Washington Post Sports Columnist <strong>Tom Boswell</strong> answered your questions about the Redskins, the Capitals, the Nationals, the rest of D.C. sports and more. <br><br> <a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/linksets/2010/07/06/AByEJ1D_linkset.html">Past Ask Boswell chats</a>

Jul 16, 2012

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

What about Jordan Zimmermann? He doesn't have the dazzling stuff of Strasburg and Gonzales (just 6.19 K/9 vs >10 for Stras and Gio) or, at 6-6, their gaudy record. But he's been the most consistent pitcher, throwing strikes and letting his defense do its work in quality start after quality start. Oh, and he just so happens to have the lowest ERA of the three. He could be the ace on alot of pitching staffs. Also, he's probably Exhibit A for why the Nats are doing the right thing with Strasburg.

Agree on all points. And Zimmermann is rolling now, leading the staff over his last 10 starts __2.39 ERA.

Of course Strasburg and Gonzalez aren't doing too badly in the last 10 either __both 7-3, SS ERA of 3.00 and GG of 3.51.

Z'mann consistency and effecient innings-eating __doing it without too many pitches__ really balances a staff that doesn't get quite the IP yet from either SS or GG that they'll probably get in the future.  Their stuff is too good to put in play (lots of Ks), so the "easy out" is somewhat foreign to them.

The THREE aces, not two, is the reason people in baseball are so high on the Nats over the next several years. And it's the reason you don't jeopardize ANY of them. Z'mann's success defines why you don't handle Strasburg any differently. This combines my two practical rules of life __"How Stupid Would I Feel?" and "Lose The Right Way."

So, how much pine tar was on Harper's bat? Shouldn't Guillen have been arguing that question with the umpires, rather than with Harper? Or is Guillen just as much of a tool as his reputation suggests?

Ozzie is the contemporary Billy Martin, though not even half as bad. But still Guillen is a pretty lousy guy in my book. Ozzie is all about Ozzie.

Guillen is losing his grip on that Miami team and it's an easy team to lose. He's still annoyed that Harper showed up the leftside of his $100M+ infield in the 1st inning on Friday nite. Reyes and Hanley Ramirez, both having poor seasons on huge contracts, were chatting in the infield while the pitcher rubbed up the ball on the mound __and Harper stole third while they were napping between pitches. It personified the way the Marlins are seen this year in their new stadium.

Ozzie apparently tried to upset Harper by protesting the pine tar on his bat __as if. The next time up, it's possible Harper pointed his bat at Guillen or the Marlin dugout, but he does that before every at bat. Did he look up as he did it, while he usually doesn't?

Here's what interesting. Guillen tried to get into Harper's head. Harper, 19, got into his. Then Harper made the sliding catch on a foul fly, while colliding with Lombardozzi, to end the game with the bases loaded. Just the kind of play Guillen can't seem to get his expensive Marlins to try very often.

Zambrano, however, pitches tonite. The only thing that will probably keep a cap on emotions is that the Marlins and Nats play each other so often that you really don't want to start a war. But, to motivate a dead team, Ozzie may think that's the best tactic he has left. With Stanton out for 6 weeks, the Fish could be out of the "race" __such as it is with them already 10 games out__ very soon. Then it would be a long hogt summer in Miami where crowds in that new park are already very thinned out. Paid attendance and actual attendance good pretty far apart.

Boz: In a few weeks we'll have the Skins playing exhibitions, the Olympics and the Nationals still going strong. What will you watch? I gained even more respect for Davey Johnson and McCatty this weekend. In Friday's game they used five or six relievers. Why? The TV commentators didn't say, but wasn't Davey trying to give them work? Starters are mostly unaffected by the All Star break, but relievers can easily go eight or ten days between appearances. They need more than that to stay sharp. Right? And, as the Post article showed the Nats' pitchers are being used extremely well (fewer innings per player than any other team). I just love rooting for a team that plays well and treats its players well, too. Too few know how hand in hand those things are!

My lifelong addictions include baseball, football and basketball from age 8 and golf from age 18. I've had periods when I really enjoyed being our boxing and tennis writer, etc.  So there will be plenty of baseball and football viewing.

