Ask Boswell

May 16, 2011

Washington Post Sports Columnist Tom Boswell answered your questions about baseball, the Masters, the Capitals and more.

Past Ask Boswell chats

We've got the Nats entering a 39-game period where they play 30 games against teams with losing records. Until now, they've had the hardest schedule in baseball. Is this their chance to push for .500? Or another false alarm?

The Players __our DC winner K.J. Choi outlasts FDavid Toms, who gives away a chance to win on the 71st hole and misses a 3 1/2-foot par putt to lose a playoff.

We've got NBA and NHL, we've got...Oh, we've got it all. So lets gerts started.

July 2012?

Assuming Harper keeps hitting at AA and AAA as he is moved up __I don't mean hittimng .381 with an 1.150 OPS, but hitting a ton with an OPS over .900__ then maybe June/July '12 would be okay.

But he has to show all-around maturity. Better base running. (Less crazy exploits.) And an ability to deal with hecklers, opposing players who try to get his goat and the whole grind of pro ball. 

Rizzo was very clear on this to me yesterday: "He needs his time in the minor leagues. He needs to show these guys (points around the locker room) that he has paid his dues...He still has things to learn on and off the field. When he does come up, if he has (difficulties), you do NO want it to be because he wasn't developed properly."

This was said in the context of discussing Harmon Killebrew who signed with Washington in '54 at 17 for a far bigger bonus (in that era) than Harper's $9.9-million. Killebrew hit the longest homer in the histroy of Memorial Stadium __over a 471-foot fence in CF__ at 19 for the Nats. They used him in little bits of every seasons and he'd hit 3-4-5 homers. But they made him have a full year at A, AA and AAA. When they finally gave him the regular job at 22, he led the A.L. in homers (42) in his first full year. He was ready. But even after 5 years of "development," Killebrew still made 30 errors at 3rd in that first full year.

Now the Nats have no intention of bringing Harper along THAT slowly. But the point is: They will err on the side of letting him work on his game more in the minors.

I think that's the right way to go. 

How sweet it is.

Ohhhh, yes.

There are some excellent stories, including one on ESPN.com (by Matthews) on how "this is just the beginning" the Yankees contract miseries. Now it's Posada. But their deals are so ridiculously long and for so much money that they will also have the same problem with Jeter, A-Rod (hitting .260 and signed through age 42), CC Sabathia, A.J. Burnett and others.

They may need those two extra wildcard playoff spots in MLB in '12 __it's coming__ to give the Yankees a better chance to make the playoffs! It may not just be for mid-level teams like the Nats and O's. It may be instituted in part to help over-extended big-market franchises from disappearing from the playoff races.  

Is absolute pitching speed really as important as relative speedand the ability mix pitches? It seems to me that from 66 feet 6 inches a 2 or 3 or even 5 mph difference in speed would negligible except in relation to a previous pitch. That is, a pitcher who throws every pitch at 100 mph would not have a big advantage over a pitcher who throws everything at 95, and that a pitcher who mixed his pitches between 90 and 95 would have an advantage over both. In brief, is pure speed overated?

Very good question. It's always been true that command and movement important as well as speed in a fastabll. But maybe never as much as now. I don't know why, but there's far more talk now about "commanding the fastball." Although that was always the core of the Orioles pitching philosophy in the pitching coach days of Bamberger, Miller, Flanagan.

"Control" means that you don't walk people. But command means that you can come close to hitting the catcher's glove most of the time. Not hitting it in the pocket to the inch, but putting it where it would tick the glove or barely miss it. Roy Halladay is the perfect example of the importance of command over control. He works at 90-to-94 with different movement and amazing command. And, coupled with his other pitches, hitters look helpless. If he threw at 93-96 but had less command, he wouldn't be as good.

The old Orioles always taught that command came first __paint the low outside corner whenever you wanted__ and THAT was your natural speed. If you had to gear down to 90-92, but could hit spots, that was better than throwing harder and missing "middle-middle."

