Slant Pattern Odds and Ends

* At the UK Open stop on the World Nineball Tour last week, there was a spot of controversy in the semifinal. In a close match, Lithuania's Pijus Labutis missed a very makeable shot, wherein his opponent, Robbie Capito, was sort of strumming his hand up and down. Was Capito doing this on purpose? If so, should he be banned from the sport and strung up for good measure? See for yourself.

That's what a lot of the commentariat on social media and Reddit think — there isn't a sport so obscure that its fanbase doesn't love vilifying a player or team — but let's slow our roll and look at the facts.

1. The referee, who would be the person to penalize Capito, did not.

2. Capito was making the same motion all match, whether Labutis was looking his way or not. This suggests to me a nervous tic rather than a deliberate cheating act.

3. Crucially, Labutis denied he was distracted by Capito's movement by the shot in question.

But at No. 4 is where I come in with my hot take: if, for example, we have no compunction about trying to distract a free throw shooter with all sorts of silliness behind the backboard, then why are we solemnly staying super still and quiet for tennis players, golfers, and pool players? Why are there some sports where we hold it to be sacrosanct that the participants should be able to practice their craft distraction-free, and for other sportsmen and sportswomen who need to concentrate, TS?

I therefore call upon the commissioner of All Sports in the World to do away with the library-stillness expectation in any sports culture that has it. Let's say by next Friday. Thanks in advance.

* Tom Brady is set to become FOX's lead analyst for games this fall, bringing to mind a few seasons back when Tony Romo became CBS's lead analyst. In both cases, a recently-retired QB supplanted an incumbent analyst did not appear to particularly warrant being replaced.

In CBS's case, that was Phil Simms who lost his job to Romo, and he was not happy about it, although he is still employed by CBS. In Brady's case, the lead analyst has been Greg Olsen for the past two years, and by my lights, he's been perfectly fine.

Perhaps looking to nip any controversy by retconning Olsen out of existence, FOX simply didn't mention him at all in their presser announcing Brady.

Things like this happen and I'm not too bent out of shape about it, but I am pessimistic Brady is going to be good at this job. In Romo's case, we already kind of knew during his playing days that he was a touch more loquacious and articulate than your average NFLer, but I have never heard Brady say anything that struck me as either insightful or candid. I guess we'll see.

* One thing I like about college baseball is how there are non-conference games all season long. I tend to like non-conference games in any given college sport because it gives us matchups we don't see every year.

In the days of my youth, there were plenty of non-conference games in football and men's basketball all season long, aided by the fact that there were so very many independent teams.

Now, you pretty much have to be in a conference, and it's been decreed that once we are through about 25% of the season, all the games should be intraconference (I'm not counting the SEC and ACC's propensity to schedule November football games against hapless FCS foes).

In baseball, however, the prevailing standard is to have conference games on weekends, with a non-conference game slipped in during weekdays, for the whole season. What's more, no team wants to take the whole weekend off, so in conferences with an odd number of participants, we get weekend non-conference games, as well.

So with this in mind, please join me in watching Florida International travel up to Iowa to take on the Hawkeyes in Des Moines, where the Iowa Cubs normally play, on Big Ten Plus. A great time is sure to be had by all!

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