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Every few weeks, the contributors to The Writers, as well as some occasional special guests, will
submit a Top 5 list on a given topic.

Top 5 Changes I Would Make If I Was King or Queen of Sports:

Dan Benton:
5.  I would give Los Angeles an NFL franchise.  The Rams should have never been taken away from
them.  This is a big time city for sports, and has dollar signs all over.  They have an NHL team, two
NBA teams and to some extent an MLB club.  Why not an NFL team?  L.A. Saints anyone?

4.  I would see to it that Terrell Owens never steps foot on a football field again.  Sure he gets a lot of
attention, but it's a lot of negative attention.  People don't tune in to his games to see him play, (or
celebrate, they watch Chad Johnson for that) they tune in to see what he's said.  He's ESPN's golden
boy.  Certainly helps their ratings, but leaves a negative image on the NFL.  Make him work at a
regular day job.  Then he'll see how hard it really is to feed his family.

3.  I would help marketing in the NHL.  Let's face it, everyone thought the NHL was dead after the lock-
out.  That hasn't been the case, and for as many people hate the rule changes in the NHL, that many
more like them.  It's made for a more offensive, faster paced game that is truly entertaining to watch.  
Once thought to be the most boring sport, next to only soccer, Hockey has a chance to really take off.  
It's fan base is loyal, and really has the chance to expand.  As the NBA goes downhill, it's a perfect
time to market the hell out of the NHL.

2.  I would re-instate Pete Rose.  This man is baseball.  When I think of Pete
Rose, I don't think of the gambling.  I think of a hard-nosed baseball playier,
putting catchers on their backs in a meaningless game.  I think of a man
who loved the game, and didn't intend to hurt it.  Despite the negative media
he receives, Pete Rose is still one of the all-time great players and deserves
to be in the Hall of Fame.  Someday Rafael Palmeiro will be on a Hall of
Fame ballot, and what he did is far more damaging to the sport than what
Pete Rose did.

1.  Finally, if I were King of sports and could change anything this would
certainly be number one on my list.  KEEP CONGRESS AWAY FROM ALL
SPORTS AT ALL COST.  Sure, they had a right (some right at least) to get involved when it came to
steroids but that should have been the extent of it.  Now they are looking into the current BCS
systems, and as flawed as it may be it is not their place.  They have a war, economics, health-care
and many other things to worry about.  Not a BCS system.  People watch sports to get away from
politics, not to be bombarded with more of it's nonsense.  Where will it all end?  Mr. Tagliabue, watch
out.  Instant replay has a few small cracks in the foundation.  Before you know it, you'll be back on
capital hill talking about that.


Joel Blumberg:
1. Change the replay rule in NFL football to the way it's done in college.  All replays come from the
booth.  If the object is to get the play right, then why put onus on the coach.(who has enough on his
mind to begin with).

2. Get rid of the DH rule in baseball.  It takes all of the strategy out of managing a pitcher.  The NL has
it right.

3. While we're adopting a college rule for the NFL, go the other way as well.  The NCAA should adopt
the keep the clock running after completed passes are run out of bounds(until under 5 min left in the
half or game).  8:00 kickoffs may just end before midnight.

4. Get rid of the shootout in the NHL.  It's bogus and not representative of winning team.  Besides, it
now will be only a matter of time before this process is used in the Stnaley Cup Playoffs so TV
networks don't have to worry about games going 3 or 4 Overtimes.  Once this goes, one fo the
greatest elements of sports goes with it.

5. Change the NBA rule of allowing a team that calls a time out in backcourt to have the option to
move the inbounds to halfcourt.  Why reward the team. The NCAA has this one right.  You call time out
in backcourt, you should be made to bring the ball up.  If you want the ball at midcourt, bring it up and
call time out.


Brian Carriveau:
1. Return Olympics to the amateurs –Soccer has got it down pat.  If you want to see which country has
the best professional players, do it in a World Cup format.  It is good to see MLB, the NHL, and the
NBA have started to go that route.  Now it’s time for them to take their professionals out of the
Olympics, and for their leagues to be more accommodating of the World Cup format.  I’ll be watching
the Olympics with a lot of interest in February.  But I won’t be watching the hockey players.  I’ll be
watching the bobsledders and the cross-country skiiers who are getting their 15 minutes of fame
without the money.  Who wouldn’t love to see a team made up of collegiate all-stars?

2. Institute a college football playoff – See
here.

3. Impose a salary cap and full revenue sharing in MLB -  It is an absolute travesty what the Florida
Marlins did in 1997 to buy a World Series championship.  And what the Yankees continue to do every
year.  Take note of the NFL and their success.  Copy them.

