5-at-10: Radical ideas to help baseball, Julio sitting out by the schoolyard, Tiger's lost decade, T or F Tuesday, Rushmore of people with surprisingly awesome singing voices

5-at-10: Radical ideas to help baseball, Julio sitting out by the schoolyard, Tiger's lost decade, T or F Tuesday, Rushmore of people with surprisingly awesome singing voices

June 12th, 2018 by Jay Greeson in Breaking News

Atlanta Braves starting pitcher Sean Newcomb pitches to Los Angeles Dodgers' Chris Taylor during the first inning of a baseball game in Los Angeles, Sunday, June 10, 2018. (AP Photo/Kelvin Kuo)

Photo by Kelvin Kuo

Love these ideas

Gang, meet Nick Elam, a Ball State professor who was a former grounds keeper for the Reds and a high school baseball coach. 

He may also be the most innovative thinker in all of sports.

He devised the Elam Ending to try to smooth out the end of professional basketball games. You know how the final three minutes can take 30 with timeouts and fouls and what not?

Well, the Elam Ending, which has been adopted by the summer-run Basketball Tournament — the event that has the $2 million-winner-take-all prize — is pretty dog gone clever.

Here's how it works: The Elam ending goes into effect after the first whistle in the final three minutes of a basketball game. At that point, however many points the team in the lead has, add seven to that number and the first team to that number wins the game. So, say Team A is leading 100-96 and a foul is called with 2:45 left. The Elam Ending kicks in, the clock is turned off and the first team to 107 points wins the game. That means each team keeps playing and the thought-process to foul is great diminished.

That said, Elam's favorite sport is baseball and he has unloaded a slew of ideas for a game that is clearly looking at ways to address a growing malaise, especially among young fans.

Some of Elam's thoughts are procedural. Moving the draft to the All-Star break when baseball has everyone's attention is one. Having a doubleheader day the first Saturday after the All-Star break in which every team plays a doubleheader. More fan-friendly things (including being more open to celebrations) in the ball park. 

Here are some of the more radical ideas, as Jeff Passan of YahooSports writes in the link above:

— A Dynamic Strike Zone, which would start from the knees to the belt until the first strike, then expands again after the second strike. The goal here is to make hitters go after pitches earlier in counts, and that makes sense, especially as the game has become slower and teams have embraced the Money Ball approach of taking pitches, working counts to get into the bullpen and values walks as much as hits. (Side note: This is dependent on baseball finally walking into modern technology and having automated, computer-governed strike zones.)

— Three-batter minimum for each relief pitcher that enters the game. This directly addresses the five-pitcher seventh inning. If a pitcher comes in and faces on hitter and that ends the inning, then fine. But this one is interesting.  

— Eliminate divisions and create two 15-team leagues with the top five teams in each league getting to the playoffs. That leads Elam to allowing the team with the best record in each league gets to choose its first-round opponent. 

Cool stuff that makes you think. Sadly, though, Elam's ideas are for baseball, and considering how stodgy the leaders of that game are, well, here's betting they are not super keen on a lot of these. Sadly.

Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones, left, catches a touchdown pass ahead of Los Angeles Rams strong safety John Johnson during the second half of an NFL football wild-card playoff game Saturday, Jan. 6, 2018, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Kelvin Kuo)

Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones, left, catches...

Photo by Kelvin Kuo

   

Uh, get this handled please


OK, like a lot of folks, we kind of shrugged our shoulders when Julio Jones erased all Atlanta Falcons references from his social media accounts.

Big deal, right?

Yes, we felt better after being reminded that Jones has three years and $35 million left on his current deal.

And in truth, how much do the superstars really get from the 'voluntary' OTAs. Heck if Brady's going to skip, here's believing that an athletic freak like Julio will be fine without a few extra sprints and a couple of button hooks.

Sure, Jones was not his normally amazing Jones last year. The TDs were down; the drops were up.

But his quarterback got a monster deal and the team drafted a first-round Alabama wide receiver. And now Julio is obviously wondering "What about me?"

Jones is skipping minicamp, and again, he's far from the only dude making this business decision. Happens every year. 

But most of those dudes are entering their final year one their contract. Guys like Earl Thomas. Or maybe they are tired of franchise tags and want a long-term deal. Guys like Le'Veon Bell.

Not guys with three years left.

Here's what Falcons GM Thomas "bike shorts" Dimitroff said in a statement: "We have been in contact with Julio and his representation. We will not discuss those conversations publicly except to say we feel they have been productive and constructive. We understand the concerns and thoughts from their perspective. Although not ideal, Julio informed us today he would not be attending mini-camp. We have much respect for him and what he means to our team, our city and our fans."

