Ask Boswell: Redskins, Nationals and Washington sports

Oct 14, 2013

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

As a Wizards fan, is it too optimistic to expect a 42-40 season or should I be content with 35-40 wins?

Be content.

Washington has had teams in recent years that actually DID things to get people to set high expectations. The Caps had the highest point-total in the NHL. After that, what is anybody going to say except, "When do they get to a Stanley Cup Final." Even though it's hard, that kind of seasons sets those expectations. The Nationals won 98 games, more than any MLB team in '12 but also more than many franchises have in any 30 year period. Of course everybody is going to say, "What's next?" They probably lucky somebody didn't blurt out World title or bust." And the Redskins DID win the NFL East and go 10-6. They did not have one of the NFL's very best records or across-the-board stat profiles. They looked like, perhaps, the 7-8-9th best team that had finished very hot. But you have to set expectations reasonably high in a weak division.

But the Wizards have Not Done Anything. They look better. Wall had a wonderful last 20 games which has started to alter my view of him. But I doubt this is a .500 team. It would be nice if Ted would stop saying that the Caps are a team without any weaknesses -- you can be proud of what you've got without going crazy -- or setting the bar even remotely high for the Wiz. It's hard to set sane expectations. After best-record-in-your-sport (Caps, Nats) or an NFL East title, it's inevitable. Lets not lay that on the Wiz, too.

Let them play their way into that evaluation, if they can. 

This is the NFC East. If Shanahan says he's going to start focusing on next year, do you think they can run the table and make the playoffs?

Ha!

 

My first smile of the morning after rewatching the Skins tape.

Here's the Skins biggest problem -- RGIII looks pretty decent, not anywhere near as good as last year, but not THE problem. The problem is everything else. Bad special teams, bad tackling, penalties.

I always wonder what Shanahan is REALLY thinking because I assume that the only thing he will never tell is his unvarished opinion about anything. So, last night was just the two bad special team's plays. That's a big part of it, but...

I'm rooting for them! But gosh, they have so badly underperformed in recent years. I know you don't win games on paper, see 2013 Nats, but they should completely blow away the weak AL Central. In 2011 and 2012 they needed a Sept. surge to win by 4-5 games, and last year they rolled over and played dead to a not especially good Giants team in the World Series. This year they finished one game ahead of the Indians, who were 36-52 against teams with a winning record. I hope they win for themselves and their city, but I'm not yet ready to break out the champagne.

Their lack of confidence in their bullpen showed last night -- in Jim Leyland's face. With a 5-1 lead, one out and one on in the eighth, he looked like he'd already seen the future. Ortiz' grand slam was an amazing moment -- and Hunter's near-catch -- but Benoit's first-pitch fastball right down the pipe was an awful mistake with a three-run lead, two outs and only one absolute rule: Don't let the 240-pound guy hit it out of the park.

So, he does and he did.

I got the impression last night looking at his expressions that he knows his team is under-manned, not enough on the O-line or special teams, and the his QB is less capable than last year. Your thoughts?

Shanny knows what he's looking at. Griffin is far more mobile and agile than 25 QBs in the NFL. But he is no longer Different Than Anybody. The other mobile QB's are just like him but with more experience, better players around them or, perhaps, a real No. 1 wide receiver, something the Skins still haven't have in 20 years. Have you noticed that the Skins (almost) never even try to throw deep. No deep threats, even off play action.

We're seeing the cost of two years of salary-cap hit. I thought it might show up first in lack of depth when injuries hit the offense and defense. That hasn't happened yet. They're been very healthy while most of the teams they have played have had injuries, like Ware and Murray last night or starting QB Pryor and starting running back McFadden for Oakland.

But it appears to have shown up on Special Teams where you see regularly-used defensive players doubling as special teams players. The Cowboys apparently told the TV crew that they thought the Skins were vulnerable on special teams. So they spotted it -- it wasn't just an accident or a good night for their special teams.

But Shanahan looked very worried last year at 3-6. I think he was as surprised as most Skins fans when they turned around and went 7-0. They took him along for the ride. After nine games, I doubt he saw a 1,600-yard rushing year for a rookie, etc.

