Slant Pattern Mailbag

It's time once again to bring out the Slant Pattern mailbag, where I, Kevin Beane, answer all the questions you send in.

As usual, no one sends Slant Pattern any questions, so instead I will answer the questions posed to other sports mailbag features. First, from the Notre Dame NBC page:

irishsoccerfirst: Give us your take on the Irish schedule this coming season. Does it appear weaker than usual at this point? I mean Nevada and Army? Isn't that two cupcakes? NC State and Syracuse are two weak ACC programs most years. VA Tech has been struggling of late, etc. Your thoughts at this early date would be appreciated, but it looks like any loss could be fatal.

I would say this schedule is about on par, toughness-wise, with most Notre Dame schedules. Syracuse and N.C. State are down but Duke is not, and I would not call Nevada, who won a bowl game last year, a cupcake. Besides those teams, there are 3 opponents in ESPN's way-too-early Top 25 (all in the top 16, in fact) in Michigan State, Stanford, and USC, and at Texas will not be easy. So I can envisage a universe where Notre Dame gets in the playoff with a loss. Like Ukraine, Notre Dame schedule not weak.

From the mailbag...

Craig Melville (@COcubbiefan): Do you see MLB ever going back to a balanced schedule? Maybe play all teams?


It's not just that an unbalanced schedule makes divisional games more important. It's that, absent an unbalanced schedule, divisions are meaningless. They become arbitrary columns, and there is no reason to have divisions with a balanced schedule.

How does it make any sense at all to have, say, the Yankees compete for a division title with the Red Sox but not the White Sox if they are playing the same schedule? What meaning can the Dodgers take from winning the NL West if they played the Brewers as often as they play the Giants? A balanced schedule makes no sense at all unless you break up the divisions (which in turn makes little sense) and I hope it never happens.

From ESPN's Big 12 mailbag...

Matt Nelson @MNelson_ISU @BChatmon: There's so much excitement surrounding Matt Campbell right now ... If he can't win at ISU, can anyone else win in Ames?

Yes, he can win in Ames. I'm happy for Cyclone fans, as the program held on to Paul Rhodes way too long, essentially on the strength of upsets. In seven years at the helm, he never once managed even a .500 record in Big 12 play.

Back to the question, there are two reasons that I think a winning program in Ames is possible. 1) Dan McCarney almost did it. He led the Cyclones to a top-25 ranking at the end of the 2000 season and got them to bowl games in five years out of six between 2000-2005. 2) This is the Big 12. I'm not that old, but I remember clearly when Baylor and Kansas State were the absolute pits, an abomination on the sport. Now Baylor are perennial world beaters and Kansas State was pretty recently. I live in Texas, and believe me, if one can build a winner in Waco, one can build a winner anywhere. In no conference are parity and surprise more in evident than in the Big 12.

Finally, a question from the Sports Illustrated media mailbag...

Lt. Frank Drebin: Ever foresee a time when the Masters TV coverage is comparable to other golfing majors? Spieth had 11 holes [shown on the] Thu/Fri b-cast.

Yes, I do. I think so because the people in charge of The Masters, whose TV policies betray a clear disdain for the viewing public, will die someday. When they do, less disdainful people are likely to take charge, as Augusta National itself has moved in a progressive direction, what with admitting women and blacks now, and all.

But if you ask me, Augusta National is still an awful place run by awful people. It still has the stink of a place that didn't admit blacks until 1990 and women until 2011. Up until 1983, all the caddies were black (club founder Clifford Roberts once said "as long as I'm alive, all the golfers will be white and all the caddies will be black"). While players now can use their own caddies, of course, they still have to wear humiliating jumpsuits. I fantasize about being a top pro golfer who boycotts the Masters. I love golf, but it's the only sport where I routinely root for non-Americans to beat Americans, because most American golfers fell from the same far-right tree that the Augusta National crypt-keepers come from.

So, how about that Danny Willett guy?

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