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April 8, 2013

11:01
A.M.

Ask Boswell: Redskins, Nationals and Washington sports

Total Responses: 25

About the hosts

About the host

Host: Thomas Boswell

Thomas Boswell

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

About the topic

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

Past Ask Boswell chats
Q.

Caps

So Boz, you ever going to write a column about the Caps again? Would love to here your column thoughts about both the return of the old Ovechkin and the Erat-Forsberg trade.
A.
Thomas Boswell :

The Caps are the lateswt Washington example of Never Give Up On A Season (Or Star Player).

When the Skins were 3-6, find me ONE person who said they would win 7 in a row and win the NFC East. I really don't think there was one person in America __maybe a few on the Skins team would claim they did, but it's their job to think "win 'em all."

We forget now but even RGIII got much better after Game 9. He had 5 starts with QB rating from 101.8to 158.3. And his TD/Int ratio went from 8-3 in the first nine games (less than 1 TD per start) to 12-2 in his last six starts.

Also Alfred Morris had not really emerged.After nine games, he had 793 yards rushing (88.1/game). Excellent rookie year. But the last seven games he ran for 820 yards (1187.1 yds/game) for his 1613 yard season.

When the Wizards were 4-28, find me ONE person in America who said they would play 25-20 after that. I don't think there was one.

After Johns Wall had a NEGATIVE "game score" vs Detroit in a 96-95 loss in March there were pictures of him sulking on the bench. At that point, his average Game Score for the season (a Pro Basketball Reference created stat for total contribution) was a mediocre 10.0 __right at the league average. Since then, he has been one of the finest players in the NBA with an average Game Score in his last 21 starts of  19.1 which is better than Dwyade Wade's 17.2 for the full season. Wall's 47 point game was almost as good as any game in the NBA this season. And most important (to me, anyway), his shooting has gone up from an awful .406 field goal % to a good .480 in those 21 starts. We're probably seeing a star blossoming. Okay, hold your breath. But it seems like it.

And the Caps fit the same pattern. After 2-8-1 start "everybody" had them almost out of the playoffs. Just THREE WEEKS ago, they were hanging by a thread. In these chats I kept saying they'd be in it with a chance to make the playoffs in the last week. Well, they're a lot better than that now. After 8-1-1 __which nobody predicted__ they look like they have a choke hold (not a "choke") on the SE and a No. 3 seed.

Ovechkin's deflected goal last night was typical of a red hot star. It was almost casual as he redirected a shot past the goalie. He just caught it perfectly, as the perfect angle. It's not that easy __even for him! Then, after missing empty net chances all year, he gets one at the end. How many thought he'd be tied with Stamkos for the goal-scoring elad 25-25! Last year, Stamkos had 60, Ovechkin 38.

Any and all thought. questions on Ovechkin are welcome. It's wonderful to see him back, fitting into  Oates system and having his confidence back. So that "closed window" doesn't look so closed.

Too bad Erat got hurt. We'll find out more. But GMGM clearly knew his team had a run in it and made the trade to give them their best chance.

It's all part of a pretty amazing D.C. pattern this year.     

– April 08, 2013 11:04 AM
Q.

Michael Morse

Did we make a mistake by trading him?
A.
Thomas Boswell :

We'll see. Span has a .444 on-base percentage, has seven waks and is playing a good CF. LaRoche is 0-for-13, but with some hard outs and should be back from a minor injury this week.

It's a three-cornered question. They decided first to get Span for CF. That seems to be working. Then they decided to sign LaRoche if they could get him, keep Morse at 1st if they couldn't.

Long way to go. But the fast start __five homers in Seattle__ should relax Morse and maybe set up a big year for him. He has a slightly different nickname in Seattle now __The "Sea Beast." Didn't take him long!

– April 08, 2013 11:05 AM
Q.

