if the Bruins don't win the tournament (indeed the OVC would likely have been a two-bidder last year if TSU had upset Murray in that thrilling final).
I'm not sure that's true, but I do know the good folks at the OVC sure would like a Belmont-TSU final in Nashville. I've already convinced myself that game is going to make for a helluva rivalry if you'll excuse my English. And nothing to ramp it up like a conference title game.
Worthless Prediction : I like it. And I like it for another good game, but Bruins are too much. America: meet Ian Clark. Who I'll eventually stop calling Ian Bell.
California Needin' : Somehow, the Preds only have two game during this 'Drome Week which I guess means somewhere down the road, they're going to play six games in seven days or something.
Anyway, there's a trip to San Jose and the struggling Sharks tomorrow, coming a few days after the Preds got together and had a kumbayah about the first part of the season.
Next up is a visit to L.A. Tuesday. The Stanley Cup Champs are also not quite in gear.
Worthless Prediction: The Preds really could use two wins here. Boy could they.
Infinity Cat : Given their continued use of the most famous song by an abhorrent child rapist and child pornographer, the Predators really really could use some new music. I've made my feelings on this clear already.
I got to thinking about it again this week as Vancouver picked a new intro song, something from local rockers Japandroids. Meanwhile, on the other side of Canada (I guess?), the Maple Leafs changed their goal song to "Harlem Shake," which is exactly the kind of thing a team once run by a teachers' pension would pick, because it's the kind of thing a teacher would pick to show how cool she is.
Add to that Nashville Cream's cool on-going series of Best Local Rock Songs Ever and it occurred to me that Nashville will eventually change their goal song because surely they don't want the scoring of goals — no matter how rare they are — to be associated with a convicted child sex criminal. And when they do, let's hope they follow the Canucks lead and not the Leafs.
So I asked you fine people — if the local hockey team (and heck, if the Titans wanna stop playing Jock Jams, by all means) want to add a local flavor to their presentation, which bands (or songs) should they consider, be it for a goal song or an intro song or a plain old interstitial.
I aggregated your Twitter responses on one of those fancy Storify deals.
I'm quite proud of the time I got the Preds game ops crew to play Jason & The Scorchers' "Greetings from Nashville" in the pre-game and "White Lies" for a penalty (a rare Kevin Klein minor, appropriately enough). The former, I think, would work well enough as an intro song, but the rocking bits of their covers of "Absolutely Sweet Marie" or (especially) "Lost Highway" could be cowpunkin', shit-kickin' goal songs.
Two other personal favorites: Ghostfinger's "Aminal Eye" (after a long build, it gets going at 45 seconds or so) and the breakdown Da-Da-Da parts of The Features' seminal "Thursday" (about 2:00 or so in on the Lake Fever version).
Got good ideas? Hit me on the Twitter machine or at jrlind[at]nashvillescene[dot]com.