GIMME SOME CHANGE Last month, USA Today ran a series on changes that are needed in the world of sports. I liked some of their ideas (lower ticket prices, drop the DH in baseball), but I’ve got more. Silence the “unbelievable.” This is the most overused -- and therefore the most meaningless -- word in broadcast journalism. The job of a play-by-play announcer (and even more so, that of an analyst) is to make what we see (or hear) . . . believable. So no more cop-outs for the talking heads. Try this game. Get a bag of M&M’s and sit down for one of this Sunday’s NFL contests. Reward yourself with an M&M every time you hear the word “unbelievable.” You’ll need a second bag after halftime. No more elbow-armor for big-league hitters. As if the dilution of pitching talent from expansion and the homer-friendly ballparks weren’t enough to give unfair advantage to the guy in the batter’s box, we now have Barry Bonds, Gary Sheffield, Craig Biggio, and countless other sluggers guarding their exposed elbow with something out of a Batman movie. Think Biggio would lean over the plate with his actual elbow in the way of a Jason Schmidt fastball? The inside part of the plate once belonged to the pitcher and only the fearless (i.e. Frank Robinson) dared cross this line. And Robinson crossed it like a man. “Monday Night Football” will kick off at 7 pm . . . eastern time. I’m 11 years old and live in Atlanta. I love Brett Favre more than Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny combined. The Pack is on Monday Night Football tonight! My bedtime? Nine o’clock. See ya in the morning paper, Brett. No more scoring systems that rely on thousandths of a point. Until someone can convince me there are a THOUSAND variables a gymnastics judge weighs during Carly Patterson’s balance beam routine, I’m not buying the current system. Have a scale of one to 10, whole numbers, and tell us how the athlete did. In averaging the scores, you can go one decimal point, no more. If I see the latest Mary Lou slip off the beam and land on her keister, I don’t want to see 9.143. I want to see . . . 4. Unify college football’s AP poll and coaches poll. It’s bad enough that the NCAA and bowl honchos won’t give us a playoff to determine the national champion. But on top of that, they confound things by giving equal credence to a pair of polls, leading to the kind of mess we had last season with the top two teams not even meeting on the field at season’s end. If we had one poll, and only one, this would be mathematically impossible. We’ll fix this, then tackle that playoff. Leave “respect” to Aretha. If one more professional athlete, having signed a multimillion-dollar contract, says “it’s not about the money . . . it’s about respect,” I may just scratch out the word “perspective” in my dictionary. An athlete is paid millions because he makes millions for his franchise. He is a cog in an entertainment machine, and his eight-figure salary has little to do with respect. No, respect is earned by doing what’s right when nobody’s watching. The NFL’s Colts must give their name and uniform back to Baltimore. Just as St. Louis is to baseball towns, so Baltimore is to football towns. Unitas, Marchetti, Berry, Mackey. The 1958 “Greatest Game Ever Played.” The team Namath had to beat to legitimize the AFL. Baltimore deserves its Colts back. The sight of those classic blue-and-white uniforms -- and perhaps the finest helmet in the sport -- on a team that plays under a roof and over a carpet . . . is offensive. Whether or not Indianapolis takes the name Ravens, I really don’t care. But send the Colts back where they belong. Return sunglasses to the World Series. For the love of all things sacred, play a World Series game under sunshine. For years now, I’ve been campaigning for a national baseball holiday that would fall on a Wednesday, when Game 4 is played. All the fat-cat advertisers and television titans would take a small hit for the good of (1) American children and (2) the national pastime. As slim as my chances are for this holiday, the least baseball could do is play Game 2 -- on Sunday, for crying out loud -- before 10-year-olds are put to bed.

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