Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Wade Belak Found Dead in Toronto

Wade Belak, 1976-2011
Very sad news out of Toronto today that former Predators (among other teams) enforcer Wade Belak has passed away. According to a report by QMI Agency, Belak was found dead in a hotel earlier today. He was in Toronto working on "Battle of the Blades", a Canadian reality television show. The cause of death is as yet unknown.

Belak was scheduled to have his own radio show on 102.5 The Game, as well as taking on a role as the team's bench reporter for radio and TV broadcasts.

Belak was an entertaining player on and off the ice. He was a tough guy with a tender heart, and had one hell of a sense of humor. His promising radio career began as a color analyst on select Predators games last season, following his retirement. I will forever remember him nearly choking on his cough drop following the dramatic Game 5 win against Anaheim in the 2011 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Belak is the second former Predator to pass away. Sergei Zholtok died in November 2004 shortly after a game in Belarus, where he was playing professionally during the season-canceling NHL Lockout.

Wade Belak was 35 years old. May he rest in peace.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

"Is There A Preds Game Today?"

Though there was a Titans game* tonight at LP Field (which, because it is preseason, I refused to give any credence to), this was a day devoted to the Predators for me. First, my lovely wife and I went downtown to the Predators "tailgate party" (a thinly-veiled attempt by the Preds to grab the attention of the many Titans fans who were streaming into downtown before the game*), and then later to "Preds Night" at the Sounds game.

My "uniform" today.
All the while, I was decked out in Predators gear. GOLD Predators gear. I'm definitely an early-adopter of the goldness. I donned my gold cap and my gold "We are hockey. We are Smashville." t-shirt. I definitely stuck out.

As I walked around proudly donning this apparel, I was asked the same question twice: "Is there a Preds game today?" In August. In 90-degree heat. "Is there a Preds game today?" Twice.

Unfortunately, I had to tell them no. Man, oh man, do I wish there HAD been a Preds game today. I'm hockey-starved. I'm playing NHL 11 on the Playstation3 as much as I possibly can. It's the only hockey fix I can get right now. (I can't seem to let the NHL Playoff replays on NHL Network grab my attention.)

What this tells me, however, is that the Preds have reached a point where they have captured the casual sports fan in Nashville. People may not make the cognitive connection that hockey = ice = cold = winter, but they do know they're excited about the Predators and they're ready to pay attention.

It's going to be interesting to see the excitement level around the Predators in October. If the Titans have already lost the city's attention by virtue of a poor early-season showing, I believe the Predators' playoff buzz will survive the summer and we'll see an increased level of interest.

At least I hope so.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Did I mention it's August?

Still not much going on in the world of Nashville sports, except this whole Chris Johnson thing. I still don't really know who's wrong and who's right, or if anyone is wrong or right.

And, of course, there's the preseason games. ::yawn::

And literally nothing is going on with the Predators, so they're throwing a block party at the arena tomorrow just to stay awake, apparently.

August sucks.

Dear October:

I see you out there, 5-and-a-half weeks away. You're like an oasis in the desert. Sure, your little brother September is exciting and all, but you're my favorite month. Your cooler sibling November is amazing, too, but by that point, we're in a routine. You're amazing, October. Hockey, Titans, and the meat of the college football season? I love you, October. Please, please hurry. And don't forget to bring your 75-degree high temperatures.


Thursday, August 18, 2011

Predators To Get 3 U.S. Nationwide Broadcasts in 2011-12

Not much National TV time for the Preds

The NHL released the schedule of games to appear on its national broadcast partners today, which in the United States is NBC, Versus, and NHL Network USA.

All said, the Nashville Predators will only get THREE national broadcasts, and none on NBC. That's all. Three. For a team that made the Western Conference Semifinals last year and provided some of the most exciting games of the playoffs. Three.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

102.5 The Game To Carry Alabama Football

The Crimson Tide Sports Network will
soon be a part of "The Game" airscape.
There is some new info coming out today about the new-sports-radio-station-to-be. WPRT-FM, whose management announced Monday that the station now known as "The Party" will soon be known as "102.5 The Game", will carry University of Alabama football, according to The university's athletic website has quietly listed WPRT-FM as the radio affiliate for Nashville.

As the station has all-but-confirmed its intention to move the Predators over from sister station WBUZ 102.9, there will likely be some programming conflicts in October and November, when Alabama often plays Saturday evening games at the same time the Predators are scheduled to be playing. The SEC football schedule is set week-to-week by television partners CBS and ESPN, so any potential conflicts will only be discovered around 10 days in advance. I am fairly certain that the Preds would get priority over Alabama, so hockey fans need not fret.

