Saturday, November 29

Sports czar

A couple of weeks ago, ESPN columnist Bill Simmons published a list of improvements he would make to the world of sports if President Obama named him "Sports Czar" for the upcoming administration. Many of them are ideas from his columns over the years; a lot of them are smart and funny, so I thought I'd add them here and make a few comments on them. Real quick:

1) Why in politics is it a thing to call someone a "czar"? The most notable example I can think of is the "Drug Czar." If I remember correctly, czar was like an old Russian autocrat. Why do we want to invoke this model of authority? Incidentally, having a drug czar at all is stupid.

2) I don't think I've written at length about Simmons, but I think his writing is excellent. I don't always agree with his points, but he always takes a logical position and argues it strongly. I also enjoy the cross-referencing he does between the worlds of sports and entertainment, and the freewheeling way he discusses things like porno and gambling with a straight face. It's pretty obvious that he's the star of Sure, no one likes his Boston-centric work, and his baseball writing isn't a strength, but anything he writes about the NFL or NBA is must-read. Onto the list, broken down into categories:

A college football playoff system
Kind of a populist argument and, frankly, one I find short-sighted. I know it’s a minority opinion, but I’m OK with the BCS. Sorry.

A uniform boxing organization
Don’t care at all about boxing, but having all those federations is absurd, so yes. Even the WWF and WCW consolidated.

A better trophy for the World Series
Definitely. That thing is an eyesore. I’m glad George Costanza drove it around the Yankee parking lot.

Championship belts for the defending NBA champs that they must bring to every game
Love this. Remember when Rasheed Wallace made those belts for the Pistons? This is one of the ideas on the list that will never happen because it's simply too perfect.

A hierarchy of alcoholic beverages for baseball celebrations (cheap beer, then good beer, then cheap champagne, then good champagne)
Also a terrific idea. Winning the ALDS doesn’t merit Dom Perignon.

An NBA expansion team in Seattle, effective for the 2010-11 season
Don’t care.

A no-exception three-city rotation for the Super Bowl among New Orleans, Miami and San Diego
Take out “no exception,” because I’d like to see a cold-weather game.

A full-length indoor basketball court in the White House, with all games involving Obama televised on NBA TV

A purple Masters-type sports coat for the winning March Madness coach (presented to him by last year's coach as Jim Nantz orgasmically looks on)
I don’t get this.

Relegation for Major League Baseball (a 30-team league with the bottom two teams forced to move to Triple-A for a year).
Infeasible, plus I oppose anything that makes baseball more like soccer. Would you like to institute ties after 10 innings as well?

So far, I score it as: 5-2-3 (agree, disagree, don't care)

The backstroke, butterfly and breaststroke events in the Olympics
Other than medal inflation, why?

Baseball managers cannot wear uniforms anymore
I can’t support this any more enthusiastically. I've been clamoring for this for years.

No more seat licenses, NIT or Tony Siragusa
Yes, no, yes. The NIT is good for mid-major schools like Cleveland State.

No NFL division champ can make the playoffs unless it wins nine games
Good rule.

No more three-man booths except for Van Gundy, Jackson and Breen
Seems a bit absolutist, but I’m willing to listen.

The bullpens can't empty during a baseball fight
Agreed. Baseball fights are stupid. The NFL is 100 times more violent as a sport, and they manage to keep to their own sidelines.

No NHL ticket can cost more than $75
Semi-arbitrary, but they are way too expensive.

No tax write-offs for season tickets, but you CAN write off luxury suites
I like this.

No more sideline reporters unless they agree to dress like Julia Roberts in "Pretty Woman"

No more cell-phone calls by spectators during sporting events (you can only text)
Except during intermission, yes.

No more sunglasses in the World Series of Poker.
I hate televised poker, but sunglasses always seemed to me like cheating. This especially goes for that idiot who had the orange optical illusion sunglasses that looked like eyes. I want to hit that guy.