The Olympics aren't in there. I've covered a half-dozen of them and love the experience (and the stories), but it requires an entirely seperate education to write about it decently. So, when I am doing an Olympics, I study it, visit key people __spent a week with the Heidens before the '80 Winter Games. But when I  am not covering it, I pay exactly as much attention to it as I FEEL like paying. There have been a couple of Olympics that I didn't watch a minute of. In others, I get caught up in a few stories that interest me and watch them. But it's nice to have one big sports event where I can just be a fan and watch what I enjoy and ignore all the rest.  It's also easy on the conscience to skip large chunks of the Olympics; if you think college sports are ugly once you look underneath the hood, they can't beat the Olympics. I won't be watching much Dream Team II. That said, the Beiijing Olympics was the most memorable event I ever covered and the Barcelona Olympics was high, too. Lake POlacid, where my father did some of his growing up, was fun.

Howeever, it is p;ossible for some Olympics to be so pedeestrian that you don't retain a single memory __Calgary. And except for the bombing and the lousy logistics/travel, Atlanta was a zero. Now, of course, I'll remember 10 good things from both of them. But they don't leap to mind.

Olympic athletes may be the most fun of all sports interviews. That's why it's so engaging when you do cover them, but so easy to ignore when you're not there talking to them. THEY make it special. Not the hoopla, nationalism, commercialism, etc. They truly love their sports, make enormous sacrifices (in many cases) to participate. Also, little known, the Winter Olympics are probably the most dangerous sports event on earth __five different sports where people have been killed. Downhill, bobsled, ski jump, luge __they really bring out the daredevils. 

 

Tom, in the new book 'The Hall of Nearly Great', there's a brief mention of how a column that you wrote about Don Sutton, in which he was quoted as calling Reggie Smith the team's best player, in part contributed to a locker room fistfight between Sutton and Steve Garvey. Are there any details you can provide?

Sure. Sutton saved my career. I was a kid reporter. I quoted him accuracy in a feature on Smith, but the L.A. Times picked up a small part of my story and pushed two Sutton quotes together __making it look like one semi-controversial quote (knocking Garvey as not really the team leader). Garvey brought the L.A. Times story to Sutton's locker. They got in a REAL fight. Black eyes. Busted lips, bloody noses. That night, Howard Cosell __the jackass__ had them both on national TV (seperately), both looking like they'd gone 15 rounds with Ali, and "asked" Sutton, "Don, I've known you a long time. I know you would never say anything like that about Steve Garvey." (That's a paraphrase. Cosell was still a horse's ass.)

I think, "My career is over. Sutton will deny the quote __and he probably should because the LA Times screwed it up. Nobody will believe me. Everybody will believe Sutton, Cosell and the LA TImes."

Sutton looks into the camera: "I said it."

That defines a "standup guy."

There's a Dodger back story, of which I was blissfully unaware at the time, but I still can't tell that, I don't think. But Sutton was a champ in all respects. 

It was nice when Sutton came to DC to do Nats games. He was fighting some health issues. Always a straight shooter who came from a shotguyn shack and could give a bleep if you didn't like what he had to say __as long as he knew it was right.

Wait, which one is the teenager and which one is the longtime "professional" again?

You nailed that.

Gov or who ever oversees PSU needs to seriously consider shutting down the football program for a very long time. Maybe forever. PSU and especially its former president always played the holier than you card and gave everyone else grief because they played by the rules. Sorry recruiting violations and paying kids pales into comparison to treating a child rapist and predator humanely. Joe Pa would be the perfect character for a new Greek tragedy. He allowed pride and his ego to get in the way of doing whats right. Absolute power corrupts absolutely. All he had to do was report it. The first time he heard about it and his legacy would have been intact. NCAA should allow current PSU football players and any other kids playing sports at PSU to transfer w/o having to sit out a year. Might not be a bad idea if the board of whatever visitors or rectors banned all NCAA sports for a very long time since PSU demonstrated it cant run a clean program!!!!

Those are extreme, though understandable reactions. Nothing will be lost by waiting a while longer to let everybody get their last chance at a last word __like the Paterno family (reports today) apparently hiring people to investigate the Freeh investigation.