Tyler Moore vs. Chad Tracey

Boz, What was Davey's thinking in starting Chat Tracey the last two games? Was it merely a matter of potential match-ups with Chapman lurking in the bullpen? Or was there more to it? At one point, didn't the Nats want to get Tyler Moore as many at bats as possible to ensure his efficiency and development? Thanks.
A.
Thomas Boswell :

It was straight LH hitter vs the Reds RH pitchers. Tracy got a lot of ABs in Fla, so he should be sharp. Also, Tracy plays 3rd base which, in itself, shows you he's thought of as a better fielder. BUT he didn't do any damage with the bat and made an error at 1st. Moore has the bigger future with Nats. But Davey wanted to make a straight two-day LHed cleanup man for LHed cleanup man switch. It almost worked. Tracy had two potential HRs blown back in the park __one each day. But the pitchers "play the wind," too. So they are just outs.

– April 08, 2013 11:05 AM
Q.

Danny Epinosa

Do you think his shoulder is affecting his play?
A.
Thomas Boswell :

No. He looks good to me. He just went 4-for-11 with three doubles and two walks in Cincy. He even ripped a line shot (out) off Chapman on Sunday. Maybe the better questions is: Did he just get hot?

– April 08, 2013 11:05 AM
Q.

Viera

Tom, What's the latest on the Nats Spring Training home? I thought I'd heard that an announcement regarding Fort Myers would be coming by the start of the season.
A.
Thomas Boswell :

You're not going to hear about a new site until '14 or '15 __if that. Lots of reasons to like the ex-Red Sox park in Ft. Myers. But the city-to-be-named-latyer keeps changing. Last rumor i heard was Kissimmee. That's all it is at this point.

– April 08, 2013 11:05 AM
Q.

Dan Haren

He looked terrible, can he last a whole season?
A.
Thomas Boswell :

You're right. He looked terrible. I watched it again. He touched 90, maybe one 91. But his only sharp pitch was his split. Most important, he is defined by GREAT command, even better tyhan Livan Hernandez. He left  not-good-enough fastball right in the middle of the plate to a really good hitting team in a small ballpark. The four home runs were no accident. They had a LOT of great swings.

If his command gets better __quite a bit better__ he can probably be a .500 pitcher with a ~4.00 ERA in the N.L. despite strictly "marginal" stuff. I saw two of his Fla starts, too. He looked about the same (to me) in all three. Needs Livan precision __or Haren precision__ to survive.

The 90-91 readings are slightly encouraging. He struck oiut Tony Phillips in the 1st on TWO challenge fastballs up and away. Didn't think he'd do that.

Haren has to be given a LOT of chances. B ecause of the $13M. Because he's Dan Haren. Because, although it was nice to get Chris Young to sign a minor league deal, you'd still rather have decent Haren than decent Young. If there still is a decent 4.00 Haren, not just a 5.00 Haren.

The really question may be John Lannan. He went seven decent innings in his Phillies debut, 3 runs allowed, a ND. He's under team control through '15.

So, it's fair to look at Morse vs. Span-and-or-LaRoche as the season goes along. And Haren vs. Lannan. (NOT Haren vs. Edwin Jackson, who got a four-year $52M deal w Cubs that Nats could not/should not have matched.

But this will be answered over months. Not one week. But it's all fair game to yack about it.  

– April 08, 2013 11:13 AM
Q.

A New Cheering Strategy for Strasburg

We can all agree that the best thing for Stras this year is to pitch to contact and to trust his stuff and his defense -- just like he did on opening day. A 3-strikeout, 80-pitch 7 innings will get him deep into games and benefit the team and his long term outlook. Only problem is...the crowd still stands and screams for strikeouts! It should be the reverse. So, my buddy and I came up with a new system at opening day. We think that the new way to cheer is to give a screaming, standing ovation for 1-pitch, weak-contact outs, while politely clapping for strikeouts. Positive reinforcement and all that. (Of course, there's a time and a place for the Big K, but those are the exception.) Spread the word, Bos...here's hoping it catches on.
A.
Thomas Boswell :

Unique, to say the least!

I think you should cheer for him not to leap and deflect infield hits away from his infielders (cost him a run in 1st IP) or have his first baseman (Tracy) boot a routine grounder or have Espinosa not know the situation (apparently) in the 6th when he threw home (as if the bases were loaded) instead of taking the 4-6-3DP which might have saved the Nats two runs and left it a 4-3 game.

You don't want Strasburg to pitch to TOO much contact. That "weak" contact __rather than Ks__ is part of the reason the Reds got NINE hits yesterday and had SS in jams in all six innings. That theory can lead to 19 in a row. Or it can lead to Constant Trouble.

