Ask Boswell

Oct 10, 2011

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

Past Ask Boswell chats

It must say something that when faced with their first must-win game of the season, they lost to a team who faced many of them. They just had to have been squeezing the bats a little tighter on Friday.

You hit the nail on the head: "Squeezing the bat tighter" __whether literally or just feeling pressure in your mind__ is the issue in the Game Fives in both New York on Thursday and Philly on Friday.

I first saw the post-season tension issue up close when covering the '79 Orioles in the World Series. Total team choke by players who were mostly clutch __that is, able to perform at normal levels__ under pressure. FWIW, all the "clutch" means to me is that you don't incapacitae yourself with your own nerves, tension, mentaal distraction.

Since then, I've seen it in 20+ post-season series that I have covered. It you are behind like the Yankees, 3-0, then you will cut it to 3-2, then hit the wall and the third run will be impossible. Or feel that way. If the deficit is 1-0 but Ther Thing has grabbed you, then one run will be impossible to score __or feel that way.

I thought the Yankees got the break they needed off Benoit when Cano's dribbler off him went past the pitcher's glove. Pure stupid lucky break. But that's sometimes what you need. When they only got the bases loaded walk by Teixeira out of that jam, you knew they were probably done.

It's an amazing phenomenon to watch, like the golfer with a big lead in a major on Sunday and the lead starts to disappear. They look helpless. They've done all the psyche-coach work, etc. Often, it's not enough.

The Cards aren't immune to it.What they have going for them is the Zombie Team Factor. They have already been killed __when they were 10 1/2 games behind the Braves for the wildcard. Now they think __for the time being__ that they can't be killed. Honest, I know this stuff seems weird but I've just seen it too often. IOt's not written in stone. Some players can rise above what's going on around them __seperate from their team, the city, everything__ and play like it is "just a game." But they are rare.

In fact, LaRussa's biggest "choke teams" __the '88 and '90 A's__ both had this happen to them. He must love finally being on the "right side of it" in the Cards-Tigers World Series in '06 that he won with an 83-win team.

"Try less" may be the hardest instruction to follow in sports.

Nice of the other guys to lose yesterday keeping the Redskins in first place. Either the Eagles will be really mad this week against the Skins or just fall further into their funk.

Not hard to imagine one of them losing, but both on the same day was pretty amazing.

The Eagles remind me of the Snyder Super Teams __the off-season champions__ who drove Skins fans crazy with their underachieving. And it's a problem with the offensive line that is exposing Vick to so many hits. And it's a D-coordinator who has little/no background on that side of the ball who has them out of sync on defense.

BTW, here are the top two teams in the NFL in LEAST POINTS ALLOWED.

1. Baltimore Ravens

2. Washington Redskins.

Everybody should be looking at the Skins defense. Has it really improved THAT much? And they are holding teams to 15.6 points a game __in an offense-crazy league this year__ while still overcoming too many turnovers by their own offense.

While it was satisfying to see the Yankees and Phillies go out in the first round, isn't baseball minimizing its regular season, as you suggested long ago? Now they're going to add more wild cards, just to see who the 5th and 6th best teams in each league are?

MLB currently has a great system or a flawed one. I suspect history will think it was pretty great.

Unlike the NFL, which had revenue sharing as its economic bedrock from the beginning, MLB has never and will never have such economic parity among teams. And the union/players are too strong to have a hard salary cap. So, you are going to have rich teams and a few super-rich that create glamour rosters in the regular season. So, how do you cope with the problem of too many dynasties, too few teams that win a title __which is one of the NBA's BIG problems.

Well, the "unfair" (but not THAT unfair) five-game first round sure knocks out a lot of supposed "best" regular season teams. It's nailed the Yanks five times in 11 years.

