by J.R. Lind
This Week In The 'Drome we're all resigning.
Sober vs. Silly: As fans of chronically wretched baseball teams know, there is a certain joy in the late season.
Your team can play spoiler to someone pushing for the playoffs, and the extra roster spots mean a lot of teenagers with weird numbers get playing time with the big club.
The Predators find themselves in the odd place of being out of playoff contention. Which isn't to say these last two weeks are pointless (they may be goalless, but they won't be pointless).
So injured and out-of-it are the Preds, three key forwards are already heading for season-ending surgeries. A handful of other vets may be similarly shut down, which means plenty of opportunities for guys who have spent significant time on the farm. Indeed, on Tuesday, the Predators iced 10 guys who played for the Milwaukee Admirals this season.
It looks like Filip Forsberg, the promising teenaged Swede who was the return from Washington in the Martin Erat trade, may make his way to the Music City, perhaps to play Monday.
See, it's not all bad!
Of course, big questions loom in the offseason, as I wrote in the dead-tree. Are there any free agents worth pursuing, and will they want to be pursued by Nashville? Are there more trades to come? Is Nashville's rebuild long-term, or was this a bump in the road?
It's the kind of thing that'll give ya heartburn if you let it — but tomorrow can worry about tomorrow, as the Good Book says. Find the fun in today (and not just in all the Daniel Bang puns).
The Week Behind
Bison Bailing: Long-time Lipscomb men's basketball coach Scott Sanderson resigned after 14 years leading the Bisons (sic).
It wasn't unexpected, by any stretch of the imagination: He finished up his tenure with a couple of losing seasons. What's interesting, really, is that it took Lipscomb this long into April to let him go. Perhaps Florida Gulf Coast's unexpected success kept him around — after all, he was featured in numerous national stories as the basketball press wanted to speak to the man whose team beat the Eagles twice in the regular season.
A couple of names have floated out already: Belmont assistant Brian Ayers (a Lipscomb alum) and Vandy legend and current CPA coach Drew Maddux. Either would be a fit, although Ayers going from Belmont's bench to Lipscomb's is less of a leap than Maddux jumping from high-school straight to D-I, though that's worked before.
The Horrible No Good Very Bad Days: The Predators were oh-fer this week. In a back-to-back, "home" and home with Chicago, the Preds were game in the match-up at Bridgestone Arena, losing 1-0 in front of a crowd that was...bipartisan is a good way to put it. They even played OK on Sunday in the game in the Windy City, losing 5-3.
And then came Tuesday against the Blues. The announced attendance was 15,000-something, but that was being generous. Those that were there and that stayed were quiet and uninterested, though they can hardly be blamed as the 1-0 Blues win was the most aggressively boring professional hockey game I have ever watched in person, surpassing even the depths of somnolence of the now-cliched October 19, 2010 Calgary game.
There was very little to take away from this trio. The Predator defense was, at times, quite effective. In the first and third games, Pekka Rinne was very good. But there are no goals to be had out there, in large part because the Predators forwards really should still be in Milwaukee. There's very little anybody could do about injuries, but this is the fruit of trading draft picks for players at the last few trade deadlines. The backbench is empty.
Garbage Time: Ho hum, another sweep for Vandy baseball. ... Brandt Snedeker finished the day minus-2, four back of the leaders, and Hendersonville native and U.S. Amateur champ Steven Fox closed his round plus-4 — three back of the low amateur — down at Augusta. ... In the Sounds' opener last week, Nashville's Tyler Thornburg pulled off the rare four-strikeouts-in-an-inning....Congrats to Centennial's Aaron O'Neill, taken in the 10th round of the Ontario Hockey League draft in a week when the Jr. Predators U18 and U16 teams finished second in their age groups at the national championships, with the U14s coming in third. ... Another basketball league is going to make a go of it here. ... Three Vandy bowlers named All-America.
