Jim Vallet and Robert Perea, The Fernley Reporter
When I was a kid, we organized our own games. In the spring and summer, we played pickup baseball all day everyday. In the fall, we played football. When the creek froze, we played pickup shinny hockey from the time school got out until it was too dark to see. We picked captains who picked their teams in the traditional schoolyard manner, and didn’t worry at all about the psyche of the poor guy who got picked last.
Of course, we had to come up with some way of settling the inevitable disputes. Was that hit fair or foul? Was he safe or out? With no net, how do you know if that shot is a goal or not? There were no penalties in football or hockey, but we still had to determine out of bounds, if the guy was down or not, and even what down it was.
Out of the necessity of preventing the guy whose ball it was from going home, and thus, ending our game, we came up with our own set of rules. These rules allowed our games to continue, but they were unfortunately very short-sighted. For example, when we couldn’t agree if a guy was safe or out in baseball, we came up with, “safe and out”. In safe and out, the runner was allowed to stay on the base he was advancing to, but we added an out to the batting team. Safe and out worked for a while, until one time the next batter hit into a ground ball double play, which we realized was not fair since the batting team got charged with 3 outs with only two batters batting in the inning. Another constant bone of contention was which captain got first pick, since one of our group later got a Division I hockey scholarship and another later earned a D I football scholarship. The team that got one of those in their respective sports had a huge advantage, so we hit upon the kick the bat out of the other captain’s hands method, but with the addition that the kicker could run as far and as fast as he wanted. This method proved faulty when the kicker/runner fell as he was approaching the bat, leading to an unsettlable argument over if he should get a second chance. To the goal or not argument, we came up with the great idea of giving a goal to each team, which made the goal scorer happy but not the goalie who had a goal charged to him when there was never even a shot at him. Then there was the situation of how to incorporate late arriving players into the game. We came up with the solution of alternating captains receiving the late comer, but one late comer saw a way around our rule. Rather than showing up as the first late comer, this guy sent his little brother to be the next player to arrive so he could come next and be on the team he wanted. Once an umpire (not me) made up a rule that, if a batter throws his bat in Little League, there is a penalty (there isn’t). The umpire warned a player after chucking his bat that, the next time he did it, he would call him out. Of course, the next time the bat thrower batted, he again flung his bat and just missed the third base coach. The rule maker ump called the bat thrower out. Only problem was, as the ump was calling the batter out, the catcher was making a wild throw that ended up at the right field fence. The ump asked me what he should do. I told him that was up to him, since he made up the rule about throwing the bat, he also had to make up the penalty. I see now that, although in the spirit of compromise we tried, our rules were short sighted and did not stand the test of time.
Happily, there are some rules that do stand up to the test of time. Take the rules of baseball. As players get faster, some have suggested increasing the distance between the bases, and the distance between the pitching mound and home plate. Here, the distances stand the test of time because as runners get faster, fielders’ arms get stronger and batters get stronger, negating the speed advantage. Our Constitution has stood the test of time. While Communism has not stood the test of time, Free Enterprise has. Our driving rules have worked when they are followed by drivers. Education has also passed the test of time.
Then, there are the rules that I see as short sighted and, even dumb. I think the way we nominate political candidates, and whatever rules there are for doing that, are as limited as our “safe and out” rule. The rules for promoting children to the next grade in school, even though mostly ignored, certainly benefit no one. Daylight Saving Time? Our tax laws…come on. If I had the inclination, I could add dozens more examples.
I do have an inclination to talk about several of the rules in the NFL. Does anyone know what makes a legal catch? What’s pass interference and holding? Is illegal contact only illegal when the refs feel like calling it? When is the ball on the ground a fumble? Why is place kicking a part of every football game, when it’s not part of football? Did you know there’s a penalty for “leaping”? How can anyone possibly accurately spot a football? And, no one can possibly tell if the ball “breaks the plane” on some goal line plays.
Lord knows, we need rules. The problem with rules is that they are like throwing your net in the sea. You catch anything that ends up in the net, not just what you want. As my grandson would say, “same same” with rules. I guess we could be like soccer, and say the game ends whenever the ref feels like it’s time to end it, and only he knows exactly when it ends. Or we can be like we already are, and view replays frame by frame in super slow motion so we can see if there is a blade of grass between the foot and the line. I’m not sure which way is better.
I know for sure that I like rules that benefit me, and dislike rules that work against what I want to do. I wish all of us could live more by a code of ethics, instead of a code of rules.
Last week…not so good. I’ll try to do better this week. Lines are from sportsline.com on Tuesday, Dec. 6.
NY Jets (+9) at Buffalo Bills: Too many points.
Detroit Lions (-1 ½) vs MInnesota Vikings: Go Lions!
Dallas Cowboys (-17) vs. Houston Texans: The Cleveland Browns have a bad defense, and still managed to score two touchdowns against the Texans joke of a pro offense. The Cowboys defense is very good against the right opponents, like Indianapolis and Houston. Still, 17 points! Yikes!
SF 49ers (-3 ½) vs Tampa Bay Buccaneers: The 49ers are hot, and the Bucs struggle on the offensive line. This seems really bad for the Bucs.
San Diego Chargers (+3) vs Miami Dolphins: The Chargers always seem to keep games close, and will score a lot against Miami. Miami will also score, so do you like Tua Tagovailoa or Justin Herbert +3?
New England Patriots (-1 ½) at Arizona Cardinals: The Cardinals should score a lot, but they don’t always do that. New England needs a win here if they want to make the playoffs.
Kansas City Chiefs (-9) at Denver Broncos: Here we go again with these REALLY high spreads involving the Chiefs. Coming off a loss and against a terrible offense, playing in Denver may actually hurt the Broncos when the fans really start showing their displeasure.
Last week: 3-4
Vikings (+2) at Lions: Just on principle, I’ll take a 10-2 team that’s an underdog to a 5-7 team.
Bengals (-5 ½) vs Browns: Despite as easy as Baker Mayfield made it look in the fourth quarter Thursday night, you can’t just come in after a long time off and play well at quarterback in the NFL. And if you’re going to beat the Bengals, you have to have a quarterback playing well.
Steelers (-2) over Ravens: I like the way Kenny Pickett is developing for the Steelers. I don’t like the way the Raves seem to be regressing, and that was before Lamar Jackson got hurt.
Dolphins (-3) over Chargers: This is assuming Tua Tagovailoa is able to play, but the Dolphins stayed on the West Coast after last week’s loss to the 49ers. I’m betting that they’re not going home with a winless road trip.