Four-Point Shots May Be Sexy, But Are They Sexy Enough to Get You to Watch Summer Ball?

Four-Point Shots May Be Sexy, But Are They Sexy Enough to Get You to Watch Summer Ball?

As you may or may not have noticed during this year's Olympic games, the FIBA basketball floor looks a lot more like the NBA court than it used to.

As time is moving on and basketball becoming more popular around the globe, it's not surprising to see an increasing uniformity of the rules.

Unless, of course, you're trying to launch a new alumni summer basketball league and then all bets are off and this is 'Nam, Walter, and there aren't rules.

Well, okay, there are some. What the hell are we talking about? Find out after the jump.

If you're feeling a little lost, The-BALL (Basketball Alumni Legends League) wrapped up it's two-day showcase unveiling Sunday night at Saint Joseph's.

The league, founded by former filmmaker Michael Wranovics, is meant to give former college standouts -- guys like Pat Carroll and Curtis Sumpter, who played their final games as professionals last night -- an extra opportunity to earn some cash by playing ball during the summer. It also aims to give fans the chance to see some old favorites they haven't in a while. You can read more on Wranovics' vision, scheduled to start in full force in summer 2013, by clicking here.

In an effort to differentiate itself, The-BALL, as upstart leagues are wont to do, has gone ahead and tweaked the rules and conventions of basketball just a bit. On the whole, the changes are actually kind of amusing and surprisingly palatable with one very notable exception. This isn't the full list of differences -- which you can read here -- but a list of the ones that immediately stood out.

-- A four-point line that extends the shooter 25 feet from the basket.

-- All and-one shooting fouls automatically result in three-point plays upon a made basket.

-- All non-shooting fouls result in one free throw attempt worth two points.

-- All quarters start with a tip-off and each team has to use a different player at each jump—no repeats.

-- The 30-second shot clock becomes a 20-second shot clock inside of five minutes to play.

-- Teams do not enter the bonus until the opposing squad registers 16 total personals.

-- Once a team is in the bonus, all fouls result in one free throw, again worth two points, and the shooting team retains the basketball.

-- There's a live band, whom I believe went by the name "Supreme and the New Experience" (but don't hold me to that), who played before and after the game and during all breaks. This isn't a rule change, but it was really phenomenal anyway.

Alright, we'll start with the good or plainly acceptable. Watching Dionte Christmas score eight points in two possessions removed any and all skepticism related to the four-pointer. As for the auto-and-ones, it really doesn't get in the way of the game at all and it's surprisingly easy to accept. Same with the one free throw worth two points -- there's suddenly a whole lot more drama surrounding a free throw; if he makes, well okay, and if he doesn't, "oh sh*t that was worth two points, this guy's confidence at the line is going to go down faster than normal!"

As for the bad, critics of the game of basketball often complain about how badly the game can break down inside of a minute to play. The trailing team starts fouling to buy time, constant trips to the foul line ensue, one minute takes twenty to play and you know the deal. But here's the thing, that's a wrinkle in basketball you really can't do away with. And giving the team the ball back when they're in the bonus completely negates this strategy.

Granted, the diminished shot clock and four-point line could certainly make things interesting, and if desperation starts sooner than normal teams might stand a chance to come back; but of all the rule changes, that one felt the least like real basketball. There was just something plainly and profoundly oft-putting about it.

On the one hand, you could say it's fair for an upstart league to want to garner as much interest as possible, and changing a few things could conceivably do that. On the other hand, this league is trying to appeal to people like me -- basketball addicts, because only basketball addicts are pining to watch Mark Tyndale play basketball again. We're pining for that because we're already addicts, and thus don't need to be further incentivized by gimmicks.

Then again, most diehard fans are the people who will complain about how things are going only to keep showing up. So if you're not losing what you presume to be your core base by making a few changes, it can't hurt to try to spark the interest of a few others along the way.

You just have to be make sure your diehards are really diehards, which the league in question obviously hasn't done yet. But once you've got the word out, you can go for broke.
Bear in mind the conclusion here is more theoretical than practical as specifically related to The-BALL, which only drew maybe 500 people last night. But I studied philosophy, so I'm a theory guy.

