Five things from the week to read today:
From VUCommodores.com: "Vanderbilt part of Nashville's first pro team in 1938"
Bill Traughber tells the tale of the 1938 Nashville Rebels, the city's first pro football team, which played in the 1930s American Football League (né the Midwest Football League).
The 0-2-1 Rebels were to play their first home game on October 23 with the Dayton Rosies at Sulphur Dell. An ad in the Tennessean promoting the game stated that ticket prices were $1.50 with the "End Section" 55 cents and a "Special Section for Colored People" 50 cents. This was in the South and segregation between the blacks and whites was strong.
The Tennessean previewed the Dayton game and professional football in Nashville:
The success or failure of the professional football idea in Nashville will be determined more or less definitely tomorrow afternoon at Sulphur Dell when the Nashville Rebels open their home season in the American League game with the strong Dayton Rosies.
Backers of the club will put a team on the field which they are confident is the strongest in the league. They have assembled the strongest array of players available, and unless the public's reaction is favorable it will be because that public isn't interested in the commercial brand of football, not because of any inferiority of the team.
From Sports Health: "The Curveball As A Risk Factor For Injury"
It's long been conventional wisdom that young pitchers should not start throwing the curveball too early as they risk damaging their still-developing arms. Four doctors sought to test it. The full paper is available as a PDF at the link. This, from the abstract:
Two biomechanical studies found greater horizontal adduction of the shoulder at ball release and less shoulder internal torque during the curveball pitching motion. Two studies demonstrated less proximal force and less torque at the elbow as the arm accelerated when throwing a curveball compared with a fastball, as well as greater supination of the forearm and less wrist extension. Electromyographic data suggested increased activity of extensor and supinator muscles for curveballs. No studies found increased force or torque about the elbow or shoulder. Three epidemiologic studies showed no significant association between pitching a curveball and upper extremity pain or injury. One retrospective epidemiologic study reported a 52% increase in shoulder pain in pitchers throwing a curveball, although this may have been due to confounders.
Conclusion: Despite much debate in the baseball community about the curveball’s safety in youth pitchers, limited biomechanical and most epidemiologic data do not indicate an increased risk of injury when compared with the fastball.
From Sporting News: "A fresh 'Miracle on Ice' story, courtesy of Team USA's David Poile"
Nashville Predators' general manager David Poile is serving in the same position for Team USA ahead of next year's Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia. The team gathered in Virginia this week for orientation and Poile had the biggest surprise of all: a 'Miracle on Ice' story no one had heard.
Poile, at the time, was the assistant general manager of the Atlanta Flames. The team had drafted goaltender Jim Craig three years before and, truth be told, didn't think all that highly of him.
"Very average," Poile said.
Then came the Olympics; Craig stopped 36 of 39 against Russia, finished the job against Finland, draped himself in the flag, became an icon of American sport -- so, yes, things changed.
"We probably would've signed him. We weren't even sure. Then they win the gold medal, and of course, we signed him," Poile said with a laugh.
The Olympics ended on a Sunday. Craig was a Flame by the middle of the week. He was in Atlanta by Friday. And when he touched down, he was in bad shape.
From Everyday Should Be Saturday: "THE BUSINESS OF PROTECTION"
The excellent Spencer Hall from the excellent EDSBS takes a look at offensive line coaches in college football. There's a great story about Vandy's Herb Hand, but the piece begins thus:
You should know this about offensive line coaches: they are large, demanding men with Falstaffian appetites, jutting jaws, and no governors on their speech engines. They eat titanic portions. They cram their lips full of dip in film study like they are loading a mortar. They drink bottled water like parched camels, and in their leisure time would consider a suitcase of beer to be a personal carry-on item for them, and them alone. They are terrifyingly disciplined in the moment, and nap like large breed dogs when allowed.
From Sporting News: "Vanderbilt forward Sheldon Jeter enrolls at Polk State College"
Sheldon Jeter is too good to play at Polk State College so why is he playing at Polk State College?
“Sheldon has indicated that he’d like to play closer to home, and we wish him the best,” Stallings said in the school’s release.
This week, Jeter enrolled at Polk State College. Polk is located in Winter Haven, Fla. So Jeter missed that whole "closer to home" goal by a bunch—468 miles, according to Mapquest. That was pretty much because Kevin Stallings said so, as well.
Stallings did not dictate the choice of Polk State, which competes in basketball with other primarily two-year schools in the Florida College System Activities Association. He did, however, deny Jeter the option to accept a basketball scholarship from the school closer to home where he wished to play: the University of Pittsburgh.
When the SEC went to 12 teams in 1992 and assigned — at the time — two permanent cross-divisional rivalries, Vanderbilt drew Alabama and Ole Miss. The former, like lots of things in the SEC, can be traced to Bear Bryant, who allegedly convinced other SEC coaches to assign opening games using a system where the first team in the alphabet would play the last, the second the next to last and so on. It was just convenient, of course, that Alabama was alphabetically first and Vanderbilt — the historically woeful Vanderbilt — was last (this also explains why Auburn and Tennessee used to play so frequently in the early part of the season).