In the first round DS, ONE start pitcher can start Games One and Five __that's 40% of the starts and if he wins twice 67% of the wins needed. In regular season, an 18-game winner only gets 20 percent of a 90-win team's victories. So, in a 5-gamer, a Verlander, Kershaw or Strasburg can, in thoery, be a huge equalizer.

The motive for the shift to a 10-year MLB post-season would actually be driven by a desire to make it HARDER for a team like the current Cards __a wild card__ to knock off a 102-win best-of-the3-regular-season team like the Phillies.

How does that work? The two wildcards would have a one-game play-in to join the six division winners. So, in many cases, you'd see the wildcard's ace __the Chris Carpenter for example__ pitch the play-in game. Then he'd only get one start in the next round during the five-game DS. This year, Cards used Carpenter in Game One (short rest) and Game Five (where he was the entire reason they won).

Any new system would try to create "handicapping weights" for the wildcards and make it more difficult for them to knock off division champs.

Will it work? Is it a good idea? Isn't the current system pretty darn good at creating drama and letting some "best" teams win. However, in the last 22 years, only TWO teams that had the best reg-season record won the Series. And a third team tied for the reg-season wins and won the Series. So, at most, 3 in 22 years.

 

Isn't the real solution to... never mind, we've got baseball playoffs and football.

Forget 'em. They are getting what they deserve. As I've written, almost identical to the MLB bad blood between '81 (the split-season disaster) and the ultimate '94 disaster with the lost World Series. Took 'em '13 years of hate to get to their mutual Waterloo.

Nice of Mike Wise to quote from my '98 column the other day. I'd forgotten I wrote it: Predicted in '98 that the NBA was likely to mirror MLB and that all the bad blood that began building in their '98 troubles would come to a head  in a real catastrophe for the sport someday. I just added 13 years __same as MLB time lag__ to '98 and predicted that the Big One would be in '11.

Never thought it would actually work out exactly like that.

When will they learn. Stern's arrogance isn't helping. Of course, just like the MLB owners and Selig in '94, it's the owners in the NBA who have planned all this and are now executing. They still think they are doing something smart. We'll see how it works out. It'll probably work just as badly for the NBA owners as it did for the MLB owners. They got little-to-nothing for taking their great Stand and hurt the game for many years.  

Seems like the Eagles got some of that Snyder Syndrome going on, the more high-priced stars they add, the less wins they get collectively. Haven't we seen this to often here in D.C.?

Hey, nice to see we are on the same page! (See previous post).

Those Snyder Syndrone teams were usually failures, but they were also dangerous. They tended to lose games they should have won but when faced with a good team they "played up to the competition" and made us all say, "Seee, seee, they can do it."

So, despite their record and problems, the Eagles will be a very dangerous team next Sunday. I'm already loloking forward to it. Skins have the kind of defensive pressure now to continue Vick's problems.

How long does Andy Reid keep that job?

Philly Daily News headline on A1 today after both Phils and Eagles lose: "Worst. Weekend. Ever."

 

Another meltdown this weekend, throwing clubs and I'm guessing, cursing like a sailor. It must all be between his ears at this point, no?

Saw him flip a couple of clubs in disgust. How long before he wonders if the re-make of his swing was a good idea. Will he ever just "play" again, rather than "thinking about how to play while playing" like the rest of us.

I assume he'll eventually get it sorted out __to a degree.

But every time he says, "I'm back. I'm fixed," and he's not even remotely close, the more it looks like breaking Nicklaus' record is remote and even a tie at 18 seems tough. His T30 is awful because he was playing in an easy event on a birdie-track course that was probably more of a sitting-duck event than any Kemper Open or Booz Allen event that ever cvame to D.C. And he never made a sound.

 

Tom, you've advocated that the Nats spend more for years. Now on the cusp of relevance, you're reversing? I actually love your willingness to change your mind (or short memory?) but not this time. Paying market level salaries to good players is what high-level teams do. There only seems to be one Rays organization. OTOH, yes, higher OBP please.