Strikeouts may be "facist" in Bull Durham, but any stat nerd will tell you that they create a lower FIP and, ultimately, ERA.

Yesterday, btw, Johnson made a poor short-term win-this-game choice by leaving Strasburg in to pitch the 6th instead of pinch-hitting for him in the top of the inning with the go-ahead run on 2nd base. But it may really have been a sensible long-term how-to-develop-Strasburg move. You can't ask Strasburg to become Verlander unless you actually leave him in games to throw 105-115 pitches sometimes. But in the first week of April in Cinccinnati after runners on base in all five innings? I first-guessed the move in a live tweet at the time __I thought it was a tough manageriual choice but that I'd have prefered to lift SS, give him a solid no-decision vs Cueto and move on. Davey kind of went away from his own early-season theory of "leave a good taste in their mouths" with his starting pitchers.  

– April 08, 2013 11:22 AM
Q.

Adam LaRoche

He looks OLD, will he turn it around?
A.
Thomas Boswell :

He killed the ball his first 11 at bast against the Marlins. Probably second only to Harper for good at b ats in those games. Sometimes everything is at-'em. Then his back stiffened up in the cold late in Game Three. Of course, you probably get more stiff/cramped backs at 33. BTW, Morse has had a much more injury-prone career than LaRoche who's only had one serious injury (in '11).

– April 08, 2013 11:25 AM
Q.

Talk Me Down Off the Ledge, Please

Boz, I've got tickets to the Reds game when they travel here later this month. Please tell me this past series was a one-off fluke.
A.
Thomas Boswell :

Ledge? Please? Come on, you know that's silly.

Nats won't have an easier series all year than Marlins at home with 1-2-3 starters going. They won't have a harder series all year than three games in Cincy going with 4-5 starters in first two games. You'd look at that and say, "I'll take 4-2 right now."

Here's what happened so far that matters. Detwiler looked absolutely excellent, especially pitching out of jams and trusting his stuff, on Saturday. His starts in Game Five, in the WBC out of the bullpen and Saturday are all of a piece __a talented lefty taking a step up. If he does, that changes gthe rotation for years and makes it SS, GG, JZ and RD. 

Haren's bad start matters, if it indicates a trend, but it's far from that point. The 15-0 loss might have mattered some, to the first chunk of the season, if it had led to a flat ugly losing streak. Instead, it led to an amazing 7-6 five-homer win. And a 5-1 blown bullpen lead. A lot of digest in that one! Is baseball exciting enough after just one week?

Also0, the start by Wilson Ramos, with that 2 homer game in Cincy, is really a big piece of the long-term Nats picture. When he was hurt in Cincy last year, you wondered if he'd come back as good. It looks like he lost some weight and came back BETTER. If you had to root for one player, you might pick Ramos after his kidnapping and injury. He's a big talent, fine person at a vital position.

Also, Suzuki's reborn hitting in late '12 now seems to be 100% real. He had a long homer, scorched double off Cueto, then doubled off LF wall off Chapman on Sunday. And he was "on" every pitch with authority, even on his one fly out against Cueto (when he looked disgusted that he hadn't blasted that one, too.) Nats could get a big offgensive boost from that (always fresh) catching tandem.

Soriano's looked good twice, but worrisome vs Reds. Harper had a tough decision on Votto's high fly off top of LF wall. He jumpoed for it __didn't get within 2 feet of it. That turned a routine =7 into a triple. And that extra base led to the run that caused extra innings. Not a "mistake." But the wrong decision; if Harper plays for a double, Soriano gets the save. 

Let see about 20 more save chances for him.

– April 08, 2013 11:36 AM
Q.

Great once again

Ovie is skating and sniping like days of old--and even getting around to a few back checks here and there. He's also visibly leaner (20 pounds lighter or more, judging by his face). Is this a new renaissance or a flash in the pan?
A.
Thomas Boswell :

25 goals in 39 games __a pace for 50 goals in a full normal season__ certainly seems like he's most of the way back. Back to MVP level, no, that seems unreasonable. Not going to lead the league in points, blow up everybody in sight. But I'd say this looks like absolute "best case scenario" among the outcomes that seemed possible a couple of months ago. 