 

      The professional world you live in constantly tries to define you and re-form you to resemble itself. For someone like Paterno who almost comes to define his/her profession, the identification becomes almost complete and inescapable. If the line of work you’ve chosen __even with the intension of changing it, making it somewhat more like yourself and better for it__ is essentially debased, then the more you succeed, the more you will be become like it in some way. Perhaps in way you don’t suspect.

      That’s why you chose your life’s work carefully and, even then, resist. Paterno wanted to win and change college football __at the same time. Of course, in the end, it now appears it did far more to change him. We all hear the phrase “sell out,” but it can happen in lots of ways.

       The day Paterno was fired, I wrote a column. A chunk of it was about how important it was to find out what happened and who knew about it in ’98. Did Paterno know? How could he not? I think the column’s central point still stand up, though, of course, after Freeh, everything is cast in a much darker light.

http://wapo.st/LswygT

      I covered high school sports in the ‘70’s for six years for the Post, when Paterno was already a big name. I knew HS players, coaches, recruiters, player street agents, the price that a superstar basketball player could get to go to a top Big East school in the north or ACC in the south ($35K-a-year for one kid, as I remember). There was plenty of the under-the-table stuff which had already been legendary for decades before that.

      My youthful but still pretty-well-informed grassroots impression was that nothing I had ever encountered was as thoroughly corrupt and corrupting as big time college football and basketball. Nothing has changed except perhaps to get worse.

 "Even Joe Paterno" is the truly stunning part.

One is 10-4 and the other is 10-5; both won by identical 4-0 scores yesterday. They have a similar repertoire of unhittable stuff. I know Stras doesn't have the long-term track record of Verlander, but isn't it time to put them on the same pedestal, at least based on this year's performance?

No. I watched both games. Verlander is a polished pitcher who knows how to get people out in a dozen ways, going whole innings without strain. Look how he worked over poor Wilson Benimit for 3 Ks. The first time up, he was just hitting spots at 92-93. Later, when he wanted 96, he had it. He expanded the zone, only needed 10 pitches for the 3 strikeouts.

Yesterday, despite the fact that Strasburg has Verlander stuff (or maybe better), he had to battle constantly with a bottom-of-thepot Fish lineup while Verlander toyed with a less-bad Oriole offense.

As McCatty said afterwards, Strasburg is wonderful but he still has a lot to leave about how to use/maximize his stuff. SS is still a 6-IP pitcher. A spectacular one. But he will get much better if he stays healthy. Learn to use less pitches. Read the bat even better. Get more easy outs with the sinker. Cope with 95-degree heat. His ERA in 27 career starts when the temperature is under 90 at game time is in the 1.90's. In his other eighth starts, it's been 95 to 100+ and his ERA is 4.95.

What's amazing about Strasburg is how much better he can get. He knows it. And he wants to be. That is ANOTHER reason you want to shut SS down at 160-170. Right now, for a playoff series, I'd say, based on experience and consistency, that he might start Game 3 after GG, who looked so calm in the All-Star game, and maybe no-pulse JZ. Few would agree with that. And I'm probably wrong. Strasburg has ace intimidation.

I saw that David Wells is in favor of SS pitching the whole season. Wow, looks like The Nincompoop Test still has a perfect record. 

I was wondering what you thought the rest of the NL East will do. It looks like the Mets are going to fade, the Marlins never really arrived, and the Phillies are going to get back on the rails after injuries but are too far away. Can the Nats fend off the Braves, or are they going to get overtaken? And regardless, is the second place team in the East going to get one of the Wild Card spots?

Those are exactly the right questions.

I think, with Ben Sheets strong start yesterday for the Braves after two years being hurt, that Atlanta and the Nats will have the N.L. East pretty much to themselves the rest of the year. Braves have better hitting, more experience, good enuff starters and a great closer. Nats have a much better overall staff and the advantage of low expectations.

The Nats and Braves are also two of the easiest teams to like in baseball. This weekends Nats-Braves series in D.C. will be one in a sequence of MANY between the two with the N.L. East lead at stake.

I keep looking at what it will take __in winning percentage terms__ to be a wildcard. In the N.L., it still looks like ~.540 or 88 wins. Nats would need to go 38-39 to do that, though of course they want to win their division. Watch out for Cards and under-rated Reds (almost as good an ERA+ as the Nats) to both end up with >.550 records in the Central.  

