Around the Horn

What an unpleasant surprise it was to tune in Fox Sports Thursday night for a baseball game and have to endure the sight and sound of none other than Pete Rose, the esteemed gambler who now lives, appropriately, in Las Vegas.  Yuck.  It stands to reason, of course, that the network that uses a criminal like Ollie North for political commentary would offer the profound thoughts of baseball’s biggest schmuck for the sporting set.

The pleasant surprises of 2015 so far: The Twins, the Rays, of course the Astros, and now we need to include the Blue Jays and the Rangers.  Of all those teams, Toronto appears to be the one with the most staying power but I keep writing off Houston and they keep proving me stupid.  For surprising ineptitude, the Athletics have now outdone the Marlins.  Less surprising is the nosedive by the 2013 World Champion Red Sox, who looked so good and smart then but now seem to be clueless with disciplinary problems.  Maybe they’ll be goofy enough to take Starlin Castro off the Cubs’ paws for Clay Buchholz or something.

Delusional Mets fans alert: their 10-21 road record is better than just one team, the Phillies.

And now, as they say on HBO, for a little basketball space.  It was really fun to see the Warriors be successful, if for no other reason than to prove that Charles Barkley just might have been wrong.  I followed their season mostly in the newspapers though because I just can’t watch NBA games.  I try but I can’t do it; it’s worse than American rules football: two, maybe three minutes of action followed by time out, foul, foul, time out, sell beer, sell Viagra, foul, time out.  I know that television executives love football and basketball because of all the interruptions but, as a convert to futbol (soccer), I really have become spoiled by 45 minutes of action, a halftime break, and then 45 minutes more action.  With some modest rule changes the NBA could become interesting enough to watch but it is never going to happen.  First, as in soccer, a team should never gain an advantage by committing a foul.  Loss of possession should be the only consistent result from fouls, with penalty kicks (free throws) for flagrant violations and yellow and red cards for things like tackling a player on his way to a goal or gouging someone’s eye out. When a player “fouls out”, he is not replaced.  Let’s play ball.  If people enjoy watching 7 footers clang free throws, no wonder they sell so much Viagra and beer.  Next, the three point circle has added drama to the game, so how about another circle?  This one should be maybe within three or four feet of the basket.  It would be a one point circle, suitable for dunks and layups.  I wonder how the Bread Truck would like that?  I think it would be fun.

It’s a rather consistent theme among corporate types to accept blame when mistakes have been made and assign that blame to middle management if blaming lower echelon workers doesn’t provide enough relief.  The latest example in the major leagues is the firing of Bud Black by the San Diego Padres.  The Friars tried to excite a flatulent fan base in the winter by acquiring outfielders more capable of power hitting, such as Justin Upton and Matt Kemp.  This didn’t really improve the team because, while these are honorable fellows and , indeed, good power hitters, they are not any longer what we pundits refer to as fleet flychasers and the Padres have a big yard. So, sorry, Bud.  Will Venable understands.

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