Hangin’ with Miss Cooper: Let me fix sports for you

You hear all the time about how sports need to be fixed. You hear it mostly with baseball, but the complaint trickles into other sports too every so often. It’s always “these dang kids and their phones and Twitters and short attention spans. What are we gonna do?!?!”

Nevermind that Major League Baseball has insane blackout restrictions where people in certain cities often times can’t even watch their home team on either the TV or on the MLB.tv app. Did you know 70 percent of people in Los Angeles haven’t been able to watch Los Angeles Dodgers regular season games in six years? And if you really want to be mad, go look up an MLB blackout restriction map. How do you bring fans in when people can’t even watch the games?

But no, no it’s not that. Baseball, the game itself, needs to be fixed. People aren’t watching because the games are too long, and too slow, and too boring. A 4-hour game is WAY too long. Pace of play would make them 3 hours and 45 minutes. That would fix everything!

And football also needs to be fixed, obviously. and basketball. and of course so does racing.

The kids and their smart phones! They’re ruining everything!

Okay, fine. I will do it. I will fix sports for you. You want action? You want to make sports fun so the kids put down their Xbox controllers and watch? I got you. You’re welcome.

BASEBALL

Okay, here are my two suggestions for how to fix baseball.

1. What is the greatest thing that could ever happen in a major league baseball game? I’m thinking it. You’re thinking it. Let’s say it at the same time.

Position player pitching.

It’s the best. You’re sitting through a 14-2 blowout, feeling the yawns coming on when WAIT, the bench player who only ever gets to pinch hit against lefties like once every four games is running down to the bullpen?? I’m back in!

I love a good old fashioned 15 inning baseball game more than I love just about anything else on earth, but I know I’m a weirdo. But how great would it be if MLB extra inning rules now meant that after the 13th inning, only position players could pitch?

BUT let’s take it one step further. Not only can only position players pitch, but only pitchers can hit and play the field. Drain the bullpen and throw them all in the infield. Can you imagine?

This rule also applies to all games where one team has at least a 12 run lead. There’s nothing boring about watching tomorrow’s starter try to run down a popup in centerfield, yall.

2. I think about this every time I’m watching a game with the home team winning heading into the bottom of the eighth inning. If you were to rank innings of baseball based on how boring they are, the bottom of the eighth is No. 1. I asked my brother one time if he thought a player on the home team that was winning had ever purposefully struck out in the bottom of the eighth just to hurry up and get the game over quicker and he said, “No, players always want to score more runs and build a bigger lead.”

To which I replied, “You’re absolutely lying.”

No chance. It’s the bottom of the eighth, your team is three outs away from winning, no chance a player who isn’t just trying to up their own batting average or hit a record breaking home run actually cares about that at-bat.

So, let teams skip it. You’re the home team, you’re up at least three runs heading into the bottom of the eighth, and you feel really confident in your closer, you should be allowed to say “hey, we’re forgoing our last at-bats and heading directly to the ninth.”

I mean, they say baseball games are too long, this would fix that. Also, you now have a slightly better chance of a fight breaking out when the other team is like “How dare they! What disrespect!”

The catch is, if you do forgo your bottom of the eighth inning at bats (or top of the ninth if you’re the away team) and then you blow the save, the loss now counts as two losses in the standings.

If you want to get really crazy with it, you can let teams forgo ALL of their at bats at any time. Like, if your team comes out and scores 14 runs in the first inning, you can say you don’t want to bat anymore and now the other team has 27 straight outs to play with. BUT, once you give up your at bats you can’t take them back if the other team gets close. Seems stressful right? I’m all in! I think it’d be great.

FOOTBALL

You thought it was just baseball that needed fixing? No, no. I got lots of ideas for yall.

1. Teams only get two extra points per game. Every other touchdown you have to go to for the two-point conversion.

Do you go ahead and use your extra points on the first two scores? Do you save them for a possible overtime? Lots of strategy goes into this.

2. Make fields longer, BUT keep the first endzones at 100 yards. and then a second endzone at 110 yards. and a third endzone at 120. If a player gets to the first endzone it’s six points. If he can run through the first to the second, it’s eight points, and running through to the third is 10.

Also, each endzone has its own goalpost, so if you line up for a 30-yard field goal, kickers can try to kick through all three posts, also for more points.

3. Overtimes should just be another full quarter of play. If teams are still tied at the end of that quarter, then each kicker lines up on their own 10 yard line, and they take turns kicking field goals, each backing up 5 yards after each attempt. The last kicker standing wins.

Actually, as a Bears fan I don’t like this idea so much.

BASKETBALL

1. No more free agency. Free agency has taken over actual basketball. It’s the reason the biggest storyline all last season was where was LeBron going this year. and the biggest storyline all this season is where will Kevin Durant go next year, and the reason the third question Doris Burke asked Kawhi Leonard, literally 10 minutes after he won an NBA championship, is “how does this affect your free agency?”

It’s boring, and kind of annoying. So get rid of it.

Instead, every year, every player goes into a draft, gym class style. Each team picks one player they want to keep, and that player because their team’s captain, going through the entire NBA and picking teams, just like how they do with the all-star team. Your pay is based off of what number pick you were.

Because, let’s be honest, everyone just wants to play with their friends anyway. I mean, this is basically how free agency works every year, so just make it league wide.

2. Keep one team that is just a bunch of clones of Russell Westbrook.

This is selfish of me because Russell Westbrook is my favorite athlete on the planet. I think he’s literally perfect. Also, has a team ever had five players all average a triple-double? I don’t think so.

Plus, people always say “Russ is such a bad teammate! “Russ never passes!” Well, what would he be a bad teammate to literally nine other hims? Would he pass to himself?? Where would Paul George go???

(Russell Westbrook has averaged 8.4 assists per game for his career. I digress.)

RACING

Too many things to name. Pass.

COLLEGE SPORTS

Oh, I don’t know. College sports are basically perfect and just and totally not corrupt. I don’t think there’s really anything wrong with them. I guess you could start with like, no longer making coaches multi-millionaires from free labor from players. Maybe let kids transfer whenever and wherever they want, just like any other normal college student. And, I don’t know, let players make money off of their names and likeness. I mean, other people are able to make money off of the players’ names and likeness, so that’s not really fair. Plus, for a lot of the players this is the only time they’ll be able to make money off of themselves. I’m really just spitballing here.

No, no, you’re right, that’s crazy talk. Who am I kidding.

(This story originally appeared in The Martinsville Bulletin.)

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