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March 19, 2012

11
A.M.

Ask Boswell about the Washington Nationals, spring training, the Capitals, the Redskins and all Washington sports

Total Responses: 34

About the hosts

About the host

Host: Thomas Boswell

Thomas Boswell

A Washington Post columnist since 1984, Thomas Boswell is known for the many books he has written on baseball, including "How Life Imitates the World Series" and "Why Time Begins on Opening Day."

About the topic

Washington Post Sports Columnist Tom Boswell answered your questions about the Redskins' game, the Capitals, the Nationals, the rest of D.C. sports and more.

Past Ask Boswell chats
Q.

Is it Opening Day yet?

Quick hitter - who gets a bigger standing ovation in his first home at-bat of the season on April 12 - Ryan Zimmerman on the heels of his long term deal, or Wilson Ramos on the heels of surviving the kidnapping episode? I can't wait for my hands to hurt clapping for the both of them for as long as possible.
A.
Thomas Boswell :

Those are going to be two long ovations! I'd probably go Ramos, Zim and maybe Gio as No. 3 in a "Welcome to town" ovation.

– March 19, 2012 11:01 AM
Q.

Redskins salary cap penalty

Tom, as I understand it the NFL was able to punish the Redskins and Cowboys for supposedly circumventing the salary cap in 2010, the uncapped year, because the players' union agreed to the punishment. I'd love to hear what the MLBPA thinks of that. You'd think the union would do all in its power to help high spending teams spend. No wonder the NFL players get rolled by the owners every time.
A.
Thomas Boswell :

This certainly illustrates the relative power of the two unions. If the MLBPA neds an object lesson in what direction NOT to go, they just have to look at the NFLPA. But it's always been much tougher in the NFL, in part because so many rank-and-file players are easily replaced. One 6-foot-5, 315-pound lineman from the SEC or ACC looks just like another under all those pads and helmet.  So a large number of NFLPA members feel insecure from Day One.

The $36-million cap hit the Redskins took should be laid at Snyder's feet. A mistake is a mistake is a mistake. And this is a big one. Part of anyone's job is to figure out "what can go wrong? What are the consequences of this line of acxtion?" Sure, the NFL owners collude. I've probably covered as many "colluders" in as many sports as anybody. Snyder knew he was going against the wishes of a huge majority of his fellow owners. At that point, there are a LOT of questions you can ask yourself before you decide, "What should I do?"

But here is a huge question: What are the CONSEQUENCES if I use the uncapped year to steal a march on my competitors?

Now we know the answer: They get you in a back alley and beat you up.

At no point were the Redskins concerned with moral issues or what is "right" or how awful it is to collude. They just thought, "We're rich. They already dislike us. What can we get away with?"

So, for the Skins, this was about competitive stratgey. The buck stops with Snyder on setting biz strategy. They can find away to get around a lot of the cap hit. But this was still a blunder.

Apparently, they tried to get away with a lot.

After that, you can ask "What is morally right.s

– March 19, 2012 11:01 AM
Q.

Lannan vs. Detwiler

Over the last two months when Detwiler became a starting pitcher he had a 3.20 ERA vs. 3.86 ERA for Lannan, and a 2 to 1 strikeout to Lannan's nearly 1:1 ratio. Why is it assumed that Lannan will start as the #5 starter over Detwiler if Wang is still injured?
A.
Thomas Boswell :

Lannan isn't suited to pitching effce3tively out of the bullpen. Detwiler is. (He was good last year in that role.) Lannan needs precision and a full warm up period. Detwiler is more a stuff pitcher. This is the Nats line of reasoning anyway.

I hope Wang gets back. He looked fabulous in his first eight outs against the Yanks. Better than I thought he'd ever look. That day, he looked like the Nats No. 3 or 4 starter, not No. 5. After the awkward (!) fall he took, I'm surprised he isn't hurt much worse.

Lannan as No. 5 and Detwiler as the sixth starter out of the pen is a standard, and sensible, approach. But Detwiler does look like he's 'getting it.'

– March 19, 2012 11:02 AM
Q.

