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February 10, 2014

10:59
A.M.

Ask Boswell: Redskins, Nationals and Washington sports

Total Responses: 23

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.

Matt Williams

Into which of your four categories of baseball managers do you expect him to fall? And where would you place Buck Showalter?

A.
Thomas Boswell :

I don't know Matt Williams well yet, except by (excellent) reputation. I can't wait to get to know him better starti9ng later this week when....pitchers and catchers report to spring training!

But we have some clues: a Peerless Leader with, perhaps, a Tall Tactician inside him?

Anybody nicknamed "The Big Marine" pretty much defines Peerless Leader -- a tradition that started with HOF player and manager Frank Chance of the early-20th-century Cubs and has seen many World Series winning iterations -- strong, sometimes silent, intense, respected/feared, including Chuck (The Crusher Handshake) Tanner, Ralph (Major) Houk, Walter Alston. Tony LaRussa -- square jaw, never take a step backwards, ready for a tussle -- is part Peerless.

Williams loves the new stats, especially defensive positioning, so he has self-selected himself as a Tall Tactician, a long tradition from Connie Mack through Gene Mauch.  

Buck Showalter is a classic Little Napoleon -- in the tradtition of McGraw, Leo Durocher, Earl Weaver, Billy Martin and many others. Anybody who has ever kicked dirt on an umpire is already 49 percent of the way to Little Napoleon. Maybe Lou Piniella was the only over-6-foot "Little Napoleon" in history. With age, Buck has developed some very useful Uncle Robby tendencies in dealing with players which, according to most, he completely lacked (or didn't show) earlier in his career.

On one hand, this is just silliness. Everybody is different, categorizing people doesn't do them justice. On the other hand, the architype managers, which began more than 100 years ago are (for me), do seem to keep recurring, though perhaps with more variety in each generation. The originals: the Peerless Leader (Frank Chance), Tall Tactician (Connie Mack), Uncle Robbie (Wilbert Robinson) and Little Napoleon (John McGraw).

They could also be called Charisma/Leadership, Brains, Wisdom and Motivation/Fire.

Some managers, including many of the best, fit in more than one category. Some don't fit in any. But, 30-some years after I wrote the piece that you're refering to I have to say that it's still useful -- especially since teams almost always switch from one type to a different type.

For example, when he was young Davey Johnson wasn't much of a grandfatherly Uncle Robby, but he was by last season. His in-game managing used to be very sharp -- a Little Napoleon trait -- while his theory of the game side -- a Tall Tactician gift -- complimented it. At his best, Johnson probably had some of all the traits. But by last year the uncle Robby felt like the dominant one. And the Peerless is the opposite of the Uncle Robby.  

– February 10, 2014 11:01 AM
Q.

We Missed You!

Welcome back, Tom. With you gone and Tracee no longer chatting, we missed talking about sports. Are you going to spring training? I was watching the Team Figure Skating, and, although I loved the American dancers' Sheherazade (sp?) and the Russians' Swan Lake, I wondered about the lifts. None of them seemed to add to the choreography and they basically seemed to be used to show the man's strength and the woman's flexibility. Your thoughts?

A.
Thomas Boswell :

Yes, I'm headed to Florida later this week. I took out a pad and jotted down the first story ideas that came to mind -- both national baseball and Nats . I had to stop at No. 11. 

I've enjoyed the two Winter Olympics that I covered. I tend to love the Danger Sports most, followed by the speed skating -- which is as aerobically brutal as any sport in the world. But my wife and I have usually watched the figure skating finals.

I find that I enjoy the Post's writing ABOUT the games more than I enjoy watching many of the events themselves for hours. Some sports, yes. But, in general,  I need synopsis, overview and personalities!  And we've really been providing all of that, imo.

If you want to give a standing ovation, then consoider giving it to our Olympic team in Russia now. They are producing exceptional stuff under conditions which I don't even want to think about. A GOOD Olympics is often a logistical nightmare. In Barcelona you'd sometimes get to bed at 7 a.m. because of time differences and in Beiijing you might cover live events at 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. on the same day. And those were, I assume, absolute cakewalks compared to these Games. So, I'm not going to do much/any easy-lifting Olympic "commenting" from thousands of miles away.      

– February 10, 2014 11:01 AM
Q.

Nats Interested in Balfour???????

Please help me understand why this makes sense. The reasons I've heard don't seem to jive. If they want to make sure Soriano does not finish 62 games, they have Clippard or Storen. They saved 2014 salary in the backloaded deals for Desi and JZ so they can trade Storen is another one. Is this simply an agent floating the Nats interest to get some leverage?
A.
Thomas Boswell :

I doubt there was much interest.

