Memphis’ Winning Streak 


Here we are on the seam of two athletic seasons, and we're getting a little giddy. There's the collegiate football season still underway for the University of Memphis, but already, with the Tigers not just bowl-eligible but undefeated and, after the near-blowout victory over Ole Miss, ranked, the commentators are saying, quite seriously, the Tigers could play in a New Year's Day bowl. For the uninitiated, that's when the Big Boys from the Big Conferences play their bowl games.

Now, if we can just manage to stay off the cover of Sports Illustrated — as dependable a hex as any uncovered thus far by paranormal investigators. And beyond that, if we can manage to hold on to Justin Fuente for a season or two more.

And basketball season is right around the corner. We've learned, happily, during the course of the last several seasons, that we no longer need be dependent on the basketball Tigers' pulling rabbits (and NCAA bids) out of the hat, because, hey, we've also got the Grizzlies, dependable title challengers in the NBA's tough Western Conference, year after year. They've been on the cover of SI already — and ridden out the dependable curse the Fates always bestow on the headiness that comes with that honor. Now maybe the Grizz are immunized from any further blowback, such as the playoff loss that followed the last such cover, in 2013.

As always, a little rain must fall, however. The fact that success on the part of Josh Pastner and the basketball Tigers isn't quite as imperative for our mental health and psychic well-being as it used to be doesn't mean that Pastner and company get a pass, especially if this becomes another season in which the Tigers are no longer a factor in the national rankings. We have this uncomfortable feeling — shared by many sports pundits — that it's this year or else for Josh. Like him or not, the Svengali who preceded Pastner got Memphis sports fans spoiled in that regard.

In other ways, we seem to be, well, getting there. Against all expectations, the Bass Pro Shop version of our iconic Pyramid turned out to be just the kind of new and shiny tourist draw that we hoped it would be. Not that it helped turn things around for Mayor A C Wharton or the irredeemably tainted Robert Lipscomb, the two personages who did the most to arrange the presence of that magnetic bauble on our riverfront.

Wharton's elected successor as mayor, the thus far likeable and city-government-wise Jim Strickland, will start out his term in January. Like any political honeymooner, he'll have the community's best wishes at his disposal — for a while, at least.

He would do well, however, to remember that his predecessor, in two city elections within the last decade, won elections with 60 to 70 percent of the vote. That number came all the way down to 22 percent on Election Day this year.

Even as we are enjoying the successes of the football Tigers and the Grizz and the hope that it will spill over into the political life of our community, it pays to remember: The scoreboard can change in a hurry. Let's hope it doesn't. We like the idea of being on a winning streak.

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