Could RG3 be better than Luck

I'm Australian, so I am no expert of the NFL but after watching a ton of College Football last year I really got the feeling that Luck makes a ton of underneath throws, rarely challenging the corners with the deep ball, instead hitting his slot reciver and Tight Ends over and over again as they were usually wide open. I rarely saw him fit a ball into tight spots in the games I watched whereas RG3 consistently connected on the deep ball and was much more willing to challenge the defense. Am I dreaming or could Luck end up being overrated and RG3 being the better QB?
A.
Thomas Boswell :

I saw a lot of Luck. He impressed me, but not as much as RGIII and for similar reasons. He had a strong running game, which makes any QB look better. He looked polished at reading defenses and throwing accurately on easy-to-medium difficulty throws. But he didn't make my eyes light up as Next Great QB. He just looked like the next Good-To-Very-Good QB who could also have flaws that would knock him down a notch.

It's going to be interesting to see if the Colts stay in love with Luck after both QBs have their "throw days" this week. If I were the Colts, I'd take RGIII in a heart beat. But they seem to love Luck, in part because he is a Peyton "type" and seems so prepped to step in immediately.

RGIII may need a year to adapt and Luck may be fully formed right now. But there's a college QB who looks as good as Luck (to me) every two or three years. And some of them don't work out. RGIII looks more like a skill set that comes along every five-to-10 years. Obviously the Redskins and Shanahan think so, too, for the price they paid! Would they pay that much for Luck. I'm pretty sure they hope they don't find out. But. obviously, they are willing to live with the Luck possibility.

Hey, maybe we have it backwards and Luck is the A+ real deal. That's what so crazy about the NFL draft. You think you KNOW. But even when something looks like a near certainty it's more like a 75% probability.   

– March 19, 2012 11:10 AM
Q.

Dear Tom,

Did you know that LEHIGH BEAT DUKE on Friday? Just checking. :-)
A.
Thomas Boswell :

I loved every minute of that game and was sorry to watch them lose last night. I've watch so much hoops that the games are already a blur.

Georgetown overachieved in the regular season and deserves lots of credit. But they badly underachieved in the tournamaenty __again. I'm sorry, but to get a No. 3 seed, after playing in a monster conference, all that
"pre-season pick of No. 10" is long since out the window. You have proved that you are NOT that team. You have become the powerful No. 3-seed team. Anbd you shouldn't be losing to a double-digit seeded team for the fourth straight time in the NCAAs. JTIII seems to get the best out of his teams all season but he needs to think about this March pattern. No, I'm not smart enough to know what, specifically, to tell him, even though, like everybody, I've watched a million hours of college basketball and covered GU for a few years long ago. 

Twice could be bad luck, but three times is a trend. What is four times KOed by a double-digit seed. GU is now one of only four teams to have that happen top them.

I'm probably a little grouchy because I wanted a local team to keep playing. Man, March Madness turns into March Not-Too-Bad if you have no rooting interest. And Kentucky __grrrr__ looks like it has a stranglehold with Kendall Marshall's broken wrist with UNC. Guess I'll have to join the Izzo Good Guy bandwagon. It's going to be awfully crowded.

– March 19, 2012 11:18 AM
Q.

Viera

Boz, What's the latest on the Nats possible move to a new Spring Training site, whether the Tampa Bay area or Arizoina? I'm considering retirement down there and wouldn't want to guess wrong
A.
Thomas Boswell :

Baseball has pretty much laid down the law that nobody else moves to Ariz because it would make Florida even more untenable. (Everybody ought to be in Arizona. But there doesn't seem to be a magic wand to make it happen.) I doubt the Nats stay in Viera. Rumor No. 1 is Ft. Meyers. But I wouldn't buy a home based on which little Florida town does the best job of enticing a team to switch sights. Wait until it's done, I'd say, because if it's going to happen it'll probably happen by '13 or '14.

– March 19, 2012 11:20 AM
Q.

