by J.R. Lind
This Week In The 'Drome we're reminded, as always, it's designed to break your heart.
Heartache vs. Heartbreak : Vanderbilt's baseball season was a brilliant one. The 'Dores set the SEC record for wins and didn't lose a series all season.
Until the last series, a two game sweep by rival Louisville in the Super Regional at Hawkins Field, a devastating weekend of missed opportunities that denied the 'Dores their place in Omaha.
Baseball is a big picture game, a sport of averages and trends. In part, that's why sabermetrics is so useful — baseball is the Big Data of pastimes.
But Big Data — and Vandy's data this year was very big indeed — is Hobbes' Leviathan, made up of interacting tiny bits. And sometimes those bits are not very good. Great teams can often overcome that — a batting slump can be countered by top-notch pitching or a tactical adjustment — but sometimes, the bits are aligned against you.
A team can't leave 11 men on base in a game and expect to win, unless their opponent's ability to plate runners is just as paltry. A team can't leave 11 men on base in a second, must-win game and expect to win — well, ever.
Tim Corbin's 2013 team was so frequently a team of controlled dominance. Never, perhaps not even until the Cardinals squeezed the last out, did anyone expect Vandy to lose, no matter the game situation. There was too much talent in the line-up and Corbin's adjustments were spot-on.
Baseball is a cruel game, sometimes. Sometimes nothing works and it rips your heart out.
The Week Behind
Roman Reloaded: After two summers of defenseman contract consternation, Nashville Predators GM David Poile locked up promising Swiss blueliner Roman Josi, ensuring seven years of puns about the Swiss, the Romans and Josie and The Pussycats.
In honesty, the deal probably overpays Josi a bit on the front-end, but that's a gamble Poile was willing to make because it's a bargain during the prime years at the end of the contract (notably, the salary figure dips in the final year of the deal, giving Poile or his successor a little trade deadline flexibility).
It's too early to declare the 2013-14 season a re-building year for the Preds — let's let them work through July's free agency period — but if it is, Poile won't mind the extra dollars to Josi. If the team is youngish, the GM will have cap room to give anyway. As it stands, the Predators are likely to have at least two rookies on the opening day roster between Filip Forsberg and whichever of the trio of Jonathan Drouin, Alex Barkov or Valeri Nichushkin the Preds take with their No. 4 draft pick.
Garbage Time: Boclair files a report from Titans OTAs, where the Two Toners sure hope trash-talking means playoffs. Or something. ... Nashville's Brian Baker is gearing up for a return, but it won't be at Wimbledon.
No Home For Domes: The NCAA finally came to its senses on at least one stupid thing they do (don't worry, as there are 28,584 other stupid things they do). No longer will Sweet 16 or Elite Eight rounds of the men's basketball tournament be played in domed stadiums. It's nice bit of incrementalism from them — no basketball should ever be played in a dome, as the sightlines are horrible, the fans are nine miles from the action and the game itself typically suffers from bad shooting — and it could be a big boost for Nashville.
The NCAA has effectively eliminated a whole swath of competition for actual, real arenas wanting to host the regional rounds of the tournament. With Bridgestone's success at hosting SEC tournaments and the first two rounds of the NCAAs (plus a women's Final Four coming soon), it's a pretty easy logical jump to assume the city will be in the mix for more prestigious tournament rounds going forward.
Hey Remember That: Friend of the 'Drome Eric Taylor talks a walk down memory lane, sharing tales of old (and awesome) pro wrestling cards at Municipal Auditorium:
One of the big matches on this September 25, 1986 card was Randy “Macho Man” Savage vs. Hillbilly Jim for the Intercontinental Championship. This was at the beginning of Macho Man’s height of popularity.
I’m perched in my spot on the rail on the aisle where the wrestlers are making their way to the ring. I had already touched hands with a dude named Dick Slater [that's an awkward sentence no matter what order you arrange the words] in the second match as he left the ring and made his way to the backstage area. Don Muraco and Pedro Morales came and went and I felt pretty awesome because I had seen some familiar guys up close. Then Hillbilly Jim’s Don’t Go Messin’ With A Country Boy blared over the PA and the crowd went crazy. I got in a high-five as he did a dosey doe to the ring and I was pretty sure my life would never get any better than right now. I just knew that Hillbilly would get the win and the Intercontinental belt because I was here to see it and this night was special.
Then Pomp and Circumstance began playing and we all knew that Macho Man and Elizabeth were on their way. It seemed like an eternity before Savage and Elizabeth appeared from behind the curtain, but when they did, the spotlight hit them and you knew right then that this guy was different. His energy was more than just bigger-than-life. It was its own being. Savage was just plain special.
Hey Remember Him: Pacman. Arrested. On video. You know the drill.
The Week Ahead
In any event, they may be playing the U.S. Open into next Wednesday and Brandt Snedeker, coming off the weird rib thing, hopes he'll be there, lifting his first major.
The Nashville golfer has the right game for the U.S. Open — he hits more greens than a vegetarian at Arnold's and his fairway percentage is among the PGA's best. What he does have is bad luck — and while the old aphorism that people make their own luck is true to a degree, there's no amount of preparation that will put Sneds in a different generation than Tiger Woods.
As always, the Open is more about who makes the fewest number of mistakes (as opposed to who makes the most amazing shots). If he plays to his percentages, Snedeker can be there Sunday (or Wednesday).
If I Was A Rapper But Then Again No: The Rollergirls take on a team from Tallahassee Sunday. Tickets are $10 for the best remaining use of Municipal Auditorium.
Rational Self-Interest: Chris Johnson doesn't want you to think he's selfish.
Check this quote in a Glennon/Wyatt notes package:
“Every year coming in I have a goal, but every time I say what my goal is, everybody thinks I am a selfish player and not a team player.”
And there is certainly a perception that Johnson is selfish every time he announces he wants to go for 2,000 again.
Now check the back end of that quote:
“Every year I want to rush for 2,000 yards, and I feel like if we are doing what is right and we are making plays on Sunday, if I get to that yardage I feel like we can be a playoff team and hopefully win the Super Bowl.”
So why is he vilified? If Chris Johnson runs for 2,000 yards, he'll have been successful — wildly, historically so — and if the main piece of the team is successful, it follows that the team will have success (please ignore his 2,000 yard season when the Titans missed the playoffs).
Why does it bother fans when players say they have specific benchmarks they want to hit? We'd feel better, perhaps, if Johnson's quote was "I want the team to be 13-3 and make the playoffs and win a Super Bowl."
But is what he's saying instead — that he has lofty goals for himself — all that different from saying he has lofty goals for the team?
If Kobe Bryant says he wants to score 40 points per game, are we A) surprised or 2) all that consternated by it? If Sidney Crosby says he wants to score 60 goals, does it bother us?
Teams are collections of individuals and in football, especially, with its interlocking parts, it's overwhelmingly difficult for an offensive player to have a record-setting year and have his team have a bad year (although, again, if anyone can do it, it's the Titans who, again, missed the playoffs in CJ's 2,000-yard season).
It's a matter of presentation. When CJ says he wants to do well, it means he wants the team to do so.
Emails to jrlind[at]nashvillescene[dot]com. Ears to 102.5 The Game Tuesdays at 6.