The other day, Buster Olney wrote about an anonymous "high-ranking executive" who suggested baseball games should last just seven innings.
For traditionalists, this is pure heresy. Baseball is largely about numbers and statistics, and such a fundamental change would render future comparisons moot. Besides, if the problem is simply that games last too long, there are much less radical rules changes that would solve the problem.
But, of course, there is a larger problem. In recent decades, America's bucolic pastime has had its cultural importance usurped by football. There are many reasons for this (see George Carlin's famous comparison), but I would suggest that one big reason for this is that almost every NFL game matters, while it's hard to argue any random baseball game in April is consequential. Switching to seven innings does nothing to address that.
For busy 21st century adults, a surfeit of games creates a parodox: Too many games to care about leads many of us to watch zero — at least, until the heat of the pennant race or the playoffs. (Conversely, tell Americans they have just three hours on a Sunday afternoon to watch the Redskins play the Cowboys, and watch the economic principle of scarcity kick in.)
So here's my radical suggestion, which would also infuriate traditionalists and render the stats meaningless: Play just 60 or so games a season. By cutting the number of games by about two thirds, each game would be about three times as meaningful. It would also be a manageable number of games for fans to commit to caring about.
Basically, here's how it would work: The Yankees roll into Baltimore for a three or four-game set. They would play Thursday and/or Friday and Saturday nights — and then a Sunday afternoon rubber game. Then take a couple days off. In this scenario, every game (especially against division rivals) would be vitally important. What is more, the crowd enthusiasm — the full stands and the roar of the crowd — would make viewing it on TV more exciting — like a World Series game (or a regular season NFL game).
This, of course, will never happen. But that doesn't mean it shouldn't. Matt K. Lewis
This is one of those Tonight Show sketches where you wish they'd also release video of the pitch meeting where this idea was hatched and hammered out. On Monday's show, Kevin Bacon showed that his acting and singing skills extend to a very solid Tom Petty impersonation and Jimmy Fallon joined him dressed as Mike Campbell, Petty's long-time collaborator and guitarist. The song is the 1989 Petty hit "Free Fallin'," but since this is one of Fallon's VH1-style "First Drafts of Rock" passion projects, you won't recognize most of the lyrics. Watch below, and pay special attention to Fallon's growing frustration as Bacon's Petty just ignores the band's buildup to the chorus. Peter Weber
When the family of Gene Wilder announced Monday that he died at 83 from complications due to Alzheimer's, many were shocked to hear he had been living with the disorder for the past three years. In a statement, they explained why the actor decided to keep his diagnosis private.
The decision to wait to disclose Wilder's condition had nothing to do with "vanity," his nephew Jordan Walker-Pearlman wrote, "but more so that the countless young children that would smile or call out to him, 'There's Willy Wonka,' would not have to be then exposed to an adult referencing illness or trouble and causing delight to travel to worry, disappointment, or confusion. He simply couldn't bear the idea of one less smile in the world."
Walker-Pearlman also shared one bit of good fortune the family had — they were "among the lucky ones — this illness-pirate, unlike in so many cases, never stole his ability to recognize those that were closest to him, nor took command of his central-gentle-life affirming core personality. It took enough, but not that." Catherine Garcia
On Monday, Apple sent invitations out for its autumn product launch Sept. 7 in San Francisco, leading many to believe the company will debut the iPhone 7 at the event.
Apple did not confirm any details, but typically during the annual September event, at least one iPhone model is announced, as well as new models or features of popular products like the MacBook and Apple Watch. Sources say they expect the new phones to come without a headphone jack. While Apple has sold more than 214 million iPhones over the past year, sales are down from the same time in 2015. Catherine Garcia
A spokesman for Arizona Secretary of State Michele Reagan (R) said Monday that the FBI told state officials in June that Russians were behind a hack targeting the Arizona voter registration system.
The spokesman, Matt Roberts, told The Washington Post the FBI said the threat was "an 8 on a scale of 1 to 10." Reagan shut down the system for almost a week, and investigators determined that the hackers did not compromise any state or county systems, but did get the user name and password of an elections official in Gila County. Roberts said the FBI did not say if the hackers were part of the Russian government.
