Well, the college basketball season is already underway. #2 son, Alex - and his Cal State Monterey Bay Otters - play an exhibition game at the University of San Diego tomorrow night. Since both Jane and I are now retired, we’ve decided to make it into a long road trip, stopping over in Newport Beach to spend some time with #1 son, Andy on the way down and back. Our wonderful house guest - and artist extraordinaire - Albert Van Troba (to see for yourself, log onto vantroba.com) will be taking care of things at home for us. This blog will continue (since I also have a visit to Stanford Pain Management) on Halloween.
It’s difficult for our elected officials to agree on much today, other than the fact that each party is absolutely certain it’s the other one’s fault that the country is in the mess it’s in. Not much (in terms of helping the American people) seems to get done in the hallowed halls of Congress. When it comes to professional sports we, the fans, seem to have to wait for any appreciable progress as well.
The problem in professional sports, however, is of a different nature. The anti-change culprit in the sporting world is tradition. In today’s NFL the battle is over whether the game is safe. Denying football takes a toll on players’ bodies and brains is just like denying working in the West Virginia coal mines was bad for their lungs. PBS’ League of Denial opens eyes to even the most closed minds. There’s no argument that fans love football. Fans used to love the Christians vs. the lions, too. At least now there are medical people working to make the game safer, league officials changing rules to make the game safer and equipment manufacturers trying to improve products to make the game safer.
If ever there was a sport steeped in tradition, baseball is it. When players are in high school, it’s not uncommon for the best pitcher to also be the best hitter. Yet, once players make the professional ranks, the time commitment to be an effective pitcher doesn’t allow for him to be as talented a hitter as position players. Basically, the pitcher bats ninth and, while not being considered an automatic out, it’s a bonus for a pitcher to do something positive at the plate. The issue divided baseball leaders into, for lack of better terms, the traditionalists and the progressives.
Ridiculous as it may seem, it was decided by the National League that there would be no change to the game in regards to pitchers batting while the American League chose to have a designated hitter for the pitcher, meaning one player would bat (for the pitcher) but not play in the field. Stubborn being the operative word, neither side will budge, so during interleague play, the home team abides by that league’s rule - including during the World Series!
Whether or not basketball is the most progressive sport in the matter of opinion but in yesterday’s newspaper there was an article which broke away from the norm. The NBA owners have agreed to change the Finals format from the current (which has been in effect forever) 2-3-2 series to a 2-2-1-1-1 arrangement. Few, if any, people in basketball liked the 2-3-2 format - for varying reasons. Why the “old” format existed was that the travel from east to west was too grueling, with only one day between games being a “travel” day. That was true - before every NBA team got its own private aircraft thus, for all intents and purposes, eliminating travel days because most teams fly to the next city after the game. No more flying commercially, waiting in airport lounges and at gates. Even Boston-LA (I was going to use NY-LA but there are so few readers who would believe that ever happened - unless they’re NBA Classics followers) isn’t nearly as draining. This means that the off day between games doesn’t have to be used for travel.
Maybe the NBA owners agree with Ayn Rand who said:
“We can evade reality but we cannot evade the consequences of evading reality.”