Howard Herman | Designated Hitter: Decrees from the King of All Sports
All of this downtime due to the coronavirus pandemic has given everyone more time to just sit and think about things.
I've had time to figure out some things I would decree, were I the King of All Sports.
Since the Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association is well on the way to having the state tournament structure in place for the 2021-22 school year, the King of All Sports hereby decrees that any, and all state championship games need to be played at the most iconic facility for those sports.
That means when Taconic, for example, plays in the 2022 state baseball championship game, coach Kevin Stannard and his players will have to be situated in the home or the visitors dugout at — Fenway Park. When basketball and ice hockey state championships are to be handed out, they need to be handed out at TD Garden.
Pick a sport, find a venue, and make it iconic.
If the Krafts and the Patriots can offer up Gillette Stadium for state football championships, there is absolutely no reason why John Henry and the Red Sox along with the Jacobs Family and the Garden can't do the same for those sports. Any reason would sound like an excuse.
Since the MIAA wants to build these 16-team state tournament brackets and give players an "NCAA-like" experience, let's just go all the way.
Imagine a hockey player on the blue line at the Garden, looking up at Bobby Orr's number before the State Division IV title game. Do the same with a hoop player looking up at Kevin Garnett or Paul Pierce's number.
And for other sports? You could play lacrosse and softball championships on the UMass campus. There is no college lacrosse or softball teams more iconic to their sport in Massachusetts than the UMass lacrosse and softball teams. Lacrosse could play in Quincy at the home of the Boston Cannons too.
You want to make it special? Those arenas would make it special.
The potential return of Major League Baseball will allow the King of All Sports to decree, although I am sad to do so, that the designated hitter should come to the National League.
It sounds like the DH will be in the NL for this pandemic-shortened 2020 baseball season — if it in fact gets off the ground. For the purist in me, and the old National League fan, that is disappointing. It is, however, time to make the change.
The designated hitter is an accepted part of baseball, from the high schools into the majors. It may keep managers from using some baseball strategies, like when to pinch hit, two-for-one switches, and the like.
Most fans don't pay to watch pitchers strike out or bunt. In this shortened season, a DH is a way to expand rosters and keep more players in the game. So, take the next step and make it law in the National League.
The two leagues aren't different any more. They share the exact same umpires and the exact same rules — except for one.
The cancellation of winter college tournaments kept the King of All Sports from possibly traveling to the NCAA Division III women's basketball tournament, where the Williams team might have gone. That got me thinking that it's time to bring Division III basketball championships home.
By home, I mean to the Birthplace of Basketball.
Two years ago, I did not get a chance to visit Fort Wayne, Ind., where the men's Division III Final Four moved to. This is not a knock against the fine folks in Fort Wayne, who I'm sure are doing an outstanding job hosting.
It's a no-brainer that Springfield, where the Basketball Hall of Fame resides, should host the D-III Final Four. In fact, to double our fun, the King of All Sports says the women's Final Four should be here too.
There are enough hotel rooms to host eight teams. Springfield did it in the pre-casino days with the Division II Elite Eight.
The Hall of Fame was actively involved in the short-lived MIAA state championships in Springfield. I can't speak for the Hall, but I imagine the organizers there would like to be involved with the NCAA in this event.
Besides, it will give many of you an opportunity to see some great college basketball at a pretty low cost.
Oh, the longer we are locked down, the more ideas the King of All Sports will have to make the games we play and watch better.
Howard Herman can be reached at email@example.com, at @howardherman on Twitter, or 413-496-6253.
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