Everybody's going to have to do a reset on what is realistic. Part of that is that, unconsciously, a lot of people assumed that RGIII would either be healthy or almost healthy and therefore an "A" QB or else he would not be healthy, not make it back for Game 1 (or get reinjured) and the season would be a disaster. What few, if any, suspected was that he would be almost as fast, but not quite; fairly accurate passing, but not as accurate as last year; a good second-year QB who's still learning but not an elite Q B who could elevate fairly mediocre talent around him (as he did last year).

RGIII, and the inspirational mythology that surrounded him (or semi-mytholog since his play was pretty amazing and deserved superlatives), carried the whole team to its 7-0 finish. Now, he's (maybe) 90 percent the runner, 90 percent the scrambler and 90 percent the passer. Put that together and you have a Good Young QB. 

But not a player who, right now, can carry an otherwise vulnerable team.   

Now that the 'Skins are done for the year, should they rest and fully rehab Griffin so that he is ready to go next season? Surely 100 percent of Cousins/Grossman is not going to produce a worse W-L record than 2/3 of Griffin.

You can't bench Griffin. He's not hurt. Physically, he looks better every week. Last night he looked like he should have run the ball nine times for 77 yards -- those plays were available, sometimes with excellent scrambles -- and he took them. He's a running threat again. And he needs to be. He just can't take crazy chances. He didn't slide last night but he got out of bounds correctly and drew a couple of late-hit flags that he seemed to be TRYING to get.

You don't want RGIII running nine times every game. But here is the BEST thing from the Dallas game, the one point that says, maybe, they have a foundation to build on -- 216 yards rushing on 33 carries! Morris and Helu combined for 123 yards on 22 carries. W/out Helu last year, the Skins had Morris and only Morris. Now they have a combo. So, those rushing totals -- 77/9 for RGIII, 81/16 for  Morris, 42/6 Helu and one surprise run on third down by Young for 19 yds -- may be the model they want in future. (With less than nine runs by RGIII.)

To be competitive, the Skins MUST run to set up everything else. W/out those two long kick returns we might be talking about how decent and improving the Skins looked in defeat. BUT the special teams problems, including a missed FG, seem to be part of who they are.  So, you can't just throw out those plays.

So, special teams got an "F."

The offfense got, perhaps, a "C" because they couldn't finish drives and RGIII/Kyle screwed up clock management in the last 34 seconds of the first half -- I m ean TOTALLY messed it up.

The defense might actually have ended been a "B" after the first long Cowboy drive. Hall had an exceptional night on Bryant  -- 38 yards receiving! (on five catches/eight targets). They got enough pressure on Tony Ro-"nooooo" to hold him to 170 yards on 30 attempts and an interceptions. Romo did make one GREAT flush-and-read TD pass. As soon as he was flushed to his right, he just (almost blind) threw for the back pylon -- knowing where his receiver would be.

Love it and hate it. Love the drama, hate the never-ending games. Saturday's AL game was 1-0 and took 4 hours. 30+ seconds between every pitch, with four closeups by the TV folks in between. Do I just start watching in the fifth inning?

I thought were true in the two 1-0 games on Saturday.

The average baseball score has always been 5-. You need some action, some scoring, as well as building tension, to have high-quality entertainment. I thought the people from around the country who covered those two games thought they were more wonderful than I did after watching them both.

BUT last night's Boston win, 6-5, was the perfect balance of scoring, tension , etc.

What a day in Boston! One headline was "Boston's Finest" with a picture of Hunter, unsidedown, his legs straight up in the air flipping over the RF bullpen wall while a Boston cop has his arms up in the air celebrating. Also, Brady's TD with five seconds to go was just too much. My family actually turned off the Pats game to have dinner. Then we realized it wasn't over and Brady was driving! After the Pats had won, I went back to see how they'd gotten the ball back, why they still had so much time left for a final drive. No big clock management mistakes by Saints. Just shows how looooong the end of NFL games can be if the QB who is trailing is named Brady, Manning , Brees...

....