There is another $100-M free agent player out there with the Nats name on him. And I think the Nats payroll should head from $66M to $100M ballpark.

But, for now, I don't think its Reyes (selfish, immature), Fielder, Pujols or CJ Wilson. I could be wrong. Ted Lerner believes in spending big if you can get the best of the best. He did it with Teixeira. But what lesson will he see in that!? Tex has been awful, generally, in post-season.

Trades that increase payroll are a good possibility. But, NO, I never want to see the Lerners go back to the bad old days.

Rizzo really, really believes that they need a high quality No. 3 starter to get to the next level and to contend, not just a solid pitcher or a youngster who may develop someday into a No. 3. I think he's right about that.

I'll be more interested in seeing what they do this winter than in trying to pretend to tell them what to do. There will be plenty of time for that after the Series. And you'll read plenty about it, I'm sure.

 

 

Bos, In the last 6 years, St. Louis, Colorado, San Fran, Texas, Tampa and Detroit have made it to the WS, with either St Louis, Detroit or Texas making a return visit ,or the Brewers their first since 1982. Does this mean that small-market teams can win, or is more adjustment/assistance needed?

Maybe baseball is just having a lucky decade. But when the Rockies, Astros, etc., also reach the Series, your system can't be TOO bad. In fact, the pressure for change is designed to help the top teams from getting knocked off so much while simultaneously trying to create a second wildcard so teams like the Orioles won't feel so hoeless. This is not an easy debate. Leyland, for example, hates the one-game play-in idea and he's on Bud's study committee. Got to admit that it's a great "study group." They may not come up with good ideas, but they are the right people.  

without Peyton Manning? Do they have the inside track for the Andrew Luck sweepstakes?

Peyton Manning straight to Luck.

If that actually panned out, and their Luck was great, would there be any team in NFL, MLB, NBA or NHL that had a similar experience by getting, for example, one HOF 7-foot center to replace the previous one or one HOF QB to replace another?

Gimme a little help here, if you feel like it. Thanks.

Boz - Well aware of your "give it time" mantra. BUT, knowing that a power hitting outfielder is a huge need for the Nats, what exactly does Harper have to show in Spring Training and AAA to crack the lineup in 2012?

He has to hit at AA the way he hit at A. Then he has to hit at AAA __maybe only for 200 ABs__ the way he hit at A and AA. Then you can think about bringing him out.

That doesn't mean he has to be EXACTLY as excellent at AA as A. But he has to be a dominant polished hitter at AA __where you hit the first real wave of MLB-quality arms__ to move him to AAA. Because he's only going to be 19 next year. If he were two years older, you might not demand a .900+ OPS to put him on a fast track.

He could hit his way through AA and AAA next year. But I'd say it's very unlikely. A September  call up may be reasonable. But the point is: HIS BAT WILL TELL US.

It'll be clear. He'll hit his way up the ladder fast. Or he'll hit his way up more slowly. It's in his hands. In a sport where you get 600-700 plate appearances a season, you get a perfectly fair chance. You can slump for 100 ABs and still overcome it. Nobody who's really great ever gets blocked in the minors for very long (okay, except Wade Boggs and a few others). With his rep, contract and agent, Harper will NOT arrive to slowly.

Protecting him and letting him learn his craft is more of an issue.  

Green Bay's transition from Favre to Rogers is pretty close...

Nice! You guys are good.

DiMaggio replaced by Mantle comes to mind

Another good one. And Mantle was the second player picked that year. I forget what it was called back then. Before my time! But the played taken before him, because he would remind me with a laugh, was Whitey Herzog! He ended up playing some CF for the Senators.

"I couldn't hit a slow curveball," Herzog told me. And he meant he couldn't hit it at all. He felt that, if he'd come along 20+ years later with better teaching theories and methods (film study, etc) that he'd have gotten his problem fixed.

But then maybe he'd have been a better player __a pretty good one__ but never become a HOF manager. 