This side of Ryan — who is the highest-paid player in the league in large part because of what Jones brings to the offense — there is no more important piece to the Falcons puzzle than Julio. And considering that Ryan's monster deal will have back-end salary-cap issues, the Falcons window to win is now.

And that window is closed without Jones.

Tiger Woods walks to the green on the seventh hole during the final round of the Memorial golf tournament Sunday, June 3, 2018, in Dublin, Ohio. (AP Photo/David Dermer)

Tiger Woods walks to the green on the...

Photo by Associated Press /Times Free Press.

Out of the Woods?


It was 10 years ago today that Tiger Woods started the first round of his last major championship.

A decade.

It's hard to fathom that limping off Torrey Pines after 90 holes and with his 14th major, Tiger would not have another 10 years later.

It's a major turn of projection. A decade ago, the odds were in the 1-to-3 neighborhood that Tiger would break Jack's record of 18 majors. Now, we're not sure you could get odds on that bet because the odds against would be so one-sided.

It also has changed the game of golf from a front-runner, heavyweight favorite point of view. Since Woods won the 2008 U.S. Open, the world's No. 1-ranked player has won one of the last 39 majors. (The lone win was by Rory McIlroy at the 2014 PGA Championship.)

Woods was also the last betting favorite to win the U.S. Open.

And now we are left wondering what if. The what ifs about injuries and adultery. The what ifs about an amazing rivalry that could have been with these young guns — not unlike how Jack fended off a slew of great young players in the late-1970s and early 80s.

And we're still left with the what if. What if Tiger contends this week? What if he's in the final group?

Sure Tiger has not been in that spot often in the last decade, at least not in majors. And yes, there are a lot of great players who if they bring their A-game, we're not sure if Tiger has enough in his bag to keep pace. (Talk about the biggest change in a decade. Could you imagine even harboring that thought — "there are a lot of great players who if they bring their A-game, we're not sure if Tiger has enough in his bag to keep pace" — 10 years ago? Me neither.)

But we also know this: While these one-named stars — Jordan and Justin, Rory and Rickie, Bubba and Patrick — and even a couple of initialized studs starting with DJ believe they are ready for the Tiger hype, no one knows.

Not them. Not us. No one.

And maybe that's the biggest intrigue that could come with Tiger contending again. How does he and his competitors handle the glare and the pressure.

Because, whether it's been 10 years or a 100, we can all remember that there is not nor has there been anything like the buzz and the spotlight of Tiger Woods on the prowl on Sunday at a major.      

This and that

— OK, we know the "Where's LeBron headed" storyline will be the baseline conversation for the next few weeks. But do we really need to breakdown Kevin Durant saying he may retire at 35 — in five years? Wow.

— How slow is sports right now? Headline on an ESPN show at lunch Monday: "Matt Patricia uses running as tactic when players make a mistake." Man, that's the football coach equivalent of "Dog bites man" 

— Know this: This will be one of the biggest weekends in terms of numbers and production in the history of Fox Sports. If that network really wants to compete with ESPN, this weekend needs to be a springboard. Fox has the U.S. Open and the World Cup. Big time events that have generated big time criticism for Fox in the past. Good luck.

— Indians pitcher Corey Kluber has 56 Ks and just one walk in eight starts since the beginning of May. According to @EliasSports, that's the most strikeouts with 1 or fewer walks over an eight-game span since the mound moved to its current distance in 1893.

— The Yankees and Red Sox each lost on Sunday, only the third time they each have lost the same day. (For comparison, they each have won on the same day 23 times.) Not a shock they have the two best records in baseball.

— The U.S. under-18 basketball team edged Panama on Monday. It started with a 45-0 run that bled into the second quarter. The 118-26 final means if you had Panama plus-91.5, you lost.

— The final spot in the College World Series was grabbed by Florida, which topped Auburn 3-2 in 11 innings with a walk-off home run. It was the ultimate example of the extreme ends of emotion sports can deliver. Austin Langworthy's homer triggered the joyous celebration as the defending champs got back to the final eight. For Auburn, right fielder Steven Williams will relive that play for years as the ball hit off the middle of his glove and bounced over the fence. It would have been a very good play. (Side note: Wonder if you could give that a four-base error.)

Today's questions

True or false, baseball will seriously consider any of Nick Elam's ideas.

True or false, the Falcons will not make the playoffs without Julio Jones.

True or false, Tiger Woods has finishes top-10 this weekend at the Open.

On this day in 1931, Al Capone was indicted on 5,000 counts of prohibition and perjury.

In 1942, as a birthday gift, Anne Frank is given a diary.

H.W. Bush is 94 today. Anne Frank would have been 89 today.

Jim Nabors — aka Gomer — would have been 88 today.

Let's do this Rushmore: The most surprising people who have amazing singing voices. (Think Nabors or even a Mel Tillis as a starting point.)

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