BTW, I didn't think Harbaugh's decision in the Raven's loss -- to go-for-it on 4th and goal from the 1-yd line was a mistake -- just a decision. In real time, I thought the Packers might have been foolish to decline the holding penalty and invite/challenge the Ravens to go for it in front of their home crowd in Baltimore. I thought, "The Ravens will run it and walk in for the score and it'll swing the momentum." Wrong.

BUT the Ravens did kill themselves with the LATEST example of "Rocket-Screen" coaching in the last 15 seconds of a half when you the ball in your own territory. Joe Gibbs did it in a Super Bowl but coaches still keep underestimating the danger in plays in their own end when there is just enough time for 1) a fumble or interception disaster and 2) a FG, at the least, or a turnover-return for a score. That gift FG to the Pack haunted the Ravens the rest of the game.  

What about putting Ross Detweiler in the bullpen? We need a lefty. Do you think he would do it? And, is it any harder or easier on the body?

Interesting. Many assumed, before the season, that if Haren pitched well all year Detwiler would be a natural lefthander for the bullpen in the playoffs -- you know, like right now in October in the NLCS if that team (what's it's name again?, oh the Nats, yeah) actually had MADE the playoffs.

They still see Detwiler as their second LH starter to go along with Gio in the rotation. That's the right way to go. Det still profiles as a fine 4th-5th starter who is still improving, using all his pitches. But he has looked comfortable out of the pen and his power sinker gets DPs and is a good pitch for a reliever.  

James Wagner's article on the Nats 2014 payroll made me realize that Bryce will be a free agent at the age of 24. Assuming his numbers continue to grow, he will command a tremendous amount. I know he has said all the right things about wanting to be with one team his entire career, but Boras clients tend to go for the most bucks and there will be a team in the Bronx with a short right field porch that will have shed a ton of payroll by 2016 and would not blink about offering 30 million a year for 15 years for a player who would only be 39 at the end of the contract and could be their next Mantle. Am I worrying too much?

Why do people always get this wrong (not James, but readers and smart fans, too). Harper can't play for another team until 2019. He's a National for FIVE more seasons. By the start of '19, he'd be 26. That's still very young.

Let's let Harper drive in more than 60 RBI -- he's had 60 and 58 his first two years -- before we "give" him a $450-million contract!

I understand why he's made two All-Star teams. Nobody wrong with it, though both were by the skin of his teeth. But he still has a LOT of improving to do to be more than a very good player. I think you'll see that development in '14.

The Yankee Fear concerning Harper always amuses me. Or is that "Yankee Hope," since they'd need a miracle player to change them. Right now the Yanks are a rebuilding franchise. I sure wouldn't trade the Nats next five years for the Yanks next five years.

Harper has barely begun his Washington career. Let him have one healthy year.

BTW, at the beginning of '13 -- just seven months ago --everybody asked "Can Anthony Rendon stay healthy or will he always be SO injury prone?" Rendon didn 't have an injury all year and had 560 plate appearances in minors and majors. That's a big data point. Maybe his ankles are strong enough to stay in one piece on high-quality MLB fields.

As a Detroit area native who only wears Tigers hats to the 20+ Nats games that I go to each year, I loved your ALCS column. How did you become a fan of Rodriguez, my fair city's unofficial bard?

Like everybody in my generation I'm a big rock fan. I think Rodriguez is fairly well known now after the 90-minute documentary on him. However, I was in a tiny store in the San Juan Islands off Seattle this summer which had a small bin of CD's. There, in the front row, was Rodriguez' "Cold Fact."

It's amazing that a man could cut two albums, think they were both complete failures, then find out 30+ years later that he had been a young-culture idol in South Africa and Australia for decades and that his voice was the voice of the anti-Aparteid movement in South Africa in the '70's. Even more amazing to me is that Rodriguez, living in what most would consider poverty in Detroit, and living by manual labor, was taking his daughters to museums and art galleries. He's educated, philosophical and...well, if you already know about him you don't need my half-baked summary and if you don't just google "Rodriguez Sugar Man" and you'll find it all.

My favorite isn't political protest or drug culture or any of the several genres that Sugar Man worked in. I like the rocker: "Only Good for Conversation."

(He may be the Bob Dylan of Detroit or the Bob Dylan of South Africa -- and it's incredible to see him give several sold-out concerts around the world with everybody singing along with every word of every one of his songs when he's 60-something and thought nobody on earth had ever known who he was -- but he's far from The Bob Dylan (JMO).

