Slant Pattern Odds and Ends

* Simone Biles becomes the latest athlete to pull out of a competition due to mental health issues. I am heartened to see the outpouring of support she is receiving, but this bullet point isn't for those supporters. It is for those people that continue to insist that it ain't right. That any athlete who steps out of competition for mental health reasons are cowards, quitters, and pansies who lack toughness (invariably in contrast to how it was in their day).

My message for you is: in 50 years, you are going be looked at by history no differently than how it views slaveowners, those who burned witches at the stake, and the like: extremely dumb, and a blight on humanity.

* If my first bullet point didn't give it away, yes, I am extremely happy my hometown Cleveland Indians are changing their name, but I'm especially thrilled they chose Guardians as their new name.

I can't find it anymore, but easily 10+ ago, on a Cleveland baseball blog I frequent, a commenter explained why Guardians would make a great name for the Cleveland baseball team. He schooled us all on the history of the Guardians of Traffic, and I walked away completely convinced.

Since then, I've been carrying the torch for Guardians, but I had absolutely no idea it was under consideration as a replacement name, let alone that it was going to be picked. I am overjoyed.

* One cool resource I discovered not too long ago is the Mascot Database, tracking as many team nicknames as the site administrator can find, active or defunct, including high schools.

I could devote a whole column to this, and maybe I will at some point, but for now, I'd like to point out that it appears no teams are called the vampires.

Why? In fact, why is gothic horror so poorly represented in the first place? No vampires. No draculas. No mummies (okay, I understand that one). One werewolves. Three ghosts. Five monsters. These are all fantastic names!

Second, I'd like to point out no teams are called the toucans.

Why? That's a perfect name, especially for football. Think about the helmet: black shell, big beak on each side in the old Seattle Seahawks style. It'd be perfect!

* I haven't completely been able to articulate my feelings on Oklahoma and Texas moving to the SEC, other than a vague notion that it's not good. Now, I wonder if it was done in a response to the expansion of the college football playoff format.

Expanding the playoff field to 12 was a victory the little guy; now at least one G5 team will be be in every year, with plenty of room for more than one.

So could this be a case of the big guy striking back? Daring the Selection Committee to leave out some iteration of Oklahoma, Texas, Alabama, LSU, Georgia, and Auburn when their only losses were to each other?

Or does it portend of an even bigger change — a departure of super conferences from the NCAA entirely? As we are often reminded, there is nothing stopping any school or league from simply forming their own association. Are the silver-spooners going to go to war with the NCAA and say, "Cater to us, or we're gone?" and if so, will the NCAA capitulate?

As I've written about before, as the years go by, the parity increases in football, basketball and countless other sports. There is less of a talent gap between Oklahoma and, say, Tulsa than there was 30 years ago. Furthermore, kids want to play and will enroll at Tulsa rather than ride the bench four years at Oklahoma (owing to the shrinking talent gap that does remain). Practices, processes, and conventions for developing football players (in this example) have been streamlined and optimized before these kids get to college.

Therefore, we need a bigger pie, not a smaller one, and the big slices getting together to form their own exclusive pie contravenes that reality. I'm not sure it's going to work out for them. I am sure I don't want them to try.

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