We’re talking about speeding up the game of baseball in the Major Leagues these days.
The games are too long. Let’s ban the shift, put a pitch clock on the pitcher and batter, and it’s all in the name of making games quicker.
It’s a fair goal, but not even close what basketball finally figured out to do 85 years ago.
Prior to the 1937-38 season, a center jump was required after EACH successful basket. That’s right. Sink a 15-footer and then send your best jumper to mid-court. Amazingly, you’ll read next week that some basketball observers resisted the change.
Goodness, can you imagine what that did for the game? I can’t imagine jumping that much. One per game is more than enough, unless there’s an overtime. In the early 1980s, jump balls on tie-ups were replaced by the alternating possession arrow. That saved some levels of basketball for sure. The NBA still goes with a jump ball on tie-ups.
Some other fascinating rules changes:
— Naismith’s original plans for basketball only had 13 rules.
— Originally, players could not bounce the ball. Not until 1909 was continuous dribbling and shots off the dribble were allowed.
— In the beginning, boundaries on the court were not defined. The term “cagers” used as a nickname for basketball players actually stemmed from a cage that surrounded courts to keep the ball in play at all time.
— The mid-court line wasn’t instituted until 1932 to eliminate stalling tactics used by teams with the lead trying to drain time off the clock.
— In 1936, the three-second area was created to prevent players from camping near the basket. Originally, the designated area looked like a key, thus the term that’s still used today. It was widened to the current shape in 1951.
— And here’s my favorite one. Not until 1949 was coaching allowed during the game. Prior to this time, coaches weren’t allowed to instruct their teams even during a timeout, only during halftime.
BOOK REVIEW TIME — My current reads include Jeff Pearlman’s work on Bo Jackson titled “The Last Folk Hero” and it’s a great, in-depth look at one of the sports icons from my childhood years. He hit the world as a football/baseball star in the 1980s and Pearlman’s work is not surprisingly very interesting. I’m not done with it, but I didn’t realize he wasn’t a very likable person as much as he was.
The other current reads are “The Official Rules of Baseball Illustrated” and “The Sputnik Season: 1957.” As the title suggests, the baseball rules book goes through the rules and discusses how they evolved or were established. The 1957 book basically takes you through the season methodically with many interesting stories along the way. That season was the final year that the Dodgers and Giants played in New York.
I recently completed another World War II book “Operation Paperclip: The secret intelligence program that brought Nazi Scientists to America.” The title explains it enough, but it was a fascinating and thorough work on how we raced to get all the good scientists in Germany as the war was winding down. It was a race to beat the Soviets. Was it the right thing to do? The presumption that we were going to war with the Soviet Union within a couple years gives plenty of reasons to be aggressively putting war criminals to work for our military.
David McCullough’s “The Johnstown Flood” and “The Wright Brothers” were very good. The flood book, after getting more familiar with the Johnstown area over the years, is a chilling recounting of a flood that killed over 2,000 people. The description of how it happened and how nobody was held accountable for the damn failure.
The Wright Brothers, of course, invented the airplane. Pretty good read as well.
Rich Rhoades is the sports editor of the Leader-Vindicator and the Jeffersonian Democrat in Brookville. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow on Twitter @TheSkinny1969 and Facebook.