This guy doesn't know pressure. See the ball, whack the ball. Just seems to have the perfect makeup for playoff baseball.

You got it.

If Torii Hunter, who is a wonderful OFer, had taken a perfect route to the ball, instead of slightly "running under it," he might have made a game-saving catch that would make every other post-season game-saving catch -- including Al Gionfriddo's catch off DiMaggio -- look easy.

How famous is Gionfriddo's catch? Google: "Al Gio" and that's enough for his name and the catch to pop up on your search.

I'm not sure your most recent column, a preview of the ALCS, was the best venue to criticize the NFL. While I agree with your comments, I thought that they took away from the overall tone of the column. That being said, having watching the League of Denial documentary, and having read most of the book, I can't help but think that they league is in serious trouble, even more so than I had previously thought. The research is increasingly pointing at football as the cause of this long-term brain damage found in so many former players, and the NFL's reaction to it has often been compared (and justifiably so) to the behavior of the tobacco companies. I wonder if, at some point, fans will wonder whether they can still watch football, knowing what it does to the players. What does it say about people that know this, and still find it entertaining?

I watched and covered prize fighting for many years and I knew exactly what it did to the boxers. And that was worse -- and much closer to inevitable -- than brain trauma from playing football.

At it's highest level, boxing is partially redeemable -- a Leonard-Hearns, Leonard-Hagler fight. At the lower levels (like local DC fights), I'd come back from covering fights when the prize money was $300 with blood on my sweatshirt from sitting at ringside. I'd think, "There's no excuse for that. It's simply barbarous." And the guy who won would tell me that the money he won wasn't enough to cover his dental bill. But you can't have Ali-Frazier without all the other levels.

So, the fight game is now a marginalized sport. Probably good. I don't think football will ever suffer from anything like the (totally deserved) bad reputation that boxing has had. But I think the damage to football's image is just starting.

I played organized football for seven years in a program (at the varsity level) that was frequently in the Top 20 in the 100-plus-school DC area. We were known as a very hard-hitting team. And we had a week-long two-a-day football camp, three "pre-season scrimmages" which were really games and, inseason, at least two full-pad 11-on-11 scrimmages during the week between games. That's a lot of hitting and bull-in-the-ring and the rest. Our coach was very safety conscious. But I don't know one person from any of his 32 teams that now has any symptom of brain damage, etc., from organized football at the 6th through 12th grade level. And the players from his early teams are now in their 70's. So, I think football for six or eight or maybe even 10 year olds is ridiculous and unnecessary, though I started at 10. But I'm skeptical that repeated blows at the lower levels lead to shocking degrees of damage in a significant number of cases. The research will be what it will be and, over time, we'll find out. I'll be very interested.

At the NFL level, I believe that the phsyical maiming and the permanent brain damage is at least as high as the critics now maintain. I'll be amazed if the eventual scientific evidence isn't "worst case" for the NFL. The increase in force has to be exponential as weight and speed increase.

So, yes, football has a big problem and it's not going away.

I thought theere was a dramatic counterpoint between the football's problems in the headlines and in the "League of Denial" special and a baseball post-season in which nine of the 10 teams were original MLB franchises that existed (continuously) since 1901 (at least) and many back as far as 1868 (Reds). One of the appeals of baseball is that, even after more than 130 years of MLB play, there is nothing really WRONG with the game itself. No fatal flaw, either as entertainment or as a sport that you'd want a child to play. It's dangerous in the same sense that life is dangerous.

But football may not be as healthy on its 100th and 125th (and someday 150th) birthday as an important American sport as baseball still is today.

...is improving. The 'Boys had one long TD drive last night and two very short ones. Romo had less than 200 yards and no running game. Seems that tackling is still an issue at times.

Agree on all points.

The problem: From one game to the next "it's always something" and the something that is a problem changes. Now it's special teams. What next, injuries? Turnovers? Or does the season go the other way and "things come together, problems get fixed."

