Readers asked Boswell about the Caps devastating Game 7 loss, Bryce Harper's 'Bam Bam' weekend, and anything else in the sports world.

May 14, 2012

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

Tom, This Islander fan was pulling hard for the Capitals. Not only for opposing the Rangers, but also because I saw a March game at the Verizon Center. The facility is great, the atmosphere was intense, and the neighborhood was electric in the pre-game hours. I loved that most attendees "Rocked the Red." It is not balm for the wounds, but DC is a great hockey town. Kudos on a good season.

Something nice about that. "Kudos on a salvaged season," might be more accurate to me. Three months ago, this franchise had a chance to come apart __Hunter viewed as possible failure, fire GMGM (?), even whether or not to trade Ovi as part of finding a new style.

Main point: DC is now one of the hockey towns. I assume Capos fans will still Rock the red for lower-scoring games under Hunter. That is, as long as their is better play in post-season. But playoff style simply isn't as exciting as Caps have grown used to. So, that Cup quest will have to be the focus.

But itsn't that the RIGHT focus? Especially when you've had a four-yr period when you had the most regular-season points (combined) of ANY NHL team, but having almost nothing to show for it?

I think the Capos are on the right track. But it is a FAR from certain plan. And if they keep getting the same post-season results while winning and scoring less in regualr season, that will test everybody's nerves and judgment.

Tom, Since Henry R. cannot get it done, do the Nats resort to this, if they're really interested in making the playoffs this year? Perhaps let Henry R. close only the games at home? Not only 3 blown saves, but 3 wins turned into losses in less than 2 weeks.

If you want to use Sean Burnett to close a few, that's fine.

But Rodriguez is far, far too good, and far too close to becoming a fine back-end reliever, to mess with him because he gave up a slam to a $251-M slugger on a wet mound. Rodriguez is 8-for-11 in saves (73%). If he were 9-for-11 __and he had two sliders that could have been called game-ending strikes in the Heisey at bat with Votto on deck__ we'd be talking about his KKK 10-pitch save on Saturday night. He's still "pretty frickin' bueno."

This is when you tell the truth, as Johnson did __"He walked the (2) guys he should have gotten out"__ but you still show confidence because it really is merited. I watched the tape of sat nite, too. There are goling to be a lot more of them than what happened Sun nite.

Morning Boz, Geez, what a year for Willie. You'd figure he was due for some good karma after the kidnapping, but this is just crushing on top of all the other injuries. Do you think that Davey could use Harper as an emergency catcher if the situation arose?

Just feel rotten for Ramos. My bigger worry is the long-term impact of a major injury on a catcher listed as 6-feet 250 pounds. He's solid. He may not quite be 250. But he may have to drop some (solid) weight when he comes back in '13 so that he's knees can hold up over time. That could cost him some power.

Lombardozzi is, I think, the 3rd string catcher. Harper wouldn't catch. Back there, anything could happen. Hey, he could even get hit in the head with a bat.

I am impressed to see the Nationals doing as good as they are with all the injuries, but with Ramos out now...where do we go from here? Danny E. seemed to get a little spark against the Reds, but I am not sold on anything yet... And Henry Rodriguez...wow...I have 0 confidence in this guy and quite frankly I don't think he has much confidence either. So with so many injured players, Danny E not playing as well as he should be (offensively) and a closer that can't close. Where do the Nationals go? Any pending trades? Call-ups?

I watched the tape of Ramos injury this a.m., then of Harper's missed flyball in the lights, then Rodriguez 10-pitch save and his agonizing loss. Just so I could feel as miserable as the chatters. 

But, man, folks are going to have to realize that once you get a GOOD baseball team to cover, it takes a huge toll on your nerves __if you allow it to. Edward Bennett Williams found that out when he owned the O's __drove him nuts after bad loses.

