If change is the only constant in life, then I suppose what we are experiencing in the world of sports today is par for the course.
And while on the subject of overused cliches, how about “change isn’t hard, it’s resisting change, that’s what’s hard.” Yes, my default setting as a sports traditionalist is one who resists even the slightest change to the games I care most about.
So maybe what I need to do is stop overthinking things, and just listen to Casey Stengel, who gave us “it’s a round ball, and a round bat, and you’ve gotta hit it square.”
Because it really seems like, despite all my resisting, the winds of change are swirling more relentlessly than ever in the world of sports right now. In fact, when I really stop and think, the only change I’ve managed to resist with some success over the years has been the adaptation of the Designated Hitter rule by the National League. And while the tradition of pitchers wielding a bat holds on by barely a thread, any satisfaction I may gain from that small victory is tempered when I realize that adaptation of a Universal DH is the one change that would have benefitted my New York Mets in 2021.
But such is life when you are a Mets fan. So anyway, what follows is SportsAttic’s take on some of the more notable changes going on in the world of sports today — we anxiously await your reactions:
*NBA Play-in Tournament — DISLIKE — Adding playoff teams never spells improvement to me. And despite protestations from “The Association’s” league office that play-in games aren’t actual playoff contests… c’mon man, then what the heck are they? These are games being played after the regular season has concluded, so to me that constitutes a playoff round. And by adding this extra layer, all we’ve really done is reward a few sub-.500 teams for their abject mediocrity by televising more of their games and bringing them (and the NBA) additional revenues. All for the benefit of seeing the survivors get blown out in the second round of the playoffs by a more deserving squad. I mean, does anyone really anticipate the Charlotte Hornets taking more than a game from the Sixers in Round 2? As bad as this may seem, there is one redeeming quality to the 2021 play-in format. As of this writing, LeBron James and the Lakers appear headed for the play-in contests, where they will likely have to open against Golden State and red hot Steph Curry. Go Dubs! Ah, silver linings…
*NFL Goes to a 17-game Schedule — LIKE — Yes, even a traditionalist like me is willing to accept with open arms more winter Sundays filled with pro football. Especially when the giveback is a couple of meaningless preseason games. I no longer hold season tickets for any pro football teams, but back when I did, I found it ridiculous that we were required to purchase preseason games as part of the package. Moving to 17 games is an improvement for the players (who for years have sought a shorter preseason schedule) and the fans (who get more meaningful games), even if having an odd number of games does feel a bit unsettling as it rattles around my OCD brain (okay, so there used to be 14 games, then it was 16 for a really long time, and now…). But that’s okay — it’s more football. I’ll get used to it.
*MLB Continues its Policies of Seven-inning Double-Headers and Extra Inning Contests Beginning With a Runner on Second — HATE — Sorry, but seven-inning baseball games are bullshit. Full stop. The strategy and cadence of the National Pastime both get watered down and altered in unflattering ways when we shorten the length of play by nearly 25 percent. And if you subscribe (as I do) to the theory that 99% of double-headers end in a split, the shorter game format has the potential to negatively impact pennant races over the course of a 162-game season, should certain teams play more twin bills than other teams in their division. Not to mention it’s shitty for the fan experience, too, as the lineups being tossed out there in Game 2’s around MLB are full of scrubs and recent call ups that should embarrass the responsible franchises and their managers. Yet somehow the new double-header rule isn’t the worst atrocity taking place in Major League Baseball today. The extra inning leadoff runner is an even worse abomination. If we are going to bastardize the rules to get games to a speedier conclusion, why not really go for it. How about if a game ends tied after nine innings each manager selects three non-pitchers to take the mound for his team. Clear the field except for the six chosen position players and each team’s catcher. Then, one by one, all six players get a turn to rear back and fire three pitches as hard as they can, with their speed being monitored by the stadium radar gun. Nine total pitches would be thrown per team, with the player that lights up the gun with the highest velocity fastball earning the win. And here’s the catch — all players must throw with their non-throwing hand. Imagine the fun! Preposterous, you say? Exactly…
Okay, I feel better now. Thanks for playing, and let’s hear your opinions on these and other changes taking place across your favorite sports.
While we wait for your cards and letters, here’s hoping the NBA Gods have a sense of humor and see to it that LeBron stays tethered to that seventh slot in the west.