Although they played together rather than following one another, Robinson and Duncan fit the mold, I think.

I knew it would take this group long. Thanks.

Could have been the Celtics going from Larry Bird to Len Bias.......

That was one of the toughest things I've ever had to cover.

I was going to add something about growing up a Celtics fan because Auerbach was a GW and D.C. guy and the Celts were actually "Washington's (surrogate) team" back then __well, if there was one at all. But Bias' death was so sad that nothing really should be mentioned along with it. Although I just did. I guess it's been long enough that you don't have to be hyper-hyper-sensitive. But, unlike a lot of other tragedies in sports, his death still seems fresh. Probably because he'd still be so young.

This game scares me now. After the loss to the Bills this week The Eagles look to exact some revenge ala last year's loss at home. Teams always seem to "recover" from their previous week's loss against us because we ALWAYS seem to play down to our competition.

That's another reason why "ugly wins" early in the season __like by one point at home over Arizona (the Cards got ripped up yesterday) and the Rams__ are such an important cushion.  With a win, you're really rolling at 4-1. If you lose, you're still 3-2 with the wheels still on the bus. No, no bandwagons here. But, if they win Sunday, there may have to be a search for some smaller vehicle that's suitable for a humble playoff run, but not appropriate for Super Bowl nonsense. 

The Favre to Rodgers comparison doesn't work because the Packers didn't draft Favre. Why not just say Montana and Young?

There you go!

Sports columnists are one-man-bands. Can I hire all of you (I think I can go as high as $1-a-week) for more of this kind of excellent research work?

Williams to Yaz to Rice in left field at Feway.

Yes, I believe they were all developed by the Red Sox, not acquired in trade.

Tom, Two baseball points struck me this weekend: (1) The Phillies are fast reminding me of the mid-90s Braves -- a great rotation, but not a terrific offense. Are the Phillies destined to win the NL East for the next five years, but have trouble in the post-season? (2) I've been critical of the playoff schedule in the past, but this year MLB has done a great job limiting extra days off. I guess it took a lot of talks with TBS and Fox, but the effort has kept BB from being swamped by other sports.

This post-season's schedule has been excellent. Sometimes baseball does get the message and makes improvements. I think the 8:07 starts __about 30 minutes earlier__ make a decent amount of difference to viewers. And having thosepotential  Game Fives on Thurs-Fri was a huge hit. And they got rewarded with three of 'em

No, the Phils arren't the Braves. They have a lot more problems. Rollins (probably) and Ibanez (certainly) will leave. Howard now has a major injury and his stats were already showing some decline from fabulous to merely wonderful. Utley's knee problems appeqar to be chronic so I doubt he'll ever be 100% of the player he was at his best. Polanco has had a terrible post-season career, which he continued. Is Oswalt really an "ace" any more. For the previous seven years his average fastball was, each year, between 92.6 and 94.0. In '11, it was down to 91.4. And he really pitches off that fastball. The Phils bullpen is okay for a contender but worrisome for a team that wants to be great. And what's Manuel's future?

One loss can set a franchise back a knotch. Halladay, Lee and Hamels will keep them >90 wins. But I suspect their very best years are past. Doesn't mean they can't put it together for another WS win. But five more years? No.

I wanted to make a point about clutch hitting in the post-season. Almost NOBODY hits better in October because the pitchers you face are better. If you hit the SAME in October, that's very good. And if your OPS only falls 50 points, that's okay. But there are people who, over many series, have an OPS that's >100 points lower.

Some examples. Ryan Howard (46 games, 10 post-season series): .845 OPS. Career: .928. That's a solid Oct record.

Utley (same 46 games): .902 vs. ,882 career. !!!

Rollins (46 games): .686 vs .761 career.

Victorino (46 games): .784 w 30 RBI vs .783 career. He really steps up in October. Talking to him by the cage before playoff games, he just seems to love it, want to play up to the moment and enjoy it. A rare great attitude.)

