Basketball And Baseball Today…

Yesterday, I wrote at length about the College Basketball Commission’s recommendations to the NCAA.  Obviously, there was a lot of commentary on that subject around the country yesterday and I am glad to see that most writers/analysts recognize the situation for what it is:

  1. There is widespread violation of the extant NCAA rules.
  2. The current enforcement mechanism is inadequate.
  3. Schools/teams have assessed that the risk of “capture” is worth taking.
  4. The NCAA as constructed cannot fix this by itself.

The reason I am glad to see this sort of widespread recognition is simple.  If there is a problem to be solved, one must first acknowledge that there is a problem and then one must identify the scope of the problem.  It seems as if we have done that with regard to many of the ills of college basketball; now, if there is to be progress toward some solutions, there are identified goals to be achieved.  Things may actually improve…

There was another “basketball related” bit of news from earlier this week.  Lavar Ball had been uncharacteristically quiet for several weeks but emerged from his cocoon in Lithuania to announce that he is pulling his two sons off their Lithuanian team with two games left in that team’s season.  Lavar Ball had gotten crosswise with the Lithuanian coach particularly about the playing time allotted to the youngest son, LaMelo, and said that the most important thing now was to get the middle son, LiAngelo, ready for the upcoming NBA Draft.

[Aside:  Please tell me you are not surprised that Lavar Ball got crosswise with the Lithuanian coach.  Anyone surprised by that circumstance would probably also be surprised to learn that you do not need a brain transplant to change your mind.]

There was, however, a small angle to this story that was buried in one of the middle paragraphs.  This Lithuanian team has two games left in its season and it is facing relegation.  Yes, in Lithuania, they have a tiered system of basketball leagues and teams can be relegated and promoted just as teams can in soccer in England.  So, the question that flashed into my mind here was this:

  • How is it possible that this team – with two future NBA stars on it – is anywhere near relegation in a secondary level Lithuanian league?

Forgetting the snarky remark, here is a serious thought about the Ball Family Odyssey.  It appears as if LiAngelo and LaMelo could run out of places to play basketball.  By playing for a pro team in Lithuania, neither will be eligible for NCAA competition; LaMelo is still in high school – nominally home-schooled – and his professional exposure would make him ineligible at that level too.  Reports say that LiAngelo is not highly regarded as an NBA prospect meaning that his future would be in the G-League or in another overseas venue.  However, the recent rupture with the Lithuanian team/coach might constrain the demand for the services of the Ball Brothers.

You may recall that Cubs’ infielder, Anthony Rizzo, made news recently by saying that there are too many MLB games and that there should be a shorter season which would mean pay cuts for the players.  If you look at the weather conditions that have impinged on MLB so far this season, you would probably agree that things could be improved.  After Rizzo’s remarks and the initial flurry of comments about his remarks had calmed down a bit, there was a thoughtful column at written by Bradford Doolittle about cutting the MLB season back to 154 games.  Here is the link to that column; I suggest you read it in its entirety.

It would seem as if reducing the schedule by 8 games would not do a lot to shorten the season – and presumably play baseball in better weather conditions.  However, the idea here is to mix in double-headers with the 154-game season to reduce the time from Opening Day until the end of the World Series.  [Currently, the MLB season could be as long as 187 days.]  Here is one of the important suggestions in this column:

“By shortening the regular season, and mixing in at least one doubleheader per team per month — always in advance of an off day — we could easily avoid these ultra-early starts at the beginning, and kill the specter of November baseball at the end.”

I must admit that until I read this column, I did not know of Bradford Doolittle or his work.  I am going to be alert for his byline in the future; he seems to be a passionate baseball fan who is also very analytical.

Finally, here is an item from Dwight Perry in the Seattle Times:

“Professional bowling, an ESPN staple since the network’s founding in 1979, is moving to Fox for a ‘multi-year, multi-platform’ deal beginning in 2019.

“Things got so quiet around the ESPN studios when the news was announced that you could’ve heard . . . nah, too easy.”

But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………