As long as the Nats starting pitching stays healthy, Morse, Storen and Werth come back in June, July and August, then I actually think the Nats are slightly better than I believed on Opening Day. If nobody else blows up, they have an excellent chance, especially at a wildcard spot, despite a landslide of injuries.

That in itself shows how much better and deeper they are. And how strong their future is. Hard to imagine you could lose all those key players, plus Wang, and still seriously consider 85-to-90 wins. But that's still very much on the table. 

How long will Davey stick with Henry Rodriguez as the closer? He's got 3 blown saves in 11 opportunities. Will there be any consideration of putting Tyler Clippard into that role?

Clippard is just rounding into good form as the setup man. Move as few players as possible.

With San Diego and Pitts at Nats Park for the next four games, two of the worst-hitting teams, you just want to be calm, accept how tough the Sun defeat was, but move on and win three-of-four at home against teams with problems. The Pads are devastated by injuries. The Nats will REALLY want to get both games in tonight and Tuesday 1 p.m. __rain or now rain. There may be some long waits. 

With Ramos injured will the Nationals think of bringing Pudge back - even with his retirement?

I hope Rizzo goes after him. But it's tough to "retire," then come back to play 30-40 games the rest of the season. Also Pudge, at his age,  is just about the worst offensive player in baseball m__.218/.604 last year. No matter what else he brings, his bad hitting is a measurable anchor. But I'd still sign him if he'd take it.

Leon, not a good hitter, was battimng .317 at AA.

Because Flores "only" has about 120 games left in the season __and has missed 20+ already w Ramos starting__ he may be able to start 90-to-100 of the remaining games. And he's better at handling balls in dirt, just as good __at least this year__ vs base stealers as Ramos. It's Flores chance to prove his a starting catcher. If he does, he has big trade value once you're sure Ramos can make it back.

All thing roughly equal, you'd want Ramos because he's under team control three years longer than Flores and has more power potential __like the HR to centerfield just before he got hurt. Ugh!

Boz - It looks all but guaranteed that tonight's game will be cancelled due to rain. How will that impact tomorrow's game? I have tickets to the day game, and am trying to figure out whether or not it is worth trying to go. While the weather looks dreary, I am of the mindset that the teams will try to do anything to avoid having to reschedule this short series. Would you agree? And looking at both the Padres and Nats' schedules, where/when would they likely reschedule? Worst case scenario, both games are cancelled, what does that do to our pitching rotation? It looks like Jackson, Detweiler, and Stras are on deck for the Battle of the Beltway, Nat's Park edition, but I guess delays would push it to Zimm, Jack, Det, or even Gio, Zimm, Jackson?

Three times last year the Nats played doubleheaders after rainouts to avoid these situations. Strasburg is slated to go Tuesday, then Sunday vs Baltimore to close out the series. The Nats would want to do all they could to keep it set that way.

No matter how it breaks with the rain, the Nats will only have one of their Big Three vs Baltimore. Either Strasburg on Sunday or Jordan Zimmerman on Friday __as far as I can figure.

But Nats also want to line up for Philly at Phila next M-T-W with Gio, Z'mann and Jax. O's games are fascinating with Birds leading baseball in HR (56) and pitching better. But you'd still like to beat the Phils over the head as much as possible in May with your best pitching when they still don't have Utley or Howard.

Hi Tom, yesterday's Nats loss was kind of hard to take. I'm going to need to seperate myself from the Nats for a few days. Follow them in the paper until Friday or so. What is Davey going to do with Henry Rodiquez? Will he stick with him for the 9th or go to someone else? Clippard, Mattheus, etc?

In spring training, I bored Kilgore and other beat guys with my odd-ball theory that, while the Nats were far from a great team, they accidentally had depth at exactly the proper places that __as I said then (paraphrase)__ "They could lose their best OF from last year (Werth), their best infielder (Morse at 1st), their best catcher (Ramos), their best reliever (Storen) and their top winner from '11 (Z'mann) and still be a respectable 75-win team. Try that experiment with almost any other N.L. team __they'd be devastated. The Nats still have a real team."

