Okay, when do pitchers and catchers report? Is it next week? Come on already. I suppose I could become a European soccer fanatic but I don’t have access to the kinds of drugs that would enable me to start watching live games at 3 o’clock in the morning and , besides, I’m not a total hermit. Yet. I know, many sports minded people are pacified by the NFL, the NBA and college basketball, the NHL or (gulp) golf. Not me, buddy. I parted ways with football for good after the Montana-Young 49ers dynasty stumbled back to Youngstown and they started putting actual bounties on quarterbacks. I think the whole twin towers and W thing put this great nation of ours into a bloodthirsty frenzy to show everybody who the meanest son of a bitch in the world was and football and all those weird new fighting games feed into that in a very end of empire sort of way so I stopped participating in even the typical passive American way of watching, downing beers and yelling. As for hockey, I’m with Rodney Dangerfield. Besides, my eyes are too weak to follow the puck.
As for basketball, well, I still enjoy the high school game. The Warriors I follow rather indirectly. I don’t watch games much, never the whole thing. I don’t mind reading about them the next day, but the games are too much for my nervous system and no, I don’t mean because they are exciting. A few simple rules changes would make hoops fun again, but they will never be made because Rupert and the others who now rule sports with their television money prefer Charles Barkley type collision ball with lots of time outs so players don’t get winded and bad food and lousy beer and irrelevant cars can get sold. Here’s what I would do. An offensive foul means the team loses possession. Period. On a defensive foul, the offensive team gets a free pass, meaning the defensive team can’t defend until the pass is received by an offensive player. Screw the boring free throws. Yellow cards would be issued for an unsafe obstruction with a warning that a second yellow card means that the offender is removed from the game. The first yellow, as in soccer, would require that offender to leave the game until the next time out. Red cards would be issued for flagrantly unsafe obstructions clearly meant to prevent a goal and the offender goes to the showers. No team would be forced to play with fewer than three players, however. In other words, let’s replace thuggery with real defense. Sorry, Chuck. Free throws would only be taken after shooting fouls, and then the team shooting the free throw would retain possession. A “technical foul” would earn a yellow card. Play ball, fools. Of course all of this means that the spectator would need to be paying attention. One other thing—a new circle, making all shots made within six feet of the basket score one point. For bonus points, let’s play fewer games so that the playoffs could begin in March and be finished by tax day. Attention, Donald Trump, that’s April 15. These changes would reward athleticism rather than brutality and result in fewer injuries. While we’re at it, let’s restore the guarantee of the first amendment to the NBA and forget fining players and coaches who dare to speak their minds. Okay, one last thing. Barkley would hereafter be confined to reporting on golf.
It’s not baseball to blather on endlessly about contracts and how much Mike Trout is getting paid and whether or not Eduardo Nunez is worth four million a year or why Danny Duffy got a five year contract. That’s business page stuff. No, I want some ball, damn it. Are there still winter leagues? Why aren’t they televised?