by J.R. Lind
This Week In The 'Drome: Drafting, bowling, tanking, winning, losing, and other gerunds
Big Uglies vs. Easy Skill: Make no mistake, the NFL knows exactly what it's doing. The league has protracted the draft from a compact weekend that ranged from the sparking names early on Day One to the "That's a college???" of Day Two into a four-day Mel Kiper-fueled frenzy of expectation.
The first round is Thursday evening, broadcast for all the world. There's a green room and a red carpet and Jets fans booing (that remains from the quainter days).
The Titans will pick 10th, just behind the Jets. As the Bronx cheers of the Gang Green fade away, Commissioner Roger Goodell will say, "With the tenth pick in 2013 NFL Draft, the Tennessee Titans select..."
Fans always like the sexy pick, the speedy wide-receiver — former UT Vol Cordarrelle Patterson's whammo performance on Sports Science made him the sexy pick of the week — or the yard-chewing running back or the howitzer-armed quarterback. They'll even tolerate a hard-hitting linebacker or a ball-hawking defensive back.
That's not a hard thing to understand — those events in football are easy to understand and comprehend. They show up on highlight packages and often lead, in a very obvious way, to scoring points or preventing them, ultimately the goal of the game.
In all likelihood, the Titans will probably draft an offensive lineman (though perhaps an interior defensive lineman, which is only marginally more exciting). They've added some experience up front, which gives them cover to find some youth behind it. Draft-topping offensive linemen are often a dividend-reaping investment, for if their knees hold up they can play effectively for decades. But they don't thrill the fans; the most tangible evidence will be when Mel Kiper rolls the highlight reel for the lineman and it's basically 30 seconds of one large man pushing other large men, as thrilling as watching Jello do battle with a ham.
But what thrills the fans in April isn't what wins games in October — or February. And the imperceptible — like a butterfly flapping its wings in the Amazon — is often just as important as the obvious.
The Week Behind
It Ain't Like Before. Can't Y'all See That I'm Growing? : Yo, Vandy, we can go bowling.
Vanderbilt's bowling team lost 4.5-2.5 to Nebraska in a try at their second national title under coach John Williamson. Nashville gathered round the TVs tuned to ESPNU Saturday to watch the oddly compelling final, as Vandy — with their bespectacled members wearing matching frames — failed to match the 'Huskers' pace down the stretch,
It was disappointing, yes, as any loss is, but Vandy entered the tournament as the No. 7 seed, taking a string of upsets to the final. Plus Williamson's team is young, heavy on underclassmen, and the experience of being in a televised match so early in the college career will pay off down the stretch.
Important question — this makes Williamson the most successful coach on West End, doesn't it? A title and a runner-up finish for a program created just six years ago? In any sport, that's pretty amazing.
Visor Mullet and Fade: Brandt Snedeker headed into Sunday's final round at August perched in a tie atop the leaderboard with beer-swilling, chain-smoking Argentine Angel Cabrera. And Cabrera would be there at the end of the day, in a jaunty, sauntering playoff with Aussie Adam Scott.
Snedeker would end up elsewhere.
His putting — usually a strong point for the Vandy alum — failed him miserably in the final round on his way to carding a 75. He got wet on 13, miraculously saved par and then bogeyed 14 and that just about sealed it. He said he was disappointed, but not devastated. He knows, like the aforementioned bowlers from his alma mater, he'll be back.
Garbage Time: The Predators. Yikes. ... Vandy's baseball team doesn't need to wait til next year, because next year is now. The team has run its record to 33-5 and hasn't lost a series, well, ever. Did lose a mid-week game to Tech this week, but that happens.
This Is Great, But We Have Different Definitions of 'Abridged': Friend of the 'Drome Sam Page, writing for The Score, tells the history of the Predators through the story of the Filip Forsberg trade:
After the 2007 talent drain, Martin Erat took the thankless job, along with the second-best forward prospect of the 1998 draft, to keep the Predators going. Ironically, again, Martin Erat has taken the Predators halfway toward a better tomorrow in a way that may tarnish his standing with Nashville’s fans.
We Knew Him When: R.A. Dickey got the 60 Minutes treatment Sunday and you can watch the segment right here.
Wait. What? : The Predators' nominees for the cover of NHL '14 are Mike Fisher (OK, cool). And ... Brandon Yip? OK.
The Week Ahead
What A Long Strange Trip It's Been: Four games left for the Predators this year as they try to put the kibosh on their franchise-record seven-game losing streak. Tonight, they head to Chicago to play the league-best Blackhawks for the final time as Central Division opponents (both teams will join Conference III next season). They close the home slate Tuesday against Calgary in what could be a crucial game for draft position (please remember losing on purpose is a crime and hoping your team loses is ethically reprehensible, even though, yes, I understand the logic) and then head to Detroit Thursday and the surprising Columbus Blue Jackets to close things out next Saturday.
What can they take away from the week? Well, a win of any description would feel pretty good and though it probably would harm them in some way, winning that last home game against Calgary would give everyone some warm fuzzies. And a win against old rivals Chicago or Detroit would feel good.
But the Predators have a chance to do some really solid heel work too. Columbus — after trading franchise forward Rick Nash — have ridden the assets they got in exchange to a stellar season, added some key pieces at the deadline and whatdayaknow, they are in serious playoff contention. The ever-ironic hockey blogging world has embraced Lumbus as their little brother, willing them by force into the playoffs. Wouldn't it be rich if Nashville — the team that once felt the similar go-get-em-tiger encouragement — knocked Columbus out? That would be delightful.
From Friend of the 'Drome Jesse Spector at The Sporting News: