The Difference Between Running and Ruining is One Letter

“Ve Git Too Soon Oldt, Und Too Late Schmart”

Pennsylvania Dutch saying

 

schmart

 

My late, wonderful, Grandmother, Helen Hirshland, had that astute Pennsylvania Dutch bit of wisdom on a trivet in her kitchen. I saw it when we visited and laughed with her when she would repeat the saying in her Pennsylvania Dutch accent. I’m reminded of that old saying today because it applies to the powers that be who are running, dare I say ruining, my favorite sports.

 

The United States Golf Association, along with the R & A, just released some revisions to the Rules of Golf. Tweaks and changes that, proponents say, were a long time coming and will, according to the governing bodies, “bring the rules up to date and fit the needs of the game globally.” It’s the culmination of an initiative that began in 2012 and the end result is, among other things, changes to rules that involve hitting a ball out of bounds, removing the penalty for a “double hit”, how players can drop a ball when taking relief, and the ability to repair “spike marks and other imperfections” on the putting green.

 

In the announcement the word “relaxed” was used several times and the prevailing thought from many is that this attempt to “modernize” the rules of the greatest game of all is part of an effort to “make the game more attractive and accessible to newcomers’. The rest of us be damned.

 

I am a 62 year-old man and I have been playing golf for 58 of those years. I learned the game thanks to my mom and dad, who both played until mere months before they passed away. My first set of clubs were a cut down set of Louise Suggs, Wilson Staff woods and irons. My first, of many, lessons came from a kind, caring, gentleman we called “The Old Pro” named Pete Marich. I loved it from the get go and never once; as my game progressed and the shafts in my clubs went from steel to aluminum to graphite, back to steel, and now again to graphite, did I ever say I wanted, or needed, golf to be “easier”. In fact, the fact that the game was so hard was the reason I fell in love with it in the first place and one of the reasons I still love it today.

 

When something is hard, and you have a modicum of success doing it, the sense of achievement is more profound. “More accessible” I get and I’m all for finding ways to do that. Let folks play 6 holes, or 12. Have those scores count toward a handicap. Reinstitute or develop more caddy programs. Continue the efforts undertaken by the USGA, the PGA of America, and Nick Faldo to empower young people to play the game. But take your “need to make the game easier” and hit the road!

 

And that brings me to baseball. Let me start by saying this to Commissioner Rob Manfred and whichever “advisors” are bending his ear with their brilliant ideas to “improve” Americas pastime. “Cut. It. Out!”

 

I am wracking my brain trying to figure out a dumber idea than the one I heard about today. Minor League Baseball is going to experiment with an extra innings rule that allows a team to start the inning with a runner on second base. In the immortal words of Olympic figure skater Nancy Kerrigan, “WHY?!?!?!” Because it will speed up play? Because “nobody wants to see games last 15, 16, or 17 innings”? Because you can’t just leave well enough alone? How many “new eyeballs” will this bring to the sport? How many youngsters, not already interested in playing youth baseball, will this bring to the park?

 

Speed up play? In fact it might just have the opposite effect. Starting the inning with a runner on second base just might mean the skipper of the team at the plate will now have his hitter attempt to bunt that runner over to third. If that mission is accomplished the manager of the team in the field will intentionally walk the bases loaded and then it’s game on. Not to mention the sad fact that we will reward two teams who haven’t been able to gain an advantage over the course of nine innings by “gifting” them a runner in scoring position. If that isn’t a comment on today’s society, I don’t know what is. Why not take a page from soccer or hockey and have a 10 pitch home run derby if a game is tied after nine innings. Or better yet just give each team 1/2 a win and call it a night. OR, OR, OR we could just let these professional athletes JUST PLAY BASEBALL!

 

“We” need to stop trying to fix everything because “we” think things are broken, or not quick enough, or not appealing enough, or heaven forbid NOT EASY ENOUGH. Some things aren’t meant to be fast or easy. Golf and baseball are among those things. Lets just hope it’s not too late to get schmart.

 

About Keith Hirshland

My name is Keith Hirshland and I am a four decades television veteran who has spent time both in front of and behind the camera. During nearly forty years in broadcasting my path has crossed in front of, behind and alongside some of the best in the business... And some of the worst. Many of those people I count as friends while others wouldn't make the effort to spit on me if I was on fire. This television life started early watching my Mom and Dad found, fund and run a local affiliate TV station in Reno, Nevada. As a teenager approaching adulthood I worked for them, first as an on-air sports reporter/anchor and later as a director and producer. Jobs in the industry took me across the country and then to many places around the world. Sports is my passion and putting it on TV has been my business. Production credits include auto racing, baseball, basketball, bowling, college football, field hockey, soccer, volleyball and water polo but the majority of my time "in the chair" since 1990 has been invested in the game of golf with both ESPN and The Golf. Channel ( I was one of the first forty people hired by TGC in 1994 ). I am a fan and I watch TV sports as a fan but I also have hundreds of thousands of hours watching from inside a production truck. I think that makes me qualified to comment, my hope is you agree. I have written three books, Cover Me Boys, I'm Going In (Tales of the Tube from a Broadcast Brat), a memoir that is a tribute to my parents, the hard working, creative people who started ESPN2 and The Golf Channel and a look back at my life in television. Cover Me Boys was awarded the “Memoir of the Year” in 2017 by Book Talk Radio Club. My second book is a novel, Big Flies, and is a mystery that tells the story of a father and a son with four of the world's most notorious unsolved robberies as a backdrop. Big Flies was named “Solo Medalist” in the True Crime category by New Apple Awards. My third book, another mystery titled The Flower Girl Murder was just published. All three are available at Amazon. I look forward to sharing new thoughts about golf, golf television, sports in general and the broadcast industry with you. The views expressed here are mine and mine alone. They are not connected to nor endorsed by any other person, association, company or organization.
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