Polanco (38 games): .592 (awful) vs. .752.

Ibanez (36 games): .656 OPS vs. .813. Ugly.

Hamels 13 starts 7-4, 3.09 ERA vs 3.39 career era.

Halladay 5 starts, 3-2, 2.37 ERA.

Oswalt (eight series) 5-2, 3.73 ERA. Career ERA 3.12.

Finbally, A-Rod is poor, but doesn't quite stink w a .260 average in post-season as a Yankee. Jeter's post-season OPS is .839 in 7000 games vs .832 in career.

Teixeira, in six series as aYankee, is hitting .170 __18 for 106. Uggggh.

Did you ever see the piece on the Camden Chat blog analyzing payrolls and playoff success? The data there suggests a very strong correlation between having a payroll, making the playoffs, and then once in the playoffs winning games. Yes, there are other factors that come into play over the course of the season (the Cubs spend lots of money and don't win, the Twins and A's spend less and manage to make it to the first round of the playoffs but rarely further), but it looks to me as if the Nationals ought to spend more and not tie the purse strings just yet if they want to get to play games in October with the developing core of players.

Haven't seen it. Will give it a look.

The Nats can sustain a bigger payroll than they have. They know it and, I assume, plan to move in that direction. If they don't, I'll certainly comment. They were 21st out of 30 in payroll last year and 20th in avearge attendance per game (24,877) __just ahead of White Sox, M's and Indians  and just behind the Astros, D'backs and Padres. So, considering the Nats healthy ticket prices, the reveue should be there. I will say that, for season-ticket holders, the Red Carpet Rewards program allows you to cut your ticket price by 1/3. But, seriously, you need somebody who's a saint to oversee who gets all the tickets to which games and how to "redeem" the Red Carpet coupons for additional tickets. My group has a saint.

Nyjer Morgan has to be the luckiest player in baseball. A slap hitter who strikes out as often as Prince Fielder, he's somehow stumbled into a team willing to platoon him. He's perennially in the bottom half of outfielders in OPS; even when you take out his dreadful .540 against lefties, he's only at the midpoint in this, his best year. His outsized attitude continues to reflect poorly on his team, and one day it will cost them. And nobody outside of his team will feel bad about it.

That's the fairly extreme negative view. I'll see if I can find a comparably positive omne in the question list.

I assume I'll write about Nyjer this week. I find him 90 percent likeable and positive. But that other 10% is negative, distracting, annoying and, if you are going let Tony Plush be part of Nyjer, and there's no way to prevent it, then you are going to get both sides of Morgan.

Nats fans saw what the best of him could do to energize a team in '09. That's when he was in underdog mode. In '10, he was supposed to be a star or fan favoite. That was heavy for him and he often reacted poorly. Maybe he will handle suiccess better in Milwaukee.

He's part of a long tradition. You could even include Ruth. Reggie, Thye Mad Hungarian, Brian Wilson and countless more. But you have to be a "plus" player, not a drag on the team, to pull it off. And even then it's a close thing with plenty of teammates of those guys who are obviously ultra-extroverts and (as a byproduct) self-promoters.

Boz, The Nats appear to be doing well drafting prospects (Rizzos background) but they seem to have a narrow vision when it comes to Major League players. Nyger Morgan is a case in point. They use him only against right handers, don't allow him to steal very often, and move him around the outfield to hide his average-at-best fielding -- IOW they use only his strengths and use other players strengths where he is weak. The Nats tried to pound a square peg into a round hole. They saw speed and decided he was a base stealer and a full time center fielder batting against left-handers even in critical situations. Now they've constructed a roster where there are no openings except center field -- severely limiting their options for a lead off hitter. Now they're doing the same thing with Ian Desmond. I look at how creative Milwaukee and Arizona (#1 priority -- get rid of players who strike out too mucn) were in the offseason and wonder if Rizzo and his old-time baseball front-office can ever put them over the top. Davey Johnson seemed to really dislike the roster make-up. Do you think his myopic obsession with defense will every change? Getting from 80 to 90+ is going to be a lot harder than 59-69 and 69-80. He'll need a real leadoff hitter, bats off the bench, and far fewer strikeouts.