4. Change some rules in the NBA – I have never been a fan of the NBA and probably never will unless
they change some rules.  The game they play in the NBA surely doesn’t resemble basketball the way
I know it to be played.  These are superior athletes that need to play by different standards than a 4th
and 5th grade basketball player.  Namely, raise the hoop by 6 inches and widen the court by 10 feet or
so.  A dunk in the NBA isn’t exciting when it happens every other time down the court.  If a dunk
happens as often as a home run happens in baseball, it would be much more interesting.  Isn’t it
also rediculous that the three-point line doesn’t even resemble a true arc?  These men are
behemoths and three-point experts.  Widen the court to accommodate them.  Then extend the shot
clock to 35 seconds.  We can’t expect anyone to run an offense when they don’t have enough time to
set one up. Now maybe I’ll watch an NBA game if the players lose their egos.

5. Install a minor league for football – I know there is NFL Europe, but imagine a minor league of
football like minor league baseball.  They could play on Tuesday or Wednesday nights during the fall.  
The draft could be expanded and young players could be developed.  Imagine the possibilities.


Eric Caterina:
1. Boot any detrimental losers from any team, anytime- T.O., cough cough.
2. Let Steinbrenner sit on my throne for a day or two- Yes, I am a Yankee fan.
3. Raises for clean athletes, paycuts for juicers- Barry, cough cough.
4. Cut ties- Sure, they're hard to find in a sport nowadays, but if I pay big money to watch my team play,
I want to see a winner.
5. Let myself play on any team I wish- Mario Lemieux ring a bell?


Larry Fleisher:
1. Scheduled Doubleheaders - I've been to about 15 doubleheaders in my lifetime.  But I'm sure had I
grown up in the 1960s, that total would be double by now.  It's a shame that doubleheaders are only
played out of necessity now as they are very fun to attend at least in the stands.

2. Turn the Volume Down - I know we're in this era where everything has to be in your face. It's a
perception that teams have about their fans and I don't think they give fans enough credit for being
able to cheer on your own.  Not every canned thing is awful or too loud but there's enough of it to get
annoyed at  The biggest offender is Shea Stadium and many NBA Arenas.

3. Convenience Fees - I know it's not convenient for me when it costs an extra four bucks for a set of
tickets to go from one set of hands to another.  Maybe it's established because they're doing me a
service by selling me tickets.  But last I checked that's what they're supposed to do.

4. Is he a Yankee or is not a Yankee? - Baseball seems to be the biggest sport this involves.  I like
rumors and hot stove stuff as much as the next guy.  But wake me up when it actually happens.  It's
annoying to read "Report: Yankees to acquire Johnson". They either have or haven't gotten him.  Wake
me up when it happens for real.

5. NFL TV Rules - Not all of them.  But if you've ever watched good out of town game in NY and it's
about 12 minutes after four, you've heard the voice that says "Due to NFL Rules, we now have to leave
this game" or something like that.  I have no idea how often it happens nationwide but I know it
happened when I was watching a close Eagles-Chargers game earlier this season and they left and
the game went down to the wire.


Trevor Freeman:
1. Institute a 16-team playoff system in college football.  There is nothing in sports that needs to be
changed more than the way a national champion is decided.

2. Institute a higher age limit in the NBA.  I would use the exact same rule the NFL uses.  You would
not be able to declare for the NBA Draft unless you were out of high school for at least three years.

3. Put Stephen A. Smith, Bill Walton, John Madden, and Sean Salisbury into a
box and ship them to Madagascar so they never appear on my television
screen again.  In the same token, I would pass a general rule stating that Walt
“Clyde” Frazier has to be involved in the announcing of any and all major
sporting events.

4. Put in a $100 million dollar salary cap in baseball.  I know the Yankees
haven’t won in awhile, however it’s still not fair that one team can spend ten
times more than another.

5. Reinstitute the NBA on NBC.  The worst move David Stern ever made was
taking the NBA off free TV every weekend.  


Jerry Milani:
1. Every sport would have a player entry and salary cap structure that would make talent distribution
more equitable, allowing the smartest teams, not necessarily the ones in the largest markets, to have
the chance to succeed and fail on their merits.  This would go for NCAA football and basketball as
well.

2. One timeout per half in basketball (college and pro).  With all the media timeouts already in place I
don't need the last two minutes to take 20 because both coaches have to show how smart they are.
And no 30-second timeouts either.