Afternoon Delight: James Franklin is doing the media rounds this week ahead of Saturday's spring scrimmage (prediction: Vandy wins!). These have, by and large, been the usual "How's the team look, coach?" and "Everyone's still enthusiastic, eh, coach?" deals, interjected with Franklin's laudable enthusiasm for the team. All an effort to get people out to Dudley and get some energy going for the season.
Franklin's used to this softball stuff mostly because his best buddies are on the 3HL who briefly stop ranking boobs and discussing esoteric parts of SEC politics only to gush at Franklin every time he stops by. So perhaps that's what the coach was expecting when he called into 104's Midday 180. In Chad Withrow, Jonathan Hutton and Paul Kuharsky, however, Franklin found a far less obliging trio. They asked him about his tweet — which many, including me, misinterpreted as being directed at Jalen Hurd — implying that players who don't sign with Vandy are "settling in life," because I guess there have been no successful football players or indeed humans except the ones who go to Vandy.
Org Report: The Tennessean's Mike Organ had a pair of great hoops stories this week. The first is about the two-decades-old basketball game featuring local legends and the second, about a now-confirmed-as-hoax All-America team from the 70s which included Austin Peay great Fly Williams.
Get Enfranchised: It's 15 years since the Titans became the Titans. So they are letting the fans vote on the commemorative shoulder patch. As an Intentional Classicist, I'm advocating for the Roman numerals.
The Week Ahead
Something Old, Something New : The Predators have three at home this week, starting tonight with please-oh-please-if-I-keep-making-a-wish-it'll-come-true new rival Dallas. Thanks to Friend Of The 'Drome Jesse Spector, we've decided to call this the Chambers Pot, in honor of Shawn Chambers, the only goal-scorer in the first Stars-Preds game.
The Stars made a very open and naked effort to trade away their veteran players for the future — their President even wrote a letter to fans explaining it, which is great — and then something weird happened: they sorta, kinda are back in the playoff conversation.
Detroit, whose loss to Nashville in the
second first round of the playoffs (Ed. Note: How could I forget — my daughter was born during the decisive Game 5. Maybe that's how I forgot) last year was supposed to be a passing-of-the-torch, is back in their usual spot of being in the playoffs, despite having no defensemen anyone has ever heard of or cared about. They make their last visit to Nashville as a division foe Sunday.
Monday, Vancouver comes to town. The Canucks are atop the Northwest at the moment, but the big takeaway is that Filip Forsberg could theoretically debut that night for Nashville. Worth watching.
Coachspeak: The reprehensible, dictatorial, protected nature of coaches has been an increasingly not-just-on-the-sports-pages topic in the past 12 or 18 months, starting with the reprehensible behavior and institutional protection of Penn State assistant Jerry Sandusky and then again last week with the videos of out-of-control Rutgers coach Mike Rice.
It came up at Belmont's Integrity in Sports event, which featured Belmont's Rick Byrd (whom it's hard to imagine as red-faced, not to mention irate), Butler's Brad Stevens and Vanderbilt's Kevin Stallings.
The interesting bit to me came from Stallings. He has a reputation as ... maybe "fiery" isn't the right word, but certainly he is seen as often quite screamy. He bangs his foot and whistles and gets after officials and generally makes his feelings known.
And he knows that we know this about him. And he knows what he is. But he also knows where the line is.
“It makes me embarrassed for our profession that those methods are still in place,” Stallings said. “I played for two really, really hard-nose, physical type guys. It is so wrong to ever put your hands ever near a player, to me — ever. I don’t even put my hands on a guy to move him from one spot to the next. It is bad practice. Because who knows when they’ve just done something that flips my switch in practice and I do something stupid, which I’m not inclined to do because I’m never going to put my hands on them.”
Knowing that he has a temper — he admits booting basketballs into the stands at Memorial — Stallings maintains literal and physical distance from his players.
It takes a real grown-up to admit and adjust to his faults. Coaching could use more guys like Stallings and fewer power-hungry petty dictators.
Did you find all my extra hyphens? Please email them to jrlind[at]nashvillescene[dot]com and please listen to me make Daniel Bang jokes with Willy Daunic and Darren McFarland 6 PM most Tuesdays on 102.5 The Game