Lots of interesting points, especially about how "they" (the Brewers) use Morgan. The Nats might have wanted to use Morgan that way, but he thought of himself as a semi-star and probably would have reacted poorly to being platrooned, told to steal little. Part of the "change of scenery" is that it's a shock, a wake-up call, and you show up with a "what can I do for YOU attitude."

I'd love to have seen how Davey Johnson and Morgan would have mixed. Or not. Johnson always liked extroverts and get-in-their-face players with flare. He loved Deion in Cincy and reliever Randy Myers (instruction book on "101 Ways to Kill a Man with Your Bare Hands" in his locker in Baltimore.). Could he have used Morgan's skills and minimized his flaws? We'll never know. The Brewers are, obviously, using him correctly and are also encouraging him to HIT the ball, not just slap it around. So, he's harder to pitch now and gets more extra-base hits.  

Phillies aging, Nats up and coming...Braves?

The Braves are definitely still ahead of the Nats, but have to replace Lowe (lloks done) and the coming end for Chipper, who was still a big part of their lineup. But the Braves, not the Phils, are the team the Nats need to compare themselves to next.

But Johnson has already said that he "targets" the best team in the division that he has to beat __perhaps psychologically, but certainly in terms of roster building to do well in those 18 head-to-head games. That's why you may see THREE lefthanded staters in the rotation next year along with Strasburg and Zimmermann. "That's one of the big questions," he said to me. "Is it three RHers or three LHers?" Both the Phils and Braves are more vulnerable to lefties __McCann, Freeman, Heyward, etc.

How come we got Nyjer and the Brewers got Tony Plush? :)

!

Thanks.

The Nats got Tony Plush for '09.

How come Morgan got to steal the "Beast Mode" act from Michael Morse's T-soirt with the Nats, then takethe idea to Milwaukee and now they are getting national publicity for something the Nats had first __as all Dan Steinberg readers have known since early in the Nats season. In fact, Beast Mode (also the name of the small company that makes the T-shorts) has been passe for months with the Nats because it got so old.

I like your idea of a wild card "play-in" game to throw an extra barrier in front of wild card teams. As much as I enjoyed the Phillies early exit from the playoffs (the silent shock of the "phans" was delicious indeed), it's a little unfair that these lengthy seasons come down to a 5-game series in which the wild card has an equal shot. To put it another way: Everyone likes a "clash of the titans" matchup and a "David vs. Goliath" matchup. But with the wild card setup as is, we're seeing too many "David vs. David" matchups.

Thursday and Friday nites were hard to believe, even though I've seen simiular things so many times. I filed a  column before the Yanks game ended with Valerde blowing the lead in the ninth and the Yanks advanacing.

Yanks fans booed A-Rod a little, but not badsly as I remember. Phils fans were pretty upset, considering it was still a 1-[0 game, as "early" as the sixth or seventh inning. Got to give Phils fans their due __no problems w violence or bad behavior that I saw after the game. They were just sad and silent. Remember, they waited a loooong time for '80. And even though they've had their share of high-quality teams in the last 35 years, that town  still had to put up with awful basebaqll teams for generations. So I cut 'em some slack. No, not the ones (in the minority) who come to D.C. and don't act right. But, by and large, I sympathize with them __to my surprise. 

You keep hearing this label put on Rex. How about Good Romo, Bad Romo. Good Vick, Bad Vick. Good Eli, Bad Eli, etc.

Yes, there are good and bad versions of all NFL QB's. Almost always for the same reason.