Ovie is once again leading the league in shot attempts __always an indication of his level of energy/activity. And his shooting % (14%) is the second-best of his career. Only slight negative __"only" 11 even-strength goals, though that is getting much better recently versus 14 power play goals.

– April 08, 2013 11:40 AM
Q.

Tiger

Tom, Tiger or the field this week @ Masters?
A.
Thomas Boswell :

Tiger has a better chance than any one player. But I'd take the field.

There's a lot of pressure on Woods for that First Major of Life No. 2. And though he has putted very well, that often means nothing when you get to Augusta National. Those greens, IF they are as fast as they want them, are an entirely different test (speed, mounds, break, length of come-back putts, wind nudging you) than those Fla Tour stops, no matter how they set them up.

Tiger sometimes had 1st round jitters at majors. Actually, it's a career-long pattern in the majors he DOESN'T win that he starts off pretty poorly (by his standards). If he can beat that tendency, and he feels confident in his putting, then watch out. The field isn't as afraid of him as it once was. But Tiger has got them nervous again.

"State of mind" is enormously important at the Masters. Can't tell you all the winners who come in __remember Crenshaw after teacher/mentor Harvey Penick__ who come in and talk about life events that put them in the right frame of mind/focus to win. But I do not think you will see a Woods Revelation Moment if he wins when we all say, "Oh, now he's opened up in a way he never has before and I understand Tiger better."

Should be a great week. Can't wait to get there.

– April 08, 2013 11:48 AM
Q.

RGIII

Tom, Shannahan and Dr. Andrews have both been quoted many times in the last several weeks as saying that RGIII is way ahead of schedule and is super human. Why on earth would they continue to parrot that line even if it is true?? Why not just say "he is progressing"?? What would you do?
A.
Thomas Boswell :

It does seem odd and unnecessary. Both have had a million mocking fingers pointed at them. So it feels like they are saying, "See, see, I/we didn't get him hurt all that badly." It's the initial decision that was bad. The result __how badly he's ultimately hurt__ is partly just the luck of ligaments, surgeries and whether or not he gets hurt again soon.

They always say: Of course we don't want him to come back too come. Oh, right. (As long as it's Game One.)

I wonder how RGIII really feels? He has to be grateful to Andrews if the surgery is working well. And he has to know that his forceful "I can play" was part of it. But does he appreciate these comments? Maybe it doesn't matter. If he comes back 100%, it's all all good, all forgotten. If not...well, don't even consider that on a beauitiful spring day. Just repeat: "He's Superman. He's doing great."

– April 08, 2013 11:55 AM
Q.

Catching tandem

Does having Suzuki and Ramos alternate everyday adversely impact the pitching staff? Particularly with a 5 man starting rotation, seems like it would be harder to find a rhythm with your battery mate when he changes every start. Din't get me wrong, I love them both and think they are both starter caliber catchers (Suzuki was 1 strike away from being the game 5 hero), but I do wonder for how sustainable this is. Do other teams employ a similar system?
A.
Thomas Boswell :

It's great. No downside at all. Suzuki worked with Gio Gonzalez and Haren when they pitched for Oakland. Teams have platooned catchers forever. Etchebarren/Hendricks. Ramos probably plays more than 50% as season goes on if he keeps hitting well. This is a case of "it's all good." But it's also prob ably only for this one year because if Ramos is all the way back I assume Nats wouldn't pick up Suzuki's expensive option for '14 (I think it's like $12M).

So, enjoy it. At mid-season, do you move Ramos up in the lineup? He's a rare hitter who doesn't seem bothered very much __everybody is bothered some__ by hitting No. 8 with the pitcher not protecting him. Ramos seems able, usually, to reduce it to, "Take the balls. Hit the strikes. Be patient." That's hard in the eight hole.  

– April 08, 2013 11:59 AM
Q.

Jeter

Boz; I'm going to bounce a scenario off of you and ask your thoughts. I suspect that...sometime between May 1st and May 15th, Derek Jeter will retire. There seems to be lingering/ongoing issues with the ankle, he's always seemed a little too prideful to be anything OTHER than the starting shortstop of the New York Yankees...and the bottom line--he's a 38-year old player at a position that requires a younger man (Or a different body-type). Could you see him being down in Tampa as him and the organization...maybe coming to the conclusion that his time to step aside/away has come??!?
A.
Thomas Boswell :

Interesting. I doubt it.