In July, Illinois officials also found that hackers were able to get into their election systems, The Post reports. No data was altered, but they were able to retrieve "a fairly small percentage of the total" of voter records, said Ken Menzel, general counsel for the Illinois elections board. After notifying the FBI, state officials closed the voter registration system down for a week. "I'm less concerned about the attackers getting access to and downloading the information," Brian Kalkin, vice president of operations for the Center for Internet Security, told The Post. "I'm more concerned about the information being altered, modified, or deleted. That's where the real potential is for any sort of meddling in the election." Catherine Garcia
The Italian coast guard says on Monday it rescued roughly 6,500 migrants off the coast of Libya.
— AP Images (@AP_Images) August 29, 2016
The migrants, most from Eritrea and Somalia, were in overcrowded and poorly built vessels that had enough fuel to make it 12 miles off the coast of the Libyan town of Sabratha, The Associated Press reports. There, rescue boats from Italy, the EU border agency Frontex, Doctors Without Borders, and Proactiva Open Arms were waiting for them, the BBC says. The coast guard said more than 1,100 migrants were rescued from the same area on Sunday.
Because of Balkan nations closing their borders to migrants and a EU deal with Turkey to prevent refugees from crossing to Greece, there are fewer people making it to Europe from Syria. There are still plenty of migrants from African countries like Nigeria, Eritrea, and Somalia trying to get from Libya to Italy, however, with 106,000 people arriving in the country so far this year and 2,726 who died trying, the International Organization for Migration said. The IMO says there are still 275,000 migrants in Libya waiting to make the journey to Italy. Catherine Garcia
The passing of Gene Wilder at the age of 83 is hitting Hollywood hard, with friends and co-workers remembering the man who brought Willy Wonka, the Waco Kid, and Dr. Frankenstein to life.
Mel Brooks, his director in Blazing Saddles, Young Frankenstein, and The Producers, called Wilder one of the "truly great talents of our time," and said he "blessed every film we did with his magic and he blessed me with his friendship." Steve Martin said Wilder was "one of the great screen comedians," who was "original and surprising every time," while Billy Crystal called him a "true genius" and "giant of comedy" whose "legacy of films is inspiring."
Gene Wilder-One of the truly great talents of our time. He blessed every film we did with his magic & he blessed me with his friendship.
— Mel Brooks (@MelBrooks) August 29, 2016
Rain Pryor tweeted a photo of Wilder with her father, the late Richard Pryor, a frequent co-star. She told The Hollywood Reporter her dad thought Wilder "was amazing," and always said, "'That man's a genius, and he's a good man, that's for sure.'" She believes the pair "helped each other grow as artists in their art form and who they were outside of their art form. They are the people who set the stage outside of the Laurel and Hardy type of thing."
— Rain Pryor (@RainPryor) August 29, 2016
Julie Dawn Cole, who played Veruca Salt in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, told BBC Radio 5 he was a "wonderfully kind, generous, and mega-talented man, but without an ego. He was not grand, he was not a star, he was not a diva, he was just very sweet and kind." Jim Carrey recalled Willy Wonka in his remembrance, saying Wilder was "one of the funniest and sweetest energies ever to take a human form. If there's a heaven, he has a Golden Ticket." Catherine Garcia
Fox News on Monday denied claims made by former anchor Andrea Tantaros, who filed a lawsuit earlier this month saying she was taken off the air in April in retaliation for complaining about advances from former chairman Roger Ailes.
The network called Tantaros an "opportunist" piggybacking off the publicity of an earlier sexual harassment lawsuit filed against Ailes by former Fox News anchor Gretchen Carlson. In a filing made Monday in a New York state court, lawyers for Fox News said Tantaros' lawsuit "bears all the hallmarks of the 'wannabe,'" and said she signed an agreement to keep employment-related disputes out of court. The lawyers also asked to send her lawsuit to arbitration.
In her lawsuit, Tantaros said the alleged harassment began in 2011, with Ailes making comments about her looks and asking her to "twirl" for him, Reuters reports. Fox News says Tantaros was removed from the air because she wrote a book, Tied Up In Knots: How Getting What We Wanted Made Women Miserable, without permission, and when it came out in April, she promoted it on air without authorization. Catherine Garcia