As always, your thoughts on whatever you'd like to address?

Phillies conclude miserable homestand with new low as Zach Eflin demoted to Triple A

Phillies conclude miserable homestand with new low as Zach Eflin demoted to Triple A

BOX SCORE

For a moment Sunday afternoon, Citizens Bank Park sprung to life as the Phillies strung together five hits in a four-run second inning.

But four home runs off starter Zach Eflin sent the Phillies to another defeat and Eflin to Lehigh Valley.

Eflin was optioned to Triple A following the Phillies' 8-4 loss to the Reds, in which he allowed seven runs on nine hits in just five innings of work (see Instant Replay)

"His first two-three outings were really good," manager Pete Mackanin said. "He was keeping the ball down, but his last three, including today, he's elevating his sinker and once you elevate that sinker, it doesn't have the effect that you'd like to have."

The Phillies have now lost nine consecutive series for the first time since 1997. The loss was their 22nd in 28 games and handed the Reds their first series win at CBP since August 2006.  

Eflin got off to a rocky start Sunday with three first-inning singles, allowing one run. He escaped further damage but then proceeded to give up a home run in each of his final four innings. The final home run — Adam Duvall's second on the day — came on an 0-2 pitch and extended Cincinnati's lead to 7-4. All of the Reds' hits off Eflin came on fastballs as their potent lineup feasted on his pitches high in the zone.

Two weeks ago, Eflin's ERA stood at 2.87 as he kept opponents in the ballpark with his hard sinker. However, starting with a May 17 outing in Texas, Eflin has allowed 22 runs in his last 15 innings. He's given up seven homers in his last two starts and at least nine hits in five consecutive outings as his ERA ballooned to 6.13. With Sunday's results, the Phillies were left little choice but to option the 23-year-old righty while he deals with a rough patch.

"There are some things I need to work on," Eflin said. "I need to do a better job of pitching backward, especially in fastball counts. There's a lot of things I need to work on, but at the end of the day, I'm not worried about it. I'm going to go down there, work on everything I need to work on and get back as soon as possible."

The Phillies will reinstate Howie Kendrick (oblique) off the 10-day disabled list Monday, Mackanin said, in a corresponding move after the veteran IF/OF completed a four-game rehab stint (see story)

Kendrick could help boost an offense that is scuffling. After a four-run second inning highlighted by Andrew Knapp's 434-foot three-run home run, the Phillies' bats fell silent. They strung together five more hits. However, three double plays and a few untimely strikeouts killed any further rallies.

The Phillies left a potential run stranded on third base in the fifth inning as Odubel Herrera and Aaron Altherr struck out against starter Scott Feldman, who waded into and out of trouble in five innings of work. Herrera went 0 for 4 with that strikeout, continuing to slump. His average has fallen to .217.

With Kendrick returning, Mackanin indicated he would give Herrera some days off soon to help him relax amid mounting pressure to hit.

"He's scuffling. A couple guys scuffling," Mackanin said. "I'll probably move him down in the lineup. I can't keep him in the two-hole. But he has to fight his way out. 

"We'll see when Kendrick gets here. We're going to have another outfielder. I'm going to mix and match and try to get everybody in there. Kendrick, I'm going to bring along slowly because I want to make sure he's healthy.

"In other words, I don't have a set outfield. I'm going to mix those guys up."

On the infield, Maikel Franco continued his slide Sunday, going 1 for 4 with a strikeout and a double play. The slugger is hitting .213 this month, just as he did in April, but his power is down with just two home runs. Kendrick, who only played left field in April, played third base while at Triple A, so he could potentially spell Franco as well.

"He hit a ball hard today but he's not giving us consistent at-bats," Mackanin said. "He's searching both physically and mentally. It's not easy for him. I can tell he's down on himself. He's not happy about what's going on."

The Phillies came into this week struggling and were unable to rebound against the Rockies and Reds, losing five of seven. They averaged just 2.42 runs during the homestand.

However, the bigger problem comes in the rotation. The team gave up 5.71 runs per game in their last seven despite a 23 2/3 inning scoreless streak from the bullpen. The rotation's struggles continue to plague the team as they carry the worst record in baseball into Miami for a three-game set starting Monday.