It's rare for any reliever to finish (not save) 62 games -- the threshold for Soriano's contract to kick in for '15. Rafael's career high was 58 last year when he saved 43 games. IOW, it's a non-issue. At 34, you're not going to work him to death. So, he'll be a free agent after '14.

The Nats do need a better bullpen this year -- especially because the Barves pen is so dominant.  The talent is there. Last year, the production wasn't. I expect the Storen on the last two months to show up in '14, though not as good as his 1.40 ERA in his last 21 games after he came back from the minors.

Perhaps the most underrated Nat of the '05-'13 period has been Tyler Clippard with a 2.77 ERA in 339 games and 10.2 strikeouts per nine innings. It's not very fair to compare reliever ERAs fgrom different periods or to compare entire careers to partial careers, but Clippard deserves a pat on the back, so here are some great-reliever career ERAs: Sutter 2.83, Tekulve 2.85, Trevor Hoffman 2.87, Sparky Lyle 2.88, John Franco 2.89, Rollie Fingers 2.90 and Goose Gossage (some starting pitcher years) 3.01.

And then there is that guy Mariano Rivera -- 2.21 -- the lowest career ERA of any pitcher in the Lively Ball Era with at least 1,000 innings.   

– February 10, 2014 11:02 AM
Q.

NHL Stadium Series

I am a hockey fan, but I think the NHL has taken a good thing too far. The Winter Classic each year has been fun. This latest series though seems excessive; an outdoor game in Los Angeles and two in Yankee Stadium, are like a desperate grab for attention. Your thoughts?
A.
Thomas Boswell :

The NHL has been trying every imaginable way to attract more attention for my entire life. It probably took me a decade after the Caps came to town to have a feel for the NHL -- and that took a lot of help from NHL people who really enjoy explaining their sport to anybody who cares enough to ask. But, apparently, getting general all-sport fans to truly fall for the game -- if they didn't play it or grow up in an NHL town -- is a tough sell. That's certainly what TV ratings have always said. Washington is now a second or third-generation hockey town. It's fascinating to watch that evolution -- the families now emotiuonally tied to the team. Baseball is now in Year Nine of its rebirth period. But baseball doesn't have nearly as much of an ignorance-bias working against it. It's only in the last 10 years that I catch myself (on my own free time) saying, "I am watching ANOTHER hockey game and enjoying it. What has happened to me?"

The problem with gimmicks like The Winter Classic is that, after the initial good idea begins to lose its power, you run the risk of looking kind of desperate. But I root for the NHL to get any and all hand-holds that it can. I wouldn't have said that 25 years ago.

– February 10, 2014 11:02 AM
Q.

Welcome Back! MLB Payments to Nats?

According to a Grantland.com article, MLB has been paying the Nats some money to make up for the TV rights "gap" between what they are getting under the current deal and what they "should" be getting. If true, is this an admission by MLB that the current deal is unfair? Wouldn't it make more sense to solve the situation as opposed to giving money under the table? Is MLB this powerless that they can't force a solution between the two teams?

A.
Thomas Boswell :

At one point in this dispute the Nats asked for $106-million a year while the Orioles/MASN offered to adjust the payment up to $35-million. What the Nats actually got last year was $29-million. So, everyone knows that SOME of that huge gap between what the Nats got ($29M) and some fair number between $35M and $106M) has to be made up somehow.

MLB has a lot of latitude in how it runs its business, which is an oligopoly where the health of all the competing "companies" -- taken as a group -- is essential to the health of the whole enterprise. IF MLB wants to give the Nats some money until the dispute is resolved, I don't think "under the table" would likely be the correct characterization.

One member of the Nats board, when I asked about a timetable for a solution -- "what year?" -- simply replied that the correct question to ask might be "Which commissioner?"

Is Bud going to step up before his term runs out or hand the problem to the next commissioner? Selig has been on a hot run -- the latest example being Alex Rodriguez accepting his full-season suspension. (What a great break for the sport. We escape 100 A-Rod stories over the next seven weeks.) My working assumption is that Selig wants to finish the MASN business on his watch. That's probably time enough. The Nats have no payroll constraints that are currently hurting them. It's the Orioles who have pulled in their horns, aren't spending and act like they are worried about what they may owe the Nats when the final reset on the RSN contract -- which should have happened after five yeares (iow, after the '11 season -- finally gets resolved.   

– February 10, 2014 11:13 AM
Q.

