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?

Best of MLB: Beltre's 2 home runs lift Rangers over A's

Best of MLB: Beltre's 2 home runs lift Rangers over A's

ARLINGTON, Texas -- Adrian Beltre hit his second home run of the game with two outs in the ninth inning, a two-run shot that rallied the Texas Rangers past the Oakland Athletics 7-6 on Monday night for their third straight win.

Beltre, who finished with four hits, had two singles in his first three at-bats before hitting a solo homer in the seventh. His game-winning drive came on the first pitch from Ryan Madson (3-4).

Until then, Texas had trailed since Danny Valencia hit a two-run homer for Oakland with two outs in the first. All 13 runs in the game were scored with two outs.

Texas turned three double plays behind starter Martin Perez, who has induced a major league-best 25 in 21 games.

Valencia also had the first of three run-scoring doubles in a three-run third that gave the A's a 5-1 lead (see full recap).

Blue Jays' Sanchez wins 10th straight decision
TORONTO  -- Aaron Sanchez pitched seven shutout innings to win his 10th consecutive decision, Kevin Pillar had three hits and the Toronto Blue Jays beat the San Diego Padres 4-2 on Monday night.

Sanchez (11-1) became the first Blue Jays pitcher to win 10 straight since Roy Halladay won 15 decisions in a row in 2003. Halladay and Roger Clemens (1998) hold the club record.

Making their first appearance in Toronto, the Padres were held scoreless until Alex Dickerson hit a two-run homer off Bo Schultz in the ninth.

Dickeerson's drive into the fifth deck extended San Diego's team-record streak of games with at least one home run to 23. The 2006 Atlanta Braves were the last National League team to homer in 23 straight games.

Roberto Osuna replaced Schultz and got two outs for his 21st save (see full recap).

Orioles top Rockies for 5th straight win
BALTIMORE -- Adam Jones scored the winning run in the 10th inning on a low throw to the plate by pitcher Jordan Lyles, and the Baltimore Orioles beat the Colorado Rockies 3-2 on Monday night for their fifth straight victory.

Jones reached on a one-out single off the third-base bag and took third on a single by Jonathan Schoop. Manny Machado followed with a comebacker to Lyles, who fumbled the ball before throwing home. Catcher Nick Hundley caught the ball near the ground and lost the handle while attempting to tag the sliding Jones.

Lyles (2-3) was charged with an error on the play.

Getting two RBIs from Jones, the Orioles climbed a season-high 18 games over .500 (58-40) and improved to 37-14 at home.

Chaz Roe (1-0) worked the 10th for the win (see full recap).

Trade candidates — especially Jeremy Hellickson — lead Phils to shutout of Marlins

Trade candidates — especially Jeremy Hellickson — lead Phils to shutout of Marlins

BOX SCORE

MIAMI — Jeremy Hellickson was standing in front of his locker speaking with reporters after his second strong outing in a week against the Miami Marlins when Cameron Rupp walked by an offered his take on all the trade talk surrounding the veteran pitcher.

“He’s not going anywhere,” Rupp said loud enough for everyone in the room to hear.

Hellickson laughed at his catcher’s commentary.

“I hope not,” he said.

If Hellickson really wants to stay with the Phillies and finish out this rebuilding season instead of moving to a contender for the final two months — and possibly beyond — he did himself a disservice Monday night.

He enhanced his attractiveness to potential buyers by pitching six shutout innings in the Phillies’ 4-0 win over the Miami Marlins (see Instant Replay).

Hellickson, who sports a 3.65 ERA in 21 starts, needed just 70 pitches to get through the six innings. He was lifted for a pinch-hitter with runners on second and third and two outs in a scoreless game in the top of the seventh. Ryan Howard struck out, following Cody Asche and Peter Bourjos, as the Phillies whiffed on a golden scoring chance.

“I hated taking Hellickson out of the game there, but we had an opportunity to score and I had to go for it,” manager Pete Mackanin said.

“After we didn’t score, I didn’t think we had a chance to win this game. I just thought that with their bullpen we were in trouble.”

The Phillies ended up winning with a rally against Miami’s bullpen. Tommy Joseph delivered a clutch, two-out double against Fernando Rodney in the eighth to score Maikel Franco from first. That was the only run the Phillies needed. They tacked on three against the sloppy Marlins in the ninth to finish it off.

Hellickson, David Hernandez, Hector Neris and Jeanmar Gomez then combined to allow just one base runner in three innings to finish off the Phillies’ 11th shutout of the season. That’s the most in the majors.

“Our bullpen did a great job,” Mackanin said.

Three of the four pitchers that the Phillies used in the game — Hellickson, Hernandez and Gomez — are very much available for trades. They all pitched well with a gaggle of scouts sitting behind the backstop. A number of contending clubs — the Cubs, Orioles, Giants, Rangers and Blue Jays — had scouts at the game. Pitching, starting and relief, is high on the needs list for most of those teams.