When I saw the original injyury it looked so bad that I thought, "Maybe career over." But Jeter wants to go out on his own terms __not helped off the field. He can still hit. I just think he'll find a way to finish it out in his own style. But then I don't know any more about his ankle right now than anybody else and the ankle could make the decision.

Chris Carpenter had one idea. His body had another. But I don't think that will be Jeter. He was alot closer to being "back" this spring.

– April 08, 2013 12:03 PM
Q.

ROUGH TRIP TO CINCY

Yeesh, that was ugly. Didn't bother me that they lost 2 of 3; that'll happen. It was the WAY they lost: poor fielding, poor relief pitching, and Haren continuing his poor Spring. Also concerns me that they have trouble scoring unless they hit the long ball; but, OTOH, they are really hitting the long ball! Too early for concern, or are there some troubling omens?
A.
Thomas Boswell :

The poor defense throughout the series, and some mentals errors, are not the team identity they want or that they had last year. This team has MORE than enough talent, experience and depth that defense should NOT be a problem over any period of time longer than a few days. (And it probably won't be.)

– April 08, 2013 12:05 PM
Q.

Reds

The Reds seemed to be the better team this weekend. What is the feeling in the locker room?
A.
Thomas Boswell :

I wasn't in Cincy. I''m looking forward to the four-game "rematch" in DC on April 25-28.

In last week's chat I made a no-confidence prediction that the Nats would lose the NLCS to the Reds this year and that Nats fans would become all too familiar with the name "Aroldis Chapman."  Those three games showed why. I thought the Nats/Reds were the two best teams, especially regular-season teams, in the NL last year. Both feel like they blew a chance to win the '12 Series or at least play in it. Reds were up two-games-to-none against Giants. Both want to atone this year.

Somebody said to Dusty Baker than the Reds were "lucky" that they had never had to face Strasburg in his career until Sunday. Reportedly, paraphrase, Dusty said that Strasburg was lucky he hadn't had to face the Reds before. Round 1 to Reds. Many more to come.   

– April 08, 2013 12:09 PM
Q.

CAPS & GMGM

I have been one of GM's biggest detractors over the past few years. Now, I'm starting to feel a little sheepish. The Caps have been re-tooled over the last twelve, 14 months or so, and have gotten tougher & grittier. There was a drop-off in skilled players, true. But Erat should help, as Ribiero has. Question: has the window been cracked open again, and can the Caps continue to re-tool enough (add a vet G, add a 1D) to get through it maybe next year? Does GM deserve credit, or is it just another Ernie G situation, where all he's done is started to clean up his own mess? Thanks!
A.
Thomas Boswell :

GMGM deserves credit. He's gotten the window back open. Oates certainly seems like a good hire now. Job 1 __to me, anyway__ was to get a coach/system that gets Ovechkin back to being as good as he can possibly still be. Granted, he's very hot right now. But it still seems to be happening. Ribiero worked out well. Erat was a good deal, imo. 

With the Wiuz, I tend to give more of the credit for the current staunch play to Whitman. But if Wall is turning into a star worthy of the contract he wants (not another mild disappointment) and Beal is the real Deal, then Ernie drafted them. Granted, Wall was a Must, like Ovechkin, Harper, Strasburg. You'd have to explain why you DIDN'T pick him. But when it works, no matter why, the GM gets to take bows.

I don't know when I have ever seen a player show as sudden an imporvement as Wall in the last 21 games: 36.0 minutes, 22.7 pts, 7.9 assts, 4.9 rebs, 1.6 steal, 0.8 blks (a lot for a guard), 2.9 tunrovers (down from 3.7 earlier in year) and .480/.818 shooting.

Is that who he rezlly is? That's certainly who he is now. Finsih the last five games strong and build on it.

– April 08, 2013 12:16 PM
Q.

Initial thoughts about the Nats after 6 games

Well, Boz- is it too early to get a read on our Nationals? I realize it's a long season but the Reds series was stressful and Atlsnta is looking strong
A.
Thomas Boswell :

Nats: 1-thru-4 starters look excellent. Strasburg was hurt in Cincy by cheap hits, left in too long, maybe. Haren is a worry. Bullpen deep, Soriano still spotty, Mattheus very good. Ramos/Suzuki a big plus. Harper looks like a Big Age 20 Year is coming. They have worries, everybody does, but they are on track.

