Slant Pattern Mailbag

As always, we at the Slant Pattern do not receive mail, so instead we poach the mails, e-mails, and tweets intended for other mailbag features across the web.

At The Athletic, Mike M. asks Jay Glazer:

"Do you agree with DeAndre Hopkins that someone new needs to be deciding calls in New York? The P.I. challenges have been a fiasco this year."

I suspect that it's not the people looking at the replays that are to blame, but the directives they are given. We were I-don't-know-how-many-weeks into the season before the second PI call was overturned via replay. That says to me that officials are told (off the record), "don't overturn a non-PI call unless it's as bad as the one in the NFC Championship Game last year," or something along those lines. It seems clear to me the PI has to be not only indisputable, but egregious.

So, I'd be in favor of making the standard for overturning a non-PI call a little bit more sensible. And while I am a huge proponent of instant replay in general, I'm not sure I like it on judgment call penalties like PI. Can you imagine if coaches could challenge whether or not there was holding on a play?

It seems that has a mailbag focused exclusively on the MVP race. Weirdly specific, but okay. Here's an (edited) missive from Željko Puharić:

"Greetings from Croatia. My man Kevin Durant is out, but some pretty good guys are still there. Luka Doncic — who's from my neighborhood — or Kawhi Leonard or "The Beard," as usual, are in the mix. LeBron [James] is like old wine, but not good enough for a second place spot on the MVP list. To me, he's not even amongst the three best players at the moment. Sorry, LBJ, but time is running for all of us."

I agree that LeBron is entering the twilight of his career, and is not among my favorites to win the MVP this year either. But that less to do with "LeBron is weakening," which I don't think he particularly is, as much "Oh my God, there are so many talented players right now." The league is lousy with superstars, Doncic the latest among them, and you, dear Željko, didn't even mention the Greek Freak. I'm also happy that the superstars are fairly spread out, so there are 5-6 teams that could win the championship this year.

Back to LeBron, I do think his dominance and output will decline, but slowly. Meaning he will still be a legitimate superstar, if not an MVP shortlister, for years to come. Prediction: that "years to come" will include a third and final victory lap with the Cavs once his contract with the Lake Show is up, and he will still be good enough to get the Cavs back into the playoffs in his late 30s and, if he plays that long, early 40s.

On to college football. At the Bleacher Report, Myousif asks:

"Would the committee pick a one loss conference champion over Clemson if they are played close in their remaining games? For example, if Minnesota wins out and Clemson looks shaky."

First, I changed "Penn State" to "Minnesota" in this question since Penn State can no longer be a one-loss conference champion. The answer is, "I hope not, but maybe."

I say "maybe" because the committee makes it clear that they shoot for the four best teams, not the four most deserving. It's not hard to argue that Clemson, with their uber-weak conference schedule and clunker against North Carolina, may not be one of the four best teams.

But I hope they don't do that. Clemson is in a P5 conference with schools that recruit well and likely won't be down forever (Florida State, Miami), and they will have beaten two SEC teams en route to going undefeated this year, if they do. They should be in.

Finally, we turn to Alan Shipnuck's golf mailbag at, where a @jviohl simply asks:

"Golf under the lights, yay/nay?"

Nay. I'm not a traditionalist at all, but night golf seems sort of counterintuitive to me. First, that's a seriously huge — one might say wasteful — expenditure of energy. How much light would it take to illuminate a 7,000-yard golf course? The equivalent of many, many football field lights, I-tell-you-wut. And I think it would have to be brighter and more intense lighting than for other nighttime sporting events, so balls don't get hopelessly lost in deep and dark rough or in the bushes or trees.

Or, they could go with a more spartan approach and just light up the fairways and greens, and if this contributes to balls being lost by the dark where they wouldn't be during the day, tough teabags. That seems needlessly punitive to me, though. Let's keep golf a daytime sport.

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