Covering the Bases: New year, new rules

WASHINGTON — Now that the NFL season is over, it’s time to get a few things off my chest.

The game has gotten cluttered with bad rules, extended TV reviews and poor officiating. In an effort to clean it up and simplify an imperfect game, I offer my suggestions on new rules.

First, the ground CAN force a fumble.

Why not?

The player is still trying to make extra yardage. Play should stop when the zebras blow the whistle. No TV review needed, no lost time.

Second, get rid of this garbage about breaking the plane on the goal line. It’s called a touchdown. Therefore, Touch It Down in the end zone. This breaking the plane junk cheapens a score. The way it is now, a team can march 90-yards and just touch the goal line for a TD.

Punch it in.

Also, call intentional grounding. Just because a quarterback moves outside the tackles shouldn’t negate a good effort by the defense. It should at least be called a sack.

And, in an effort to speed up the game, there should be a maximum two minutes allowed for a TV review. If nothing is ruled conclusive in that time, the call on the field should stand.

Now, the NFL isn’t the only sport that could use some rule changes. I have other suggestions.

MLB

Either go full-designated hitter or not. This half-and-half is just half-assed.

No other sport has two sets of rules. I don’t care which way they go, but go with one. However, watching pitchers meekly strikeout is not my idea of entertainment. That basically takes away one-third of the game, when you consider how it affects the bottom of the order.

I can’t see the players union ever giving up the DH. To placate the National League, why not add a 26th player to all MLB rosters?

MLS

Open up the field for more scoring. Americans lose interest with 0-0 and 1-0 games. Let’s embrace the game the way we want to play and stop trying to be a carbon copy of Europe. I know soccer purists will say we’re ruining the game, but once the ball crosses midfield, offsides should be off-the-table.

Breakaways are exciting. There would be more of them. Reward athleticism. On the other hand, make it harder to make a penalty kick. Move it back. It’s way too close.

NHL

Going even further than soccer, eliminate all offsides and open up the whole ice. A fast game would get even faster. There would be action from end-to-end.

I would also like to see the size of goalie pads reduced.

NCAA Football

Make bowl games mean something. Right now, there are just too many to pay attention. How about pairing conferences for a trophy? Take the top-5 teams from each conference and pair them up with the top-5 from another one, such as the Big Ten vs. the Pac 12.

At least there would be some order to the mess.

As for the playoff system, expanding to eight teams would be fine, but please be done by New Year’s Day. To start a college football season before Labor Day and end it over a week past New Year’s Day borders on cruel and unusual punishment for “student athletes.”

NBA

My beef is more of a scheduling issue. No more back-to-backs. Quality of play is greatly diminished in that second game in two nights.

Also, eliminate the charging foul when a defender moves into the path of the offensive player.  In my opinion, it’s the defender who should be whistled.

Olympics

They’ve become way too expensive, with cities left with empty stadiums. Choose a permanent site on every continent and rotate them around. That way, there would be a future use for the facilities and eliminate the IOC corruption for host city bidding.

I would also like to see most judging events eliminated. If it doesn’t involve keeping score or time, there’s always an element of subjectivity and cheating hovering over the event.

All Sports

Reduce the length of seasons. They’re way too long.

Baseball at 140-games would be perfect. MLB could start later in April and be done around Labor Day with a longer postseason.

The way it is now, basketball and hockey begin play in the fall and end in the summer. Please, no longer than 70 games each.

MLS is presently set up as a nearly a year-round sport. They begin in March and end in November. It’s dragged out because of international competition.

The league needs to determine its priority.

Does MLS want to build the sport in the United States or prove that they can compete internationally? Play international competition before or after the season. The numerous stoppages in the middle of the season are confusing to the casual follower and kills momentum for league play.

So, there you have it, my recipe for improving all sports.

Commissioners and owners, it’s now in your hands.

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