This should further extend to baseball's drafting of foreign players. If a National Basketball Association team wants to draft a foreign player, it has to acquire the player's draft rights, where weaker teams get first preference. But in baseball, any team can approach any foreign player and wave greenbacks in his face. Most end up wanting to sign with the Yankees (or, let's be honest, the Red Sox). Make foreign players available only through the draft.

2) Abolish the rain out How many other sports begin play, watch action unfold for as long as two hours, then completely cancel competition and scrap all record of it having taken place, just because of a few namby-pamby raindrops? Baseball is alone in calling for a complete "do-over" simply because of some foul weather. But for a sport that treasures every recorded ball, strike, home run, balk, and invocation of the infield-fly rule, it seems downright Stalin-like to white out hundreds of innings worth of play and decree that they never happened. (Uncle Sam, meet Uncle Joe.) Whenever play stops for weather (or earthquake), pick it up from there and resume the game at the next available date.

3) Forbid runners from taking leads off bases One of baseball's primary problems, other than the fact that it is governed by a Milwaukee used-car-salesman with a terrible toupee, is that its games can be too long. One way to shorten the game, and eliminate one of the more irritating components of play, is to ban runners from taking leads off any base. How many exciting moments have been doused by the wet-blanket move of a pitcher repeatedly throwing the ball to the first baseman to check a runner?

There's already an existing rule dictating that, when a base runner tags up on a fly out, he is forbidden from leaving the base until the ball has been caught. Why not employ the same rule with base runners on pitches? A runner should be prevented from leaving his base until a pitcher pitches the ball. Without the tedious cat-and-mouse game played between pitcher and base runner, the matter would be left purely to the speed and timing of the base runner, and would eliminate the snoozefest of unlimited throws to first base.

4) Devalue field goals by making them worth two points Football touts itself as a war of attrition, in which lines of brutal behemoths push and claw while contesting every yard of the playing field. But after destroying each other for play after punishing play, if the offensive team cannot advance the ball to the end zone, that team then turns the point-scoring opportunity over to an itsy-bitsy kicker.

In no other sport is there such a dichotomy between scoring mechanisms. In basketball and hockey, no matter what, to register a score, the ball/puck has to go into the net. In baseball, no matter what else happens, to score a run, a runner has to touch home plate. But in football, the character of a score ranges wildly from savage scrums battling for inches on the links of a measuring stick to the far-less-satisfying chancy random kicks into the wind by aging ex-soccer-playing Cypriots.

To de-emphasize the field goal, it should be devalued from three points to two. Keep the action in the mangled mitts of its linemen, not on the tepid toes of its kickers.

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