Not many know that my original ambition in life was to be an artist. When I was very young, around 7-8 years old, I took private lessons and even won some prizes in contests as the youngest member of the old Illinois Valley Art League.
Alas, that was a long, long time ago.
One of the first lessons I learned, by painful experience, was that when you think a drawing or painting is done and you’re happy with it, walk away from it. Put it away, cover it up, do whatever you have to do but leave it alone. The temptation to tinker with it, to make this one little thing better, brighter, sharper is just too great and you’ll end up ruining what you’ve created.
Though my art surfaces only occasionally now in the pages of Starved Rock Country magazine or these very sports pages, that sentiment continues in my love of sports. That’s why for the most part I hate to see such tinkering with the games I love.
Yes, MLB and NFL, I say to you what my parents often said to me when revisiting art projects I ended up destroying with too much attention: “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”
I can’t argue that there’s need for some changes in the NFL because this whole thing about what is a catch and what isn’t is truly driving me wacko, even when it works out best for my favorite team. I mean, what Bears fan doesn’t remember what should have been Calvin Johnson’s game-winning catch for Detroit at Soldier Field in 2010? There was also the Dez Bryant catch in the 2014 playoffs and most recently, the non-catch by the Steelers’ Jesse James last season.
There’s no question the rule needs clarification, definition, specificity or whatever, but while such an alteration would have and will likely again affect the outcome of games, it is not changing the game itself.
And in my opinion, that’s what baseball is trying to do with all this stupid “pace of play” crap.
Oh, sure, THAT’S the reason baseball has a couple thousand fewer fans passing through the turnstiles in a given season. It has nothing to do with the quality of overall play by over-blown egotistical idiots on the field getting paid more than I make in a year for pitching one inning or taking a single at bat on a bright, sunny afternoon. C’mon.
First, I don’t hear anyone complaining that last season in the bigs, there was an average of 22 seconds between pitches. If you sit and stare at a clock, 22 seconds may seen like a long time, but in the friendly confines of your favorite Major League ballpark, to me it’s the blink of an eye. And MLB proposed a 20-second clock? Wow, with those extra two seconds, I can run for another hot dog and Pepsi … oh wait, time’s up … and in the time it took you to read that sentence.
Second, if you go to a baseball game, you attend – at least I do - with the realization that it could go to extra innings and if you want to see the outcome in person, you may be there longer than you expect. It doesn’t happen that often, just around 200 times a season, and for the number of MLB games played a year, that’s really not that many.
You go there knowing that 1 p.m. game in those 200 random events might make you late for a dinner reservation for 4:30 or for work by 5 that very day. If you don’t, you’re a dope and out of luck for bonus baseball, other than listening on your car radio.
The beauty of baseball is that there is no clock. It starts at a specific time and ends when at least one of the teams makes 27 outs. Do I care if that takes three hours or even four? Not one iota. I’m there for the duration and if you’re not, leave. I’ll just move up to your seat.
Football, go ahead and fix the catch thing because it’s needed, but baseball, stop yourself. Don’t try making Mona Lisa’s wry smile into a toothy grin, because you’ll only end up messing up the masterpiece you already have.