Slant Pattern Mailbag

It's time for another edition of Slant Pattern mailbag. As always, we don't actually get letters here at Slant Pattern, so instead we will be poaching the mailbag letters others get.

Danny asks River Avenue Blues (that's a Yankees blog):

"What do you think of a universal DH rule that ties the starting DH to the starting pitcher? When the starter is removed from the game, his DH is removed, as well, and when the DH spot next comes up to bat, a bench player must be used. This would allow the strategy and increased playing time of the NL to remain, while also not forcing pitchers to hit. It was an idea I originally heard Michael Kay pitch during a game broadcast and I think it's a great compromise. Do you see any potential issues with it?"

One issue I see with this is when, say, the starting pitcher gets injured in the first inning (or gets shelled and pulled, for that matter), forcing the DH to leave the game before getting a single at-bat (at home, at least).

Any player, including designated hitter, should only get pulled from a game due to injury, ineffectiveness, or natural strategic considerations. When I say "natural," I mean that under this proposal, you might pull a DH for strategic reasons, but it's an artificial strategic consideration: the one created by this rule. I don't find "creating more strategy" in and of itself to be a good enough of a reason to implement a rule. There should be some sort of benefit beyond that.

Hugh asks the Sports Illustrated tennis mailbag the following:

"With Bianca Andreescu's stunning victory at Indian Wells and the immense potential shown by both Denis Shapovalov and Felix Auger-Aliassime, these are exciting times for tennis fans north of the border. It's still very early days, but we are dreaming of seeing a Canadian singles champion at a major one day. How realistic is this hope, and as you project their development, which Grand Slam do you think each of the three Canadian teenagers will have the most success at in the years to come?"

Yes, it's a fine time to be a Canadian tennis fan, and not only because of those three. You also have Brayden Schnur making a (hotly-contested) ATP Final, Eugenie Bouchard is young enough to recapture or exceed her early form, and Milos Raonic continues to tick along. As an American tennis fan who supports a rivalry with Canada in any given sport, I find this development annoying.

They are all threats to win a Grand Slam someday, Auger-Aliassime and Andreescu moreso because they are only 18 and breaking various success-at-a-young-age records. Interestingly, they each appear to be best, at least by the numbers, on different surfaces: FAA on hard courts, Shapovalov on clay, and Andreescu on grass. So take those statistics and apply them to majors accordingly.

Joe writes the following to the Deadspin Funbag:

"Give NFL coaches one more type of challenge. Hear me out. If a play happens that looks suspicious and doesn't get called, the coaches have a new flag (orange?) they can throw that stops the game for exactly 30 seconds. Maybe 60. Either way, they have a short but finite amount of time to make a decision on whether or not the play is, in their opinion, worth an official review. They are allowed to do this once per quarter."

They already have this ability. It's called a "timeout." And coaches absolutely should consider using timeouts to give more time look at to dicey plays, especially in the first half, when timeouts aren't exactly at a premium.

Here are two of my thoughts on improving challenges in football. One is, a team should not lose a challenge if said challenge is successful. It's maddening to me that they do. Why are we punishing teams when the refs provably screwed up? It's not the number of challenges that should be finite, it's the number of unsuccessful challenges that should be.

Number two is, why have we ordained that once the next play is snapped, we MUST NEVER NEVER GO BACK AND LOOK ANYMORE? They replay points in tennis, they can replay downs in football. The important thing is getting it right, and the rules as written incentivizes teams that may have "gotten away with one" to hurry up and take a snap. Make it a two-play limit instead.

We'll close it out with a March Madness question. Zach Loo asks the Busting Brackets website the following:

Do you think we can see four No. 1 seeds in the Final Four this year?

He asked this at the start of the tournament, but obviously it's still a relevant question now that we've reached the Sweet 16.

The answer is an emphatic "yes." I went into this tournament thinking this was the most top-heavy field I've ever seen, and that's being borne out even more than I meant. In the second round, every single favorite won their game (Auburn was a lower seed than Kansas, but a slight favorite at the sportsbooks).

I think Duke, with a healthy Zion, is head and shoulders above anyone unless they have an off game — which they might have already had against UCF. Beyond that, it's going to take a surprising off night for Virginia or Gonzaga to lose. They only No. 1 seed I see as somewhat vulnerable is UNC. Of the No. 1 seeds, they suffered the worst defeat (21 points to Louisville, at home) and were the only one to lose to a non-tourney team (Texas). This is a great year to go chalk.

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