Of course, Livan Hernandez shows that you can have an 83-to-86 mph sinker/fastball and make hitters look silly by working in the black and changing speeds. Next time you watch him, just add 5-6-7 mph to all of Hernandez pitches. THAT is how all the decent Nats pitchers who can throw 90-92 should be "working" the hitters. All the Mocks, Stammens, etc., had enough stuff. They couldn't command it well enough.

And the changeup __the pitch of the '10's__ sets up that precise fastball and makes it seem faster.

This is an endless and central baseball subject. Storen is learning the proper care and feeding of his fastballs this season __he even has a "no-seam fastball." He's improved because he accepted instruction __use the fastball more, but in better locations. On the first pitch to every hitter he says, "Make a quality pitch." By which he means, even if it misses, make it miss off the plate by a couple of inches and, even though the count is 1-0, it was still a good pitch. And it sets up other options.  

 

Boz, I fear the great event about to happen in Washington next month, the U.S. Open at Congressional, is going to be a fan disaster. Parking!!! My wife and I broke the retirement bank account last year and purchased grounds-only passes for the entire week. Probably our last shot at a Major here in Washington in our lifetimes. Tickets arrived last week. We have to park at the Montgomery County Fairgrounds! Nothing in Virginia. We live in Northern Virginia. I assume 15 -20,000 of the 40,000 daily attendees do, too. So we have to drive the under-construction Beltway, in Rush Hours Monday through Friday, across the American Legion Bridge, up I-270, then take the shuttle back down I-270 to Congressional? That's going to be TWO hours, each way! What the $&%# were they thinking? It's already ruining my prospective enjoyment of the tournament.

Traffic and parking is everybody's No. 1 concern. I mentioned it in passing in an Open column last week. The USGA and everybody else is intensely aware of it. I talked to three USGA officials about it. Two of them lived in DC during parts of their lives. Despite all the work and planning that has been done, they have no idea whether it will be decent or awful or somewhere in between. It sure won't be better than "decent, all things considered."

 If Washington does not get another major championship for a long time, it will be because of this problem. The metro area still functioned in '97 for the last Open. Does it now? From alifetime of living around here I'd say, "Are you kidding me? No, it doesn't." The area has outgrown its infrastructure. If you drive at the wrong times of days on 495, you're in L.A. But what are the right times of day.

The Open will be a joy for golf fans once you get there. But plan ahead. Figure out the best time to go, as well as all the usual logistics. I hate to say, "It is what it is," but that's the truth. We'll see. Maybe it will surprise us and just be "pretty bad." Accept the long travel time. Then enjoy 6-8-10 hours of great golf/picnic once you get there.  

 

As much as I absolutely love what he's done here, would he be better off playing for a contender a/or somewhere he could play more?

Pudge loves it in Washington. He teases Ryan Zimmerman about linking them so that Ryan will only sign an extension if Pudge gets exta Nats years here.

I don't know if it's realistic, but I'd like to see him back in '12. He's still an amazing defensive cacther, a good influence on the young pitchers. And he wants that 3,000th hit. I just doubt it will be here in '13. That's a long time. At some point, Ramos is just going to play too much for Pudge to be sensibly happy.

Have Tom Gorzelanny and Boo Weekley ever been seen in the same place at the same time?

Nice.

Boz, Saw your article in the Post this morning on the Nat's dominant bullpen. What are the chances that these guys are still around when the Nat's offense and starting pitching comes around?

This bullpen will be intact __as long as their arms hold up__ for a long time. Storen is only in his 2nd year. Kimball and Rodriguez have little time in the big leagues. Clippard and Burnett are still under team control for at least a couple of years each. They can go to arbitration, but the Nats can still keep them. This is a young pen that can be kept intact a long time __as baseball measures time.

O's haven't hit at all yet are 19-20. How good is this young pitching and is Wieters already the best defensive catcher in AL?

