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
Lower-income Bank of America customers face a $12 monthly fee after the bank switched their accounts
Bank of America, the second-largest U.S. bank by assets, just finished switching all customers who used a free online-only checking account to to checking accounts that charge customers a $12 monthly fee if they don't maintain a minimum daily balance of $1,500 or a monthly direct deposit of at least $250, The Wall Street Journal reports. The eBanking accounts were popular with freelancers and people with low incomes, and a petition protesting Bank of America's shuttering of the accounts has drawn more than 45,000 signatures at Change.org.
Bank of America introduced the eBanking accounts in 2010 as a way to encourage customers to bank online; account holders were charged $8.95 a month only if they used a live bank teller for a routine transaction. It stopped offering the eBanking option to new customers in 2013 and began switching customers out of the accounts in 2015. "Banks have long grappled with how to charge customers for basic checking services," the Journal notes. "The accounts are costly for banks to maintain, though they do bring in revenue through overdraft and other fees."
Bank of America CEO Brian Moynihan, who has led the bank since late 2009, has reduced the company's consumer options and cut its branch network, pulling out of less-lucrative rural areas to focus on denser urban centers. Bank of America's share price has risen in response. Peter Weber
The mourners gathered as close to the scene as possible, their stomachs empty but hearts full, remembering the chalupas and gorditas they once enjoyed inside the burned-down Taco Bell, now just an empty shell.
It started as a joke — holding a candlelight vigil for the Taco Bell on Zelda Road in Montgomery, Alabama, that was destroyed in a fire last Wednesday — but as word spread, the Taco Bell lovers realized that they actually would miss being able to pop over for a Doritos Locos taco whenever a craving hit. No one was hurt in the fire, which officials say started in a room that held electrical equipment, and the owners have already vowed to rebuild, making the candlelight vigil a celebration as well.
About 100 people showed up for the event, which had to take place in the parking lot of the Arby's next door for safety reasons. Fans who couldn't make it to the actual vigil shared their heartfelt memories on Facebook, including Shaw Gibbons, who said the Taco Bell was there when all other fast food restaurants had forsaken him. "When McDonalds failed me, you lifted me up," he wrote. "When Sonic was closed, you filled my cup. When Arby's went dark, you made me smile. Your quesadillas sustained me mile after mile." Catherine Garcia
Bo Gray wasn't expected to start talking for a few more years, but his big sister Lydia changed all that.
Bo, 2, has Down syndrome, and his parents, Amanda Bowman Gray and Caleb Gray, were told he likely wouldn't say his first word until well after his third birthday. Bo was born with heart and lung issues, and has had to undergo several procedures. Before heart surgery in 2016, the Grays sang "You Are My Sunshine" to Bo in the hospital, and Lydia, 11, revived the tradition last fall, picking up her guitar and singing the song to Bo multiple times a day.
After three months of what the family calls "music therapy," Bo had a breakthrough. Lydia "screamed that he said his first word, 'happy,'" Bowman Gray told People. Bo repeated the word for his mom, then his dad, then his three other siblings. Since that day, Lydia has taught Bo how to say nearly a dozen more words, surprising his speech therapist, who says it's amazing that Bo can say so much at just 25 months. "He is defying the odds," Bowman Gray said. "He's defied the odds of what was possible with Down syndrome. These kids are often put in this box, but the lid is starting to open. They are capable." Catherine Garcia
Trevor Noah is embarrassed by the government shutdown, and Jimmy Kimmel shows the White House afterparty
Trevor Noah recapped the brief government shutdown on Monday's Daily Show, and he was really unimpressed with the whole ordeal. After failed negotiations, "lawmakers left the Capitol unsatisfied, like it was a salad night at Paula Deen's house," he began. "And no one was more upset than the toddler-in-chief, because the shutdown ended up running his 1-year birthday party." But Trump didn't just have to skip his anniversary party at Mar-a-Lago, "he had to work on the weekend — or at least pretend to work." Noah made fun of the White House photo purporting to show Trump "working" by talking on the phone, comparing it to more successful "I'm working" shots by Trump's predecessors.
For whatever reason — the House gym running out of towels "or the threat of voter backlash — Democrats and Republicans reached a deal this afternoon to end the shutdown," at least for a "pathetic" three weeks, Noah said. "American lawmakers are priceless. They want credit for fixing the thing that they broke? And not like really fixing it, like barely fixing it. .... America is the richest country in the world, and the government is out here basically paying rent week to week." This is not normal, Noah added, using his native South Africa as an example. "You don't hear of governments in the rest of the world just shutting down because they refuse to fund themselves. Where I come from, if the government shuts down, it's because the rebels have taken over."
Well, "now that the shutdown is over," Jimmy Kimmel said on Kimmel Live, the anniversary party is back on, "and I'm told it is lit in Washington, D.C., tonight." He turned to a puppet of Kellyanne Conway swigging Trump vodka in the White House, and things got weirder from there.
At The Opposition, Jordan Klepper "jokes" that "Trump's secret government shutdown is well underway" still, and he has real-life examples. Watch below. Peter Weber
Arnold Schwarzenegger, former governor of California and current critic of President Trump, has a message from one Republican former host of The Apprentice to another.
"Don't touch California. If you want to drill, do it off Mar-a-Lago," he tweeted, referring to Trump's resort in Palm Beach, Florida. "Or better yet, look to the future, follow California's lead and go green and we can all breathe easier. The U.S.'s largest economy is nearly 50 percent renewable. #ProtectThePacific." Schwarzenegger wasn't finished. "Our fishing, tourism, and recreation industries employ hundreds of thousands of great people," he said in a follow-up tweet. "Our coasts are an economic gold mine. Do not put them at risk."
The Trump administration announced earlier this month it plans on allowing new offshore oil and gas drilling in almost all U.S. coastal waters. The plan took a turn not long after, when Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke said Florida is "obviously unique" and "off the table." His announcement came just after he spoke with the state's Republican governor, Rick Scott. Catherine Garcia
The FBI has arrested an unidentified Michigan man who allegedly called CNN 22 times about a week ago and threatened to stage a mass shooting at CNN headquarters, Atlanta CBS affiliate WGCL-TV reported Monday, citing federal court documents. The man began by telling a CNN operator, "Fake news. I'm going to gun you all down," the court documents say, and later threats included: "I have more guns that you. More manpower. Your cast is about to get gunned down in a matter of hours"; and "I am coming to Georgia right now to go to the CNN headquarters to f---ing gun every single last one of you."
The FBI traced the calls to a house in the Detroit suburbs and arrested the man. "We take any threats to CNN employees or workplaces, around the world, extremely seriously," CNN said in a statement. "This one is no exception. We have been in touch with local and federal law enforcement throughout, and have taken all necessary measures to ensure the safety of our people." President Trump has repeatedly called CNN "fake news" and gave the network four of the 11 citations in his "Fake News Awards" last week. Peter Weber
Authorities have raised the alert level for Mount Mayon to four on a scale of five, warning residents living near the most active volcano in the Philippines that a major eruption could happen within hours.
On Monday night, an ash plume rose up to 2 miles, and airplanes were not allowed to fly in the vicinity. A week ago, the volcano started to rumble, and rocks and debris have been tumbling down to the villages below ever since. More than 30,000 people living near the volcano in Albay province have been moved to evacuation centers, and so far, there are not reports of any deaths or injuries.
Mayon is 210 miles southeast of Manila, and its worst eruption took place in 1814, when more than 1,200 people were killed and the entire town of Cagsawa was buried underneath volcanic mud. Catherine Garcia