Thursday, April 17, 2008

If I Ruled Sports

Bill Walton in tie-dyeIf I ruled sports I would ban Bill Walton from, well, everything. The same courtesy would be extended to the entire Walton family.

There is little incentive for NBA teams to play hard in the regular season when 16 of 30 make the playoffs. If I ruled sports I would reduce the number to 12, matching the NFL playoff system.

Teams surely played hard in the Western Conference this year where the top six teams were separated by a mere two games. But we all knew those six teams would make the playoffs, anyway. And home court is not enough incentive for teams to play hard all 82 regular season games, or for fans to be fully engaged. There needs to be a first-round bye for the top two teams in each conference. Then they’d really be playing for something.

The NBA doesn’t want to take my advice because that would reduce the total number of playoff games, thus reducing its biggest source of revenue. The owners are only thinking about the short-term. Fewer people are watching the NBA than in the past, in part because fans know the regular season is meaningless. The longer fans tune out of the regular season, the more likely they’ll tune out of the NBA altogether.

LeBron James dunkingIf I ruled sports I would’ve called traveling on LeBron James two years ago when he beat my Washington Wizards with two buzzer beaters in the playoffs. Maybe I’d let it slide on the third and fourth steps, but not when he walked half the court without dribbling.

If I ruled sports I would force batters to stay in the batter’s box throughout their entire at bat. I’d also put a time limit on how long pitchers can hold the ball without throwing. Five hour baseball games are great, but six hours is really pushing it.

If I ruled sports I would allow intradivisional games to take place in the first round of the MLB playoffs. For example, let’s say the Baltimore Orioles win the AL East with the best record, and the Tampa Bay Rays win the wild card with the fourth best record. Under current playoff rules the Orioles would not be allowed to play the Rays in the first round. The Orioles are being punished by having to play a better team simply because the Rays are in the same division.

Babe Ruth walking away from cameraJust for fun let’s say the Yankees and Red Sox have the first and second worst records in baseball history. Babe Ruth comes back from the dead to curse both teams for eternity. While he’s at it, Babe has his way with some goats – sorry, Chicago Cubs.

If I ruled sports I would create a salary floor for baseball teams. The Yankees payroll is $165 million more than the Rays. Sorry Rays, but you’re never going to sniff the World Series, or the wild card for that matter. The beautiful thing about the NFL is its parody, which is at least partly achieved by each team having a payroll somewhere between the floor and the cap.

Cartoon Alex Rodriguez on steroidsIf I ruled sports I would stop bashing players for signing huge contracts. Professional athletes earn a smaller percentage of company dollars than employees in other industries. Owners make bank, and with the media on their side, they have the public’s sympathy, too. Besides, who wouldn’t want Alex Rodriguez money if he could have it? It’s not his fault he’s exceptional at hitting a ball with a stick. Imagine how that would sound if we weren’t talking about baseball.

Cartoon Barry Bonds on steroidsIf I ruled sports I would stop using Barry Bonds as a scapegoat. Everybody juiced. He was better before steroids and he was still better when everyone was on steroids. Don’t hate the player, hate the game.

The only people to blame for The Steroids Era are baseball officials and team owners. The players were following the money that was laid out for them. If you had a chance to make $3 million per year playing baseball instead of working in an office for $40,000, you’d probably juice, too.

If I ruled sports I would create an eight-team playoff in college football. This is the only sport where there are 32 winners instead of one. The NCAA is worried about losing money from bowl sponsors, which is probably accurate. Instead of the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl it would be the Tostitos Spicy Quarterfinal Bowl—not quite the same. They could still have sponsored bowls for the shitty teams. I’m already raising funds for the Music City Bowl. Let’s pray my UVA Cavaliers can make it.

In the long run the NCAA would make much more money from the TV contract because so many more people would watch the playoff games. I’d make the first bid to broadcast one game on my blog if I didn’t already go broke. Fucking Nashville.

If I ruled sports I would put Scarlett Johansson in all the commercials. Scarlett Johansson drives Toyotas. Scarlett Johansson drinks Bud Light. Scarlett Johansson takes Viagra, but keeps a lookout for priapism—a persistent and painful erection that lasts longer than four hours.Actress Scarlett Johansson