Bryce to Syracuse

Anyone grounded in a semblance of reality knew Bryce Harper was not going to make the 25 man roster out of spring training. So as DC obsessively awaits his arrival, what are the things we can look for statistically, anecdotally, or otherwise that will give us a clue as to his arrival. We know there are business reason dates, roughly end of April/early May call up keeps him under control at 25 as a super two, and early/mid June would even avoid super two. On the field, it'll be tough to follow his defensive progress from afar as we can't really watch the routes he is taking or how he's improving his jump off the bat reads in center field. At the plate we can look at splits - to me he needs to hit lefties better, especially breaking stuff and he needs to close the gap of ABs it takes to get out of a funk or slump and be a little more consistent. The latter will simply come with more plate appearances, one would assume. Another 100 PAs would put us roughly into that super two range, end of April, assuming health. I'd much rather see him get the time it takes to approach 900 PAs as a pro, but that is probably wishful thinking on my end as that'd take us to near July. Break it down for us Boz, what can/should the Harper-maniacs track?
A.
Thomas Boswell :

First, if you're dead serious about this, get MiLB.TV to watch Syracuse games on your computer. I got it last year to watch him in A and AA ball. The lower leagues have one camera on the roof! But by AAA, it's almost MLB-quality coverage with CF camera, etc. You can "scout" him very well. And it's cheap __like maybe $10/mo on a monthly basis so it might only be $20-$30 until he comes up.

He has enough trouble with any LHer with a decent breaking ball and some command that I wouldn't be in a hurry to bring him up. Unless he just goes nuts at AAA, I'd think "mid-season" now. Besides, if you want him to play CF that means he needs MORE time in the minors to be ready to come up.

One thought: It's possible that the combination of sending Harper down AND calling him a CF has THREE purposes. 1) Perhaps they think he needs quite a bit more seasoning against LHer than they thought, so CF gives them a pretext to keep him down longer w/out miffing him. 2) If he did pan out in CF, wow, that's a team changer. He has great on-field attitude. 3) Maybe his last big mag interview w GQ with the ball in his mouth __on top of the now dormant tweets__ convinced them that he needed to spend some more head-shrinkage time in the minors.

His teammates like him. He plays very hard (almost too hard from a best-outcome baseball perspective). Some, like Pete Rose, can play that head-first 7/24/365 way, but not many. Harper's already had enough minor injuries to make you wonder if the Mr. Indestructible style is wise. But it's him.

Davey loves him. Riz worries about the classic syndrome: big personality before big performance.

It should help calm down the camp to have this decision completed. Several other stories are working out better than expected. Jesus Flores, after a very good winter ball season, looks like a big upgrade on Pudge (offensively) as the back-up catcher. Mark DeRosa couldn't look much better. IF his wrist stays healthy, he's a steal and one of the best-hitting, most-versatile and intelligent bench players in the game. ("IF") Lombardozzi looks excellent. OK, I didn't SEE the single and home run off Sabathia. But when I go back down to FLa this weekend I'll be interested in him as one of the going-into-Opening-Day stories.

Also, Strasburg's arm feels great (he says). But his command set him apart almost as much as his stuff. And his command has been a little off. No reason to think he won't polish that up.

– March 19, 2012 11:35 AM
Q.

"Anbd you shouldn't be losing to a double-digit seeded team for the fourth straight time in the NCAAs."

I hate Georgetown and would love not to give them any credit, but I think it's important to be fair and to recognize that NC State isn't exactly your normal small-time unknown double-digit seed. They're known for their runs in the ACC Tournament every year and their NCAA history isn't too shabby, either. As a Duke alumnus (got my J.D. there), it pains me to note that Lehigh is far more the stereotypical double-digit seed than NC State is. I think both Duke and Georgetown were over-seeded based on their history, sort of like how in football teams like Michigan always get rated highly in the preseason poll even if the current team shows no reason to deserve it.
A.
Thomas Boswell :

You have good points. But I'd go back to two points. A No. 11 is still a No. 11. (NC St didn't exactly put that game away cleanly. GU had lots of chances in the last 6-8 minutes.) Also, it's now four straight NCAA appearances, including two first-rd KOs. 

(You "hate" Georgetown? I doubt very much that you're a standard-issue Hoya Hater. So I don't mean this for you. But I've never understood the antipathy for the Hoyas. It tells me a lot more about the person doing the talking __because, in my experience, they usually have a lot of thing backwards__ than it does about Georgetown's program.