Now, that story may be apocrypha (convincing apocrypha, but apocrypha nonetheless) and when the SEC halved the permanent opponents, it didn't think anything of eliminating an annual Tide-Commodore game (after all, Alabama needed to play Tennessee on the Third (and Now Sometimes Fourth) Saturday In October).
So Ole Miss remained and remains Vandy's annual cross-over game.
The game actually has a lot of history behind it. The Rebels are Vandy's second-longest continuous rival. The schools are the SEC's smallest and, culturally, share a lot of similarities.
And, historically, the teams have matched up well. Ole Miss leads the all-time series 47-37-2 and have held the lead in the series since 1985, though Vandy's six wins in the last eight years have them clawing back to even. Perhaps most interestingly, over 86 years Ole Miss has outscored Vanderbilt by 156 points, a margin of victory of 1.8 points per game (Vandy's single-digit win in Oxford last year brought that average down minimally).
The closeness, though, is influenced by some truly bizarre scores from the early days of the game.
Vanderbilt won the first 18 games in the series — all played in Tennessee and all but two (which were played in Memphis) played in Nashville — and in 14 of those, Ole Miss failed to score at all. Vandy won by at least 60 points three times, including in 1915 — the "Point Per Minute" team — when Vandy won by the unfathomable score of 91-0.
Upon the reunion of that team in 1975, John Bibb of The Tennessean related this story, retold in Bill Traughber's Vanderbilt Football:
The same 1915 team was heading for Memphis to face Ole Miss. The team was undefeated and unscored on. Somewhere near Dickson, Tennessee, the Commodores' train was halted and forced to sit for hours while crews worked to clear a freight train wrecked ahead on the tracks.
As student manager, part of Stahlman's duties was to attend the various needs of the individual players. As the day wore on, it became apparent the Commodore players faced the distinct possibility of no lunch. The dedicated Stahlman, departing the idled train made a forage into neighboring orchards and returned with pocketfuls of apples — noticeably green, but to the hungry football players, quite delicious.
Vandy was led by Irby "Rabbit" Curry — he scored six touchdowns and kicked eight points-after. Curry left Vandy in 1917 and enlisted. He became a pilot and was shot down over France in 1918. He was probably Dan McGugin's favorite player. Legend has it McGugin had three pictures in his office: Abe Lincoln, Robert E. Lee and Rabbit Curry.
Vanderbilt University leaders, for what seemingly is the first time in university history, are asking faculty to offer ideas that will serve as a blueprint of sorts for future investments and the next capital campaign. Read more here.
Jeff Lockridge reports that Vanderbilt might actually sell fewer season tickets this year, despite coming off a nine-win season for the first time since Woodrow Wilson's first term:
Last year approximately 18,500 season tickets were sold, and Vanderbilt celebrated a nine-win season for the first time since 1915. Vanderbilt went over 16,200 season tickets this past week, said director of sales and marketing Steve Walsh. The season opener is Aug. 29 against Ole Miss, which features Blackman graduate I’Tavius Mathers.
The article notes several potential reasons — the school raised prices (one long-time season-ticket holder said his tickets went up $350) and added more sections for the exclusive use of the National Commodore Club, Vandy's odd-numbered year schedule is less attractive, the rape indictments — but none of that assuages James Franklin, who said he is both coach and salesman, but he'd like to drop the latter from his business card eventually (and Steven Godfrey makes the right observation here: if Franklin leaves as coach, it'll be because he couldn't drop that salesman job).
Anchor Of Gold points out that VU season tickets have always been buttressed by opposing fans and the new, higher (but still lower than the rest of the SEC) prices and donation requirements do kill some of that false demand.
Also of note, in light of the ongoing rabble about the Predators' scheme vis a vis Blackhawks tickets, is this tidbit (emphasis mine):
Vanderbilt last sold out of season tickets in 1996 when Notre Dame was on the schedule and Irish fans were forced to buy seats to every game to see their team in Nashville. Vanderbilt’s high-water mark in recent years was 19,000-plus in 2008.
Jean Bethke Elshtain, a former Vanderbilt University professor of Christian ethics who wrote provocatively in support of the U.S. war on terror, died in Nashville on Sunday. She was 72. Elshtain joined the Vanderbilt faculty in 1988 and was, according to her biography on the website of the University of Chicago Divinity School (at which she later worked), the first woman to hold an endowed professorship in VU history. Read more here.
Vanderbilt University scientists will report next week the discovery of a potential treatment for anxiety. The chemically modified inhibitors of the COX-2 enzyme relieve anxiety behaviors in mice by activating natural “endocannabinoids” without gastrointestinal side effects. Bill Snyder and vanderbilt.edu have more here.
Vanderbilt University Chancellor Nicholas S. Zeppos has joined 164 college and university leaders in asking President Barack Obama and members of Congress to recommit to federally funded science and engineering research in an effort to reverse the “innovation deficit” following sequestration. Liz Entman and vanderbilt.edu have more here.