Maybe H.G. Wells was onto something.
In 1895, the noted science-fiction author wrote a book called, “The Time Machine.” This is not to be confused with “Hot Tub Time Machine,” a 2010 movie that greatly improved on the concept because, well, because it added a hot tub.
Yet as we ponder the history of sports, it becomes clear that all we really need is a time machine. The hot tub is optional.
This idea came about while watching Wimbledon with my daughter. She asked, as any reasonable person would, why tennis scoring goes 15-30-40-game. The answer, culled from decades of keen observation and a vast knowledge of sports history, was: “I don’t know. They’ve always done it that way.”
So we’ll start with that. We’ll hop in our time machine and, once we go back a decade to see Sleater-Kinney in concert, we’ll travel to the origins of tennis and strangle whoever came up with that scoring system. Or maybe we’ll just strongly suggest they count it 1-2-3-4, like normal people would.
There. That was easy; we fixed tennis.
So the question now becomes, what should we do next in our excellent adventure? If you could go back and try to influence sports history, which destinations would you choose?
For Blazer fans, the answer is simple. A return to the 1984 draft or the 2007 draft could alter the course of the franchise. Add a Michael Jordan or a Kevin Durant and perhaps Blazermaniacs wouldn’t have to spend so much time with their therapists.
Of course, that wouldn’t impact local history as much as going back to 1964 and convincing Portland residents to vote in favor of the Delta Dome at Delta Park.
Think about it. If somebody would show up wearing Nikes and say, “I’m from the 21st century and if you build this dome you will have a Major League Baseball team and an NFL team in the near future,” it just might sway what was a close defeat at the polls.
Plus, the presence of the dome probably would have led to the replacement of the I-5 bridge 30 years ago and eliminated the need for the Columbia River Crossing committee.
Wow! I’m really liking this time-machine thing.
We can travel to the origins of soccer and make it clear that “injury time” is a really bad idea.
We can travel to 1993 and inform Carl Lewis that he should never, under any circumstances, sing The National Anthem at an NBA game. Although that would rob us of Charlie Steiner’s classic “Francis Scott Off-Key” line on ESPN.
We can go back to the 1972 Olympics and warn the Israeli athletes that terrorists are coming, and maybe correct the travesty that was the gold-medal basketball game while we’re there.
Why, we can even traverse to the 1800s and convince Cap Anson and others that baseball should allow black players in the major leagues. Just think about the prospect of seeing Satchel Paige and Josh Gibson and Oscar Charleston in the major leagues in the 1930s and 1940s.
The possibilities are endless; the opportunities to rewrite sports history are sublime. All we need a time machine to right the wrongs that have haunted sports over the decades. I think I’ll go check out Craigslist.