Now that Big John has retired from local radio, I'll tell a little story from long ago when I was covering high schools __I wasn't even the high school editor__ and John was an obscure high school coach at St. Anthony's.  Nobody, and I promise you nobody, thought he'd be a famous college basketball coach. And I was so low on the depth chart at the Post that you couldn't find me. John got to know my mother through an accidental phone call to me. They started talking and got along well. (Better than John and I at the time, probably, since he was usually in some local-b'ball fuss with DeMatha.) So, he used to phone my mother to ask her advice on child-rearing issues with his sons __yes, JTIII and Ronnie__ when they were very little. He once said, "Those country girls are smart," because she was from a tiny farming town in Delaware.  So, please, go on and tell me about the Big John stereotype. There's just no truth in it. That's not who he is. That's not who he ever was. And that's not how his kids were raised. He just had principles and stood up for them. And that has a price associated with it which he was glad to pay.

– March 19, 2012 11:51 AM
Q.

Re: Duke

First, I'm not a stereotypical Duke hater. I actually like the way they play and greatly respect Coach K (although he has inherited that "we're the best so we deserve all the breaks" entitlment attitude that Dean Smith used to have). Having said that, his team stunk against Lehigh. They got outplayed all night. They ran a terrible offensive set all night (two big guys who only set picks and rarely touched the ball; guess what, Lehigh's defenders focused on the guy getting the pick and stayed with him, duh!). Their "star" player, Austin Rivers, played a very selfish game all night, IMHO, looking to score instead of move the ball properly. And they got killed on the boards by a much smaller team. Shouldn't a lot of the blame for that fall on the coach? That game seems to have been written off as another "example of March Madness" but Coach K should take some heat for it.
A.
Thomas Boswell :

!

When it comes to questionable coaching, I want to know how Purdue could ignore its best player, Robbie Hummel, for the entire 2nd half. I know Kansas went to a triangle-and-two trick defense that helped keep the ball away from him. But he scored 22 in the 1st half, was red hot and Purdue needed to get hom SOME touches in the 2nd. Sorry, just drove me crazy watching it. The correct answer to a box-and-one or triangle-and-two is NOT "Well, I guess they took our star(s) away from us. So, our other guys will have to win it."

– March 19, 2012 11:56 AM
Q.

Skins and Salary Cap Hit

I don't think dumping the salary in 2010 was a mistake even if they are penalized. The other teams were taking illeagal actions in colluding to hold down salaries in an "uncapped" year, and the Skins chose not to do it. They took the gamble that there was no way they could be punished without the NFL admitting to collusion. Who knew the NFLPA could get played like that. These teams are trying every day to get a competitive advantage. The very same small market owners who pushed to void the contract and force an uncapped year are the same owners that want to punish the Skins and Cowboys for using their money advantage when they should have been able to. I sure hope Danny sues someone, would be a shame to sue season ticket holders and reporters but not the NFL when they screw all of us.
A.
Thomas Boswell :

Nobody seems to see any grounds for a suit. I don't.

The Skins didn't make it a secret of what they were doing.

I think they are lucky they didn't lose draft picks. Not because that would have been RIGHT, but because the NFL owners are a bare-knuckles bunch and they are liable to do ANYTHING.

On some things, I believe in trusting your instantaneous reaction. As soon as I heard it, I literally smacked my head and thought, "They trade for RGIII and nobody even gets to enjoy it for a week before 'Payback for Dan' decreases the chances of putting a good team around Griffin."

– March 19, 2012 12:02 PM
Q.

NCAA Tournament

John Feinstein got it right -- these games are now so long and have no flow so that they are early unwatchable. The first rounds used to be mesmerizing. Now i have them on mute while I read a good book. it's ssad.
A.
Thomas Boswell :

John has it right. The PACE of March Madness is essential. You're trying to get interested, in many cases, in little-known teams and players. But if TV makes it a torture, why bother? My son came over to watch a couple of games yesterday. I felt like screaming, "No more commericals!"

Sometimes, you don't know why something clicks SO well, like the evolution of March Madness in recent decades. And, sometimes, you also don't know what will damage it a lot more than you'd think. Don't screw up a good thing.

– March 19, 2012 12:10 PM
Q.

Nationals Winning Culture

So I think it is safe to say a significant amount of traction has been made in shifting away from a losing culture in NatsTown. So that said, tell me someone in the Nats marketing department is aware that on April 12's home opener, Teddy absolutely HAS to win.
A.
Thomas Boswell :

The Teddy Issue will just have to be confronted this season, I suppose. I find this one just a little tougher than coming up with a solution for World Peace.

(After all, you can always get World Peace in a trade with Los Angeles.)