Score: 9-2-2

The NHL will disband eight teams, move a few more to Canada and form 11-team conferences in the United States and Canada
Great idea as long as the Pens survive.

Fox's No. 1 team for baseball broadcasts will be selected in a vote by the users of
Later, Tim McCarver.

The Nets and Bobcats will merge and move to Vegas next season (and become the Las Vegas Dice)
That would be hilarious.

The Utah Jazz and New Orleans Hornets will switch nicknames
Long overdue.

Gus Johnson will be promoted to CBS' lead play-by-play guy for March Madness and the Final Four
I like this guy; he’s enthusiastic. Still, Simmons' man-crush on the guy is almost obsessive.

Buffalo residents can purchase the Bills in a public trust (like how Sconnies own the Packers)
Can Toronto fans buy shares too? Too bad the NFL outlawed this after Green Bay. Why did they do this? The Pack seem to be doing just fine.

All "live" sporting events will be shown live again and not on a brief tape delay, and if anyone out there can't handle hearing an occasional F-bomb, then don't watch live sporting events
Amen, brother.

A three-game exhibition season for the NFL with two regular-season bye weeks (not one)
Excellent idea but NFL teams will squabble over who gets one or two home preseason games. Alternate year-to-year, I guess.

The entry fee for the WSOP will be raised to $25,000
Who cares?

Two rounds for the Home Run Derby and that's it
For sure.

H-O-R-S-E for NBA All-Star Weekend
This is Simmons’ pet project, and I think it would be incredibly entertaining.

ESPN Classic's budget is tripled
Agreed. How come they never have good games on this channel?

The Olympics and World Cup will happen every three years (not four).
His point here is that it’s not like 100 years ago where it was super-hard to get everyone together; now international travel is easy so we can do this more frequently. I dig it.

Score: 12-0-1

New rules:
No pregame show will be allowed to have more than four people (except for NBC's "Football Night in America," which will shift to a "Hollywood Squares" format)
Pre-game shows have gotten out of hand, I concur. It's all a part of the ESPN-ing of sports TV, where it's moving inexorably to an infinite number of "experts" talking about everything and no actual game play.

If you purchase a player's jersey and that player is traded within 12 months, you can return the jersey and buy a new one for half price
Only seems fair.

Incoming college freshman recruits don't have to honor an NCAA scholarship if their sleaze-bag coach ditched them after he signed them
See above comment.

All professional owners either have to sell their team before they turn 80 or before they start looking like a sea monster
Eh, whatever. It’s their team. What if they own the Lake Erie Monsters?

A forced agreement where the NFL Network is carried by all cable systems
Get this done!

Baseball fans get to vote on the entrance music for their closers
Yes, but at least let the closer offer some selections.

Golfers have to carry their own bags for the PGA Championship
Don’t care.

The "Real World/Road Rules Challenge" will replace the Australian Open as tennis' fourth major (with the top six male and female tennis players competing against MTV cast members)
Easily the worst idea of the whole column.

No more 20/20 flashes on sports radio shows (we move to a 30/30 flash)

The U.S. Olympic basketball team cannot have anyone over 25 years old
Neat idea, I like it.

David Halberstam's "The Breaks of the Game" must be re-released

Chris Rose will be liberated from "The Best Damn Sports Show" and given a better show
We're running out of steam here.

Tropicana Field is immediately blown up
Can we do that and the Metrodome simultaneously? Also, just for fun, M&T Bank Stadium?

Isiah Thomas will replace Donna Orender as the commissioner of the WNBA, effective immediately.
You knew he’d get an Isiah joke in, but this one’s kinda lame. I think he’s referencing how Isiah owned the entire CBA once and crashed it, hoping the same fate would befall the WNBA, but it's a stretch.

Score: 7-2-5

Overall: 33-6-11

Hopefully one of these days I'll get around to putting 10 or so of my own up here. I can't believe he didn't offer an NFL overtime solution! Until then, I'll give Simmons credit for some clever ideas.

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