3. A minimum of 20 percent of all seats at MLB, NBA and NHL games must be priced at $10 or less.
All sports fans should get to experience a live game and not have to eat bologna sandwiches for a
week to be able to afford it.

4. World Series weekend games must be played during the day.  Baseball is losing its youth fan
base, and if kids can't stay up to see what is supposed to be the sport's ultimate showcase, how will
they have the experiences that make the memories that make the game great?

5. Shorter seasons equal more meaningful regular season games.  I'm not advocating drastic
reductions, but I'd say 154 baseball games, two preseason football games instead of four, about 64
hockey and basketball games.  Then it's okay to make the playoff series all best of sevens.


Eric Mirlis:
1. Stop the music during play at NBA games - I'm there to watch a game, not listen to music. Besides,
if the music is there to help spur me on to cheer, stop insulting me - I know when the right time to
chant "Defense" is.

2. No more corporate stadium names - What is the stadium formerly know as Candlestick Park
known as this week? How about the arena in Philadelphia? I honestly am not sure - and I've been to
both within the last 18 months.

3. Separate church and sports - No more pregame prayers in cities like Charlotte. No more thanking
God's will for winning in postgame interviews (where was he when you lost, by the way). This has to
be much easier to accomplish than separating church and state, no?

4. Let baseball managers wear street clothes - Do we really need to see Joe Torre in a uniform any
more? Let him and all of his coaches wear a suit (I'll bend on first and third base coaches, but only if I
have to). And while we are at it, let's allow NFL coaches to wear suits instead of forcing them to wear
logoed clothing, as 49er coach Mike Nolan wanted to do before he was told no.

5. Ban Terrell Owens and others from ESPN - It isn't about you, T.O. There is no "I" in team, so please
stop putting your SportsCenter appearances ahead of your teammates and wins and losses. If you
do that, you can be on any highlights show you want.


Anastasia Monponsett:
1. There are too many people in both hockey and soccer.
I love both sports, but they need to unclutter those games like 50 years ago.

Hockey is very much the same game all the time. Some big lunk dumps the puck into the corner.
Three people converge on it. A scrum ensues. The puck pops free, someone slaps at it... woo hoo, a
goal. Wake me up when there's a fist fight.

The best part of hockey is the open-ice application of skill. You rarely get to see end-to-end rushes in
hockey, because some puckhead usually knocks him over before he gets halfway up the ice. Taking
people off the ice would bring this game a new style of grace and skill that may push it past NASCAR
and World Series Of Bowling in the TV Ratings.

The second-best part of hockey- violence- will still be prevalent. Rather than someone getting
slammed into the boards in a corner, we'll get face-to-face checking that will result in one of the two
men getting a breakaway shot on goal... provided he wins the check.

I'd also imagine that any fist-fighting would be justified, as a more skillful game would have no room
for a guy who just wants to goon it up. You'd put a lot of Canadians out of work, but that's not our
problem, now... is it?

Once they found other places in their economy, the ex-goons would appreciate a more skilled, more
fluent, and better selling version of Canada's Greatest Export.

I'd also alter soccer in the same way... although I'd make an effort to ADD checking and fighting. I bet
the Europeans would love it, and the sheer catharsis of viewing it would lower hooligan-type
violence.... or make it look like not-so-big-a-deal. I think the inclusion of NFL-style weekly televised
beatings would lead to a Frenchman who might not back out of NATO so easily next time.

2. White Guy NBA All Star Game:
This would be a living museum of how the sport would have looked if it weren't for the
groundbreaking done by men like Fritz Pollard and Jackie Robinson. I'd work it into the Dunk
Contest/3 Point Shootout part of the festivities.

The big problem for me would be whether to count Hispanic guys as white or not. Charlie Sheen
would say "yes," but Mariah Carey may have a different view. I'll leave it to my audience, and I'll just go
by looks; i.e., Nene isn't white, while Ginobli is.

This was more difficult than it sounds. Some solid white big man talent is sitting on the bench for Bob
Sura, but we needed guards.

My Eastern and Western Squads:

EAST:
C- Zydrunas Ilgauskas
F-Raef LaFrentz
F- Austin Croshere
G- Kirk Hinrich
G- Jason Williams
Zaza Pachulia, Primo Brezec, Darko Milicic, Sarunas Jasikievicus, Andrew Bogut, Nened Kristic,
Hidayet Turkoglu, Kyle Korver

WEST:
C- Brad Miller
F- Dirk Nowitzki
F- Andrei Kirilienko
G- Manu Ginobili
G- Steve Nash
Mehmet Okur, Bob Sura, Wally Sczerbiak, Marko Jaric, Pau Gasol, Troy
Murphy, Keith Van Horn, Mike Miller

3. Different uniform styles for baseball players.
Baseball's biggest problem is that they are all dressed like they are going to a "Field Of Dreams"
party. Let them wear shorts, parkas, whatever they want... so long as the look is modernized.