– March 19, 2012 12:12 PM
Q.

Middle infield for 2012

We know Desmond is a terrific athlete, has a great attitude, and is a favorite of many players and execs in the organizaton. We also know that many analysts think highly of Danny Espinosa and project him as a future shortstop. Finally, we have Steve Lombardozzi, who displays the best plate discipline, is efficient in the field, and may be the most natural top of the order guy among the 3. How do you expect Davey to split the playing time? How likely is it that at the end of 2012, it is still Desmond leadoff and Espinosa batting 2d at 2d base?
A.
Thomas Boswell :

Lombardozzi gives you a chance to give Desmond and Espinosa a day off here and there. But it's going to be tough to get him the 300 ABs he needs to justify having him with the big club. The A.L. games with a DH won't help that much because you probably want DeRosa's bat in the lineup in a l.ot of those games.

Finally, the Nats are providing REAL baseball questions for their fans rather than "where do we find three starting pitchers who aren't a total disgrace?" But they aren't easy questions.

You probably have to find out if Desmond-Espinosa is your version of Whitaker-Trammell or Rollins-Utley (when they used to bat 1-2 early in their careers, if I remember correctly). There's a tradition of double-play combos hitting 1-2. Based on what? Maybe just because it seems cool and mid-infielders tend to be fast and good bat-handlers for hit-and-run, bunt, etc.

But if it's not working by mid-season, I'd say you have to use the second half looking for a different 1-2. But give it a chance. A switch-hitter with 20-homer, 20-steal power/speed at No. 2 is a thing of beauty if it works.

– March 19, 2012 12:18 PM
Q.

Nats offense

It's great that the Nats upgraded the pitching staff, but given the poor run support that killed the starters last year (especially Zimmermann), are we fated for another season of brilliant pitching performances that go for naught? I get that a full season for Zimmerman, LaRoche, etc will help, but this could get frustrating fast. The spring training results aren't reassuring. Thoughts?
A.
Thomas Boswell :

Spring training __in terms of results__ is just BEGINNING to matter. Up until know it has been, "Don't get hurt" and "Look at the players like Harper who are on the edge of making the team."

Lots of nagging injuires, but no big ones, it seems. You can't judge the lineup until LaRoche and Morris are actually IN it!

But you're right, the offense, and creating a lineup for the future, will be under a microscope all season.

 

– March 19, 2012 12:20 PM
Q.

Which is the bigger Upset?

*Villanova over Georgetown *Norfolk State over Missouri *Lehigh over Duke
A.
Thomas Boswell :

For me, Lehigh.

Lehigh??? Those guys are engineers.

 

– March 19, 2012 12:21 PM
Q.

Refs and Duke

Tom, do you remember that ACC men's championship game in '78 ir '79 with Duke and Maryland playing? A Maryland player went up for a layup in the final second to win the game for Maryland and a Duke player tackled him with a tackle that would have made Dick Butkus proud. No foul called by the refs. Game and championship given to Duke. There seems to be a pattern with Duke except against Lehigh last week.
A.
Thomas Boswell :

Vague recollection, yes.

Duke and Carolina have always gotten the breaks. (Whine, whine.) Glad the refs didn't hand it to 'em.

– March 19, 2012 12:23 PM
Q.

Teddy

I think Teddy should win the day after we clinch our first post-season appearance.
A.
Thomas Boswell :

This is the "Traditional Answer." I've always liked it.

But it's a great bit. As soon as Teddy wins, you've killed a LOT of its appeal. The Racing Presidents are a big success, as such things go. This may be a case of "if it's not broke...."

The fact that it is talked about so much is proof that it is NOT broken.

– March 19, 2012 12:24 PM
Q.

Manning a Bronco (Potomac, MD)

I'm a little surprised. I figured San Francisco would of given him his best shot to win another Super Bowl.
A.
Thomas Boswell :

You know, I was just going to say that I thought he was going to Denver.

(Do you believe that? Naaaah.)

However, I had jotted down, as a chat answer, "Lets see him freeze outside at a mile high."

So, he goes indoors to outdoors, flat to altituide and has to face the Tebow Believers.

It's the craziest story line for sure.

This is good for Denver. Tebow can develop. Peyton may take you a long way.