Of course, the Marlins are looking for pitching, too. They have interest in Hellickson, though it’s not clear whether he is a top target of theirs. Maybe he will become a top target after what he’s done to the Marlins in the last week. Hellickson has pitched 14 innings over two starts against the Marlins. He has given up just six hits and a run.

“Just executing,” said the pitcher, explaining his success. “In my last two games the ball has been down for the most part. I’ve just gotten a lot of easy outs. The ball's down and not missing too many spots right now.”

Hellickson will be a free agent this winter and does not appear to be in the club’s future plan. Nonetheless, he has steadfastly said he would like to remain with the club for the rest of this season. Phillies management is not opposed to keeping Hellickson. He provides veteran stability and innings to a young rotation. But management would move Hellickson for a player that has the potential to help in the future.

Trade rumors can be distracting for a player. But Hellickson, who has been dealt twice in his career, is locked in.

“It doesn't bother me,” he said. “Once I'm in this locker room — obviously you still see it on TV and stuff — my focus is on helping us win today. Now it's on to the next start. It's been like this for a few years now so it's pretty easy to go out there right now.”

Mackanin said he had no idea what will become of Hellickson’s fate. But if the pitcher stays, he won’t complain.

“At this point, I don’t want to lose him,” Mackanin said. “I wish he could stay here. He’s that solid for us. He’s been like that the whole year.”

The Phillies needed a good pitching effort to pull this one out. Their hitters struck out 13 times, left 11 men on base and went just 1 for 9 with runners in scoring position.

“We don’t show plate discipline,” Mackanin lamented. “We’re taking fastballs early in the count that are hittable pitches. If you’re going to take fastballs early in the count that are hittable pitches, you cannot swing at breaking balls in the dirt. That’s all I can say about that. We have to have more plate discipline.”

On the positive side of that, Franco and Rupp both walked three times, and Franco’s two-out walk in the eighth became the biggest run of the game on a night when Jeremy Hellickson and his status with the Phillies was the biggest storyline.

Instant Replay: Phillies 4, Marlins 0

Instant Replay: Phillies 4, Marlins 0

BOX SCORE

MIAMI — Jeremy Hellickson continued to enhance his trade value and Tommy Joseph had the big hit in the Phillies’ 4-0 win over the Miami Marlins on Monday night.

Hellickson shut down the Marlins for the second time in a week. The next time he pitches, it could be for them. The Marlins are one of the teams interested in the veteran right-hander. Scouts from several other contending teams were in attendance for Hellickson’s strong outing.

Joseph’s two-out double in the top of the eighth broke a scoreless tie.

Phillies pitching held the Marlins to two hits. The Phils have 11 shutouts this season.

Starting pitching report
Hellickson pitched six scoreless innings and gave up just a hit and a walk while striking out one. He exited for a pinch-hitter after just 70 pitches. The right-hander has pitched 14 innings and allowed just one run in his last two starts, both against the Marlins. He has lowered his season ERA to 3.65.

Miami’s Jarred Cosart came up from Triple A and pitched five scoreless innings. However, he threw 92 pitches. He allowed three hits, a walk and struck out one.

Bullpen report 
Trade candidate David Hernandez pitched a strong seventh inning for the Phils, picking up the win. Hector Neris and Jeanmar Gomez closed it out.

Miami right-hander Kyle Barraclough came up big in the top of the seventh inning. He struck out Cody Asche, Peter Bourjos and pinch-hitter Ryan Howard with runners on second and third to preserve a 0-0 tie.

Marlins right-hander Fernando Rodney struck out the first two batters in the eighth then gave up a four-pitch walk to Maikel Franco before Joseph’s two-out double delivered the game’s first run.

Rodney took the loss.

A.J. Ramos was charged with three runs in the ninth, two unearned.

At the plate
The Phillies survived 13 strikeouts, a 1-for-9 performance with runners in scoring position and 11 men left on base to score the win.

The Phils had just six hits. Joseph had a pair of them and now has 25 RBIs in 54 games.

Cesar Hernandez gave the Phils some cushion with an RBI single in the top of the ninth. Miami’s defense fell apart after that and the Phils scored two more runs to put the game away.

Asche had a hit to break an 0-for-26 skid. Bourjos is 0 for his last 17.

Trade talk
Andres Blanco is out for six weeks so he’s no longer a trade candidate, but others are (see story).

Up next
Jerad Eickhoff (6-11, 3.98) pitches against Miami right-hander Tom Koehler (7-8, 4.42) on Tuesday night. Koehler pitched eight innings of two-run ball in beating the Phillies last week at Citizens Bank Park.