Atlanta: Justin Upton on fire, BJ Upton wasn't but had huge game-saving homer in 9th on Sat. Rotation looks okay, Medlen looked mortal, but Minor and Hudson strong last time out. Delgado bad first outting. They strike out a ton. But they are very good. The Nast and Braves are 3rd and 2nd YOUNGEST teams in N.L. this year. They are going to be at each other for years. A great rivalry building.

Mets: Rotatation looks better than expected. Four good young arms, especially Harvey and Niese. Not good, but not a push over if they stay healthy.

Phils: Utley and Howard are healthy and hitting, for now, but can they still pitch? Halladay, big problem. Hamels, what's up? Getting crushed. They just don't look like more than a .500 year.

Dodgers: Rotation gets off to amazing start. Hitters cold. With Hanley Ramirez hurt, leftside of infield was 0-for-the-season at one point Sunday!

Do NOT judge by the first week of the season. On Sunday, the two reigning Cy Young winners __RA Dickey and david Price__ both lost 13-0! And they pitch for serious contenders __Tampa Bay and Toronton. Both gave up 8 runs. So did Hamels. SF's Matt Cain gave up nine runs in ONE INNING on Sunday. Strasburg gave up six. So, those five pitchers __Cain, Hamels, Dickey, Price and Stras__ gave up 39 runs, 38 earned on the same day. That'll never happen again. And verlander lost, too. Tough day to throw a ball for a living.

 

 

– April 08, 2013 12:26 PM
Q.

Playing as the Frontrunner

Boz, One thing that kept going through my mind this past series - through the endless bombs Friday, Desi's boots and Harper's overthrow Saturday, Stras' fuzziness and Espy's brainfreeze Sunday, is that this series, really, is the first competitive one the Nats have ever played as front-runners, with targets on their backs. Sure, by the end of last year they were a team to be reckoned with - but they were still a surprise. Now, everyone knows from the word go: including the Nats. And they stunk. Not 2007 stunk, but they could've-taken-this-series-as-bad-as-they-played-but-didn't stunk. And that's fine in the beginning of April, but taking the rubber match of a series against a fellow playoff contender - on the road, with your ace on the mound, when the opposing ace isn't sharp, after having been swamped 15-0 two days before - is something that *has* to happen if the Nats are going to be the team we think (and they know) they can be.
A.
Thomas Boswell :

I think you're in the right ballpark, so to speak, but focused too narrowly. The Nationals NEED to face every kind of pressure imaginable. It is all good for them, even when they have to digest 15-0 and comeback from it or blow a 5-1 lead in Cincy and have a gut check or see Strasburg get knocked around some. They were very rattled by pressure in October. They were outscored by the Cards 32-16. They walked 29 Cards in 44 innings, including 11 in 10 innings by Gio.  They easily could have lost Game 1. The reason the Cards said the Nats couldn't breath __besides being bad judgment by the Cards since they'll see the Nats again__ was because it was largely true. Why? They were YOUNG and inexperienced and bad stuff happens to ALL such teams on the rise. If somebody can find one example of the youngest or next-to-youngest team in baseball winning a world title, I'd love to see it. Hasn't happened. Not close. That's what Nats were last year.

I watched the young O's of '76 take EIGHT years to lose a World Series, win 100 and not make the post-season, lose out on a playoff spot on last day of season and FINALLY win a Series in '83. That wasn't misery. It was formative. It was baseball. These Nats are comparably talented. Maybe it won't take them as long to reach a Series or win one. Or maybe they won't make it at all. But anybody who thinks this is a short process or that "having it easy" is a bonus is almost certainly wroing. It's HARDBALL. It's ahrdening process. And the Nats have a long way to go. Like years.

The Orioles learned from all those close games last year and from the playoff disappointment. That's how you grow. At some point, defeaqt is just defeat. That's where the very old need-to-winnow teams are __like the Phils, the oldest in baseball (31.0) and the Dodgers (30.6). BUT not at the beginning. The Braves avg age is 26.9, the Nats 27.9, the 2nd and 3rd youngest. Then, it is still mostly LEARNING.