The two best teams in baseball at stopping the running game are __by a wide margin__ the Nats with Pudge and Ramos and the Orioles with Weiters. Nats have thrown out 11 of 25 and O's have thrown out 12 of 27.

The Nats have allowed the fewest steals __14. The O's are second at 15.

And the first Nats-O's showdown is this weekend in Baltimore. For the first time, the two teams may actually be good enough __or headed in the right direction enough__ for this to be exciting on strictly baseball grounds: Which team is better, and which has the better future?

(The Nats have the better future.)

    

Tom, The Tiger Woods withdrawal from the TPC has developed into competing narratives: (1) He really didn't want to play, doesn 't like the course, was ill-prepared, and withdrew after a bad nine holes and a slight injury; and (2) He is an ultimate grinder, never gives up, competitive fire overtook reason in deciding to play, and must be really hurt. My take is that he rushed back into playing because there are not many opportunities (for him playing his regular limited schedule) for US Open warmups and he is pretty badly hurt. I also am rather certain that his next knee operation (whether in one month or five years) will really threaten his career. What's your take?

Thanks for putting it so well. I'm close to your evaluation. He's as tough as they come in golf. I mean, he won the Open on a broken leg. He's not a quitter. He was in much more pain than he expected. 

There have been enough "warning shots" from that left leg that Tiger should wise up and give it all the time it needs to get as healthy as it can be __even if that means missing the U.S. Open. Physically, he has always pushed himself past the normal limit. He's paying a price for that glorious fanaticism now. But it's time __past time__ for him to listen to his body so that he can keep playing well in 2020 and even beyond that. If he completely wrecks that knee, he can damage the remainder of his career. (Or has he already done it? I don't think so.)

My entire reaction to seeing Tiger at the Players was that it was very sad.

I saw internet comments about "karma." At this point, when people comment on Tiger they are revealing a lot more about themselves than they are illuminating Tiger. In Woods case, this is when you can really identify the "haters" from the sensible "critics."

By my count, there have aleady been 25-30 rainouts this baseball season, with more likely this week Good news for fans in that we might actually get to see some doubleheaders this year. But I take it as yet another sign that God does not approve of a March-November baseball season.

Or maybe the weather is changing.

Like everybody, I hope the Old River Control Structure holds in the face of the Mississippi floods. If you want to read a fabulous story, google "John McPhee + Control of Nature + The New Yorker" to read his peice from the late '80's on just what is actually happening right now and how enornous the stakes are. The Mississippi really WANTS to jump its banks and find a faster better path to the Gulf. The Mississippi does this every 1,000 years. The U.S. Corps of Engineers has spent billions over the last 70+ years trying to prevent it. This flood will test all their planning.

Yes, I've turned into a nut on this subject since discovering it. Sorry. All this stuff will hold and the crisis will pass. But it's fascinating that the economic health of the whole country is tied to preventing the Mississippi River from going where it __and the laws of physics/hydrolics__ wants to go. 

Bos, What do you think about Tiger's latest injury? Will he be able to come back this year at all? Will he ever return to his level of performance before 2009? Is Jack's record safe? Thanks-big fan of your work-I think it's time for another baseball book!

My best guess is that he won't win a major this year and it'll be because he reinjured his knee at the Masters then, with hindsight, came back too soon. I'd say he has next to no chance at all of winning the U.S. Open. How long does he have to rest? How much can he play before Congressional? He's been wild with his new swing when he was practicing. How is he going to cope with the penal conditions at an Open when he's barely worked in his game since the Masters? It's just not going to happen. If it does, I'll be delighted to write about it!

My read of him is that he'll keep pushing so that he won't "waste" all the majors in '11. And as a result, he will waste them. Then we'll see where his knee, his game and his psyche are next season.

But that's a lot of guessing. It's always more fun to see how things actually play out.  