It's not a lock that the second-place team in the N.L. East gets the wildcard. Those teams, including Nats, play a significantly harder schedule this year than teams like the Pirates in the Central. Baseball doesn't like to talk about it but the difficulty of schhedule is getting almost as bad (unfair) in MLB as in NFL. The Orioles have it awful every year. But it puts the Nats at a bit of a disadvantage this year since all their interleague games were against the A.L. East, baseball's best division. (N.L. East looks like its second or third best division). 

He is now hitting 350+ and has enough at bats where it doesn't look like a fluke. At some point do the nats start using him to pinch hit, and if he does, how does that affect a pitcher on his off day?

When rosters expand in September, I hope they keep Strasburg on the roster to PH, maybe in the 13th IP when they've run out of everybody else. He's a good hitting pitcher. Looks like he'll maybe bat >.200 for his career. But lets not get carried away. If he's .250, he'd be one of the best hitting pitchers ever. SS's batting average on balls in play (BABIP) is .500!! Normal is .290. What it shows is how hard he works to get better.

 

As much as I would love to see it, I do not think the Nats will run away with the NL East. Right now, it appears that Atlanta is playing better ball than the Nats. Of course, we will have a better feel after the upcoming home stand -- Mets and Braves. A good series could put the Mets out of it (10 back), but two bad series and the Braves could be one game back. Of course, a healthy Desmond, Werth and Storen will fix much of the problems. Also, what are the odds of H-rod staying up when Storen comes back? Am I over thinking this for mid july?

You're not overthinking. You're just having fun.

I doubt the Nats can pull away. But they have an amazing oppotunity if they play well in their next 8 games __1 w Miami, 3 w Mets, 4 w Braves. Say they go 5-3. Optimistic. AFTER THAT, the Nats have 18 games in a row against teams which now have losing records. And some of those teams may he "sellers" as the trade deadline approaches.

If they haven't opned a significant lead by August 13th, when those 18 games are over, they probably won't.

The Nats are going to need a sixth starter TWICE in the near future because of doubleheaders to make up for rainouts __this Saturday vs Atlanta and Friday August 3rd vs Miami.

Will Wang be ready by then after his rehab starts in minors? Lannan has looked better, but still medicore with a 4.25 ERA in his last 10 starts at AAA. But that's an important start in the DH vs Atl on Saturday.

Bos, So, Ozzie says that Harper pointing a bat at him (Bryce seemed to be offering Ozzie the chance to check it), but it's OK for Ozzie to go on a profanity laced tirade in the middle of the game - long enough for the ump to stop action and tell Ozzie to "let it drop". That's OK? I got even money Ozzie's old pal Carlos Zambrano buzzes the tower on Bryce, this afternoon.

Ozzie pretty much defrines "bush" and is probably proud of it. Whatever Harper did, if anything, Guillen was 10 times as bad because he just can't control himself.

But what about Bobby Valentine blasting the depart Kevin Youkilis who's now with the 1st place White Sox! "I don't think he ever wanted to get over it," said Bobby V of Youk's reaction to the manager's early-season comment about how he wasn't as "into the game" as he used to be.

As always, a backstory. Seems like Youk may have been the fed-up "Fried Chicken Snitch" who tattled on other Red Sox last year. "May have been." I don't know. But that's getting into the stories in Boston now.

So, who gets a ticket out of Boston, the guys who are back in the dugout chowing down as a pennant race is lost or the guy who's always been known as the one who worked hardest? Looks like Bobby V sided with the Beer Brothers.

As for Carlos Z, his ERA in his last 9 starts in 6.95, so he may have enough problem throwing strikes without TRYING to throw balls. And if the Nats could pick anybody to be on the mound tonight it would be a vet who throws even harder than Zamberano __E Jackson.

"A watched pot never boils." Lets hope so. 

FWIW, I wouldn't punish the current students and athletes at Penn State for the Sandusky scandal. However, you cannot punish Curly, Spanier, Schultz and the Paterno name enough for my taste.

There are several sensible positions on this almost-unbelievable scandal. Yours certainly sounds like one of them.

