For the last several weeks and probably several more, my focus has been and will be on putting Steel Decks and Glass Ceilings in the can. i say that because every time i think i’m almost done, i discover something else that should be added, deleted or changed. Consequently, my posts have been few because my time is devoted to the book, and of course to my great escape, bad golf. Oh yeh, even with what you read here, i have watched nearly all of the National League playoffs.
While hard at work (when i’m not on a golf course) over the last several days, i have been considering sports, or rather the three major sports of my era. Changes over the years have altered the core of what i knew growing up and well into adulthood. You folks younger than me probably are all in with the new era of sports. It sure looks like it with the fans i see in the crowds acting out fantasies for their 15 seconds, not minutes of fame, some even frothing at the mouth. Today’s football, basketball, and baseball make me wonder about our sanity. My conclusions after wondering for a while make me sad.
If i were a manager of any baseball team, especially in the majors, i would require…i mean require or sit for any multi-million dollar player (and since even the lowest players in the majors makes at least $500,000 per season not including the bennies and the per diem compensation for meals, etc., which is pretty much more than i made in annual salary for all of my working days, all 1026 players and their replacements are multi-millionaires unless they blow it)…er, i went off on another rant…i would require them to bunt to the opposite side of a shift. Oh, there are lots of folks who want to outlaw “the shift” but we have too many people trying to make the game better…or worse to make more money, but that is just one more layer of interference in one of the most wonderful sports if played like a sport back when.
Bunt. Hit to the open area of the field. Play BALL, BASEBALL.
Then as i watched the San Diego State beat Air Force in football, i watched a quarterback scramble and throw a pass out of bounds. In my mind, the play begged the question, “When is intentional grounding intentional grounding?” The answer is rarely. You see if a quarterback is not in the pocket and throws the pass out of bounds or over the goal line with no receiver within an area code, the pass is not intentional grounding even though it was intentional grounding. And oh yeh, i think it was Dan Marino that started it, but when the time is running out and the quarterback takes a snap and immediately throws the ball into the ground to stop the clock, intentional grounding is not intentional grounding.
Hmm. It makes my head hurt.
My biggest gripe is games, athletic competition, remain barely on the field of play. Coaches control what is going on all the time. Watch them from the sidelines (and in baseball, watch them march to the mound to fix the pitcher (not) or rearrange the fielders, or heading to home plate to protest something some yahoo in a security booth somewhere watching the boob tube who saw something and call the bench coach who relays it to the manager who works the ump usually fruitlessly but sure to take five minutes or more if video replay is involved because those umps or refs have to consult with their yahoo in a booth watching the boob tube) or players, managers, coaches berating referees or umpires for questionable calls, which used to produce unsportsmanlike conduct penalties or ejection from that field of play. Statistics, not athletic ability, now rule football and baseball. The coaches have electronic communication or some other means to direct every play. They call timeouts from the sidelines. The players on the field are puppets even though they have incredible talent, because, apparently, they are short on brains without computers, videos, and statistics at hand. Oh, i forgot they have those little cuffs above their wrists where signals from the sidelines tell them what’s next.
Rules are made to make football safe. Really? You are trying to knock somebody on their butt at the line of scrimmage, in the backfield, in defensive secondary, and somebody thinks they are going to make it safe? The safe football game, and for that matter, the safe baseball game and the safe basketball game are the games where no one plays.
Nowadays, the athletes are all specialists. A designated hitter doesn’t play in the field. A pitcher doesn’t bat — in the American League and minors, and they are trying to make it for all of professional baseball so there will be more players who can make more ridiculous amounts of money when they can’t play parts of the game.
I still watch. Well, maybe not professional basketball because the rules have been tortured and abandoned. If I want to watch that kind of ball, i will go to a pickup game on some concrete, outside court somewhere.
The National Football League is an exhibition of superb athletes doing incredible things, but quite frankly even the exciting parts are predictable. i still watch baseball and the college sports and root for my teams, yet there is an empty feeling when they win, like so what? when my teams win, it’s not about the players playing the best ball. It’s about recruiting and coaches making them robots, incredible athletes totally under the coaches’ control, and those athletes are there because of money, either what they are making or what potential they can have to make MONEY.
We used to have pickup games as kids. Many of us played three sports or more. Now, the parents, the trainers, and the coaches demand devotion to learning techniques to play the game, their sport. A child can’t play a variety of sports. They have to be specialists. And the athlete from early childhood until they stop playing that sport is a slave to the sport, spending hours learning and practicing the best techniques, the correct stance, swing, throw, run, block, tackle…
Sounds like work to me.
Oh it’s a useless rant of a curmudgeon, but dammit, why can’t we just play ball?
i think i will ask Maureen to go with me for a walk on the beach today. i don’t think it will take 12 to 15 hours to watch pro football today on our television (and no, i don’t subscribe to the NFL network), but it will be fun, and i won’t have to listen to the talking heads.
Thank you for allowing me to let off some steam.