I'm not so sure it's good for Peyton. Just from a career perspective, that 49er defense gives you a cushion.

Just hope his neck/arm are okay.

I agree the 49ers look closer.

– March 19, 2012 12:29 PM
Q.

Constant Reader

So when are the Nats ever going to decide what they have in Detwiler. #1 pick. Power lefty. Purke and Rosenbaum nipping at his heals in the organization. Lannan blocking him as the emergency starter. How are the Nats ever going to decide if Detwiler could make 30 starts in the big and be our #4 next year? Just hand him the ball after Jackson and CMW leave?
A.
Thomas Boswell :

You're getting it, I think. CMW and Jax leave after this year. Lannan leaves after '13 __if they don't trade him, like, you know, next week. The future is SS, GG, JZim and the two best of the young arms. There isn't enough clutter to worry about it.

– March 19, 2012 12:31 PM
Q.

Maryland Whine

Actually the poster is referring to Kenny Dennard clearing undercutting Buck Williams, there was no tackle involved. It was definitely a foul, but exaggerating only weakens the case. And they really should bottle some wine with a College Park vintage. Listening to Len Elmore continue to battle the chip on his shoulder is embarrassing.
A.
Thomas Boswell :

Thanks for the info.

College Park Wine. Come on, you folks must have some one-liners to play off that idea.

– March 19, 2012 12:33 PM
Q.

Andrew Luck

Per the earlier question on Andrew Luck, you should also go look at game film on him from two seasons ago, when Stanford had good WR's - Ryan Whalen, Doug Baldwin - both of whom were in the NFL last season. Last season Stanford didn't have WR's who could consistently catch the deep threat balls, until freshamn Ty Montgomery came on toward the end of the season. So Luck naturally focused on short passes to his only consistent possession WR (former walk-on Griff Whalen) and passes over the middle to his trio of TE's. But he is clearly capable of making those long passes to the WR's if he has half-decent receivers, as he did two years ago.
A.
Thomas Boswell :

Good point. Thanks.

I'll add that Garcon has the deep speed to work up the opposite sideline on play-action bootlegs that Shanny loves. So an accurate deep arm is a big deal in his system. Of course, the Skins desperately need a deep threat no matter who's at QB.  

– March 19, 2012 12:35 PM
Q.

NCAA: Inequitable treatment in the Post

I am no fan of college basketball but I'm a DC native and subscriber to the actual newspaper and do read the Sports page every day on Metro. I like to know how the local teams are doing as it can be a conversation starter in so many situations. I was appalled by the coverage this morning of Georgetown basketball in the NCAA tournament. The men's team LOSES, is done for the year and is rewarded with a front page photo and callout; lead story in Sports above the fold, with a huge photo, box of stats and a Mike Wise column. The women's team WINS to ADVANCE to the next round and is rewarded with a small photo at the bottom of the Sports section and an article buried on D 7. It's a vicious cycle: women's sports teams aren't considered as important as men's and aren't as well attended and that is reinforced by poor editing decisions which means less coverage, less attendance and less importance. Really? Women's teams don't deserve better?

A.
Thomas Boswell :

My two cents: The Maryland women's team is now the best basketball story left, much better for our readers than any of the men's Sweet 16. So, I'd say you give the Hoyas a lot of coverage because it was their last game and now you turn to giving Maryland plenty of attention. And I expect that's what will happen.

– March 19, 2012 12:38 PM
Q.

Like the idea of Harper in CF

This will be a good challenge for him while with the Chiefs, plus I think he has the athleticism to play CF. Your thoughts on the Mets' Madoff settlement this morning and how it affects one of the Nationals' NL East rivals over the next few years. And two replies on earlier comments: If the Nats move out of Viera, PLEASE don't go to Fort Myers, where they will perpetually be in the shadows of the New England Evil Empire (the Bosox). And who could hate Georgetown? How about a George Washington U. fan whose team the Hoyas haven't scheduled in 30+ years, even though the campuses are separated by a mile and a half?
A.
Thomas Boswell :

Recently it looked like the Mets might get off with as little as an $83M hit (from memory), but with the remote but awful possibility of it being miuch more (the $386M number). Looks like the $162M that just hit the wires is a compromise. I assume the Mets will still be hamstrung. But now they know where they stand. But they can't get back the players that are gone, like Reyes.