But, good Lord, I didn't thionk it could actually happen. Ballplayer may be able to jinx ballplayers or themselves. But spring training chatter does not fall under the potential jinx category. I hope I didn't include that little theory in any of my chats or columns back then.

(Knock on wood) As long as Strasburg, GG, Z'mann, Detwiler, Jackson and Wang, when he returns, make the Nats one of the best rotations in baseball __and their 2.76 team ERA is the best by .42__ you'll be amazed how hard it is for them NOT to make a 10-team playoffs setup.

BUT they have had absolutely all the major injuries they can take. Zimmerman has to start to hit. He's contributed nothing. Espinosa has to play like '11. And Harper has to shake off all this nonsense that keeps happening to him __or that he keeps doing to himself__ and have a decent rookie season.

When '12 is remember for Nats injuries, I wonder if all the current DL guys won't be back and perfectly OK in future, while the one thing we remember is: "Bryce Harper almost pulled a Tony Conigliaro ON HIMSELF but didn't."

Everybody has smashed equipment. Presumably Harper has had a long corrective conversation with himself, thanks to Mr. Bat. Just so he understands that 1) he didn't do anything awful, 2) but he did do something really dangerous to himself and 3) he was damn lucky, NOT unlucky.

On the flyball he missed, in the minor leagues, NO park has a second deck. So the lights for night games are much lower. So the ball on Sunday __close to twilight, in the mist with the ball up in a bank of lights that Harper has only a few games of experiencing__ was the definition of a "rookie mistake." Meaning things like that happen to almost ALL rookies because they face conditions/circumstance in the big leagues for which the minors simply cannot prepare them.

But, by next year, he should catch that ball 100% of the time __at a standstill. He just has to get used to "picking up the ball" at a different point in its flight and expecting the lights to be where they are __high in MLB__ not lower like the bush leagues.

Have the Reds found his weakness? Does Bryce Harper need more time in AAA to figure out how to hit offspeed (and to learn more about the resilience properties of wooden bats)? Does the bat vs. wall vs. face incident give Rizzo the cover he needs to send him to the minors and save millions in arbitration in 2015?

The Bam Bam bat and the missed fly, along with a mild slump, do give Rizzo cover to do whatever he wants.

BUT Harper really is good at hitting to the opposite field, which should keep him out of the woprst slumps, and he has a good eye, so his on-base percentage should stay over .300. He's at .317 OBP, .346 slug and .663 OPS with lots of speed on bases (and in OF) and great arm. That's already better, at 19, than Roger Bernadina has been in his MLB career.

So, the Nats need Harper. He doesn't look overmatched, except when he gets greedy and overswings. I don't see any one pitch that consistently bothers him (for a teenager). He has no need to pull the ball. He's had two doubles off the RF scoreboard in Nats Park. His power should be ally to ally with plenty of hits to LF.

I've only seen two other rookies who hit the ball to the oppisite field, and down the opposite foul line, with as much authority as soon as they came up. Cal Ripken and Ryan Zimmerman. They went away from this as they matured and pulled the ball more. 

Harper has a mature approach, as long as he doesn't get homer hungry and "jump out" at the ball. I think he'll be fine and I wouldn't even be REMOTELY close to considering sending him down. Leave him right where he is. He hasn't gotten hot yet. I think, even at the MLB level at 19, he has a 15-for-35 in him. Lets see what that looks like.   

'Morning, Boz. I just can't seem to shake the feeling that losing Wilson for the season will turn out to be the straw that breaks the camel's back. It's got less to do with a weakening of the position (Flores is fine, in fact more than fine), and more to do with the psychological blow of losing so many key pieces. Can the Nats pull through this spell? Or is if really finally time to start looking forward to '13?

It may be that straw. You can't deny it.

But if they survive in the race until Morse gets back (in less than a month, perhaps, since he could play DH vs the A.L. for 6 home games from June 13-21), then  Michael alone might really change the feel of that lineup batting 4 or 5 with LaRoche.