Unquantifiables like "mental toughness"

For the last two years, the Nats have seemed to lack something perennial contenders like the Cardinals and Red Sox seem to possess. In short, it was hard to kill them off. You get a lead; they come back. You stay with them for a few innings; they pull away. Is there any validity to this non-statistical assessment? And will the Nats acquire this toughness in 2014 after the experience of overperforming in 2012 and underperforming in 2013?
A.
Thomas Boswell :

Toughness, in baseball, usually requires time -- and pain. The Nats toughed out the late-season charge of the Braves in '12. That gets forgotten but it was a major test that was passed. Winning an NL East title matters. When would they hit the wall of a young team with no experience facing maximum pressure? Everyone remembers the Game 5 loss and always will. But the Cards doubled the score on the Nats for that whole series. They were clearly better. With hindsight, the Cards look like a better -- and more talented -- team over the last two years.

Last year I'd say that mental toughness was one of the Nats biggest problems. Maybe the biggest, along with shabby fundamentals. They played their best -- finishing 32-16 -- after they were all but dead in the playoff race. That is NOT a compliment. It's always easier to play from behind. 

The Nats added a manger that has a rep for mental toughness, aggressiveness. Will that fit the disposition of his roster or rub off on them? Fister has a very strong post-season history with the Tigers. McLouth has played well under A.L. East pressure in Baltimore. Will that add a bit of toughness?

But don't forget, you don't win 98 games without a lot of resolve. "Expectations" are a bear for any rising team. This year you'll see pre-season MLB rankings with the Nats in the top five, but not picked to win it all. Sometimes the distinction between "more mentally tough" and "performing under less pressure of expectations" is hard to tell. 

The Nats finished TEN GAMES behind the Braves last year and were clobbered by them head-to-head all season. That should provide plenty of the right kind of motivation. In run-differential the gap between the teams w2as even greater in '13. The Braves were +140 runs, the Nats only +30. Anybody who says, "Oh, the Nats will pass the Braves this year" probably isn't paying close enough attention. The Braves lost a huge key player in McCann after losing Chipper Jones the year before. Now Evan Gattis, who didn't hit well after June 1, will have to catch a lot more (tiring). And Tim Hudson, a vet leader, though no longer a star pitcher, is gone, too. But is that enough to make up 10 games in ther standings or 110 runs in run differential?

It should be a great race. These two franchises are going to be at each other's throats for many years. We've just seen Years 1 and 2 of a potentially classic rivalry. I've always liked the way the Braves handle their business. I don't have any problem with them getting in the Nats faces and challenging them at times last year. That's hardball. The Nats need to figuire out how to respond. (And there is a whole range or responses, not just one correct way.) 

– February 10, 2014 11:28 AM
Q.

Hidden ball trick

I was just listening to a CD set in my car "NPR - Driveway Moments:Baseball". It's a collection of features done on baseball on NPR over the years. When I got home I had just finished listening to a story about the hidden ball trick and the commentator mentioned Matt Williams. Apparently Matt would ask the baserunner to step off the bag in order to clean it and then tag him out. I suspect Matt will be tutoring the Nationals on the beauty of the play. Now don't print this in your next chat because we don't want to tip off the opposition but save it for some day in late August when Ryan Zimmerman pulls it on some poor chap who was feeling good about hitting a triple, and then give me credit for calling it.
A.
Thomas Boswell :

Oh, come on. By August even you and I won't remember this chat!

But that's one more reason to look forward to the Williams administration. Mike Rizzo has had top make a lot of major decisions. But his pick of manager -- when he was in a position of strength with a winning team -- will be one of his biggest. 

– February 10, 2014 11:30 AM
Q.

Vacation

How was your vacation? Are you ready for spring training? Love your work.
A.
Thomas Boswell :

Nobody on earth enjoys vacation more than I do. I have laziness down to a science. But it's odd. I don't think too many people enjoy coming back to work more than I do, either! I was looking at your chat questions before 10 a.m. There's probably something wrong with me.   

– February 10, 2014 11:32 AM
Q.

Runner versus catcher at home plate

Box, Matt Williams is cited as saying that he is developing new tactics to take advantage of the new rule against runner-catcher collisions at home plate. Any idea what those tactics might be? I'm generally in favor of the rule, although I would pay serious money to watch Big Papi, or anyone else for that matter, steamroll Brian McCann.
A.
Thomas Boswell :

Yes, I know what it is. I'm sure you'll find out in due time. (Think about the rule change. As I understand it, the man defending home plate now has the same rights as a player defending any other base. What are the implications of that?)  

– February 10, 2014 11:34 AM
Q.

