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Taylor Swift bigger than the NFL?
So the Chiefs are headed to the Super Bowl.
That is not breaking news, and considering Kansas City has been in the last six AFC title games and is making its fourth Super Bowl trip in five years, it's not unexpected either.
But this train ride has been different.
This has led the Chiefs on the road. This has been a defense that has guided these Chiefs to the familiar spot on the postseason roadmap.
And this has been the Chiefs' ride with pop culture royalty.
Gang, Taylor Swift is now the most famous NFL fan on the planet.
It is drawing tens of millions to the game — my daughter has not watched a full NFL game, but as a 13-year-old Swiftie, she is all in on the Chiefs in the big game — and alienated millions more.
I'm not sure why, to be honest. I mean, I get the reasons why folks were flummoxed at the whole kneeling during the anthem thing, but now there is a growing concern — and an animosity that converts to people rooting against K.C. because of Swift — because of a celebrity fan who generates interest is being highlighted?
Not sure if I will ever get that, but there you go.
And the NFL is overjoyed for you to find a reason to be vested.
Whether you know this or not, making sure to watch the game to root against T-Swift and Chiefs' homies is every bit as important as the legions of Swifties who will be on the other side, because, interest in everything.
And let's hope they make the most of the moment.
Heck, I may have written this here before or maybe just said it in a slew of interviews, but here's hoping that during Usher's halftime show, after his three biggest songs or whatever he decides to play, the NFL folks get creative.
Picture this: Baseline beats from "Shake It Off" or "Bad Blood" come through the speaker and the spotlight hits Taylor in her skybox as she lip-syncs whatever song they choose.
It would be epic TV and, considering that the NFL drew almost 60 million for the primetime game without T-Swift and T-Kelce on Sunday, here's betting that as these whispers grow stronger, the numbers for halftime may be better than the numbers for the game.
So we have had another round of volleys in the donnybrook of deep-pocketed and deeply vested folks in this conversation/kerfuffle that is the new Lookouts Stadium.
While a slew of folks bounce back and forth like ping-pong balls at a Forrest Gump exhibition, I will stand by everything I have said from the start.
(And yes, that is a weird place for someone like me who puts out 260-plus opinion pieces a year on an almost daily basis.)
Fact 1, and this may be the most important — Without a new stadium, the Lookouts are leaving. Period.
Read that sentence again. And you may care or not care about having minor league baseball in the 423, but this is a cold, hard fact.
No matter the pulpits any of the biased pitch-operatives on each side in the political realm will have you believe, no new stadium means no Lookouts.
It was true when Jason Freier bought the team, and he was trying to strong arm the community for his selfish reasons. It is even more true now that Major League Baseball has grabbed control of the minor league baseball systems and is demanding better facilities.
Fact 2 — The escalating cost should be a concern for every Hamilton County citizen who has worries about the extra digit in their savings account.
This is going to get pricey, and even with the 'guarantees' of our tax dollars and tax pledges and tax commitments not going over $112 million, well, that's hard to believe, right?
I have always been in support of keeping the Lookouts, transforming the foundry site and making a cornerstone palace. Build the stadium, but our checkbook can't be the unlimited funds that Coca-Cola money gave Jack Lupton to build the aquarium, right?
The price will keep going up, Up, UP. And our needs in a Biden economy are going to go up, Up, UP. And both of those will only grow the longer the talking heads talk.
And I know the argument will be, "the way to make money is to spend money," and I think the stadium investment is sound, even at the increased prices.
But where is the ceiling? If it is a true hard cap at $112 million — as long as the promises and communications are sound, which is something Hamilton County Mayor Weston Wamp adamantly denies — then book this baby.
The numbers and cost, if I had to set the over/under, likely will cost $200 million to complete, so in this day and age the preliminary projections are as trustworthy as Barry Bonds' and Mark McGwire's home run records.
But again, if it's a $112 million apex, then we have to move forward, right?
Now, let's move to my beliefs.
I believe that Wamp's angst and vitriol against this project is way more personal than purse-strings, way more feelings than fiscal.
I believe the community is better with minor league baseball, and I believe that the foundry site could be a showplace in a decade-plus.
I believe there have been a slew of backroom deals on this puppy and the benefits of the few will be much more tangible than the benefits of the us.
I believe that several of the most prominent supporters of this project are just as emotionally invested as Weston on the opposite side with the organizers of this entire enterprise. And let's not hope they are not more than 'emotionally' invested, right?