Of course, they also have an intersting six-game homestand this week with three games this weekend vs Atlanta. The sports always runs on two tracks __today and the next several hundred days. Both are a pleasure. 

See you next week to chat Masters, Nats-Braves, Caps and everytyhing else. Thanks for all the fine questions.

– April 08, 2013 12:41 PM
Q.

Final snore

Boz, Been watching the "Big Dance" for over 40 years now and I can tell you that the quality of play in these games is now almost unwatchable. Basic fundementals have been replaced by 3 ball jacking and turnovers come by the dozens. Gone are the days of pick and rolls, bounce passes and mid range jumpers. Is it just because of the "one and dones" or is it something else?
A.
Thomas Boswell :

After the first week of saturation watching, March Madness has gradually forced me to tape a lot of games and then decide they weren't worth watching or only parts of them. Seems like a slowly sinking product with some bright spots like FGCU. More bad news in college hoops these days than good, by a long shot with Rutgers, conference poaching/destruction, etc.

I'll pull for Michigan to beat Pitino. I mean Louisville. I hate "rooting for negatives." So, you're not alone in thinking that the Big Dance has lost its driving beat.

– April 08, 2013 12:49 PM
Q.

Nationals

Do you think the Nats should switch Haren and Detwiler?
A.
Thomas Boswell :

Looks like Haren got the desereved respect of No. 4 starter, but Detwiler gets to open the Braves series on Friday while Haren faces the White Sox (without their DH) on Thursday. If that was the intention, it looks smart.

– April 08, 2013 12:51 PM
Q.

It's not 2012 any more

Despite Chris Davis's best Superman impersonation (17 rbi in 6 games!!), the Orioles finish the first week of the season 0-3 in one-run games. Sort of shows how abnormal their performance in one-run games was last year.
A.
Thomas Boswell :

Yes. on all points.

But we'll forget the 0-for-3 in one-run games very soon, I suspect. We will never again see anything like what Davis did to start a seaon with 16 RBI in the first four games. I was listening on the radio while driving and just couldn't stop chuckling over the last grand slam. 

– April 08, 2013 12:53 PM
Q.

Red Communi-cation

Oates uptempo style (which the players obviously love, even though it requires them to work harder than Hunter's scheme), his ability to communicate with the players and his willingness to bend at times seem to have finally found fruit. Unlike football and basketball, where practice tends to dictate game performance, hockey requires a coach to be alert at all times and to make decisions every few seconds during the game. In that way, an NHL coach (head or assistant) generally has a bigger impact on his team's fortunes. Oates appears to be a good fit--which was apparent even during the dreadful start. And as the quotes in the paper the last few day show, he's able to talk to his players much better than Hunter. We're just starting to see what this team can do.
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Thomas Boswell :

Oates has the reputation as an exceptional hockey student/thinker. He's certainly a better communicator with players than Hunter who, well, didn't actually enjoy the act of talking. Not Dale's fault. He's just a man of few word.

– April 08, 2013 12:57 PM
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New Yorker

Did you see the cover this week, with all the geriatric Yankees? Brutal.
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Thomas Boswell :

My wife even brought it to show me! Cheers!

– April 08, 2013 1:04 PM
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A little history lesson

For those worried about the Nats' performance this weekend, go check out the 1978 Orioles. First three games of the year, against the hard-hitting Brewers: all losses, by the scores of 11-3,16-3, 13-5. That team went on to win 90 games that year and went to the World Series the next year. And, Boz, do you remember who played third base for the Orioles in those three games?
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Thomas Boswell :

I remember those three games well. Mike Flanagan, Dennis Martinez and Scott McGregor, who went on to win about 550 games, lost to Augustine, Sorensen and Haas. I cheated: Eddie Murray played third base! Nice.

Earl Weaver spent the first six weeks of the season mocking all of us for saying "bad start." Earl kept saying, "What is a start? Define 'a start.' You can't do it. " So, the O's were 22-25, then they went 17-1 to get to .600!

Earl said, "So, you second-guessing so-and-sos, I guess we're off to a pretty &^%$*$# good START, ain't we?"   

 

 

– April 08, 2013 1:14 PM
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