However, I don't see how Penn State can just open its season "as normal." That's wrong. If this isn't "lack of institutional control" over a football program, then what is? Find the 5 worst examples of "lack on control" in the last 10+ years in football,  then let the NCAA attempt to penalize PSU in line with those sanctions. (NCAA sanctions are not my specialty. I offer this strictly FWIW, which may not be much.)

Hi Boz, Did you happen to catch the season premiere episode of "The Franchise?" If Ozzie's antics yesterday weren't enough to confirm your pre-season take on them as nothing more than pretenders, watching this will--that's a clown franchise, bro! Time for the Nats to bury them for good tonight.

NOOOO! Did I miss it. If so, I'm the clown, bro.

When will it be repeated?

By the time reality TV is finished with Guillen, he'll be known as Ozzie (Osbourne) Guillen. Marlins perfect team song title: "Crazy Train."

What are your thoughts on the Nats making a trade for another starting pitcher to replace Stras for the playoffs? My personal view -- a Gio/Zim/EJackson rotation will stand up well against any other playoff rotation and it makes no sense for the Nats to sacrifice assets for a short term rental like Greinke or Hamels.

They'll stand pat unless somebody knocks them over with an offer that they think is a blunder by the other side.

If they need a different back-up catcher at some point, I doubt they need to make a trade. Sandy Leon, who was called up, then hurt in his first game, is a cacther-and-throw catcher who returned on July 5th and is having a good year at AA. Career 46% throwing out base stealers in the minors.

Nats pitchers do a mediocre-poor job holding runners. But Nats have only given up the 15th most stolen bases. Maybe other teams will pick on them with the running game more in 2nd half.  

Bos, The Nats vs. MASN mess. Is this going to get setlled amicably? Or will it get worse before it gets better? Did Bud make this worse by awarding the Nats' TV rights to Angelos? IMO, it would have been much better if Bud handled this at the time.

As Bud indicated __obliquely__ at the All-Star game, this is an example of why you have a commissioner. In some form, it'll probably end up on his desk __"a dispute between clubs."

Peter took Bud's lunch money on this one last time and everybody knew it. So the commish probably hasn't forgotten that.

In your column, you said the Nats would be foolish to create a fake injury for Strasburg to send him to the DL and extend his season. But what if he actually sprains his ankle? Would you lobby they then shut him down for the rest of the season? Probably not. So what happens if that actually happens?

I've wondered about that. You'd want to get him to ~160 IP so you could turn him loose next season, like Z'mann. You don't WANT to shut down, start back up, if you can avoid it. But if you can't avoid it, it's better than ending the season at 105 IP.

If Strasburg keeps running the bases twice every start he could sprain something. Run the bases like Nolan Ryan and Sutton __like you're not quite sure how many bases there are and need time to figure it out.

Seriously, what does Ozzie Guillen have to do to make himself unemployable at this point?

The Marlins, relative to expectations, are having a disaster season. But Ozzie had a lot of say in putting together the team, like signing Buerhle (the Marlins best idea). Terrible PR to fire him now. Great idea! But terrible PR.

You can't run if you're not on base.

Good point! The Nats are first in WHIP, too, so they sure aren't letting many on base.

I was looking back over the last 20 years to see how many games teams won in seasons when they were No. 1 in ERA or ERA+ or both. You win a TON. If the pitching stays healthy, you can overcome almost anything __like resting Desmond as long as it takes with Espinosa at SS and Lombardozzi at 2nd. No rush. It's all good.

If the pitching gives out __and it won't if these guys are healthy because they ARE this good__ then "wait 'til next year" will probably be invoked for the 75th straight year.

 

Will the Nats do anything significant at the trade deadline?

No.

Glad to be wrong. Because that would mean Rizzo & Co thought an opportunity fell in their laps.

The Nats remind me of the 1959 Sox - better pitching, even worse hitting. Comments?

Ha! Good call. But the two teams are almost exactly alike. 

'59 White Sox 1st in ERA (3.29) and ERA+ 115. But only 11th of 16 MLB teams in runs scored (4.29)

'12 Nats 1st in ERA (3.14) and ERA+ (126). But only 18th of 30 teams in runs scored (4.16)

Chicago went 94-60 and won Series.

How's Desmond? Is a day off enough, or will we miss him for several games?

