by “Christian Dan” Borrello,posted Feb 19 2009 7:16AM
Nobody likes when their favorite sport gets mocked for a dumb rule that doesn't make sense compared to other sports.
Every year, NASCAR get killed for the sport's "Super Bowl" race being the first contest of the year, unlike every other mainstream American sport. This year, however, NASCAR got a double-whammy of insults from haters.
Every so often, rain ends NASCAR's biggest race well short of the 200 laps needed to complete its famous 500 miles. Matt Kenseth won his first Daytona 500 simply because he had the lead when officials suspended the race. As if avoiding wrecks is simple.
Baseball commissioner Bud Selig took a stand last October and evoked his "best interests in baseball" clause when he adamantly refused to let any World Series game end prematurely due to weather. He was right. However, NASCAR was right as well, preventing tragedy, and allowing common sense considering it would take three hours to dry the track. The consequence: hacked comparisons to NASCAR's Super Bowl, already ripped for being the opening race, ending in the third quarter.
This writer is not a NASCAR fan. But he's hardly a NASCAR hater, either. It's drivers are always courteous (except Tony Stewart), accomodating toward their fans (except Tony Stewart), do interviews (sometimes Tony Stewart) and unlike many high-priced athletes, are all held to family standards (especially Tony Stewart).
You rarely hear about drivers beating their wives, how much money they make, getting nailed on weapons charges, or fathering children in several states. And a guy like Tony Stewart would be considered almost a saint by NFL standards.
The fact is, there are things in every sport that deserved to be mocked for idiocy. So, in honor of those who enjoy NASCAR, here is an equal opportunity to rip every mainstream American athletics for the things that don't make sense in those sports, either.
FIRST: Basketball. A former varsity coach once said to a bunch of elementary students at Silver Creek Central School in the early nineties that basketball was his favorite sport because it was a "team game." Then for the next eight Saturdays, two kids on each team dribbled and shot while the rest ran wind sprints up and down the gym floor. True, it is a team game. But compared to football, or baseball, basketball is the LEAST team-oriented game. The term "ball-hog?" Yup, we can thank basketball for that one. "Cherry-picker?" That's another basketball term.
Football has eleven guys defending an end zone against eleven other guys with specific roles. Some block, some catch, some run and one throws, and they all take their cues from a guy in a headset on the bench. Baseball needs solid pitching, defense, and good hitting. Most of the time, you can't score unless the guy behind you knocks you in. Granted, all sports have their divas, but never has a football or baseball player been accused of being a "ball-hog."
SECOND: Basketball (still). Free throws and fouls. Instead of that old, stupid argument that "they" should raise the net another five feet, how about taking a page from hockey and inserting a penalty box, instead? Fouls and free throws slow the game down, especially when they oddly become a losing team's best friend in the game's final minutes. Fouling a player to stop the clock is not "good strategy." It's "duh!" And it's irritating.
One other thing: awarding free throws for fouls is like baseball putting a ball on a tee after a hit batsman. It's like the NFL allowing a field goal kicker a free shot from the 30. C'mon. Don't rip NASCAR.
As far as college basketball goes, the NCAA has finally moved the men's free throw line back. An entire foot. Wow.
THIRD: Hockey. The game makes sense. What kills it is how expensive it is to play. But this writer has two arguments. One, there are way too many NHL playoff teams. Why play 82 games to eliminate a minority of teams from playoff contention? It'll never change because of money. Imagine how bad it was when there were only 24 teams.
The other knock: a team can ride a hot goaltender as far as he will take it. The 2005-06 and '06-'07 Buffalo Sabres were a lot better than the '98-99 Stanley Cup team. The difference: Dominik Hasek. Admit it. Ryan Miller is no slouch, but he's no Hasek, either.
Oh yeah: the shootout. Another clever idea. Why don't we just end baseball games by home run derby, or basketball games with G-E-I-C-O?
FOURTH: Football. Ready? All those crazy rules regarding possession, in-bounds, out-of-bounds, pass interference vs. holding in the secondary, fumbles vs. tucks, and "football moves." They're all judgment calls, in need of replay to bail out its aging referees. If the referee misses the flag toss from the sidelines, or the buzz from upstairs, so be it. If you rip the refs for blowing obvious calls they actually apologize for, you get fined. You also get fined for having your socks down, or a shirt sleeve out, for taking off your helmet on the field, handing balls to fans after touchdowns, or not wearing the right hat on the sidelines. But it's the NFL, America's sacred sport, where gambling problems are born, while steroid use and most arrests go overlooked.
FINALLY: Baseball. Other than its steroid problems, its the only sport without a salary cap. Other than that, baseball is perfect. Balls and strikes, fair or foul, safe or out, and no clocks.
Of course, that whole clock thing could come in handy in October.