Monday, August 15, 2011

102.5 FM To Become Sports Talk Station "The Game"

Image courtesy
If you've read my initial post on this blog (despite the fact that the name of the blog has since changed)... you know that I made my career in the sports radio industry until early 2010. News breaks today, courtesy of radio industry news site AllAccess Music Group, that WPRT-FM (102.5 The Party) will soon be changing formats and becoming "102.5 The Game". The morning show, titled "The First Quarter", will be hosted by Darren McFarland and Brad Hopkins, who have been anchoring "The Afternoon Press Box" at 560 WNSR for the past few months.

Currently, I am employed part-time by Cumulus Media, the company in the process of purchasing Citadel Media, parent company of Nashville's other FM sports station, 104.5 The Zone. So, I will offer no further comment on this news, due to my obvious conflicts of interest. Instead, I will direct you to the aforementioned AllAccess article, and to the blog at discussing the implications involving the Predators.

However, I do wish the folks at the new station the best. Competition makes everyone better.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Beating a Dead Horse

About last night...

I didn't blog about the Titans game because I didn't see it. Sorry about that. Besides, it was the first preseason game. Any analysis of it would be meaningless anyway. Also, preseason NFL football is almost as exciting as checking the stats on this blog to see how many of you are actually reading it.

Instead, I was at a company picnic at the Sounds game. We had a great time; perhaps the most pleasant time I've ever had at Greer Stadium. The weather was perfect. The game was good. I was surrounded by friends and co-workers. We had a great time, but it only illustrated to me how much Nashville needs a new baseball park.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

I'm a Hockey Fan, So I'm Smarter Than You

...or so I have been accused.

The Facebook argument went as such:

A friend (who shall remain nameless, unless you are a Facebook friend of both of us) believes that the poor reaction to Titans single-game ticket sales had nothing to do with Chris Johnson. I reply that I believe that's a part of it, as well as a whole host of other BS that has gone on with the Titans (see my previous blog post). He replies that it's purely the economy, and nothing else. I disagree, and point out that the Predators have increased ticket sales in the same "bad economy" the Titans are dealing with. I am then told that the fan bases are totally different and that I am "rich" (which I definitely am not... it took me 5 months of extra jobs to save up the money to buy 1 season of Preds tickets).

And then the bomb was dropped...
 YOU are obviously one of those Preds fans who believes that being a hockey fan makes you more intelligent and sophisticate than the rest of us.
BOOM! There it is. I am a pretentious hockey fan.

And I didn't even point out to him that he misspelled "sophisticated." So, I may be smarter, but I still have tact.

Bad Titans News Continues: Finnegan, CJ, & Tix

Just when I was beginning to buy into the Titans a little bit, there have been a few more missteps this week. Not all of them are the team's fault, but they are clouding my confidence in an improved 2011 season.

First: Cortland Finnegan. Here are my thoughts, and I really don't have much more to say on the topic than this: He's a liar. He's a punk. He's a cheap-shot artist. He's an idiot. He's an overrated defensive back (3 Titans had better stats). Oh, and he has Jeff Fisher-stench all over him. He's a big reason the Titans were considered by many to be the dirtiest team in the league last year. His little apology yesterday did nothing for me. He realized he made a mistake, but he's putting on a good face for one reason: it's a contract year. His mini-holdout hurt his value with the Titans, but maybe not other teams in the league. I don't know his true intentions, but he's always had an adversarial relationship with the local media, and he knows how to play them like a piano (although they didn't take the bait this time...the lies were far too transparent). I firmly believe that move was calculated, but, as you can see with my opinions above, I'm slightly biased against him anyway. I really hope the Titans try to trade him. I know there aren't many player-for-player trades in the NFL, but Osi Umenyiora is just sitting there in New York waiting to be traded. Let's make an even swap.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Could NASCAR Be Returning to the Fairgrounds?

It's WAY too soon to know anything (for several reasons), but following the announcement this morning that Nashville Superspeedway is suspending operations, CBS Sports' Pete Pistone speculates this afternoon that NASCAR Racing could return to the historic Fairgrounds Speedway in the future. He writes:
"...the most intriguing story making the rounds is a return to the historic Nashville Fairgrounds Speedway, where both divisions raced for years before moving to the Nashville Superspeedway. Former Nationwide Series driver Bobby Hamilton Jr. is now the promoter of the downtown track and has worked hard to resurrect racing at the storied facility."
The thought is interesting, but I'm not sure how rooted in fact it is. Consider this: the fate of the Fairgrounds Speedway rests in the hands of Metro Nashville voters (or, at least, the small percentage that is expected to turn out) tomorrow. On the ballot is the ratification of an amendment to the Metro Charter that reads:

Nashville Superspeedway Gets the Red Flag

Nashville Superspeedway, 2001-2011
Rather than thanking God for a "smokin' hot wife" before July's Federated Auto Parts 300, Pastor Joe Nelms should have prayed for a Sprint Cup race.