Friends and I went up to Hagerstown last Wed. to see Bryce Harper. We chose wisely (meaning we were very lucky) in that he hit a grand slam and had 3 other hits. But the attendance was only 800! Even without Harper, a trip to Hagerstown is well worth it. It's an old wooden stadium, one of the oldest in the country. Sure, it's sort of delapidated; but they have a new electronic scoreboard and have imported seats in from Camden Yards, both of which make for a much more enjoyable game day experience. Try it, you'll like it!

Thanks for the "detail"!

I plan to do it. He's going to be at Potomac, too, just like Storen in '09 when he raced through Hagerstown, Potomac and Harrisburg in one season. I'd guess Harper will mirror Storen, not Strasburg: finish '11 at Harrisburg (AA), then start there again in '12, but move quickly to Syracuse before a call to the majors in mid-season. Of course Storen was called up May 17th which, for Harper would coorespond to one year from tomorrow.

This is a comment more than a question. I note last week's article about Bryce Harper's increased batting success after getting contact lens. The same thing happened with Royal's phenom first baseman Eric Hosner. He was the third player picked in the 2008 draft but was a big disappointment in his first year in "A" ball. Royals fans thought he may be a bust. However, he was fitted for contacts and his career skyrocketed in 2010 and he is now in the majors. I guess a ball player needs to see well to hit well.

Thanks, I diodn't know that. Hosmer looks outstanding so far since he call up.

Don't want to make this a Harper chat, but after what he's done since he got the contacts it's hard not to pay attention.

Nothing is more important to a hitter than eyesight. I once asked Brady Anderson what was the most important element in his improvement as a player __no wisecracks about the 50-homer year, please. He said he spent several off-seasons wortking on improving his eyesight! He found doctors who gave him exercises. He improved from 20-20 to 20-10 over a period of years.

Hi Bos, Do you think the inventor(s) of baseball (Doubleday, Cartwright, other?) would roll over in their graves if MLB used technology (i.e. the "K-Zone" or "Strike Zone Tracker"...) to eliminate the most-times horrible, inconsistent strike zones of human umpires? Sometimes these guys are game changers and perfect game stealers. I doubt it was ever meant to be that way. It is so frustrating to watch sometimes. I'd like to see them - on a trial basis - to institute technology to eliminate as much responsibility as possible of the human umpire. What do you think of this idea and do you think they'd ever try it? Thanks.

I've thought about this a lot. Sometimes I really think they should see if there is a way to use it, especially on balls and strikes. Jim Joyce, supposedly a good uimp, had a bad game the other night behind the plate I thought. To busy showing how loudly he can yell "Strike!!!" to get 'em right?

The current pitch track seems quite accurate. I don't see pitches where I just say, "That stupid machine is wrong." If it were possible to do __or do on a test basis__ I'd be tempted.

But, come on, what do you do with the lifelong umps who have built their careers in the game? I know __other industries and jobs die/disappear. (Yeah, like newspaper jobs for a whole lot of my friends.) Short-term, keep the umps. Long-term, see if there is a better machine system to replace them at the plate. Middle-term: I don't know.

I have changed my mind on this about a dozen times already in the last year, so I expecty to reverse myself again __maybe today.

Boz - I'm watching the Nats this weekend and listening to Ray Knight comment about the Nats approach at the plate or, more accurately, their lack of approach. He mentioned how many, many times the Nats strike out with men in scoring position instead of shortening their stroke with two strikes and trying to make contact. Or we hack at a first pitch when the pitcher is on the ropes and ground out. My question is: Who is responsible for a hitter's approach? Shouldn't the hitting coach talk to guys in key situations to make sure they understand what to do in different situations?

Werth and LaRoche have been the biggest failures and they are veterans. It's on them to fix themselves. They will. But the cost is already high.

"No Ryan Zimmerman" is no excuse. Or a pathetic excuse. Though the Nats are using it. They have a perfectly acceptable No. 3 hitter in Werth. LaRoche drove in 100 runs last year and has hit 4th more often (308 games) than at any other spot in the batting order. Desmond hit .326 at No. 2 last year.