When Storen gets back __maybe July 4th__ you may have an exceptional bullpen, so long as H-Rod uses his early struggles to grow and get tougher, not to regress.

As I've pointed out MANY times, this is the beginning of a FIVE-YEAR period of tests for the Nats __the kind of tests that contenders have to learn to pass, the kind of pressure, injury and bad luck, that they have to learn to PLAY ABOVE.

Also, during this time you want to get Final Answers on the ability of talented but "unestablished" players like Flores, Bernadina, H-Rod. And you want to get Harper started on his long road.

OF COURSE, you didn't want to have to do that ALL AT ONCE! But that's how it worked out. Nats have to learn that when you're good, there are no longer ANY excuses.  The players who are "out," are, as Weaver said "Dead." You ignore their absence. That, too, is a learning process.

Lemme say this about that: I've seen teams with FAR less talent than these post-injury Nats win in the high-80's. Look at the '89 Orioles!? They never had a fraction the pitching staff the Nats have right now, without Storen.

And Nats offense should get better as they hit a normal number of homers; that's already started to happen.  

Boz: If the Nats gave Stammen a shot at the temporary closer role, would he take to it? Shouldn't you go with the hot hand in all situations? When Henry Rodriguez doesn't have command of the breaking pitches, he struggles. Its happening too much, don't you think? Man, closing has to be the hardest job in baseball.

Stammen may be an important discovery. Not as a closer but as a key long man and part of the B Bullpen when Storen is back. Great guy who has kept working to get better. Looks like he's learned to pound zone with sinker and expand zone with a very good slider. He's found his "method." Some never do. And he's seen how effective that methid is: VERY effective. So that should help his long-term confidence. Adding Stammen and Mattheus, with that 95-96 sinker, really adds length to any already strong bullpen.

Reliever get hurt. Can't have too many good ones because one of 'em may be your next closer or set up man. The biggest element of being a back-end reliever is command __FIRST, of yourself and your emotions, then of your pitches.

If you have enough stuff, like H-Rod, then command of No.1 __yourself__ may be enough, even if you never have first-rate command/control of all pitches. 

Mr. Boswell, I realize this might seem absurd, but hear me out: We keep hearing about how Strasburg's innings will be limited to around 160. We know Chien-Ming Wang could be back soon. The five starters in the rotation now have been very good and really all deserve to remain in the rotation. So, why not consider going to a six-man rotation? I've done the math, and this would extend Strasburg till the end of the regular season at least, which is a big positive. There are negatives: Maybe that's too much rest between starts for everyone. And you're necessarily cutting a guy from the bullpen, which has been a weak spot, what with Rodriguez's recent blown saves and the fact that Lidge and Storen are out. But I imagine when the Dodgers went to a 5-man rotation in the 70s, there were naysayers. What's your take on this unorthodox strategy?

I'm sorry, but there is just no sane, effective way to go to six starters. My "How Stupid Would I Feel" rule absolutely applies. If you go to a six-man and it messes up, or contributes to injury, of Strasburg, Gio, Z'mann or Detwiler __when they are ROLLING and improving under the current system__ how stupid would you feel?

This was never the Run at The Series year for the Nats. If they got a fast start (yes) and stayed healthy (NO), then maybe you fantacize about "is this the lucky year?" Even then I'd cut Strasburg off at 160 IP.

But this is NOT the year to jerk around the top pitchers in a potentially great young staff so that two pitchers who may not be here next year __Jackson and Wang__ can all pitch.

Besides, more Wang in a six-man means less starts for Gio and Z'mann. That's BAD. And it'd drive 'em nuts.

It is what it is. Assuming Wang is ready and pitching well, you put him into the rotation and make Detwiler the Sixth Starter. Then, when Stras is shut down, you put Detwiler BACK in the rotation in September. He probably ends up with 15 starts and just enough innings __starting and relieving__ for him to be properly prepared to be full-time rotation in '13.

