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
Early Tuesday, SABMiller agreed to a sweetened takeover offer from larger rival Anheuser-Busch InBev, in a deal that values No. 2 global brewer SABMiller at $104.5 billion. SABMiller's board agreed to unanimously recommend the deal to shareholders after rejecting four previous offers in recent weeks. If the merger passes regulatory scrutiny, the combined company will sell more than 30 percent of the world's beer, combining brands like AB InBev's Budweiser, Corona, and Stella Artois with SABMiller's Pilsener Urquell, Miller, Coors, Grolsch, and Peroni, plus lots of smaller and local brands. If AB InBev can't get regulatory clearance or its shareholders reject the terms, it has to pay SABMiller $3 billion. Peter Weber
A very special guest didn't RSVP to Brian and Stephanie Tobe's nuptials but showed up anyway: Barack Obama.
On Sunday morning, as they were getting ready for their wedding at The Lodge at Torrey Pines in La Jolla, California, Brian and Stephanie first heard that the president was playing golf in the area. Eventually, they received word that he was at the golf course at their venue, and soon they were "stacked up against the window, looking out as we see him coming down across the green," Stephanie told NBC Los Angeles. Their wedding photographers, Jeff and Erin Youngren, were on the course snapping photos, and when Erin saw a brief opening for the couple to come down and meet the president, she let them know it was now or never. Dressed in their wedding attire, the pair booked it.
So THIS happened at yesterday's wedding... The President (OMGOMGOMGOMG) was in San Diego this weekend at the venue where we were photographing a gorgeous wedding, and we CAUGHT.IT.ALL. I'm writing the full story on the blog right now, but wanted to get this posted ASAP. Stay tuned!!!!! #POTUS #kindafreakinoutrightnow #eeeeeeee! -E #theyoungrens @lodgetorreypines @mintweddings
"I picked up my wedding dress and just started running down the hall," Stephanie said. She darted ahead, leaving her groom in the dust, but "I didn't care," she said. "I just had to get there." She was cleared by security, and the crowd parted as she made her way toward Obama. "I was in a state of complete shock," Stephanie said, and she started to cry. Stephanie and Brian both shook hands with the president, and Obama told Brian "specifically not to step on my dress," Stephanie said. "It was just really nice, totally unexpected. I never thought we'd have a chance in the world to meet him." After all the photos were taken and the president left, the wedding was only delayed by about an hour. Stephanie says she is still in disbelief. "Honestly, I'm normally a pretty shy person, but man, yesterday, for the wedding day and in that moment, I didn't care about anything," she said. Catherine Garcia
Hillary Clinton said that she's "always in favor of women running" for president, and does not think Carly Fiorina should be judged differently because she is the only woman in the Republican race.
"People need to hold women's policies up to light and determine what their answers to problems would be before deciding to support them," she told Time. "I'm willing to subject myself to that process and try to earn every vote; I assume any woman running would do the same." Clinton stopped short of saying that Fiorina was being treated differently by her fellow Republican candidates. "She will have to speak for herself," she said.
Clinton also said she took issue with Fiorina's criticism of Planned Parenthood, and Fiorina's description of a video she claimed to have watched that was filmed during the aftermath of an abortion. "Obviously, I disagree fundamentally with a number of positions that she's put forward," Clinton said. "I think that her full-throated, inaccurate attack on Planned Parenthood was really ill-advised and inflammatory." Catherine Garcia
Craft brewers are accusing multinational beer giant Anheuser-Busch InBev of trying to crush them by buying up distributors then cutting off their access to store shelves, and the U.S. Justice Department is looking into those claims, Reuters reports, citing "three people familiar with the matter." In many states, breweries can't sell to the public without going through distributors.
AB InBev has purchased five distributors in three states over the past few months, and the fast-growing craft brewing industry says that once the world's largest beer company is in charge, the smaller breweries start losing access to stores and their sales stagnate. The antitrust investigation, still in its early stages, is also examining claims that AB InBev pressures independent distributors to end their deals with craft brewers. Two of the company's recent purchases were in California, and California regulators are also looking into the allegations, Reuters said.
AB InBev confirmed to Reuters that it is talking to regulators: "Anheuser-Busch has been in communication with the Department of Justice and California attorney general's office about the transactions. We are working cooperatively to address any questions they have." Peter Weber
People who read Playboy for the naked pictures will soon have to look elsewhere for their titillation: Starting with the March 2016 issue, the magazine will do away with full nudity.
The decision was made by top editors and founder Hugh Hefner, who agreed that Playboy and its nude women don't pack the same punch they did when the magazine launched 62 years ago. As CEO Scott Flanders so delicately told The New York Times: "You're now just one click away from every sex act imaginable for free. And so it's just passé at this juncture." The revamped magazine will keep its investigative pieces and interviews, and introduce a "sex-positive" female columnist and "PG-13" version of the Playmate of the Month.
The U.S. edition loses $3 million a year, but it's used as a marketing tool for the licensing business and international titles that do make money ("It's our Fifth Avenue storefront," Flanders said of U.S. Playboy). The print circulation is now at about 800,000, the Alliance for Audited Media says, but web traffic is up: In August 2014, Playboy removed nudity from its website to make it safe for work, and traffic soared from 4 million unique visitors per month to 16 million, The Times reports. The average reader went from 47 to just a bit older than 30, which is in line with the magazine's new target demographic: Young men living in cities. Even though it made business sense to shift Playboy's focus, it was still rough for the editors. "Don't get me wrong," says Playboy editor Cory Jones. "12-year-old me is very disappointed in current me. But it's the right thing to do." Catherine Garcia
When asked if he thinks the end of the world is near, Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson said "you could guess that we are getting closer to that."
The retired neurosurgeon told reporter Sharyl Attkisson in an interview that aired Sunday that there are "people who have a belief system that sees this apocalyptic phenomena occurring and that they are a part of it, who would not hesitate to use nuclear weapons if they gained possession of them." However, even if the end was nigh, through Biblical prophesy or not, Carson said he would try to change the course of things. "I think we have a chance to certainly do everything we can to ameliorate the situation," he said. "I would always be shooting for peace. I wouldn't just take a fatalist view of things." Catherine Garcia
Hillary Clinton spent the evening before the first Democratic presidential debate at a labor protest outside of the Trump International Hotel in Las Vegas, where she called on Republican frontrunner Donald Trump to "represent all the people of the United States."
The Trump International Hotel is just across from the Wynn, where CNN's debate will be held Tuesday. The protest was organized by Culinary Workers Union Local 226, which wants Trump to let workers at the hotel unionize. Clinton's appearance was a surprise, and she told the union members — who chanted "Vegas is a union town!" and carried signs that said "No Contract! No Peace!" — that they have to say no to "efforts to prevent you from organizing, to prevent you from having the kind of working conditions you deserve, the kind of wages that are going to give you a living wage. And that means saying no to Donald Trump."
Clinton also brought up the notion that everything Trump does is "entertaining," The Huffington Post reports. "But I don't think it's entertaining when somebody insults immigrants, insults women," she said. "That is just unacceptable behavior. When we're here together in solidarity to organize, we also want to send a message to Mr. Trump: That if you're going to run for president, then you should represent all the people of the United States, and that includes hard-working people." Catherine Garcia