By accident, I grew up a GW basketball fan because a friend and co-worker w my parents at Library of Congres had season tickets and, since I was a sports nut, took me to see the Talents and Walt Szczerbiak (father of Wally). So I know how GW fans feel. They've had lots of good teams but never had their Lefty or John Thompson Jr to  get them to a national level attention, which, in turn, brings in its wake enormous local attention.

– March 19, 2012 12:46 PM
Q.

Duke

First, I am a stereotypical Duke hater. I admit that, but they had to earn it. I still cannot forget the final four game in 2001 when Maryland was just killing Duke in the first half of the basketball game. Then, the refs began calling fouls on all the Maryland starters to put them on the bench, fouls that did not happen. Billy Packer, one of the announcers of the game, started screaming on TV at the refs at how they were doing Maryland wrong, until he caught himself. Duke was able to catch up and finally barely win the game and the national championship even though they would have lost to Maryland if the refs had been fair and honest.
A.
Thomas Boswell :

At that game, I was sitting in the first row at the press table about 20 feet behind Gary. The refs weren't great. But my feeling was that Maryland's reaction to its huge opportunity was to act like "we're going to get screwed" before it actually happened. Duke Paranoia got 'em, to a degree. That defeat toughened them up for the next year.  They weren't going to let anything get in their way. Including a few calls that can __always__ get in your head if you let them. The next year they had the mental toughness to be national champs.

– March 19, 2012 12:50 PM
Q.

Wieters

Tom - Not so much a question; more of an observation. I have been watching snippets of spring training games over the past couple of weeks. I have seen the O's for a total of maybe 6 innings. In that time, I have already seen Matt Wieters make two amazing plays: 1. A pitch in the dirt rolls away from home plate. The runner on first takes off for second, assuming he will make it easily. Wieters pounces on the ball and guns him out. 2. A runner on SECOND takes a bit too big a lead. Wieters picks him off. This guy is good.
A.
Thomas Boswell :

Weiters just keeps getting better. Looks like he may become as good as originally anticipated. The O's have several individual players who are fun. But, so far, they don't have a team.

– March 19, 2012 12:51 PM
Q.

Peyton to Broncos

That's the word on the wire. Thoughts?
A.
Thomas Boswell :

Peyton picked just about the toughest place he could play __outdoors, mile high, gets real cold at times, has to confront the Tebow issue.

Remember when he was going to go to Miami, the Redskins or Arizona?

Then the real final three turns out to be Denver, SF and Tennessee.

What does that prove? That the Manning camp was airtight. Nobody knew anything. Many said it would be LOGICAL that Peyton might go to team A, B or C. But, seems to me, that quickly turned into one of our contemporary pseudo-facts where a sensible guess is morphed, by a million retellings, into something that is repeated as if it had an actual base in reality.

– March 19, 2012 12:56 PM
Q.

Capitals and Ovechkin

Do you think the current Capitals lineup needs to be blown up? And what's your take on Ovi's decline?
A.
Thomas Boswell :

As I've written, I'm a don't-blow-'em-up (yet) guy.

That four-game win streak really got them back into the picture. But the Winnipeg lose was tough and they didn't look good last night. My son kept saying, "Will you please stop watching the Caps and go back to the basketball."

Never thought I'd see the day or hear those words!

– March 19, 2012 12:59 PM
Q.

nats Injuries

Wang, Morse, LaRoche - any of these injuries have you more concerned than at first?
A.
Thomas Boswell :

Morse worries me most. Lats can be nasty. It hurts when he throws. Well, leftfielders have to throw __a lot.

LaRoche just has a bad wheel that will be Okay. His arm is good enough to get by at 1st.

I know that few people wacthed Wang's start last week in the afternoon. It's the best breaking stuff I've ever seen him throw __and I watched him a lot in his best days with the Yanks. And his sinker was diving. Probably not his old velocity. But he looked like A Huge Steal. Then, within minutes, he gets hurt.

If he gets back to where he was a week ago and gets up to 100 pitches, he could be a great story. Really good guy.

Just a couple more because Peyton and Mets news has hit during the chat that already had a dozen good subjects.

– March 19, 2012 1:03 PM
Q.