This whole 160IP discussion is a complete waste of time.  It's proper baseball, proper medicine and proper pro-ball ethics to shut down Strasburg. And it also lets Detwiler develop at a proper pace while giving Wang a chance to show what he is __which might be a very nice trade piece at the July 31 deadline if he pitched well from June 1 to July 31.

This can all work out quite well. Even Lannan at AAA, ready to be a 5th starter in DC, gives you flexibility to consider a deadline trade.

Can he cut his caffeine intake? He could high-five a semi and put a crater in the grille. BTW--will be an all-time great....reminds me of the excitement generated by Pirates-era Barry Bonds and when KG, Jr.came on scene.

DeRosa aggravated his lat injury giving Harpoer a high five after he stole home vs Phils. Davey asked DeRosa why he didn't high five with the other (healthy) side of his body. DeRosa said the steal just got him caught up in the moment.

Harper is going to do that a lot ffor a long time. He keeps having tests. He passed the Hamels HBP thing with an A+.  He escaped his own Bat Attack. He's going to make 19-yr-old mistakes like "lost in lights."

But let him make 'em in '12 in MLB. Unless he absolutely goes in the tank mentally. And I don't think he will.

Lets admit, however, that there is SOME risk in letting a teenager go through so many "memorable" episopdes so early in his career. Harper's had a lot of spotlight, but we never REALLY know what's going on in somebody else's head. You can hear Rizzo thinking, "Proper development...arrgggh...that's why AAA exists" and Davey thinking, "Tough gifted kid. Let him develop right here __a few steps from me." 

 

Just saw on "twitter" that Dale Hunter is stepping down. Now what?

UNBELIEVABLE!

Knock me over with a feather.

How can you be Dale Hunter, get everybody to "buy into" your brutally painful way of playing hockey, have some success with it and then QUIT!!!???

That's not what Dale Hunter does? Is it? That seems out of character. Doesn't he almost HAVE to come back one more year to complete the transition to his methods, then help pick the coach to follow him?

Well, obvious not!!! GMGM is quoted on Twitter that it was a "tough decision" for Hunter not to come back.

Part of this is, no doubt, Hunter's comfort and success with the London Knights. But __don't know to what degree this will come out__ MANY Caps were delighted to see the team's internal star system dying.

Would Leonsis/McPhee have to have __at some point__ traded Ovechkin, to get maximum value for him__ if it looked like Hunter was going to stay for years?

Was a Hunter-style team a scary thought for the Rock the Red full-house world? Hunter hockey, in regular season, would be semi-boring hockey.

If Hunter goes, who does McPhee get __and does the next coach follow Hunter's ideas. You'd think so. B ut then you still have the same Ovechkin Problem. Is he wasted on that style team? Can he stay happy indefinitely being asked to block shots, cut minutes, focus on defense, not the next rush?

I now officially change my optimistic view of the end of the Caps season. It was progress, protentially big progress __if Hunter stayed and the Caps adopted  his personality.

Now, you're fired Boudreau, gotten knocked out in 2nd round AGAIN with Hunter, but you don't get to play out the Hunter story.

It's possible that there's still a few Caps that Hunter just doesn't want to have to live with eve3ry day of his life __beating his head and his ideas against theirs. So, he went home __to happiness. Let them work out their Cap misery on their own.

If you weren't miserable about the way the Caps season ended on Sat nite, then you probably are now.

One thing I'm sure of:  the Caps CAN'T got back to the old run-and-gun days of the Young Guns. That is OVER. It was tried, and tried, and it FAILED every spring. 

That Caps "window of opportunity" __it probably just got narower and shorter.

This should complete about as miserable a 7-days in D.C. sports as I can remember.

Somebody put on extra security around RGIII.

Boz, if you're GMGM, how do you reload the Caps? Seems like much is dependent on Hunter - if it's his system, you need his type of players, and better versions of the ones already on the roster, problematic for a team of defensively deficient snipers (Ovi, Semin) and slow or aging journeymen (Aucoin, Halpern, Knuble).