Peyton Manning

Tom, Is it fair to say that Peyton came up small and that it affects his legacy? The two horrible picks, and the opening safety (not going to silent snap count) were on him. Seattle was going to beat anybody that day, but a few quarterbacks would have made the game more competitive. I like Peyton, but he is a bit too much Dan Marino (gaudy stats) and not enough Joe Montana (big game winner). Am I being too harsh?
A.
Thomas Boswell :

I watched the Super Bowl again last week. (Not many, I suspect, had the stomach to watch it twice.) Seattle's defense was wonderful -- just manned up, nothing fancy and kicked the snot out of the Broncos, both their interior linemen and their receivers head-to-head. But Manning stunk. He had the deer-in-headlights look five minutes into the game. His interceptions were bad ones. He didn't figure out -- as some Seahawks defenders later said -- that only double-moves were going to get his receivers open against such aggressive press coverage.

The Broncos were victims of their own success. When you CRUSH offensive records, when your QB throws for 55 (!!!) touchdowns, YOU CAN'T CHANGE TACTICS in the Super Bowl. You just can't. You have to "do what we do." And the other team -- which has a great defense -- can scheme almost exclussively for your dominant year-long tendencies. Any they KNOW you are going to do it? How can you abandon what got you 606 points -- six hundred and six. You can't. So, Seattle might as well have had the Denver game plan in their hands. (Yes, hindsight sure is easy, isn't it?)

Also, "everybody" knows that Manning's arm strength isn't what it used to be. I've mentioned it several times in chats. His touch is amazing. So is his timing on routes and his ability to change plays at the line. But if you make him throw clothesline 18-yard outs or double move routes he's at a disadvanatage that wouldn't have bothered the Peyton of five years ago.

Great thinking by Seattle. But poor flexibility by the Broncos. That game was still "only" 8-0, then 15-0 for a long time. The Manning Pick Six before halftime turned the game and the KO return to start the second half ended it. BUT there was a full third of the game, starting from mid-first quarter, when Denver still had a chance to adjust. That's asking a lot. How do you say, "Let's abandon what we do best BEFORE HALFTIME?"

Yet that was their only (hindsight) hope. By the time Manning touched the ball in the second half, it was 29-0.

It was an awful game to watch but an excellent game to analyze.

– February 10, 2014 11:47 AM
Q.

Luis Ayala and Bryce Harper

What might be the personal dynamics between Luis Ayala and Bryce Harper during Spring Training? Would Bryce carry a personal grudge about his plunking by Ayala, or would he blame the Braves as a team?
A.
Thomas Boswell :

Unless there is a LONG history between a hitter and pitcher, they ignore it and assume its just a team-vs-team thing.

For example, the Zach Greinke (broken collar bone)-Carlos Quentin brawl went back through at least three previous HBP and knock-down incidents.

– February 10, 2014 11:50 AM
Q.

If Mike Rizzo were tomake one more move ?

If the Nats were to make one more move, either through a trade or signing of a FA, what do you think it would be? Where is the biggest need for an upgrade exist in the current roster in your opinion?
A.
Thomas Boswell :

The obviuous answer is a better backup catcher.

But any fan could cook up some amazing trades for the Nats because they have so many marketable parts -- especially if they signed one of the remaining starting pitchers on the free agent market.

But I don't think they'll do anything that radical. In a sense, the '14 Nats are still playing out the key off-season decisions before the '13 season. They think last year was not a true indication of their ability. They are saying, "Replay!" Will that prove wise?

If you think the Nats were "close" last year but got themselves together too late, had an early-season case of nerves, then you probably also think that adding Fister at no cost in front-line players and getting McLouth for the bench is sufficient upgrade. I'd lean that way. But if you think the Nats are medicore in the pen, outright bad on defense (errors), streaky at the plate and no better than middle-of-the-pack in runs, then you probably believe that tweaks won't suffice.

In baseball, patience and confidence in your own organizational decision making is the strongest possible foundation for long-term success. The Nats have that because Rizzo has it. That sounds great. It probably is great. BUT those decisions -- the whole pattern of your decisions -- still has to pan out over time.

IOW, being pateint and confident in your baseball judgment is great, as long as you are RIGHT.

If you are wrong on several of those core player evaluations -- as the Capitals, with hindsight, may have been wrong over the last few years -- then your "window" can close even though your methodolgy was excellent.   

Of course, the worst combination is impatient decision making and poor player evaluation. The Skins don't have a local monopoly on that combination. But it's close. That's how you end up 3-13 and have the worst point differential since 1961 -- all on (de)merit.