I'll be surprised if he comes back quickly. I'm no doctor. But once you shut down, the inuured muscle tends to tighten up as it heals (right?), so you really have to wait until it's okay to risk it again.

Also, now the Docs have their hands in it. You know what Davey thinks of that. They are responsible adults! That's terrifying. This is big-league ball; no responsible adults need apply. You let 'em get their hands on Morse and he's back in 2 1/2 months.

Seriously, Morse's injury was different and rare and he really tore it. Presumably, they sat Desmond before he really ripped it (whatever it was). Still, 15-day DL wouldn't surprise me. Longer would surprise me. If Desmond is back in lineup this week, THAT would surprise me. Based on what? Nothing. Just tossing grass in the air to see which way the wind is blowing.

Boz, do you happen to know why the Nationals have switched to their red "home" batting helmets for their current road trip to Miami? Or whether they'll be wearing their blue bonnets (sorry, had to write that) when they return to DC? They are wearing the blue "road" soft caps when they're in the field so it's only the helmets that have been switched.

This is my one nod per decade to the fashion -conscious. As my wife will attest, I am fashion unconscious.

Yeah, they wore the red helmets, like the '60's Nats with Frank Howard. Kinda liked the look. (In general, I like the blue hat with red bill the best, but they could wear fireman's helmets and I might not notice.) 

Bos, with the Hammel injury the chances of the Orioles playing meaningful baseball in September took another hit. How much longer do you think they can hang around?

Without Hammel for 3-4 weeks at least (knee surgery) they are in a heap a trouble now, boys. And they played like it yesterday, after an amazing 8-6 extra-inning win on Saturday. That was a momentum builder, then the Hammel news on Sunday was a complete bubble buster.

W-L record and run differential are usaully going to converge. But in which direction? Does the run-diff come up to "justify" the record or does the W-L sink to validate the run-diff. Sure looks like the best the O's can hope for now is .500. And that's doubtful. Long way to go. They score less runs than the Nats even with the DH and now, after Chen, who's their best starting pitcher?

How pleased are the Nats about their draft? Who knows if these (potentially) injured players work out, but from a process standpoint, they nailed it, right?

Giolito WAS their draft. Maybe they got other good ones. But Giolito was the "sighnability" gamble.

See Dan Steinberg's post on Samuel L. Jackson's nickname for Lucas. (He's a family friend of the Hollywood-based Giolitos.)   

Who should i see start Sunday against atlanta? My son used to play bball with yours and Nolan.

Detwiler.

That reference would be to Nolan Smith of Duke in elementary school. 

(Go Red Sox?)

Fans got treated and teased into a decent half-season of baseball in Baltimore, but with Hammel out for a month, it looks like the O's will do their typical July August slide. Is this team any closer to really contending, or should Duquette try to trade his way into a long-shot Wild Card chase? Obviously Machado and Bundy are untouchable, but there are some other decent youngsters (Hoes and Avery) that may have the stuff to play regularly for the big club over the next 5 years. Even if the O's finish near or over .500 is Buck Showalter still a lock for MOY?

Haven't you seen this movie often enough? You can hope O's go .500. But they have had some awful collapses. That's the whoile Culture of Losing thing __and it starts at the top.

If Buck gets 'em to .500, good shot at MOY. Otherwise, just losing year No. 15, but with signs of progress and Bundy on the way.

According to Baseball Reference

As a small child (!) I rooted for the White Sox. So I guess my meory rewrote history. Yes, of course. Rats.

 

Sox lost the series 4-2, as Larry Sherry won 2 and saved 2 for LA. And Koufax lost a 1-0 game.

Yes, I remember, too. Famous photo: A fan accidentally dumped a full cup of beer off the RF bleacher rail on top of Al Smith's head as he looked up for a Dodger home run sailing into the seats. 

The Marlins have had the Nats' number for years, especially in Miami. But with wins over Nolasco and Johnson, are we finally seeing the Marlins' stranglehold on the Nats loosen?

Nolasco and Johnson were the two who always owned them. Something ridiculous like 19-0. Couldn't be that good. But a lot.

So, if "Z" beans Harper, does Davey take Weaver's "my players are better than your players and I don't want my players getting hurt in a fightl" approach or will there be a full scale "beanbrawl' ?