That's what it would have taken for Nashville Superspeedway to achieve long-term success. Instead, we have a white elephant among the cow pastures of Gladeville.

After 11 seasons, Dover Motorsports has decided that enough is enough. It is closing Nashville Superspeedway and will not be seeking NASCAR sanctioning for races in 2012.

Shea Weber is a Nashville Predator

I can haz $8 mil?
I'll fully admit this: I don't know a whole lot about how the NHL arbitration process works, but I've been given a crash course over the past 24 hours. I do know, however, that the Twitterverse is overreacting to WeberWatch.

But, in the grand tradition of this baby blog, let's step back and look at this thing from a broader scope. Shea Weber will be wearing the Predators logo on his sweater next year. Right now, that's all we know. Beyond that, though, we'll figure out in due time, I guess. But we're supposed to be taking this one year at a time, right? Are we seriously worried right now about winning the Stanley Cup in 2014? I'm not. I want the Predators to win it in 2012, and I'm sure the Predators want to win it in 2012, too. Nobody in that organization, Shea Weber included, is considering 2011-12 a "building block" year toward a future Cup. The goal is to win it, and win it now. If that means this is the "all in" year (with apologies to Auburn University), then for goodness' sake, this is the "all in" year. I fully understand that it's best to look to the future when making plans, and I really want Shea Weber to spend the best years of his career here, but really, all we can control is what we can control right now, and that's the 2011-12 season that begins in 65 days (but who's counting?).

If we lose Shea Weber next year or the year after, that will suck. Acknowledged. I don't want that to happen. But the team (hopefully) will remain in Nashville, and we will press on with or without him. If Weber opts for the 1-year deal out of arbitration, let's just hope that he was true to his word in that he wants to stay here, and that the short-term deal is only to gauge the franchise as it works toward signing Pekka Rinne and Ryan Suter long-term, too, and maybe even getting a viable goal-scoring forward at the deadline.

The real thing to remember here, folks, is that we don't know everything we think we know. It's mostly speculation at this point. We're trusting reports out of Canadian MSM for the numbers we've heard so far, and we have no way of knowing if those are even right, nor do we know exactly what was said in the hearing. For all we know, this could be very amicable. I trust David Poile. He's proven over time that he knows what he is doing.

Go ahead and tell me I'm naive. That's what the comment section is for.

UPDATE: Later in the day, we found out that Weber received an arbitration award of a 1-year, $7.5 million contract. My previous statements still apply. The time to win the Cup is now (even if it is followed by a Florida Marlins-esque fire sale). I just hope Poile can surround our "Big 3" with the complementary talent they need to get the job done.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Comcast Introduces New HD Channel Numbers

Okay, so right after I posted that post about "there's nothing to post about", I found something to post about. I'm also trying to set the record for the number of times I can use the word "post", or a variant thereof, in a sentence. I got 4 in the topic sentence. Can you do better? Probably.

But back on topic.

Many sports fans in Middle Tennessee will have some new numbers to commit to memory this fall, as Comcast is totally rearranging its HD tier and moving all the channels up into 4-digit territory (say goodbye to those pesky 200s). These changes went into effect on July 28th, but the existing channel numbers will continue to function through (tentatively) the end of October. After that, though, you'll have to use the new ones, so you might as well get used to it now.

Get a full outline of the changes after the jump...


The dog days are here.
I'm not sure that July was the best time of year to begin a new sports blog that is going to keep its focus mostly on Nashville sports. There's really nothing going on. Sure, the end of the NFL Lockout gave us something to talk about, and the whole Shea Weber arbitration thing... but, honestly, with the broad direction that I hope to take this blog, I don't have a whole lot to add that other bloggers already haven't said on those topics. Besides, they know a lot more than me.

So, now we're into August and there's even less going on. (NFL Preseason. Whoopy.) If something gets under my skin, I'll blog about it, but other than that, my fingers will probably go silent for most of the month. But once September and October roll around (and they'll be here before you know it), we'll be in full swing.

So, sit back (preferably in an air conditioned room) and enjoy August for what it is. The best is yet to come.