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Less is more


OK, the NBA is the latest to expand instant replay.

(Side note: With all the transaction news consuming the sports world over the last 10 days, the NBA kept this one pretty hush-hush.)

Here are the details:

> Coaches now have one challenge — whether it's successful or not, it's only one — and can ask officials to review a foul call, out-of-bounds call, goaltending or basket interference;

> Coaches challenge can happen at any time during the game (but the out-of-bounds call, goaltending or basket interference calls are automatically reviewed in the final two minutes of the fourth quarter and overtimes;

> Coaches must call a timeout and twirl his finger to the referee (seriously) and there's no word about whether an assistant has to pat his head and rub his stomach at the same time;

> Also, the league's replay headquarters can call for a review any time of a 2- or 3-point shot and for 24-second-shot-clock violations.

The coaches challenge change is on a one-year trial run for next year, so we'll see how it is received.

Here's betting it will only expand, though.

In the end we all want as many correct calls as possible and no one wants games decided on a referee's mistake. 

But the crawling expansion of replay feels like putting band-aids on gaping wound. Either automate the officiating/umpiring process as much as possible or realize that human error is part of the deal.

That's my view any way.


All-star microcosm

I'll say it: I was bored watching the All-Star Game last night.

OK, Shane Bieber winning the MVP in front of the home fans — and all the SportsCenter Bieber jokes it generated — was pretty cool. Bieber was a college walk-on five years ago and last night he rang out the side on three different pitches in the fifth.

In fact, the best thing about the All-Star Game on Tuesday was that it allowed for a distraction from the self-inflicted controversies baseball stepped in, be it Rob Manfred and his juiced balls (don't touch that one Spy) or MLB players association boss Tony Clark claiming the draft is inherently anti-labor. 

(Side note: Clark's claims are pretty accurate to be honest, the draft is clearly anti-labor. In fact, I believe this will be a bigger talking point in collective bargaining sessions moving forward. Think if there was a computer whiz kid with the potential and marketing power of Zion Williamson and what the Apples and Microsofts would be offering that dude or dudette? That said, it's hard to see current players spending too much negotiating capital on future players at the expense of the working details of current state of affairs.)

The other thing that was very cool was the exchanges with the players who were mic-ed up during the action. And Freddie Freeman's commentary on his first-inning AB against Justin Verlander was entertaining. 

As for the game, though, well, the AL pitchers fanned 16 hitters of the 27 outs. (The NL pitchers had seven Ks.)



Is two the new four?

It was not that long ago that college football coaches signed four-plus-year deals and the preaching for patience and the power of persistence were real.

Now, well, not so much.

In fact, the argument can be made that the second season is pivotal for college coaches looking to redirect programs. (Because, let's be honest, if there was a coaching change, nine times out of 10, it was because things were not working.)

Look at Saban and Kirby and even Scott Frost at UCF or Urban Meyer at Florida did in Year 2 of the overhaul. Heck look at what Tom Herman accomplished last fall at Texas.

This story from CBSSports.com Chip Patterson lists a several coaches facing a very important second season in terms of redirection and in a lot of ways of building confidence within the building, the fan base and the recruiting trail. 

Two jumped off the page of the seven coaches facing year two in my view. (And that's with all apologies to Willie Taggert, who may have the hottest second-year seat in America.)

The first was Chip Kelly, who has gone from arguably the hottest name (other than Nick Saban) in college football to staring at the very real possibility that if this does not work — and work sooner rather than later — at UCLA, is Kelly done?

The other name was Jeremy Pruitt, the UT coach entering his second season in Knoxville.

No, I do not think his seat is hot. The last decade of turmoil in the 865 gives him more security than Kelly and certainly way more than Taggert.

While Patterson's premise — that coaches who are tough on their team, like Pruitt is, raise the emotional stakes — seems rather flimsy. 

Still the simple truth for Pruitt and a slew of other second-year or hot-seat coaches in this league is that standing still in the SEC — and SEC with an improved Kentucky, a Vandy team that has grabbed control of the in-state rivalry and has UGA and Alabama perched among the top-five in the country for the foreseeable future — is failing.

And success has to be tangible and real — no champions of life or five-star hearts will topple those champions on the field and five-star talents the rest of the league is going to continue to attract.  



This and that

— Serena Williams won twice at Wimbledon on Tuesday, advancing to the semifinals in singles and carrying Andy Murray in a very entertaining mixed-doubles win.

— Sad news: Rip Torn, who was the producer on the excellent and perpetually underrated Larry Sanders Show and Patches in Dodgeball, has died. Torn was 88.

— Megan Rapinoe made the rounds on the talk shows. She and the rest of the U.S. women's national team will have a ticker-tape parade today in NYC then jet to L.A. for the Espys. They have earned the praise and the celebrations. That said, Rapine's quote about being happy to go to D.C. and talk to anyone who "believes in the same things we believe in" seems short-sighted, no? If she wants to be an engine of change, wouldn't it be more productive to go and talk to the people who have different beliefs? That's my thought anyway.

— TFP ace sports columnist Mark Wiedmer connected on a long home run on today's column about the 50-year anniversary of the Lakeside 12-year-olds winning the Dixie Youth World Series. 


Today's question

Which way Wednesday will start this way:

Through six months and 10 days of 2019, which would you make the favorite to be the 2019 SI sportsperson of the year, Tiger Woods or Megan Rapinoe?

In honor of Rip Torn, which TV sitcom sidekick is your personal favorite.

As for today, July 10, well, let's explore.

Hey Urban Meyer is 55 today. Yes, I thought he was older than that too.

Arthur Ashe would have been 76 today.

On this day in 1913, the record 134 degree temperature in Death Valley was recorded.

Let's do a Rushmore of 'hot' and be creative.

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