Re: Georgetown

I have two daughters and a son-in-law who went to Georgetown; I never felt that the Georgetown basketball team reflected the student body in any way. My youngest had a class with Alan Iverson and felt that he should not have been in the school at all. Patrick Ewing wanted to learn and graduate; so did Michael Jackson and some others, but more of them are there for the basketball, period. I like Duke because they ARE student athletes.
A.
Thomas Boswell :

The Iverson period drove John out of coaching. He just couldn't do it his way any more. When Paige (spelling?), the other guard with Iverson, went pro after his sophomore year __when he had no prayer of being a pro__ I think John realized that the days of getting a whole team of players who wanted to graduate and develop themselves on and off the court was, at least for him, not plausible anymore.

Iverson blew up that symbolic Deflated Basketball that he always kept in his office. Ironically, it appears Iverson, after making far over $100M, may have financial problems. So, in his case, that deflated basketball was exactly the lesson he needed to learn.

– March 19, 2012 1:09 PM
Q.

Skins' Moves

Tom, a simple question: what do you think of the Skins' off-season moves, so far? What's left to do? Care to take a stab at predicting their record next season? Thanks from Giantsland!!
A.
Thomas Boswell :

All in all, not too impressed yet. I'll evaluate when they are finished. They are patching tires with holes in them. But they are replacing when with used tires that have patches on THEM. I mean, they just got a safety (Meriweather) who has had major surgery on both knees __good thing he only has two legs.

– March 19, 2012 1:12 PM
Q.

Ernie Els' Collapse

Did you happen to see the Golf Tournament yesterday? Poor Ernie Els went to the 17th tee with a one stroke lead and proceeded to bogey that hole and then the 18th. It was simply too sad for words. I just hope he can bounce back from this fiasco.
A.
Thomas Boswell :

That was heartbreaking. And the interview afterwards was a disaster. Too many topics this a.m./p.m.

Els has always had an enormous confidence problem and admits it. He says that, in crisis, he feels like he has "a little man" on his shoulder who constantly tells him "you can't do it."

After that last missed four-footer, you could almost see that damn little man __which all athletes have, but Els has the guts to admit__ doing a victory dance.

Then, in the awkward two-question interview, Ernie's was just dripping, like he'd climbed out of a swimming pool.  Felt so sorry for him. Glad he'll always have those U.S. Open trophies.

That's it for today. Thanks for the great questions. See you next week from Viera.

– March 19, 2012 1:18 PM
Q.

Kentucky

Those of us who think the NCAA is about the most hypocritical organization in the country--and let me tell you, there's strong competition out there--root for Kentucky and Calipari. The more people who learn what big time men's college basketball, and football, is really about, the better. And if Kentucky wins the whole thing, it gets harder and harder to ignore.
A.
Thomas Boswell :

Agreed. Kentucky plays in the NBAA, not the NCAA.

– March 19, 2012 1:19 PM
Q.

London Fletcher

Everyone seems to agree that the Redskins are making a mistake by not having locked up London Fletcher already. I'm not so sure. Yes, I understand what he brings...consistency, maturity, and leadership to a franchise that has lacked those things for the better part of a decade. But he's also an aging player whose performance is destined to drop off at some point, and the Redskins are consciously trying to get younger. He's got flaws in his game. And at no point watching the Redskins last year did I think "There's a player who the Redskins could NOT go without." They will miss a lot if they let him walk...but I don't think he's the type of player who should just be given a contract on whatever terms he asks for. I don't think it will be devastating if the Redskins decide his asking price isn't reasonable and they let him go elsewhere.
A.
Thomas Boswell :

Without Fletcher, it would be devastating next year. That's a promise. He IS that defense.

Doubt he's being unreasonable. Get it done. Jmho.

The End

– March 19, 2012 1:23 PM
Q.

Utley

News this morning that Utley is leaving spring training to visit a knee specialist. If he and Howard both miss 50-60 games this season, are the Phillies still favorites, just on the strength of their rotation?
A.
Thomas Boswell :

Wow, it never ends for the Phillies.

There are some plays to his right that Utley will not even try to complete, even if he catches the ball, because his hip and knee are so bad that trying to make tough jumping across-the-body throws could set him back so much.

Announcer on MLB.TV of Phils game now just said, "Jeeez, they are dropping like flies around him."

 

– March 19, 2012 1:26 PM
Q.

 

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