Davey has never followed Earl in that particular theory.

Does the plus 20% rule apply to Zimmermann too? Is he shut down at 161 + 20%?

No, he can pitch Game Seven of the Series.

(See, you have to say that stuff while they still have the best record in the N.L. because if you wait a few weeks, it could sound pretty silly. Never waste a chance to have a good time. It's sports.)

That's it for this week. See you next Monday.

Over or Under 6.5?

Over.

But if that is 'the line' then I think it is just about perfect. Even great 1/1 or 1/2 QBs have little inpact in their 1st year and, as I've mentioned before, the average record of the QBs you HOPE RGIII will resemble had an average record of 6-10 in their first year. Patience. 

Shouldn't more credit be given to Stan Kasten as being an architect for the Nats plan of developing through the farm system, draft, etc.? I realize he's moved on to the Dodgers and will probably do well there, but I think the Braves model for success is paying dividends here in DC now. Do you agree?

Yes. By '13 or '`14 Stan may have three teams in the N.L. playoffs that have almost all their key front-office positions filled by people he hired __and the people that they then hired, like Rizzo and his staff. It's won't be an accident.

If Desi has to take more than just a couple of days off to rest his strain, how do you think Espinosa will do as his defensive fill-in?

More consistent, less range, maybe even more amazing arm. He had a VERY good reputation as a defensive SS in the high minors. I'll be interested to see. But, of course, Desmond has become an All-Star.

Boz -- I'm pretty pumped about the Ozzy incident, as well as the two previous controversies the Nats were in (and the tenor of the Harper All Star angst). The common theme to all of them is that "You Don't Belong Here", with teams that have been dominant for the last five to ten years claiming to own the Old School and claiming the Nats need to learn their place. The Nats refuse to do so, and continue to embarrass those teams and defy expectations. Bryce has become the lightening rod--deserved or not--for the criticism of everyone who was okay with the Nats improving to third in the division, but are mad at the thought of them running away with the NL East or maybe the league. Here's hoping for a second half where they never "know their role" and draw many more detractors!

That's another reason Werth can't wait to get back __to support the insubordination.

        --30--

I do not believe that Redskins Nation has any clue just how great a player RG3 is. There is a perception out there that he had one great year at Baylor. He was great from day one thru year 4 at Baylor. He's a quick study and his play will transform the Redskins into winners again. Do you think Skins fans have any real idea of what they've got in Robert Griffin III?

I think they know his history well enough, but are more aware of his talent, intelligence and personality. So, they expect an "A" NFL QB.

A-, A or A+?

I think rookie QBs have bumps. Setting him up as an Instant A is a little much for my taste. But I'd be very surprised if he is less than a B+ by his 2nd year. And the trip to "A" should be fun. Yes, I'm a believer.

The majority of national media types that I've heard seem to be against shutting Strasburg down. You hear a lot about how the fanbase will be up in arms and furious if it happens. To the contrary, the vast majority of Nats fans who have commented on Nationals Journal and elsewhere are ok with Rizzo's program. Haven't seen nary a pitchfork. Are these "analysts" trying to gin up controversy, are they just out of touch, all of the above?

Your last sentence about captures it, imo.

Harper has provided a real spark to this team, but I can't help but feeling he's toned it down in the last month or so. How much is it that he has been told to be less aggressive and how much is that the pace is getting to him and the major league competition is learning how to handle him? And how much is just that he's getting tired of playing at this pace? I have little doubt that he will rebound in time, but it seems some of the swagger is gone and there have been a lot fewer doubles and home runs of late.

Harper looks like he could use a day off every once in a while. His back was barking at one point. The season wears everybody down. It wore HIM down last year in the minors. The team needs his energy. It doesn't need him to play the last 142 consecutive games __which is the pace he's on now. Okay, this has to stop, despite you folks never-ending good questions. Thanks. 

Has the PGA turned into "Praise God Always"? What's with a lot of these recent winners thanking "their Lord and Savior Jesus Christ" when they win? No that I mind too much. I'm just a little uncomfortable with people who are so evangelical. Does the PGA have a lot of evangelcal Christian"s? If so, why do you think that is?

Golf will turn anyone to God or drink.

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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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