So, come on, what's the problem? You have 2-3-4 hitters. It's not too much ask Nix-Morse to handle No. natural No. 5. The loss of Z'man hurts, but it shouldn't make you dead last in hitting. (Though, believce iot or not, the Nats have outscored 8 teams so far.)

I'm more concerned aboput LaRoche. He says his bad left (throwing) shoulder isn't hurting his hitting. "I'm not where I want to be. There's no pain at all. It's just a matter of finding that groove," he told me Sunday. I asked if, in batting practice, the ball was carrying as well when he did hit it properly. Is it "hanging up" in the alleys? How deep do his BP homers go in the stands? Is there some loss of strength in his shoulder, even if there is no pain? He gave what I thought was a funny little look and said it was "too soon to tell" whether there was any loss of power connected to the shoulder in jury.

That is NOT the same saying, "The ball is FLYING off my bat when I hit it in BP. There's nothing wrong with me.

 

Laroche is hitting .188. If he doesn't start to hit by June will the NATS call someone up to replace him? .188 for a first baseman seems awful. With Stairs hitting .095 should they forget about him entirely. What good is a .095 avg pinch hitter?

LaRoiche is better at first than I ever thought he'd be. And he does illustrate the gap between the best 1st basemen and those with the least range, like Dunn.

But Dunn has eight extra base hits in his last eight games. He's probably about to go on one of his 50-to-75 game hitting binges. So, get ready to endure watching him drive in about 60 runs in the next 75 games for the White Sox. 

If LaRoche were hitting his normal 25 homers with 85 RBI, I think I'd admit that he was as valuable __because of the difference in defense__ as Dunn at 38 homers and 104 RBI. (But not a better RBI slugger who gets 120. Dunn never had as many RBI as you'd expect.)

But is that LaRoche going to play here this year? I still assume so.    

Boz, I just wanted to say that the road Jose Bautista has taken to get where he is at now is fascinating. He was a journeyman who bounced around from team to team and now he's the best hitter in baseball currently. This is also in the post-steroid era so there shouldn't be any negativity towards his sudden power. Then you have a guy like Bryce Harper who has been hyped since he was 16 and we can only hope the numbers he will put up are similar to Bautista now. Baseball always produces the unexpected like this where any star can come from anywhere.

Nice post, thanks.

Tom, Why are almost all Pitchers terrible batters (except Marquis)? All of these guys have grown up batting their whole life and some were even good hitters in college. I know Pitching is a demanding position, but shouldn't they spend more time with the hitting coach and fix their mechanics?

Marquis said that his hitting __and he works on his hitting__ has won him "10-plus games in the last eight years." Livo is a fine hitter. Z'mann may be surprisingly good (for a pitcher) eventually.

But if you are not much of a natural athlete __which appears to be the case with Lannan__ then you have to be satisfied with a good effort, like the way he fouls off pitches just to be annoying even though he can't really "hit."

Tom, I can't help but think it is the end of the Tiger Woods Era. While I was shocked at the sordid unraveling of his personal life, I can't help but be a little disappointed that his best years appear to be gone. There have been so few professional athletes that have lived up to the hype, intimidated other players, and dominated a sport the way he did. Jordan comes to mind, Lance Armstrong and a few others but not as much as Woods. I think what made him so amazing, was his unflappable belief in his own abilities. If he never wins another major, do you think he goes down as the best golfer ever? or is Nicklaus' 18 majors the benchmark that must be broken.

If it ends as you say, which I still doubt, I'd say that Nicklaus was the greatest golfer of all time, but that Woods was the greatest golfer in history at his peak.

S

Do you think Drew Storen can be an elite closer for years to come, i.e. a big building piece for the Nationals to build around or is it too early to tell?

It's too early to be sure, but, after 74 games, it's certainly not too soon to be working your way toward an answer.