After a loss, it always seems like the latter. After a win, the former. But they face a TOUGH schedule with only three or four "should win" games left -- on paper. And none of those are gimmes. There are plenty of "can win" or "might win." But the "should wins" are rare. And that assumes the Giants really are THIS (0-6) bad.

Congratulations on being selected the next commissioner of MLB starting in January 2015. Who were the other five final candidates you beat out for the position? Who would you want to replace you should you leave the position before the start of the 2015 season? Now that you are in charge of MLB, what are your top three priorities as the new commissioner? Will you lump the MASN deal and moving the A's to San Jose into one to set an example of how quickly things can get done in your office? Thank you for taking my questions today.

I was commissioner of a fantasy league (NBA) once about 20 years ago. I don't think that qualifies me.

Seriously, I doubt most fans know how many different areas of expertise are necessary to have an outstanding commissioner in MLB. It's going to be tough to replace Bud. One of his specialties is taking abuse for the whole industry. But he really knows everything there is to know about every corner of the game. That doesn't mean all his decisions are right. But he defines experience. And he's capable of growing, changing his mind and altering his positions when he sees what's in the best interests of the game. Just typing all those nice things about Bud is making my finger tips burn so I better stop. As for what any next commish ought to do...

1) Keep improving PED testing. You'll never beat it. The idea is to give it your best 100 percent effort, then live with it.

2) Speed up the game. It's always "all talk, no real action." 

3) Get ahead of the curve on not-enough-offense which has been a creeping trend for several years. Baseball has always found ways to tweak as needed -- strike zone, height of mound, etc.

4) Move toward instant replay, but be careful. If you take a game too seriously, as the NFL does, you make make it too precise for its own good. For example, Yadier Molina may or may not have made that tag at the plate the other day. But the runner eas out by several feet, Molina crashed into him. The runner has been out on that play since 1876 and he should always be out. Are you going to slow-mo to the point where you say, "The catcher sorta kinda missed actually tagging him with the ball by maybe an ich or two but..."

Don't be too sure all improvements are for the better.

That's enough of that. I could come up with 10 more  and may someday.

Why take Scherzer out? Dominating. Late season. Had one more inning in him. Glad Red Sox won, but I think Leyland overmanged. Your thoughts, Bos?

Scherzer was at 108 pitches. He could go another inning. But you may need him in three more ALCS and WS starts. You're almost up 2-0 in games. Tigers goal is to win WS, not just get there. And, above all, if your bullpen can't hold a 5-1 lead for two innings...

But it couldn't.

So all the apparently sensible reasoning ends up with a terrible result.

Now we'll see if Ortiz one swing changes the whole outcome of the baseball season. If Boston wins the Series, we'll look back and say it did. If they don't, it'll just be one of several top moments of the post-season. 

He hasn't come close to replicating his record in Denver. Is it simply a matter of talent, or is he losing his touch?

At some point, you are your record.

When is that point? He's 46-54 in his last seven seasons. I'd say the "glow" from past Super Bowls has dimmed, as it did eventually with Gibbs II, and he has to prove himself like anybody else. His 10-6 would mean a LOT if we didn't all remember RGIII on the ground against Seattle. I said it was awful coaching then and it isn't getting any better with hindsight now that RGIII is back -- but not quite the same. My blame ratios for that injury now stand at 60 percent Shanahan, 30 percent RGIII and 10 percent "Noted Orthopedic..." I'm sure everybody has their own Guilt Metrics, including some folks who are at 0 percent, 0 percent and 0 percent. 

No one loves October baseball more than I, but even I can barely sit through some of these playoff games. My Dad remembers World Series games that took in the 2-hour range. Maybe I'm just an ADD 20-something, but I just can't sit through 3-4 hours of aimless staring, walking, scratching, chewing. Umpire Joe West may be prickly, but his comments about the length of Red Sox games were spot-on. Can't these games be dramatic without being so needlessly long?

As I ALWAYS say, "Pace of play" is always baseball's No. 1 issue.

Any reaction to the Frontline documentary and/or the book released last week? Which is the most likely scenario in your mind--a serious acknowledgement by the NFL that professional football leads to brain disease or a Redskins name change? At this point, both seem rather far-fetched to me...

In both cases I would say, "Only at the point of a bayonet."

