Slant Pattern Mailbag

It's time again for the Slant Pattern mailbag. As always, we don't get actual mail for this column, so instead I answer the sports mailbag questions posed to other sites. While you're here, you can check out a Betdaq promo code from one of our partners.

Matthew asks the Sports Illustrated college football mailbag: What is the easiest/hardest position for true freshmen to come in and play immediately at?

For hardest, I'm going to have to state the obvious: quarterback. Is there a position in professional team sports that's more uniquely demanding and important than a quarterback? He has to not only understand everything going on in the offense, but execute big chunks of it, too.

For easiest, I'm going to go ... well, just as obvious, but maybe easily forgotten: long-snapper. Sure, you have to block, too, but really, they're on the field less than anyone except kickers and punters, and have a much lower profile than both those positions.

On Twitter, "Duke MBB Analysis" asks Lauren Brownlow of WRAL: The outfield wall at baseball stadiums varies in distance from home plate, making it easier/harder for home runs. Should basketball teams be able to do the same with the three-point line distance at home?

Oh gross, no. If we're going to do anything that drastic, we should be looking in the opposite direction and standardize outfield walls at different levels of play, or at least at the major league level.

I do give the asker credit for a pretty novel idea, hate it though I do. How far up would teams be allowed to paint the three point stripe, in his mind? How far back? Could they do away with it entirely, or set it at 78 feet and essentially bring us back to the seventies?

In the SI golf mailbag, "ianmdallas" asks via Twitter, Starting now, who wins more majors: Bruce or Ricky + Rory + Jordan combined?

Bruce = Brooks Koepka, by the way, and I think we have a little bit of recency bias in thinking it will be him. Anything is possible, and I'm the guy who told you to bet against Tiger at the Masters, but can we give him 2-3 years before declaring Koepka better than Fowler, McIlroy, and Spieth combined? That's what you're doing in a sense in giving the nod to Brooks.

I expect Spieth to bounce back in a big way at some point, for starters. What Spieth did in 2015 was more impressive than Koepka's current run, and he did it at all around his 22nd birthday. It's not uncommon for young stars to take a dip in form before recovering it more permanently — Justin Rose burst onto the scene in 1998 with a T4 finish at the British Open at age 17, but he only became a major champion and No. 1 in the Official World Golf Rankings after year in the weeds in his early 20s.

I guess what I'm saying is, I'm not even sure Koepka will win more majors than Spieth going forward, and that's before even bringing McIlroy and Fowler into the mix. Two wins in the last three majors is impressive (again, Spieth did the same in 2015, and finished 2nd in a third), but let's not get carried away.

Finally, "Beef Thunderchest" asks Deadspin's Funbag: Is there any incontrovertible evidence that keeping some old and useless QB on an NFL as a "mentor" has really helped a young/rookie QB? Would Sam Darnold be completely lost without Josh McCown? Did Josh Rosen get any benefit from having Sam Bradford around? I know there's the whole Montana/Young and Favre/Rodgers examples, but those relationships were more hostile and competitive than mentor/student. I'm ready to call BS on the mentor QB thing.

I think you're onto something here. Obviously, rookies can learn plenty from veterans, and experienced leadership is A Thing, but no, I don't think it was strictly necessary for Patrick Mahomes to listen to the wise words of Alex Smith for a year to be the player he is now.

This is just one of those NFL tropes that seems right even if it's not. It reminds me of how certain coaches have a reputation of being great coaches whose bad teams are never their fault, even though they rarely produce results. I'm happy to say I can't think of any current cases, but see Dave Wannstedt and Norv Turner for historical examples.

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