Sports are constantly evolving, whether it’s the players, the rules, the equipment, or the strategy. But in many cases, we don’t notice that something is no longer there until it is already gone.
On the next few pages, we will take a look at 11 things that will soon go extinct in sports. Some are out of necessity. Some are for the better. Others are just by chance because of other circumstances.
Now that interleague games are the norm in Major League Baseball and no longer a novelty, it is sillier than ever that the American League and National League use different rules and the NL doesn't use the designated hitter.
The only reason changed hasn't happened yet is because of money. The players' association won't let the AL replace a starter with a bench player that will make less money. And the NL owners don't want to replace a bench player with a starting DH who will command more money as free agents.
Eventually the NL owners will cave because the topic of jobs is always a deal-breaker for the union. As a result, both leagues will have the DH and we'll no longer be subjected to the brutal hacks of pitchers.
Both the Oakland Raiders and Oakland A's are making efforts to build new stadiums, with the A's hoping to move to San Jose and the Raiders trying to build a football-only stadium to replace the Oakland Coliseum.
When that happens, we will no longer see the football games played on a dirt baseball infield, something that was more common in the age of multi-purpose stadiums.
For several years now, the NFL has discussed changing the rules to eliminate kickoff returns and the violent hits associated with 250-pound players running full speed at each other.
The number of kickoffs that are being returned has already fallen from 84% to 29% in just three years thanks to the NFL moving the kickoff up to the 35-yard line. So what was once a common play now happens just three times per game.
Eventually, the NFL is going to eliminate what is becoming a needless play and just give the opposing team the ball on the 20-yard line.
Tropicana Field, home of the Tampa Bay Rays, is one of the oldest ballparks in Major League Baseball, and the Rays are currently making efforts to build a new stadium, possibly in nearby Tampa.
Despite a game that comes to a halt in the slightest rain, domes have become taboo in baseball. The NFL, a sport that thrives in inclement weather, has six teams that play in domes and several MLB teams play in stadiums with retractable roofs.
But once the Rays do move, it is likely that we will never see an MLB team call a dome home again.
In week one of the NFL season, nine teams had a black starting quarterback, the most in NFL history. But it is amazing that in 2013, we are still using the term 'black quarterback' as if they are subclass of all quarterbacks.
Nobody refers to 'black wide receivers' or 'black linemen' or even 'white quarterbacks.'
Use of the term 'black quarterback' is not done with malicious intent, but does suggest that the combination of characteristics is surprising and it should no longer be surprising that a black player can succeed at quarterback.
The NHL has moved from a sport with a strong national presence below the US-Canadian border to one that is more regional in support.
Meanwhile, MLS games averaged more than 18,807 per game last season, more than both the NBA (17,274) and the NHL (17,455). At the national level, with the re-emergence of Landon Donovan, the return of Clint Dempsey, and the recent strong showing of the U.S. men's national team, interest in soccer is at an all-time high.
With ESPN airing the World Cup, soccer will get publicity that the NHL can only dream of and the MLS will benefit by surpassing the NHL in popularity.
So far this season, 668 different pitchers have faced at least one batter in a game. Only four of those pitchers have thrown a knuckleball according to Fangraphs.com, and one of them was outfielder David Murphy of the Rangers.
Only two pitchers, RA Dickey of the Blue Jays and Steven Wright of the Red Sox, use the knuckleball as their main weapon on the mound. Wright has pitched in just four big league games (all this season) and is 29 years old. Dickey, who is 38, didn't become a knuckle ball pitcher until he was 30 years old.
In this Moneyball era, teams want a better ability to predict what will happen, not less. The knuckleball is a gimmick pitch that is impossible to predict and difficult to catch. Dickey may be the last of a dying breed.
Nobody likes ties and eventually the NFL will move to an overtime system that guarantees each game will have a winner.
The one downside is the added risk of injury during a prolonged game. But teams have become offensive juggernauts and in the last 10 NFL seasons, there have been just two ties. Even if the NFL went to multiple overtimes, the risk will be minimal since the extra time would rarely be needed.
Gone are the days of Bo Jackson and Deion Sanders playing multiple sports at the same time and we are unlikely to ever see it again.
Sure, there are some athletes who switch sports if one is not working and go back another sport they previously excelled at. There are also athletes in college that play multiple sports. But at the professional level, those days are over.
One problem is that many athletes start specializing in a single sport at a much younger age now and have the ability to play their sport year-round. In addition, once a player reaches the professional level, teams are investing too much money to let their star player play in another sport and risk being injured.
Johnny Manziel's autograph scandal finally made paying college athletes a hot-button topic. Many of the people that felt Manziel broke a rule and should have been punished conceded that the rule was not fair.
While we are still a long ways from a point where college athletes will be able to share in the hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue they help create, there is a growing sentiment that they should at the very least be able make money off their name and likeness. That would include signing autographs and accepting endorsements.
Olympic athletes were finally able to break that barrier and international sports survived. The same will eventually happen to college athletes.
It seems like every college football team now has either a matte-coloured helmet or a chrome helmet.
But while chrome helmets are all the rage right now, there is a safety issue that so far has flown under the radar. With 11 reflective surfaces running around on every play there is a risk of players being temporarily blinded by the reflection of the sun or the stadium lights.
In a sport that already has a number of safety concerns, that seems like a huge risk to take for the sake of vanity.
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