Thursday, July 24, 2008

An Open Letter To The Commisioners

While, yes, I love sports, I am not blind to the fact that they could be better. Sports, like the human beings that run them, play them, announce them, and watch them, could be a heck of a lot better. Here, I'm going to write a few "suggestions" for the commisioners to take (or leave) to make their respective sports better.

No Replay
Get this notion off your desk immediately. Baseball has not and does not, need replay. Ever. The most human of sports, judgement and fallibility are integral to the game. How much less a moment would it have been if, after Jackie slid into home and Yogi's tag, they had gone to the replay booth, to make the call? What's next, a computer, to figure out balls and strikes?

Even Out The Divisions
I wrote about this once before here:
And yes, it is a little OCD of me, but really, the teams aren't starting on a level playing field. It is that much easier for Anaheim to get a spot in the playoffs that it is for the Brewers, if all the Angels have to do is finish first against three other teams while the Brewers (or Cardinals, or Astros) have to beat five other teams.

Shorten The Season
I'm not saying shorten the amount of games—heaven forfend I suggest anything that would limit revenue—I am saying shorten the season by scheduling more doubleheaders. Baseball began in March this year and ends around Halloween. Games have been called on account of snow and come playoffs, Fox cameramen show people in scarves and gloves watching playoff baseball. This is ridiculous. Two weeks could be shaved off the schedule by scheduling a doubleheader every two weeks or so. A little bit of work and we could avoid a blizzard interrupting a Detroit game

Tell Fox to Stop Interviewing The Manager In the Middle Of Ballgames
How intrusive is this?

No TV Timeouts
God, I hate when the natural flow of the game is interrupted by NBC reminding me that "So You Want To Be An Air Traffic Controller" is being rebroadcast THIS TUESDAY!

Work On A Rookie Pay Cap
When A team want a player but is afraid to move up to the first 5 picks to get him because his salary is so prohibitive, they'd have to raise ticket prices....something is wrong.

Move the Jaguars to Los Angeles
For god's sake, Jacksonville can't sellout games against the Colts—meanwhile America's second biggest city hasn't had a team since the Rams moved to Saint Louis? Just get it done.

Shorten The Preseason And Start The Season Later
First off, I hate injuries to key players in August. In some meaningless game in August, Peyton Manning or Adrian Peterson goes down and there goes your season. It's stupid and shouldn't happen. Secondly, football shouldn't be played in sunshine and humidity. It needs to be played in winter, in the cold and mud. No Labor Day games watched during a barbecue, more Valentine Day games during a blizzard. Also, pushing it back would mean the Super Bowl (more on that in a moment) would be played just before spring training starter. And my life would have no down period sports-wise.

Super Bowl Saturday
Who here has to leave a Super Bowl party early because they have work the next day? I rest my case.

Retract Expansion
Hockey in Phoenix? Columbus? Nashville? Really?

Hockey is a religion in Canada and in the north. Not so much in the south. And attendance and interest reflect that. 4 of the lowest 6 teams, attendance-wise last season were, Phoenix, Columbus, Florida and Nashville—newer and mostly Southern teams. The best attended games took place in cities like Buffalo, Montreal and Minneapolis—cities were there was a passion for the game. Start there to build re-interest in the sport.

Open Up The Game
The game is slow and clogged. Too many players (often less talented due to overexpansion) positioned in the neutral zone slow the game down and drain interest in what should be a fast-paced fun game of skill. Open up the ice to the size they play on the Olympic level. This along with retraction (and getting rid of players who shouldn't be playing professional hockey) should hopefully speed up the game and make it more exciting.

Have a Salary Maximum Cap And A Minimum Cap
This proposal was brought about by a GM and it has its points. While admitting, it of course doesn't solve every problem hockey has, it does give everyone something. The top cap won't be a hard one; if a team goes over, it has to pay a prohibitive 'luxury tax", but it can go over the cap. But it also has a minimum spending cap so teams have to spend at least a certain amount. That said, it give the owners financial a sense of security, it ensures the players won't be completely robbed of a competitive free agent market. And, it promotes a sense of competitive parity, meaning smaller markets get to keep up with the bigger markets. Actually, this proposal could work for all the sport leagues.

Open The Court
When basketball first became a major sport, anyone over 6'7 was a giant. Now shooting guards are that size. Which means there are ten guys over six feet and upwards of 275 lbs. The court is too small and clogged. Spread the court out a little bit.

Organize Lower Level Basketball
For a variety of reason—from America's decline in international competition, to the fact that "summer leagues" are a breeding ground for agents and other unsavory characters to feast upon gullible 16 year old kids—the NBA needs to create some sort of minor league. What they have now, is a defacto, unpaid minor league system in the NCAA and in the Nike "summer camps." Sonny Vaccaro, who has retired from the buisness of summer camps and has privy to practically every deal that has gone down in them, had this to say of the NCAA and the summer camps: "I would say the majority of major college basketball programs break the rules...You'd be disgusted with the number of coaches in the Hall of Fame who got there by cheating," he said. The American public wouldn't believe it."

If that's the case, then create a minor league system a la baseball. PAY these kids to play the game that they get paid to play albeit under the table at UCLA, Florida or Kansas State.

This isn't just a basketball issue, either, as if sneaker companies and illegal payoffs were solely a problem of March Madness. The NFL could take a look as well.

Get An Outsider
Was it just me, or was there a malaise of disinterest in the NBA Finals this year? Heck, it was Boston—Los Angeles. But nobody I know was talking about it. Nobody was interested.

The NBA has an image problem—thugs, greed and game fixing charges have taken the headlines away from the game itself. And while David Stern can do only middling things about the greed and thuggery, what David Stern needs to do is go get a George Mitchell type to go clean up the game fixing charges. Get get a impeccably reputed person to review the fixing scandal and to write a full report. That would give the game the sense on internal cleansing, a sense that everything that could be done, was done and that the full truth was revealed.

Now, if these these professional sports leagues did these things, fans would respond in a big way and frickin' NASCAR would go away and become the sandlot sport it is.


SteveNYC said...

Amen bubba. I agree on almost all of that.

Particularly the NFL rookie cap. Those numbers are insane and are the main reason you get these disgruntled Vets... why can't this be fixed?

P-Cat said...

Thanks stevenyc. Glad you liked it. And I have a feeling that the next labor agreement in the NFL is going to address the rookie cap. At least, i really hope so.