Tuesday, July 12, 2011

At Halftime of the Baseball Season...

Category:  Sports Rant

Now that the Midsummer Classic is over with an astonishing two-game winning streak by the National League in the books, it's time to sound off on the All-Star Game -- and a few other things.

1.  Don't Wanna Go to the All-Star Game?  Fine!  This year's All-Star Game may be remembered more for the players who snubbed it rather than the people who did attend, the outcome, or the game's MVP.  This has become a disturbing trend over the past few years:  instead of acknowledging the fans' votes and being grateful, more and more players seem upset that their less-successful teammates are getting a three to four-day vacation and they, the superstars, are not.  So, they're shunning the All-Star Game.  That used to be a resume-padder (so-and-so "is a three-time All Star").  Now people are treating it like a liability.  

Here's a solution:  if you don't go to the All-Star Game this year after being voted on the starting line-up by the fans, you're automatically excluded for three years.  That way, your fans won't waste their vote on you when they could instead be voting for someone who really would appreciate the fans' gratitude toward the season he's having.

2.  That Annoying "Every Team Must Be Represented" Rule.  There are 30 teams in Major League Baseball -- 14 American, 16 National.  There are 25 players in the game on each side.  There's also a rule:  each team must have at least one representative on the All-Star team.  Baloney.  A team with sixty-two losses at the All-Star Break deserves a representative?  In a word, NO.  

Instead, try this:  the last-place teams (in each of the six divisions) do not get a representative unless (a) he's voted in by the fans or (b) that team is the host for the game.  That way, if Houston were hosting the game this year they would get a representative, or if Carlos Lee received enough votes, they could be represented.  Otherwise, let them all stay home and work on getting out of the cellar (between that and Reds' closer Francisco Cordero melting down worse than a damaged Japanese nuclear reactor, that shouldn't take long) and leave that spot for a player that currently has to stay off the roster because of the rule.  (Think about it:  if this game "means something," would the manager rather have the best players that would help assure a victory, or would he rather have the best player from the worst team instead of, oh, another player off the first-place team?)

3.  And While We're On the Subject of "The All-Star Game Means Something..."  This may well be the worst thing Bud Selig has ever done to baseball -- and that's saying something.  The notion of giving home field advantage to the All-Star champ league hasn't helped re-spark passionate interest in the All-Star Game a whole heck of a lot, has it?  (See issue #1.)  Fine.  Chalk this up as a failed experiment and let's have the World Series home field advantage decided on the field -- the team with the best record gets it.  Hockey and basketball seem to think that's a good idea, so why can't baseball do it the logical way as well?

4.  Elsewhere, There's the NCAA's Feet-Dragging.  So does Ohio State have to give the Sugar Bowl trophy to Arkansas with "2011 Sugar Bowl champions: Ohio State" written on it for the Razorbacks' trophy case?  What's going to happen to Auburn if the investigations prove all the news reports about Cam Newton were true?  The NCAA moves about as fast as a turtle covered in molasses stuck in a frozen pond when it comes to investigations, and that's making them a laughingstock.  They need to change the rules so we don't have any more Heisman Trophies returned to the New York Athletic Club or bowl hardware handed over to the losing team.  Come up with a "limbo" program, move faster, or do something to prevent any more egg on the faces of award sponsors, bowl sponsors, universities, and/or the NCAA.

5.  How About Punishing the COACHES in These Scandals?  "Eddie Sutton" is a worse cuss word in Kentucky than "Christian Laettner."  While Sutton was the head basketball coach at Kentucky a number of scandals, from players cheating on their tests to payment of $1,000 to the father of a player, came to light.  The NCAA's punishment was swift and sure:  Kentucky almost got the "death penalty" for the basketball program but was "let off the hook" with a three-year probation, two-year postseason ban, and a ban from television.  While Kentucky's fans, innocent players, and new coach (R*ck P*t*no, another cuss word in the eyes of Wildcat fans considering where he's coaching now) paid the penalty, Eddie Sutton waltzed off to a new job at Oklahoma State.

That is just wrong.  The NCAA has to initiate a penalty for ALL the guilty parties.  If an assistant coach is slipping C-notes under the table to a player's parents that coach should be banned from working anywhere in an NCAA college for a number of years.  I don't know if Jim Tressel could get a job as towel washer at a university right now, given what happened at Ohio State, but given the fact that he is a proven winner (and the name of the game is "just win, baby") somebody is sure to offer him a job.  Not so fast:  when the slow but sure boom is lowered on Ohio State it should also come down on Tressel.  The fact that the guilty coaches, assistant coaches, and other behind-the-scenes people can walk away and immediately become gainfully employed by another university while the former college is left to bear the brunt of the sins is part of the reason there are so many problems in college sports now.  Let them experience a consequence for their actions and see how quickly things clear up.

6.  And Finally... If these sporting events wish "to honor America," how about having someone sing the National Anthem with dignity, respect, and all of the words instead of calling on pop stars who try to turn the song into their new top 40 hit?  Take it from a veteran:  having someone who sold four million records last year screaming the song while forgetting the words does not honor America.  It should shame these people that the Stanley Cup's games in Canada earlier this year featured a Canadian singing our National Anthem on-key, with respect, and not forgetting a single word.  If you want to "honor America," get Wayne Mesmer (who sings the National Anthem at many Cubs games), not Christine Aguilera or Jesse McCartney.

Thank you, and enjoy the second half of the season.

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