This question came BEFORE Hunter left.

Just think how much more complex it just became __and not in a good way, imo.

Somebody hug Davey Johnson and tell him, "It's not your fault they are all getting hurt. We know you were very happy in retirement, but don't even think about it, now or in '13."

 

"But playoff style simply isn't as exciting as Caps have grown used to." Are you kidding me???!!! I've never screamed so much at my TV as I have the past 3 weeks. I LOVE this defensive hockey. Who cares if we're not racking up the goals? That never got us anywhere! I'm just glad to see blocked shots and a consistent netminder.

Lets hope the next Caps coach can pick up the Hunter style and make the Caps stick to it. But I'm not sure ANYBODY who might be Caps coach would have a chance to be half as tough, as forceful, as Hunter who's the eptiome of strong-and-silent, my-way-or-don't-play and ABSOLUTELY inflexile. Sometimes, that's good. Players knew they couldn't move him an inch.

For Caps fans, the team just pulled a DOUBLE "Lucy Brown"__pulling the football away before Charlie could kick it __ on Sat and again Monday.

Riggleman quits an hour before a mid-season game while his team is on a winning streak. And Hunter quits after his team has just gone 7-7 in the playoffs against the No. 1 and No. 2 seeds and both series w/out home ice. And after his entire team praised, appreciated him __I LISTENED to 'em do it__ after the loss in Game 7.

Gotta say, unless/until more comes out, I'm disappointed in Hunter. If you know that NOTHING __even a "buy in" by your team__ will be enough to make you come back for the next season, why come back at all? GMGM was talking to Hunter before BB left. Gettiung Hunter was part of being willing to fire Bruce. Now, you fired Boudreau for a rental coach?

But I suspect more WILL come out. If Hunter felt he would get the BACKING he needed, and the personnel decisions he thought necessary, would he quit? But if he didn't get that support, isnt he also the kind of guy who'd say, "If you won't let me do it my way __100% my way__ then I don't need this aggravation. I came back FOR YOU. Hello, London Knights and farm life."

We'll revisit and rewrite the history of this one a BUNCH of times. Instant reaction is interesting and inevitable.

But this needs digging and analysis a lot more than reaction.

 

 

So I would understand it if Hunter would like to quit and return to London, England, but London, Ontario? Or is this just a way to get more money out of Leonsis?

You got your answer. What does it say when a long-time Capitals star, a hero in town, would rather go back to Ontario than keep coaching the Caps??

On Sat nite, he said, "Coaching in the NHL is the second-best thing to playing in the NHL."

Doesn't that make returning to Ontario the 3rd best choice?

This is a bigger stunner to me than any DC-area "I quit" that I can remember. Sure, he's "interim." But McPhee said he'd ALWAYS wanted to see Hunter as an NHL coach. They are great friends.

Well, it's all up in the air.

Boz, I watched a couple of Braves games this weekend. Man, can those guys rake! Thier pitching is not as good as the Nats but not too bad. They look like the Cream of the East right now and they are healthy. Can the Nats keep an eye on them till Morse, Werth, Storen come back?

IMO, the Braves will be the Nats main N.L. East competition for the next 5 years. They are really well built. But Nats have top-of-rotation edge __that really matters.  The Phils may have one more run in them this year, though __if I had to bet__ I'd guess they don't. After that, it's Braves, Nats and maybe Fish. Still not sold on Fish.

What is the status on Jayson Werth?

Back in early August. Best estimate, not certainty.

Bos, With the traditional AL East teams looking flawed (NYY and Bost have no pitching, , when do I get sucked in and believe the O's are for real? June 1? July 1? This most recent stretch (@NYY, @Bos, 4 with Texas and 3 with Rays) was supposed to expose them. THey won 3 of the 4 series and losing to Texas isn't a big deal--EVERYBODY is going to lose to Texas this year.