But that may be coming. Nobody ever thought the NFL would have to eat a $765-million settlement w perhaps $200M more in legal costs.

When Romo wins a Super Bowl, will even an avowed, passionate Romo hater like you give him credit? He is one of the greatest QBs in the NFL - plenty of stats back that up. While he has had some key blunders in the biggest games, he has to overcome a terrible defense that can't hold leads and a complete lack of a running game.

I don't dislike Romo. He wouldn't make my top 100 Easy to Dislike. But it's such a pleasure at so many levels to make fun of the Jerry Jones Cowboys. And Tony Ro-"nooooo!" (yeah, I like that nickname) fits the frame.

But if he wins a Super Bowl I won't mind. There are people where it would annoy me.

That's about it for today. As usual, just too many good subjects and, in plenty of cases, even better questions. See you next week when we find out if the Fed X-Men can handle a good but not wonderful Bears team at home; and we'll know who's in the Series!

Boz, long time reader and fan. I thought Romo has been exceptional this year. He makes one bad throw against the Broncos, but if you put up 48, you should win. Last night, he took what the Skins gave him and that TD throw to Terrance Williams was amazing. Skins generated very little pass rush and Kerrigan and Orakpo were basically stoned all night, even without Murray (Dallas' best pass protector). Time for Haslett to change up our blitzes?

Haz won the blitz-package battle last year. Looks like 'Boys kept them at bay, often by keeping TE or TEs in to block -- or give the appearance of blocking.

Credit where due. Here are Romo and RGIII's passing lines so far this year.

Romo: 218-153-70.2% for 1693 yards, 14 TD, 3 Ints. Rating 108.6. ESPN QBR 66.0.

RGIII: 209-125-59.8% for 1448 yards, 6 TDs, 5 Ints. Rating 80.4. QBR 30.86 (awful, if you believe the stat). 

It looks to me like the pocket QB is still the future of the NFL, RG III, Kaepernick, etc have all been figured out ... meanwhile Luck, Manning, Brees, etc continue to propser and they don't surprise people (as Kyle tries and fails to do) they just run them over or out-execute them (remember, I think it was Bear Bryant, when asked about his team's execution: "I'm for it."). A mobile QB will be a plus of course, but isn't read option a last resort for a team that has nothing else?

As RGII said, running QB's don't win the Super Bowl. That's why he wants his son to be a mobile POCKET passer. And, this year, one area where RGIII has gotten MUCH better is in "resetting the pocket," buying time, getting off sucessful improv PASSES.

Let me put it this way: RGIII looks like a very good QB of the present and future for the Skins. Will he be a great QB someday? Late last season, it looked like that question had almost been answered. Now, obviously, it hasn't. And the price -- all those draft picks -- is the price of a great Q B, not a very good one.

But nobody has to be "great" by Oct of Year II.  

Boz: Enjoyed your discussion re: Cal/streak, but isn't it a little disingenous to make the Rose comparision, and then justify Rose continuing to play by pointing to his post-season BA at age 42 . . . in 34 ABs? In a season where his OPS was barely over .600 FOR THE YEAR? You'd rip anybody else who sliced and diced stats like that, Boz.

The Rose answer was on the money. Proud of it! But it was a fast chat/comment answer, not a column where you parse every detail. The 42 at bats was in post-season -- pointing out that playing every day, even at 42, didn't prevent him from performing in October.

But my general point was correct. (It's so clear you couldn't even call it "a point.") At an age when Cal had already called off his own streak, Rose continued to play EVERY DAY at 37, 38, 39, 40 and have exceptional seasons, hitting way over .300, leading league in OPS, over 200 hits, etc. 

So, Rose is the perfect comparison. No one called him selfish when he hit .331 and had an OB percentage of .418 at 38. It's an accident that he didn't have an incredibly long games streak.

