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    By Bob Eckstein, of The Bob

    It doesn’t take a Nostradamus to foresee there are big changes coming in sports. The driving force, as always, will be and always has been, money, specifically how to compensate with ever-rising mega-salaries. Some of these predictions are already rearing their ugly head in one form or another. Here are ten, guaranteed, predictions you can bet on. 

    End Of The Gravy Train For Starting Pitchers

    The escalating mega starter salaries are going to reach a point where an adjustment has to be made as coaches can’t get more than five or six innings from these starters who are trained in the minors to throw heat all the time. The day of a starter going 120 pitches have been gone the way of the 7th inning stretch (games will be under an hour by 2030 to accommodate America’s short attention span.). As a result, starters are not as valuable as their contracts and teams will craft a pitching squad made up of lesser-paid relievers, pitching by committee.

    Running Backs, The Honeymoon Is Over

    This has slowly become, as demonstrated by the past five drafts, a low-priority position because now running backs burn out after four or five years. Long-term mega contracts will be extinct and running backs, you will become the least paid, most dispensable players on the rooster.

    Fans Catching Fouls Balls Are An Out

    It will be called the most exciting new development in baseball history. Heck, every sport will try to think of ways to incorporate this concept for themselves. The inception of this brilliant idea started back in 1996 with Jeffrey Maier teaming up with Derek Jeter in the American League Championships and got the marketing wheels turning. Baseball must keep evolving and engaging with its fans if it has any chance of being relevant to this generation that can, honestly, take or leave baseball. This new rule will make it so that ANY foul ball caught in the stands, by ANYONE, counts as an out. Attendance will soar, especially if they are gambling on the game, as fans will have an actual role in the game and can tip the scales further of playing at home.

    No More Kickoffs

    The league will revert to what we do in the schoolyard—you start out at the twenty-five-yard line. Owners don’t want to risk season-ending injuries to their huge investments, so expect them to eliminate the most dangerous play in football. Half the time the kickoffs go through the end zone anyway (expect to first see a failed experiment to award a point for kickoffs that go through the goalposts), and it has become the sport’s most boring play now that extra points were moved back. 

    The Death Of Golf.

    Golf is in real trouble. What’s coming down the pike is a massive court case between LIV and PGA. Bowling was once one of America’s major sports. Until the country decided it could care less about its competitors. Golf is following that playbook getting us to lose interest in its stars and at risk of making golf a recreational sport as relevant as bowling for younger generations who could care less. Don’t believe this? Ask any booth at Top Golf if they ever heard of Arnold Palmer or Johnny Miller? What happened to Rickie Fowler?

    Live In-Person Gambling

    The country’s hottest new pastime is not pickleball, it’s gambling. What’s next? Betting from the seats using controls built into the armrests. New stadiums will be equipped with this new feature so attendees can place bets in real-time and owners can finance their sky-high salaries.

    Hockey Will Get A Black Eye For Fighting

    It’s only a matter of time before there is pressure from outside groups to protect our youth. Like record labels, Congress will be involved after enough backlash against violence in hockey. Owners will cave due to lost advertisers, combined with damaging high salaried investments, forcing the sport to restructure itself and finally stop condoning fighting by issuing suspensions instead of just penalties. Flagrant penalties will have multi-game suspensions. Right now pitchers get ten games by adding gum to the ball. Hockey can’t give just a ten-minute major when one of their players bashes someone’s head in.

    Basketball Becomes A Rich Man’s Sport

    It already costs an arm and a leg for tickets. Celebrities pay prime to have their “feet on the floor”—which many would argue, by the way, is not the best viewing spot. But that’s not the point. Those seats are about the illusion of getting physically closer to the game, perceiving one is nearer the players. Ben Stiller wants to get bopped in the head with a stray ball or Olivia Wilde have a sweaty forward fall on her. There is only one way to go from there: the super-rich can pay to get minutes in the game. Every team MUST allow a fan to play for five minutes. Besides, it would supply the sport with some Harlem Globetrotters moments and humor it has been missing. 

    AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill

    High School Gym Classes Will Include Texas Hold ‘Em And Video-Gaming

    Wish this was outrageous a prediction, but is it? Kind of heading that way from the initial noble idea of improving our children’s health. In 1820, gym was incorporated into America’s student’s curriculum. President Franklin D. Roosevelt raised awareness of the importance of physical education during his terms. President John F. Kennedy saw a weight problem in this country and became an advocate for children’s fitness. By 2030 we will most likely include gun shooting as a gym elective. 

    Soccer Has Two Balls

    I have been advocating for this for years in major publications. The only way soccer is going to be exciting enough for Americans, short of having players in cars with a good chance of having collisions with loud, fiery explosions, is to introduce a second ball into play. Crazy idea? I predict it will happen in a few years.

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