While I'd hate to do it to baseball players... why not explore some new uniform material? Can you
visualize the Diamondbacks in snakeskin? Why not full Aboriginal regalia for the Indians? The
Cardinals would get cool hats, while I'd imagine that the Astros would have the best team flight.
The thought of a mostly nude David Wells would kill the Red Sox... but this leads to letting players
rename the team according to how they want to dress. Can you imagine the horror when the San
Francisco Crossdressers play the Boston Really Dangerous Pimps?

Mirl didn't say that they had to be GOOD ideas, mind you.

4. Get Bigger
Baseball was making that final circle around the bowl as America's sport until guys like Jose
Canseco, Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa had the courage to go out and get big. Now that the
government is involved, look for a lot of boring ground-ball games.

Eff that. Science should go out and develop steroids that are better for you than a fistful of vitamins
washed down with a broccoli shake. Then, baseball becomes a lot more fun.

Babe Ruth and Ty Cobb may have been natural, but they had their own stat-building advantages.
Neither of them ever played a MLB game against a black opponent. If I could exclude 12% of the US
population from pitching to me, my stats would improve.

If we had to put an * next to anyone's name, I'd be more inclined to put it next to a guy from a
segregated era than I would be to put it on a guy who found a drug that lets him blast through his
workout.

In fact, I guess we'll never know if guys like Joe DiMaggio or Bob Feller would have held the
dedication to the sport necessary to Get Big if steroids were around in 1947 or so. If these proto-roids
could have been mixed with gin, maybe we'd all be trying to break Mickey Mantle's records.

I could make an appointment today that would get me hooked up with some silicone breasts that
could knock over a short child if I spun around quickly. While it isn't my thing personally, I don't think a
girl that does this should have her marriage taken out of the books.

5. Tennis Fights
Is there a softer sport out there? "I'm laying low this week... I hear that Pete Sampras is mad at me."
That just doesn't happen. Now... Pete Sampras was a great tennis player, and he should command
respect wherever he goes. If he had whipped a few people on camera, that respect would be his.
Allowing fighting in tennis may alter who wins, but it will insure that the man who rules tennis is
indeed The Man. We have a pretty strict No Bozos policy here at The Mirl, and pretty boys shouldn't
last long in any realm.

Seeing Maria Sharapova throw down with Martina Hingis would be a hoot, and they may even start
kissing. I could start a network just off the concept, and only wanton cocaine usage would doom the
idea.The less obvious side effects of tennis fighting would be the dealmakers, though.

Serena Williams can establish dominance over the 284th ranked player in the world fairly quickly...
and from there, it's just two hours of boredom. If the other girl could perhaps alter the match by
jumping Serena as they changed sides..... well, she'd still lose, but at least it would be entertaining.
It would also bring a dark New Breed to the sport. Most tennis players are privileged mega-snobs
who have no chance of appealing to the Average Joe in that effortless way that Allen Iverson does. if
ass-kicking were introduced, tennis would be much, much more enjoyable.


Brian Wilmer:
1.  Allow Pete Rose in the MLB Hall of Fame.  There are plenty of criminals, deadbeats and generally
bad people littering various Halls of Fame, and Rose definitely deserves to be there based on what
he did on the field.  No further debate is necessary, because the subject has been beaten to death.  
Just do it and move on.

2.  Change the NBA age limit to 21.  If players have to stay in college and improve their fundamentals,
it can only help both college basketball and the NBA.  Oh, and while we're at it, stop glorifying the And
1 streetball crap and such. That makes it even worse.

3.  Outlaw the alternate color sleeve uniforms Nike produces.  You've seen them worn by Florida,
Miami and Virginia Tech.  While we're at it, either make the alternate jersey your normal home jersey,
or drop it.  Also, for the Rockies and Diamondbacks, pick a uniform and stick with it.  The 17 different
combinations are out of hand.

4.  Banish NASCAR, golf, figure skating and other fringe sports to "upper-90s" cable channels like
they did with hockey.  If I can't see the NHL on network TV, I don't need to see these, either.

5.  Insert electric shock devices in TV booths, so that every time a cliche is uttered by on-air talent, they
get electrically shocked.  No more "these guys play for the love of the game", "take it one game at a
time", or anything else equally egregious.  In fact, I know a couple of guys that might not survive a
weekend of that...