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Introducing the Carolina Panthers' most hated rival: The WNBA's Indiana Fever
A trip inside the robotic brain of a sports Twitterbot. Plus, the Wake Forest-Bachelor pipeline and LOUD NOISES.
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1. Lower the Boom
Way back in 2020, I wrote about automated propane cannons, which are used primarily to scare birds. Basically, they’re just metal tubes hooked up to a tank of flammable gas, and they make 130-decibel noises at regular intervals. Those noises annoy nearby neighbors, who then call 911.
So imagine something like that, but on a larger scale. As in, AN ENTIRE REGION OF NORTH CAROLINA.
Over in Lewisville near Winston-Salem, 911 dispatchers got slammed with calls about two booms on Saturday afternoon, so much so that they had to put out a Facebook message telling people to stop it. People also heard them in several other counties.
No, nobody knows exactly what they were. WFMY reports that the booms were most likely not caused by a storm, although the sound may have traveled further because of a temperature inversion.
One potential explanation: This could be the Seneca Guns going off. Every so often, mostly near the coast, there are loud booming sounds that rattle windows and doors. The last instance was a few weeks ago near Wilmington. This phenomenon has been happening for hundreds of years. So what causes it?
Nobody knows, man!
About a month ago, some scientists presented some research on the booms and said, definitively, that… well, they still don’t know. They did look into the seismic data around the time that the noises were reported, but didn’t see a correlation. Hence, they don’t think the Seneca Guns are actually the sounds from an earthquake, but rather something atmospheric. UNC undergraduate Eli Bird, a researcher who worked on the project, told Live Science that it could be sonic booms from military jets. Or:
One atmospheric explanation could be bolides — space rocks that are traveling so fast when they hit Earth's atmosphere that they explode. Another possibility could be events that originate in the ocean, such as the crash of very large waves or thunder far offshore — "the atmospheric conditions could be such that that gets amplified in a particular direction, or is primarily affecting this localized area," Bird said.
HELL YEAH, EXPLODING SPACE ROCKS (Pantera plays in background).
Anyway, you know, it could have been a bird cannon:
2. The Demon Deacon Will Accept This Rose
If you watched the Duke’s Mayonnaise Bowl over the holiday, you remember three things:
When Wisconsin won the game, the Badgers dumped a cooler of water on their coach’s head, but the cooler was made to look like a jar of mayonnaise, and people got upset that there was no actual mayonnaise inside.
Wisconsin’s quarterback broke the trophy.
There was no mayonnaise inside the trophy.
(BTW, you can buy a broken Duke’s Mayo Bowl trophy t-shirt and help out Charlotte’s Second Harvest Food Bank by doing so.)
What you may have forgotten is that there was an actual football game that came before all of that, and that Wake Forest lost it by a score of 42-28. Folks, Wake Forest football has had its ups and downs.
Up: It once had a coach named Peahead, who is responsible for the greatest/meanest recruiting story of all time:
In 1947, Bill George was a 6-foot-4, highly prized high school football player from Pennsylvania. [Douglas] Walker (to repeat: “Peahead”) was the coach at Wake Forest College, which was still actually in the town of Wake Forest. He was worried that George might not be impressed. So he picked him up at the Raleigh train station, put him in the back of a Cadillac, and drove him to Duke University instead. Someday, Walker told him as they gazed up at the majestic Duke Stadium, you will play here. George was sold.
Of course, once George got to Wake, the story unraveled. After a few weeks, he asked Walker where the pretty buildings were. “Them buildings, they’re on the West Campus,” Walker told him, according to Peahead! “That’s for upperclassmen. This here’s the East Campus.” Later, when George played a game at Duke, he realized he’d been duped. I didn’t lie to you, Walker supposedly told him. I told you you’d play here one day.
Down: Peahead was the last coach to end his coaching tenure at Wake with a winning record overall. Peahead left in 1950.
However, if there is one thing that Wake Forest football excels at, it is creating contestants on The Bachelor. Enter Tyler Cameron, who has excelled in life by being second-string. He was a backup quarterback for the Demon Deacons in 2013-14. He played in six games. Then, he went on The Bachelorette in 2019 and played the backup role again, finishing as the runner-up. After that, his name was floated as a potential Bachelor, but ultimately it didn’t pan out, partly because he was already dating plenty of women, including Gigi Hadid. Guys, don’t worry about Tyler. He’s doing just fine.
But! The new Bachelor is Matt James, who played wide receiver for the Deacons (and is also friends with Tyler Cameron). He is also the first Black Bachelor in the show’s history. The show premieres tonight, which is why I’m talking about it. I might watch. I’ve been known to watch.
I tried comparing the two, statistically, to see who was the better player. Cameron threw a total of 40 passes during his Wake career. James had 40 receptions over his four years on the team. TWINSIES! I have, however, been unable to tell whether James caught a Cameron-thrown pass.
Anyway, Roddy Jones knows much more than I do about the Wake-Bachelor pipeline:
3. A House Divided
I am a fan of deranged Twitter bots. Not the ones that are actively undermining our democracy, but rather the ones that do things like, say, tweet out the potential activities of a common squirrel, or come up with Wikipedia page titles that are singable to the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles theme song.
My latest must-follow is A House Divided bot. You know those license plate holders/garden flags/crew neck sweatshirts that combine two rival sports teams and imply that people who strongly disagree with each others’ fandom live under the same roof? This takes that to the next level, by picking two teams at random — often teams that don’t even play the same sport — and trying to construct a rivalry around them. Hence, the bot has invented a potential couple that argues bitterly about which team is best: A Scottish soccer team or a minor league baseball club from Alabama:
Just for fun, I’ve been flagging fake rivalries that involve at least one North Carolina-based team, some of which are not as absurd as they seem:
The Courage used to be based in Western New York, and then did what so many people from Western New York have done: They moved to Cary.
Imagine being ride-or-die for a collegiate summer baseball team and hating, with all of your being, an indoor lacrosse team from Connecticut.
This one feels random until you remember that the Toronto Marlies Zamboni driver had to dress as the emergency goalie for the Carolina Hurricanes last season AND ACTUALLY WON A GAME. What did the Tar Heels do that season? They lost to Wofford.
It is conceivable that, during a Wolfpack-Blue Devils game at PNC Arena in Raleigh, someone could push the wrong button during a timeout and accidentally play Brass Bonanza.
What does a WNBA team have in common with the Panthers? Their all-time winning percentages are nearly identical (.481 for the Fever, .482 for Carolina).
Weird, because for a time, the Mudcats were the minor league affiliate of the Marlins. WHERE DID THIS LOVE GO WRONG?
This one, at least, involves two teams that play the same sport, although the graphic is misleading. Fulham is London’s oldest soccer team, and has been playing games since 1879. The Charlotte Independence were founded in 2014 and yet try to look all grown up by putting 1775 on their logo.
No, the NC Dinos are not based in North Carolina, although when the Korea Baseball Organization was the only league playing games early in the pandemic, our state adopted them. Plus, North Carolinan James Dator nicknamed their mascot “Swole Daddy,” and it, uh, actually stuck. Anyway, the Dinos won the championship last season, while the Patriots ended up with Cam Newton and still missed the playoffs.
I think we’re done here.
I, Jeremy Markovich, am a journalist, writer, and producer based outside of Greensboro, North Carolina. If you liked this, you might like Away Message, my podcast about North Carolina’s hard-to-find people, places, and things. Season 4 was all about the Mountains-to-Sea Trail.
Author avatar by Rich Barrett.
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