"I certainly expected more out of our starters," Mackanin said. "We've had some issues with [Aaron] Nola's arm and Clay Buchholz going down. Although [Jerad] Eickhoff is going to end up having a good year in my opinion. He's been a little bit hot and cold.

"And Eflin, I counted on him to have a big year this year. I think if he gets himself straightened out down in Triple A, I think he's going to come back strong. But certainly, I can't sit here and say I'm happy with [his performance]."

Instant Replay: Reds 8, Phillies 4

Instant Replay: Reds 8, Phillies 4

BOX SCORE

Zach Eflin allowed a career-high four home runs and the Phillies were outslugged by the Cincinnati Reds in an 8-4 defeat Sunday at Citizens Bank Park.

The Phils have now lost nine consecutive series for the first time since 1997. The loss was their 22nd in 28 games. The Reds, who took two of three, picked up their first series win at CBP since August 2006.

Eflin was roughed up for the third consecutive start. The Reds tagged him for seven runs in just five innings. After three hits led to a run in the first inning, he gave up home runs in each of his last four frames. Following the game, Eflin was optioned to Triple A Lehigh Valley.

Jeanmar Gomez allowed a solo home run in relief. 

Andrew Knapp gave the Phillies an early lead with a three-run homer during a four-run second inning. However, three double plays stifled the Phillies' offense, which was held scoreless after the second inning. 

Scott Feldman improved to 4-4 with the win for the Reds. The Phils dropped to 17-31 while the Reds improved to 24-25. 

Starting pitching report
Eflin stumbled through five innings, allowing nine hits. He had held opponents to just four homers in first six starts but has now has let up seven in his last two appearances. Over his past three starts, Eflin's been tagged for 22 runs in 15 innings. He's given up at least nine hits in all five May starts. 

A poor sign for Eflin: Only two of his outs came on the ground. The Reds were all over his fastball and scored in each of his five innings. His ERA has gone from 2.81 to 6.13 since May 17.

Feldman labored through a 32-pitch second inning in which he gave up four runs. He settled down afterward with a pair of double plays to get through five innings. The veteran righty struck out the last two batters he faced with a man on third and one out.

Bullpen report
Luis Garcia threw two shutout innings, striking out one. Jeanmar Gomez gave up rookie Patrick Kivlehan's second home run of the day in the ninth inning, snapping the Phillies' bullpen's scoreless streak at 23 2/3 innings. Gomez allowed three hits and the one run in two innings.

Blake Wood, Wandy Peralta, Drew Storen and Raisel Iglesias each threw shutout innings in relief of Feldman.

At the plate
Manager Pete Mackanin wanted the Phillies to string together 4-5 hits and they did so in the second inning. Tommy Joseph and Michael Saunders led off with back-to-back singles before Knapp drove them in with his 434-foot blast. Knapp laid off two high fastballs after falling behind 0-2 and drilled a curveball into the Phillies' bullpen.

Freddy Galvis followed with a double. Even Eflin aided the cause with his first career RBI on a run-scoring single. 

The top two in the order — Cesar Hernandez and Odubel Herrera — went 0 for 8. Everyone else in the lineup had at least one hit. Saunders and Aaron Altherr each had two hits while Ty Kelly had a pinch-hit double.

Adam Duvall, Scott Schebler and Kivlehan combined for five home runs with Duvall and Kivlehan notching multi-hit games. Jose Peraza and Zack Cozart extended their hitting streaks to 13 and 11 games, respectively, in the first inning.

Up next
The Phillies head on the road and begin a three-game set with the Miami Marlins, whom they beat twice in April at Citizens Bank Park.

Monday, 7:10 p.m. — Jeremy Hellickson (5-2, 4.28) vs. Edinson Volquez (0-7, 4.82)

Tuesday, 7:10 p.m.— Vince Velasquez (2-4, 5.55) vs. Justin Nicolino (0-1, 5.40)

Wednesday, 1:10 p.m. — Aaron Nola (2-2, 4.34) vs. Dan Straily (3.83)