Friday, May 19, 2006

New Rule: Players and managers can now argue balls and strikes without getting ejected from the game. Why are umpires fine with a manager arguing a bang-bang play at first base, but suddenly get offended when he gets upset that the strikezone is shifting?

New Rule: No one can guarantee a win -- sorry, Rasheed. Not only is it not possible, but it's just a player setting himself up for public ridicule. It just gives sportswriters a reason to write about another senseless, meaningless story without doing any real investigative journalism.

New Rule: NASCAR must go back into the doldrums of sports coverage where it belongs, with arena football, lacrosse, and soccer. Personally, I don't know what everyone sees in the sport, and apparently it's growing in popularity (second behind football). It's just a bunch of guys in cars going really fast making left turns. Frankly, the only reason I'd tune in would be to see the crashes.

New Rule: People have to stop making such a big deal about the pink bats used by players on Mother's Day. This shouldn't need any explaining; those who complain about the bats have insecurity issues with the color pink. The bat isn't any worse just because the top-half was painted pink instead of black.

New Rule: Fans must stop expecting athletes to be role models. There is no clause in their contracts that says they must sign autographs for every fan that wants one, and there is no clause that says they can't act like a frat boy in the off-hours. If you're expecting an athlete to babysit your kids, maybe it's time to step in and do some parenting.

New Rule: Unless they have an actual personal connection with the person, people must stop grieving for athletes who reached an unfortunate end to their lives. Steve Howe pitched with the Dodgers, Twins, Rangers, and Yankees, but if you asked any fan to name which teams he pitched for before he died on April 28, 2006, they couldn't have told you. They didn't care about Steve Howe while he was alive, and they don't care about him now that he's dead; it's a facade -- good P.R. Why not appreciate these guys while they're alive? It would certainly be a lot more useful.

New Rule: Does anyone care about the NHL playoffs? Honestly.

New Rule: Does anyone care about the World Cup in the United States, for that matter?

New Rule: SportsCenter must stop doing pieces on sports personalities in unfortunate situations. Whether it's Boston College's Travis Roy becoming a quadriplegic eleven seconds into a hockey game (it happened back in 1995 -- SportsCenter decided to wait 11 years before caring), Tiger Woods and his ailing -- and now deceased -- father, or Dakoda Dowd and her terminally ill mother, they don't care. They just want sappy stories for ratings. If I want to cry, I'll watch Game 6 of the 1993 World Series (see my biography for further clarification). ESPN, you keep giving me unbiased sports news, not flagrant attempts to appeal to an emotionally gullible audience.

New Rule: SportsCenter anchors have to stop using the same catchphrases every night. At first it was cute with Stuart Scott and "Boo-Yah!" but now we have Neil Everett saying "Bartender -- Jack!" every time a highlight shows a player hitting a homerun. Some notable expressions that have to go:

New Rule: "God Bless America" and the national anthem must stop being played at sporting events, unless it's an international event like the World Cup or the World Baseball Classic. At a Phillies-Braves game, I'm not there to root on my country, or to show my allegience to it in any way, shape, or form. Sports and politics often intermingle, but it's superfluous to play these songs at each and every game. I could even compromise and allow it to be played on the first and last games of the season, and on holidays such as Memorial Day and Independence Day. Otherwise, keep the songs from blasting through the speakers.

New Rule: Basketball telecasts have to stop panning to celebrities in attendance. I tuned in to watch basketball, not to look at Jack Nicholson and a toothy grin pump one fist in the air while holding a beer in the other. And jeez, what an oddity: Eva Longoria at a basketball game! I wonder why.

New Rule: Fans have to be angry at the organization, not the star player, for taking so long to decide whether to retire or to return to the team. Green Bay quarterback Brett Favre was scorned nearly all winter and well into spring for being indecisive about his future. Yes, he's holding the team up by not making a quick decision, but it's the organization that has the ball in its court: they can choose to let him make the decision, or they can simply cut ties with him. The same goes for the Roger Clemens situation, as well.

New Rule: Fans must stop complaining about the prices at sporting venues. Yes, it is very outrageous to have to pay $8 for a beer, but I bet you still bought one, didn't you? If you don't want to pay $8 for a beer, don't pay $8 for a beer. You can't expect a team to give you a brand-new stadium every thirty years, contend for the best free agents on the market year after year, and resign its star players for long stretches of time without drawing some revenue from the pockets of fans.

New Rule: Charlie Manuel must be held accountable for his actions. I don't know if he has inside information that concludes his job is safe for the remainder of the season and just doesn't care, but he's made some ridiculous moves during the Brewers series -- a microcosm of his tenure as manager of the Phillies -- in which the Phillies lost all three games by one run in the seventh inning or later. The most obvious of faulty moves is starting utility infielder Alex Gonzalez over Jimmy Rollins, who has been in a slump since his 38-game hitting streak ended. Manuel also mismanaged the bullpen at just about every opportunity (thank you Ryan Franklin, Arthur Rhodes, and Ryan Madson) in the Brewers series, spoiling a great start by Cory Lidle, and decent starts by Gavin Floyd (in which the Phillies scored three in the top of the ninth only to lose it in the bottom half) and Cole Hamels.