BUT the real point of the comment has ALL the players -- Hank Aaron, Eddie Murray and those I didn't bother to name, like Palmeiro, who played every day that they were healthy (and that was 97-to-99 percent of their teams games) when they were well into their 30's and mid-30's. None of them were EVER called selfish. They weren't. They were just durable stars who could play ~160 games a year and keep being productive -- like Ripken. He played because he should have played. He wasn't hurt! And his exceptional defense made it even more obvious that there was no good reason to take one or two or three days off a season for "rest." I actually think there will always be people who will harp on anything. Not you. I realize you're just perfering to the Rose stats. But the harpers, on any subject, like to tear down. I was glad Cal spit in their eye. And still am. He did nobody any harm. He did baseball a LOT of good. And set a fine example, in many ways, while doing it.

After two games in the ALCS and NLCS, have you changed your predictions about who would win the AL and NL pennants, or the number or games each series would go?

Back in the '90's, I once went back and looked at my last umpteen predictions in baseball post-season. I think it was exactly 50 percent. I didn't take my predictions seriously BEFORE I checked the results. Now I don't take them seriously at all. The columns, yes, absolutely. The predictions? The first Cards-Dodgers game may have been decided on whether or not Mattingly PINCH-RAN for Adrian Gonzalez in the eighth inning of a tie game! And THAT is baseball. How can you predict that? You can't. You guess and grin because people enjoy predictions, make them themselves. I've never met an MLB player or manager -- not one -- who thought he could proedict post-season series.  So, I make 'em, forget 'em, then write about what actually happens.

RGIII vs. Andrew Luck Harper vs. Trout Ovi vs. Crosby Wall vs. Kyrie DC has had a ton of luck with landing phenoms, but are we doomed to always get second best? Do you think any of the above rise to the top of their sport, or should we be content with a close second?

In my life in Washington I've never seen a time when this area had so many top talents -- some of them still POTENTIAL top talents -- as we have right now. Enjoy it. Some will be good, some very good, maybe one or two truly great and, w three MVPs, Ovechkin is already great, as an individual player. 

"only one absolute rule: Don't let the 240-pound guy hit it out of the park." That is almost word for word what I said to my brother last night when Ortiz came to the plate. How is it that an MLB pitcher doesn't know enough to (at worst) waste four pitches and walk in a run rather than pitch to the DH? Is this on Leyland to any degree?

Jim Palmer and Tommy John are the only two pitchers I have ever heard who have said, "There is ALWAYS a BASE OPEN -- home plate."

The fear of the bases-loaded-walk, when you have  a three or four-run lead, is one of the dumbest, but most often-repeated mistakes in baseball. Don't deliberately walk him, justy "don't give in" to the hitter. Make "pitcher's pitches" or miss off the plate.

Easier said than done. Maybe Benoit WAS trying to work just off the plate. But that sure ain't where it ended up. Outta here. Thanks again.

What has happened to Fred Davis?

As my son the Skins fanatic has been telling me, "Jordan Reed is the future at tight end!"

Which would make Fred Davis the....

Too bad about that selfish Ted W., at 39 with a lackluster team, winning the batting title, and again the next year, when some youngster could have had a chance to play.

Ha. Thanks.

How come we (in the DMV area) never get a real, bonified title contending team? Caps: overhyped and overrated year after year. Can't get it done in the playoffs. Wizards: Just awful and when the best your current GM has assembled is a team that's won like 47 games and flamed out in the 2nd round of the playoffs, that ain't good. Redskins: We all know how this goes. Looks like they're back to stinkness. O's/Nats (depending on who you root for): Looks like they're both up-and-coming but, eh...... So, how come other areas get real, legit contending teams but we can't? So sick of ESPN and Bristol being giddy over the Boston area's success lately.

Perspective, patience, sanity...

Last season, the Nats, Skins and Caps ALL finished in first place. That's never happened in my lifetime.

This year, Nats won 86. Horrors! Last year Ovi was MVP for the third time. I grew up wondering if any D.C. athlete in any sport would ever be MVP in my lifetime.

If sports don't give a person pleasure, then that person (not this chatter) might want to review the reasoning for being a sports fan. You really need to find a way to enjoy this stuff. And a sense of humor, and some perspective, helps.

Hi Boz, A couple days before the season, you wrote a column in which you said that the Vegas odds for the Redskins winning the Super Bowl (35-1 or so) were way too high, and that this was a result of entrenched "Redskins Hating." Were you wrong?

Man, those oddsmakers are brilliant, aren't they?!

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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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