I'd be willing to bet that, if healthy, he has a better career than Francisco Cordero, Jason Isringhausen, Jose Valverde, Brian Fuentes, Bobby Jenks, Huston Street, Matt Capps or probably Brian Wilson. They are all among the active saves leaders.

Though a different style pitcher, his stats are now almost identical to Chad Cordero __2.78 ERA in 305 games with the Nats/Expos. Shows how good Cordero was __talk about "command" of a moving fastball! (What a shame.) 

Hi Tom, What do you think of the crooked hat look? I know I am not playing very well this season but I can still have the fungus on my shower sandals right?

You're throwing perfectly well. The grand slam came on a 10-pitch at bat when you struck the guy out twice on checked swings and didn't get the call. You'll be fine. That 3.03 ERA career as a Nats is the right measure. Every good reliever has one or two odd-ball stat years that are distorted by two or three bad games. You've had yours for '11. Don't change anything.

And keep the crooked hat.   

Rizzo seems to like power arms, but Pat Gillick, who has had Hall of Fame success as a GM with 3 teams, says "position players are harder to find. Take them first" Which philosophy should Washington follow this year?

The moneyball thepory is that while closers are important, they are not as hard to develop as other spots on a team. So, if you have two or three guys with closer potential __like Storen, Kimball and maybe Rodriguez__ you have a chance to trade a young closer for a position player.

Like Matt Capps, still youngish, for Ramos. Classic deal. And the Nats may be able to make another one like it with somebody. (Not Storen I don't think. I suispect he has the confidence and brains to have "post-season makeup.")  

What do we have to do to beat these guys? We took a series on the road each from the Braves and the Marlins but we seem to have NO answer the the arms in Philly.

Wait until '13-'14. Let 'em get older. Or have contracts run out. This is their time. Will the Nats have their time? We'll see. But the Phils are not monolythic, just a temporary impediment. (Heh, heh.)

Would you agree that this might be a good time to pay attention to the AL East and especially the resurgent O's? Their hitting is coming around, their young pitching staff is producing and Buck Showalter seems to be the ideal manager for this mix of vets and kids. Agree?

Don't get TOO excited. Vlad and Lee are quick fix players. But they are fun to watch now and Buck is a trip __a mini-Earl. Who gets to .500 first and stays there?

People may finally pay some attention to the Beltway Battle. OK, "battle" is too strong. We need a sane term for this not-quite rivalry. Anybody got one?  

Bos, we lost a game in Atlanta last week because we had 2 pitchers (Broderick and Hot-Rod) that the manager didn't trust - which means all of the other pitchers were burned out before the game even started. Is that Riggs' fault for not trusting/just using what he has? Or, is this one on Rizzo for not giving the manager useful players? Of course, since then they DFA'd Broderick and Hot Rod seems to have it sorted out. For now... Speaking of hard throwers, have you seen the numbers from Aroldis Chapman's last 2 outings? 7 walks, 1 HBP, and recorded 1 out.

My impression is that Rig and his staff were high on Broderick and Gaudin. To me, Broderick was a waste of time. A nice story but never going to be more than a fifth starter and the Nats have 17 of them. Gaudin? Look at the back of his baseball card. No chance he gets better. Others (me among them) prefered Kimball and thought the staff was poorly built, which would be on Rig and his coaches. But we're past that now. This is the pitching roster I'd prefer.  

As much as I love going to Nats' games as a partial season ticket holder, its some what frustrating to sit in an empty ball park and then hear almost zero buzz about the team on local sports radio. Even the Post leads the sports page in the month of May speculating about the Redskins third string quarterback rather than leading with a Nats win. You think anything other than a championship run can make this more of a baseball town?

Well, I'm not so sure. I havbe more question this a.m. than I could answer in a week and the large majority of them at Nats. TV ratings are up more than 100%. (YThough I never trusted those numbers before, so I don't trust them now.)

