How major sports could be improved |

How major sports could be improved

Robert Valko
Dear Darwin
Vail CO Colorado

This week’s Dear Darwin topic was inspired by Frank Deford’s article on the things he wishes “the various sports would do to improve themselves.” Deford is the sportswriter for National Public Radio.

In a highly respectable move, he went out on a antithetical limb and posted a laundry list of suggestions that would make sitting through sporting events possible. Oh, wait, maybe he said, “shortening the length of time between pitches.” (Actually, that is what he said.)

My suggestion for improving baseball would be to shorten the length of time between centuries.

Getting it down to 80 seconds per century would be best. If that didn’t work, they could always install a fishing pond behind second base and stock it with a fish that jumps once an hour. This would elevate fans’ adrenaline levels to heights never seen before. With a little liquid inspiration, fans could even do “the wave” when the fish jumped.

Baseball could also crank up the excitement by following the lead of late pitcher Mark Fidrych. As Red Sox featured columnist Chuck Platt noted, Fidrych used to “talk to himself, talk to the ball,” and get down on his knees and rake – “manicure” – the pitcher’s mound with his hands. Combining baseball and hockey would most certainly eliminate any need for hands-on grooming. Surely, some entrepreneurial ‘hock-ball’ fan would set out to design the world’s first sand-boni.

Or, if fans really wanted to liven things up, they could follow the lead of pitcher Turk Wendall. Doing so might lead to even longer bathroom lines at the ballpark, though. He used to brush his teeth between innings.

Deford also noted that games would move along more quickly if officials would only enforce rule 8.04. It states that: “when the bases are empty, pitchers must throw the ball within 12 hours.” Or was it 12 seconds?


Replace the football with a special edition Thigh-Master. This would allow players to tone their legs in the end-zone instead of doing those really weird dances.


A no-brainer: Have a physics lecture on the 9th hole. This would really get people revved up and would give Elin Nordegren time to key certain cars in the parking lot. The formation of the crowd would also be helpful to any confused Canadian geese. Geese that may be incubating golf balls could be repositioned and placed on a more propagation-friendly set of white, round things. The first things that come to mind are marshmallows.

Robert Valko is a graduate of Northwestern University. To suggest to column ideas, email him at

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