Does that sound jaded? Does that feel hopeless, kind of like you don't know which side to support since the side on fiscal sense should draw a hard line in a time when our schools need more, more and more, and the side in support of investment are self-serving folks looking for another political edge and to possibly serve a nine-figure investor from the ATL?
Yeah, kinda does, I guess, and I say all of that hoping the stadium gets built. But I hope a lot of things in this day and age.
I hope for a "Bull Durham" sequel written by Ron Shelton when Crash is managing in the major leagues and he and his ex-wife Annie are raising a promising first-round draft pick.
I hope the county fully invests in high school athletics, from the turf to the facilities to everything else.
I hope the roads get fixed and the traffic quits becoming Atlanta-esque.
I hope the Auburn Tigers find a QB1 we can trust and that Alabama finds college football normalcy after 15 years of ecstasy under Nick Saban.
Where was I?
Yep, the stadium. Man, we have a lot of problems in this world, right?
And in the grand scheme of things, minor league baseball being in or out of Chattanooga is way, Way, WAY down that list.
But the snow globe of the belly-aching tug-o-war between the sides is a grand example of so much that is wrong with where we are America.
The NBA is having a scoring explosion right before our very eyes.
In the last week, Joel Embiid dropped a 70. On the same night, Karl-Anthony Towns scored a franchise record 62 for Minnesota.
A couple of days later, Luka Doncic joined the 70-plus club with a 73-burger and he looked rather effortless doing it.
So that begs this question, are these NBA players that much more skilled offensively — KAT did make 10 3s, 11 2s and 10 1s to get to his 62 — or is the defense just that much more indifferent?
Moreover, several of the league's most prominent voices are saying the rules that have been tweaked and twerked to increase offensive numbers should be dialed back.
I know this, and yes, this was in high school and in 32-minute games in clock time, but I had a 40-point game as a sophomore and score 39 of our 70 one night at Lithia Springs, and I thought that was all the points in the world.
Luka just dropped 73 and made it look rather effortless.
This and that
— Here's Paschall on former UTC coach Lamont Paris who is flat-out crushing it at South Carolina. Coach of the year candidate? Heck yes. Late in last week's "Bets and Ballgames" podcast, I shared my thoughts on Paris and his ascent with the 'Cocks.
— Man, it's hard not to find a whole bushel of joy and misery when Morgan Wallen sings about Keith Whitley. Here you go. (Side note: Man, Keith Whitley wasted a lot of gifts because of his addiction. He drank himself to death and he had one of the best male voices — and limited song catalogs — I've ever heard. And, at the height of her powers, Lorrie Morgan was devoted to him.)
— Side questions/comments on the side note: First, how country is Lorrie Morgan? Well, her name is Loretta Lynn Morgan, so there is that. Second thought, as Morgan was trying to end Whitley's chronic alcohol abuse with love, he consistently snuck off and drank himself unconscious until he died in his sleep from alcohol poisoning at the age of 33. If you need help or someone you know needs help, then find help. Then, according to the stories, after his death, she had never heard "Tell Lorrie I Love Her" until his 'Greatest Hits' cassette was released. Here's more on their story, and here's "Tell Lorrie I Love Her." (For what it's worth, Keith Whitley's "When You Say Nothing At All" was the song at our wedding 20 years ago this August. So there's that too.)
— Side note on the side question on the original side note: Kids, ask your parents what a cassette tape is. Went through more than a few of them from Turtle's back in the day. Yikes, ask about that too young people.
— Picks went 2-0-1 last night. Let's have a week, huh?
True or false, it's Tuesday. Morning Ernie.
True or false, you are tired of Taylor Swift in your football.
True or false, the NBA needs to fix some rules so the scoring comes down.
True or false, the Lookouts stadium at the foundry site is going to get done.
True or false, if you played 10 minutes in an NBA game you could score 4 points.
True or false, Keith Whitley is the most underrated country music singer of all time.
You know the drill, ask some T or Fs, leave some T or Fs.
As for today, Jan. 30, let's review.
Yikes, some star-studded birthdays today.
FDR would have been 142 today. Gene Hackman is 94 today, and I feel like we have done his Rushmore.
Christian Bale is 50 today, and I am not sure whether we have done his Rushmore or not.
Also, Phil Collins is 73 today.
Rushmore of best singers/frontmen (or women) who played drums?