The Nats are 22nd in attendance, up a tad from the last couple of years.  "The town" will catch. With the NFL strike, the Caps out of it __my son says his friends who, like him, are Caps fans are still too angry to even talk about being SWEPT__ this is a good opportunity for the Nats. When Z'man gets back, it could get interesting.

In the past, when the Nats have gone from a tough schedule __28 of their first 40 games against teams with winning records__ to a relatively weak one __30 of the next 39 against "losers"__ they have always blown the chance. It's almost a trademark.

Can they chanhe that? If they do, they could make the summer fun. But it's not going to happen hitting .225.

Apparently Harmon Killebrew is near death. The loss of this elder gentleman sports superstar makes me ask: in your opinion can you cite some modern, currently active sports stars that are true gentleman and fine role models in every regard? Thanks. I know they are out there, but I'm having a senior moment. Maybe Philip Rivers, but he needs to win in the playoffs to reach superstar status?

I'm going to write about Hammerin' Harmon soon. Sports still has plenty of fine people. The human race doesn't change its character that fast. Just looking locally at the Nats and Orioles, it's hard to come up with more than a couple of BAD guys out of all 50.

Pudge, LaRoche, Espinosa, Desmond, Z'man, Werth, Ankiel, Bernadina, Morse, Storen, Clippard, Livan, Lannan, Z'mann, Marquis...on and on...they can all be my next door neighbor or influence somebody in my family. 

The worst get the headlines. And these days there are more "headlines" delivered in more formats __constantly. The world and people haven't changed. Don't let it get to you. Anyway, that's how I see it. 

I have been amazed at the improvement in Clippard this year. To what do you attribute his vast improvement?

What, you didn't like the 2.69 and 3.07 ERA with a 15-10 record the last two years!?

But Charlie Manuel agrees with you. "That damn Clippard is getting better," he said. 

So, when do we add him to the phenom list, the guys who get the fast track to the big leagues? Should we at least give him a third start in the minors?

Along bthose phenom lines, who is the Nats farm hand who has 51 strikeouts and one walk this season with a 2.61 ERA in eight starts Harrisburg and now Syracuse.

He's 6-foot-6 Brad Meyers who was the Nats minor league pitcher of the year a couple of seasons ago before he needed surgery (foot, I think.) 

Why haven't the Caps fired their Head Coach yet?

If this were the NBA, NFL or MLB and a team had the same realistic expectations going into the post-season, then had the Caps results under Bruce, I assume he'd be gone. Hockey is different. I'm told by many who know. More luck in the playoffs. So, be patient, including with him. He has the best regular-season record ever, so far. He gets along with key players. GMGM believes in him. Etc. 

But in any other major sport, I think he'd be gone.   

Boz, when are we going to see some good bars and restaurants near the ballpark? I mean, the bullpen is nice and all, but did they really need two of them (how is Das Bullpen different, I don't get it?). I noticed a "for sale by owner" sign in an empty lot next to the stadium...you'd think some entrepreneur would snatch it up and stick a wings & beer joint there, or something like the Pickles pub near Camden Yards. And when is that dang cement factory going to get flattened?

The cement factory is doomed __next month I hope. I dream of a field of grass where it used to be __and I want to see it THIS season.

Almost every condo and apartment in the ballpark zip code has been sold and more are being planned. The population has gone from 1,000 pre-park to >4,000 now. They are "underserved," not even counting the Nats crowds.  Somebody is going to jump in down there, as you suggest, and get a heaqd start on the bar/restaurant pack.

Tom what is your opinion on the Lightning's chances at winning the Stanley Cup? I think Yzerman has done a tremendous job as GM and Roloson at 41 yrs old is having a fairytale playoff run, mixed in with Stamkos a great young player. I think it's a great story.

Unfortunately for the Caps, it is a great story. Roloson is old but he's replaceable and the Lightning are going to be in the Caps path for the next 2-3 years at least. They were only 4 points behind the Caps in the regular season and certainly seem more suited to the NHL post-season style __which is utterly different than regular season__ than the Caps.