Good pass-protection Vick, bad pass-protection Vick. Good pass pro Eli, etc.

What worries you is the QB's who have bad turnovers without bad pass protection. That's the question with Rex. Does he make too many bad decisions when he's only under modest pressure and, when his PP breaks down, does the ball come loose too often.

But he's put up 4 300-yard-plus games in the Shanahan offense. So, there IS a Good Rex, for sure.

I was glad to hear that Ben & the Steelers got away from the kidnappers who had replaced them with clones for the first four games. I also find it ironic that Ben threw for 150 yards less than Eli Manning & scored 13 more points!

They should do a TV show on those kidnappers: "Steeler Stealers."

All they had to do was let the Braves win ONE of their final three games of the regular season, and the Phillies would have been hosting the Braves, whose number they had, instead of winning in extra innings on the last day of the season, and the reward: The Cardinals, who had their number. Isn't Ruben Amaro, Jr. or anyone else manning the computers in South Philly?

I've heard this point made before. 

Of course, you play to win every game. But there's an extra dimension here. The Phils looked SO bad going 0-8 after they clinched that they felt they simply had to ramp it up and play their best. So, they finished 4-0, including the three wins over Atlanta. And, as an indirect result, played a much hotter team in the 1st round and got knocked out. Irony for sure.

One more and we'll call it a day.

In a follow up to your column yesterday how about trading Werth and Laroche to Boston for Carl Crawford? Crawford is 2 years younger, can play centerfield and has a career batting average that is 30 points higher than Werth's. He can also lead off and has good speed. I also think the change of scene and situations would do a lot for both players. Werth would no longer be expected to carry the team which he clearly is not the caliber of player to do and Crawford would be going to a team that badly needs his skill set while leaving a team that already has Ellbury who can play a similar role. And I think leaving the teams and expectations that came with both big contracts would be a big weight lifted for both players and organizations.

The Red Sox and Nats both wanted Werth as their first choice. The shocked is that the Nats overbid and got him.  Part of that was his intense makeup. Crowford's just fine, but not an extrovert in the clubhouse. Nats needed a leader type. No, the Nats wouldn't trade Werth for Crawford even-up today. I bet the Red Sox still would. I think Werth ened up stoling more bases than Crawford.

If the last day of the season didn't do it for folks, how about that Tigers-Yanks Game 5? Even my wife (who somehow believes that baseball is not a sport, while rhythmic gymnastics IS) was riveted. What a great game. Big performances, big flops, the whole schmeer!

That's about as much great baseball as you'll see, all in diferent places, in a 10-day period. And it was all spaced perfectly that I lucked into seeing them all of the biggest ones. Sometimes you just "can't get there from here" when a big Game Seven or Game Five pops up. They time, it fell in place.

By next Monday we'll have even MORE to talk about. See you then, thanks again.

Last summer, Zack Greinke rejected a trade to the Nats which (reportedly) would have sent Zimmermann, Storen & Espinosa to the Royals. Later, it was reported that Greinke said (essentially) that while the Nats were up-and-coming, it wouldn't be worth it for him to go to the Nats minus the players they'd be trading to get him. Now he's got a good chance to go to the World Series with the Brewers AND come to DC as a FA in '13 when the Nats will be serious contenders. Seems that Greinke was prescient. In fact, I think one could reasonably argue Greinke did the Nats a huge favor by rejecting the trade.

A couple of folks have pointed this out. Interesting point. However, the Nats and Royals never got anywhere close to picking the actual Nats players in the trade. (Grienke nixed it before that could happen.) There was a list of 10 Nats players that KC was going to pick from __described to me as "the usual suspects." Meaning the best young Nats players that everybody knew.  BUT it is incorrect to think that the Royals were going to get ANY three they wanted or the BEST three __like Z'mann, Storen and Espinosa. No way. They'd probably have gotten ONE of them, plus a Bernadina and perhaps a cacther (not Ramos). 

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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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