New Rule: Baseballs cannot be altered in any way just because they're being used in a ballpark that is nearly 5,280 feet above sea level. The Colorado Rockies have been storing baseballs in a room set at 40% humidity. If you don't want nature affecting the ball the way it does in Colorado, then don't put a ballpark there. Keep the balls the way they are -- if they get hit out at an alarming rate, then they get hit out at an alarming rate. It's just another form of baseball puritanism trying to return the game to the Dead Ball Era in the early 1900's, when a team scoring double-digit runs was about as rare as a black person with the right to vote. Sorry folks, time marches forwards, not backwards.

New Rule: The International Association of Athletic Federations (IAAF) must return the world record to American sprinter Justin Gatlin. On May 12, 2006, Gatlin apparently beat Asafa Powell's record of 9.77 seconds in the 100m, but when it was reviewed on video after the event, the IAAF concluded that the number (9.766 seconds) had been rounded down rather than up, and took away his record. Currently, he is tied with Powell at 9.77 seconds. That is just unfair. How about we look at every baseball game after it has already been decided to see if the balls and strikes were called correctly? A baserunner may have been called safe when he was out. Do the right thing and give the record back to Gatlin.

New Rule: SportsCenter must not cover the Duke lacrosse rape scandal any longer. No one cared about any lacrosse team, let alone Duke's, before the scandal, and a rape case should not change that. Keep the case analysis to the experts.

New Rule: Fans must stop booing Barry Bonds until they get off their own performance enhancers, such as Ritalin, Zoloft, and Ambien. In addition, they must keep silent if they've ever yelled at a telemarketer or slammed the door in the face of a door-to-door salesman. And any fans that boo Bonds but stand up and cheer him when he hits a gorgeous homerun -- like his 713th in Philadelphia -- also lose their right to boo. Everyone has the right to boo, but they should not be hypocritical in doing so.

New Rule: Fans must also stop criticizing Barry Bonds for his current 25 at-bat homerless drought. First, fans wanted all of his records and statistics abolished or asterisked, and now they can't wait for him to hit another homerun! It's a fact: baseball players go in slumps, even 42-year-olds with balky knees, perennial aches and pains, the sun through the magnifying glass that is the media, and a following of fans who would like to see nothing more than his failure.

New Rule: The blame should not be put on Rick Sutcliffe for his drunken, on-air rambling -- San Diego's Channel 4 should, for allowing someone who is obviously drunk in the broadcast booth. Yeah, he got drunk and made somewhat a fool of himself, but then again, so do millions of Americans every day.

New Rule: Golf must be abolished, and the land used for the courses are to be used for low-income housing for the homeless. Rather than repeat what comedian George Carlin said about it, I'll just quote him, because I cannot possibly state it any better:

From "Jammin' In New York" (1992)

I got just the place for low-cost housing. I have solved this problem. I know where we can build housing for the homeless: golf courses. Perfect. Golf courses. Just what we need. Plenty of good land in nice neighborhoods; land that is currently being wasted on a meaningless, mindless activity engaged in primarily by white well-to-do male businessmen who use the game to make deals to carve this country up a little finer among themselves. I am getting tired, really tired. I am getting tired of these golfing [expletive deleted] in their green pants and their yellow pants and their orange pants and their precious little hats and their cute little golf carts. It is time to reclaim the golf courses from the wealthy and turn them over to the homeless. Golf is an arrogant, elitist game and it takes entirely too much [expletive deleted] room in this country, too much [expletive deleted] room in this country. It is an arrogant game on its very design alone. Just the design of the game speaks of arrogance. Just think of how big a golf course is; the ball is that [expletive deleted] big (1.68 in. diameter)! What do these pin-headed freaks need with all that land? There are 17,000 golf courses in America, they average over 150 acres apiece; that's over 300,000,000 acres. That's 4,820 square miles. You could build two Rhode Islands and a Delaware for the homeless on the land currently devoted to this meaningless, mindless, arrogant, elitist, racist -- racist, there's another thing: the only blacks you'll find in country clubs are carrying trays. And a boring game for boring people. Did you ever watch golf on television? It's like watching flies [expletive deleted]. And a mindless game, mindless. Think of the intellect -- think of the intellect it must take to draw pleasure from this activity. Hitting a ball with a crooked stick, and then walking after it, and then hitting it again! I say, "Pick it up, [expletive deleted], you're lucky you found the [expletive deleted] thing! Put it in your pocket and go the [expletive deleted] home! Go the [expletive deleted] home, you're a winner!" No, no chance of that happening. Dorko in the plaid knickers is going to hit it again and walk some more. Let these rich [expletive deleted] play miniature golf. Let 'em [expletive deleted] with a windmill for an hour and a half or so. See if there's any real skill among them. I know there are some people who play golf who don't consider themselves rich -- [expletive deleted] 'em! And shame on them for engaging in an arrogant, elitist pasttime.