After the NHL lost a season, it changed rules to get a more open and exciting style of play. The Caps, it seemed, built for that era. It came __in regular season. And they flourish __inregular season. The the "new" NHL playoffs seem a lot like the "old" NHL playoffs. Now that feels like plan old bad luck.

I thought it was an appropriate gesture for the Nats to hang up a #3 Killebrew jersey yesterday. They ought not do it all season long like the Twins though since he only played two full seasons here. Did Killebrew ever make it to DC to see the Nats? I know he has been in favor of DC baseball and apparently, a Loundon County minor team too. I'd love to see a column/article about Killebrew and getting baseball back here.

Killebrew was in town for a game last summer.

The first time I met him I was standing in line in the press lunch line at Memorial Stadium in the late '80's, I think, and Palmer tapped me on the shoulder and said, "Do you know who was standing behind you in line while you were busy talking." I said, "No." He said, "Killebrew. he's still here. Can you pick him out?" I looked around and couldn't. I wasn't looking for a guy my height with a balf head who looked like a science teacher. Palmer poi nted him out and then a recognized the face.

Rizzo said he had the same experience on an airplane. Sat with Killebrew but couldn't believe that somebody his size could hit a ball 520 feet. "But he had the biggest chest you ever saw. Just a massive guy," said Rizzo.

Killebrew's grandfather was supposedly the strongest man in the Union Army in the Civil War. He won all the heavyweight wrestling championships.

Killebrew was a modest friendly gentleman. They once asked him what he did for excitment and he said, "Well, I like to wash the dishes, I guess."   

Speaking of the Yankees, can we talk more about this new Brian Cashman mentality of just not caring when veterans get grumpy? First, he tells Jeter to test free agency if he wants more money. And now, making it clear that Posada took himself out of the lineup because he was upset about batting 9th even though he wasn't even hitting his weight. Cashman is in the last year of his deal, I think. Do you think he goes back to the Yankees or does he want out?

Poor Cash. One of our local products. He has a place in baseball history, but, man, is that a tough job.

Hope he goes out, or stays, but on his own terms, saying what he really thinks.

This has gotten out of hand. Sorry. Just too much interesting stuff. See you all next week.  

 

Boz, The rules of the game affected the Original Senators development of Killebrew. As a bonus baby he had to be on the ML roster for a certain time period. Once the restriction was lifted he was sent to the minors to actually develop. This actually caused several careers to be retarded. Bryce Harper faces different rules in that they are financial as opposed to roster restrictions. I agree with your assessment as he one, needs time to develop and two, will have his clock start as late as possible for arbitration and free agency.

Yes, as a bonus baby, he had to stay on their MLB roster in '54 and '55. But they still developed him slowly with three full years in the minors. I remember, every year there was a "Killebrew watch." He won the HR title (w 29) in Chattanooga where the fence in dead center was 470 feet. He was the only one ever to hit a ball over it. Even as a kid, we wondered if Griffith was getting a kickback from Old Joe Engel, the Barnum of the Bushes, to keep Killebrew as a drawing card for the popular Lookouts.

Okay, that is the end! 

Boz: One thing I have always wondered is how Davey Johnson managed to rack up that 40+ homer season after being traded to the Braves. He never came close to that before or after and he certainly wan't chemically enhanced.

He completely changed his stance and his hitting style so that he "reversed the book" on how he should be pitched. The result was that they pitched directly to his power. The book was "jam him with fastballs." He backed off the plate. That pitch was suddenly right down the middle __to him. Before the N.L. caught on, he'd hit 42 homers and gotten a slice of history for a second baseman. He says if they'd pitched him "away" __he had always "stood on the plate" to get to that outside pitch, he'd have hit nothing.

Now that is it. I have to take Molly to the vet. See ya. 

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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."
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