Based on stat study __FIP, xFIP vs current ERAs, as well as full-career history__ the O's pitching will certainly regress, especially the bullpen. BUT they are better, Chen may pull back, but Hammels looks first-rate. Much better, deeper bullpen. And "good times" can help ignite players to the next level of their careers and that could be happening right now with Matt Weiters and Adam Jones. It'll be a nice not-so-nice tense showdown in Nats Park F-S-S. Nats-O's games that mean something to both teams. Regardless of how rest of season goes for either, it's still hard to believe in May '12.

Tom, as one of the longtime Caps fans who fears the worst at all times and "knew" the game was lost after letting in the early goal, I found your optimism these playoffs, and even after the loss, refreshing and provided some balance to my angst. However, I seem to think the "success" (if 2nd round loss again is success?) with the new system actually creates more questions than answers. This roster is not built for Hunter hockey, especially with Ovechkin making $9-10M as a square peg in a round hole.

"This roster is not built folr Hunter hockey."

Hey, problem solved.

NOT!

 

What is "rule five".

It's the one right after Rule Four.

I could tell you, but then you'd have to become an assistant MLB GM. It's like a secret society: Those Who Understand Rule Five.  (And, shudder, the Rule Five draft!)

Boz, it seems like a lot of people who havent' followed baseball closely in the past are starting to watch the Nats this year. What can we do to help acclimate them to the ups and downs of baseball's daily grind?

That won't be needed! Once you get good, stuff HAPPENS. Strasb urg K's 13. Harper hits himself in the head with his bat and plays with blood rolling down his face. Ramos gets hurt and everybody CARES. H-Rod is perfect one night, gives up a slam the next and I have countless questions on the chat about it.

BAD baseball repells fans. GOOD baseball is its own magnet. 

If Harper's nickname comes from the Flintstones character, his nickname should be spelled "Bamm-Bamm."

Check. Thanks.

is it okay to have this much fun?

Yes.

I hope that, in the month of August, the whole Nats roster __except Ramos__ is healthy and we can see a few weeks of Strasburg, Harper, Gio, Z'man, Z'mann, Storen, Morse, Werth, LaRoche, Desmond, Clip, H-Rod, Espinosa, Flores.

When was the last time the Redskins had that much star power __some potential, but most of it real right now?

20 years ago?

I have managed prima donnas who must have grown up hearing "you are the star!" from birth, and yeah...I can see why Hunter is going home to London. I'm sorry to see it, but not surprised. But I'm not looking as forward to next October as I was yesterday.

Unless/until different info arrives, I feel the same.

Just saw Tarik's twitter that Hunter will help the Caps draft, even if he's not coaching. Maybe that indicates dedication to continuing with the style transition. BUT like you said, the Ovechkin problem remains, and that's a big problem. Semin is probably not resigned, right?

Doubt Semin returns. BUT I was near-certain Hunter would come back __almost was duty-bound to come back.

The last thing I ever thought you'd hear from Hunter: (my words, NOT his) Well, that was interesting. Now, you guys know what it takes to win in the playoffs __self-sacrifice, pain, dedication, a deep commitment to being a Washington Capital. Me? Oh, I'm going back to my enjoyable, profitable, fulfilling life in London, Ontario. But remember, KEEP SUFFERING FOR THE CAPS. I'll be thinking of you. Well, some of you. Once in a while.

Is there EVER a Monday when some news doesn't hit during the Chat?

Guess we're not going to get to Matt Kuchar winning the Players. I'm getting just a little bit sick of that damn 17th hole. It's like a 72-hole tournament where 68 holes measure talent and four holes are Russian Roulette. Did I tell you about the time I got chased by an alligator on the 16th hole right after the course was built and the wildlife was still wild. Well, that "pink" island you saw between 16 and 17 could have had a little R.I.P. marked on it. Oh, well, some other week.

 Outta here. Thanks agin.

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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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