BTW, I like the feel of Jay Gruden as coach. But it's unwise to ignore the obvious. The Skins owner made the easiest ready-to-hand decision in reshaping his front office. He elevated the guy who sits next to him. That GM promoted his already-in-place front office poeople, then hired the easiest most-ready-to-hand coach -- a rookie with a famous (family) name with whom he was familiar from his Tampa Bay days. And he offered him a five-year deal to land him -- hardly an endorsement of the appeal of the franchise. Then that new coach (Gruden) retained the defensive coordinator (Hazlet) who had, just five years earlier, hired gruden when both were in the football minor leagues. IOW, hire the folks you know or the folks who hired you.

If it works, everybody will be happy. If it doesn't, many will say, "The Skins refused to face their problems -- as usual. They made the path-of-least-resistance we-were-never-really-wrong choice in every case. That's a classic prescription for being bad, then staying bad."

If the RGIII of '12 reappears, or some '14 variation of that player is retooled, then a true franchise QB can make a lot of such negative interpretations disappear.  

– February 10, 2014 12:08 PM
Q.

Matt Williams

Really enjoyed Kilgore's profile of Matt Williams. Seems like he has the smarts/ability to be a pretty great manager. Looking forward to seeing him hoist the WS trophy here in the near future.
A.
Thomas Boswell :

Loved the profile.

Rizzo did a ton of DD on Williams -- the best kind of DD. He knew him in their Arizona days and has followed his progress for years, thinking that he would eventually be an excellent manager. So, Rizzo is all in. That should gives Williams even more security in the job.

Just to introduce a note of sanity -- we've seen this with another DC team. The Caps GM George McPhee had his eye on Adam Oates as a Next Great Coach in the NHL for YEARS and was overjoyed to be able to hire him. Oates is really smart, dedicated and reached Ovechkin to change his game. Yet, a day ago, the Caps were tied for the 21st best record in the NHL and might not make the playoffs. Pro sports: tough racket.  

– February 10, 2014 12:12 PM
Q.

Desmond and Zimmermann extensions

Hi Bos, I haven't heard your comments about the two-year extensions after your column urging long-term extensions for both. I agree with you and am worried that the Lerners won't pay to lock them up in a market with escalating salaries. I also don't understand the more expensive second year. Won't it make them harder to trade if it becomes clear they won't re-sign? I hope you can reassure me that the Nats have a good plan.

A.
Thomas Boswell :

The Nats and their players faced a deadline that Friday to avoid arbitration, so I thought it was a good time to give my opinion on the subject. BUT the Nats could still reach extensions with either or both players at any time -- though it usually happens by Opening Day. Desmond seems harder to replace. Zimmermann gives off more of a why-not-test-the-market vibe in his comments. The Nats deal for Fister, a Z'amnn stat clone, may show that they realize they need an alternative; both are under team control through '15.

The Nats probably pushed the money into the second year -- more than they had to -- because lots of payroll is probably dropping off the books after '14 -- LaRoche, Soriano and maybe Span (on whom there is a team option). So, in effect, they are smooting out the payroll from year to year. Why? Do they really want/need to balance out the payroll that precisely? When you have a shot at an NLCS or a World Series over the next couple-three years do you really want to be cute? Rizzo definitely has to live with a budget. There were a lot of LH relievers available as free agents and the Nats didn't go after anybody who wanted more than a one year deal. And they were very open with agents about that. I think the Nats were fortunate to get someone who has been as consistently good for the last six years as Blevins (who signed for one year). But he's a finesse pitcher, not a power arm.   

– February 10, 2014 12:21 PM
Q.

Lebron vs. Durant

Hi Tom, Thanks for doing these chats. I've always felt they are of the highest quality and much of that can be attributed to the types of participants that you attract. I always remember back in the early '90s you had your Emmitt Smith fans and your Barry Sanders fans. You were either a Barry or an Emmitt guy. Does the same type of dynamic occur with Lebron and Durant? Given that they are arguably the two best players in the game with somewhat differing styles (Lebron's power vs. Durant's shooting; Durant is known as a scorer while Lebron gets more credit for his all around game) it seems that the culture is there for this type of argument, but I don't see it pushed as much as Emmit vs. Barry or even Lebron vs. Kobe.
A.
Thomas Boswell :

Oh, that's a very nice premise for a story or column. Thanks for the idea.

BTW, the Wiz took a big gamble with the John Wall contract. Maybe they "had to do it" for franchise credibility. But a huge question hung over that decision. Was the Wall of the last 20-some games on last season the real turnerd-the-corner guy or just a mirage? I metioned here that Wall was putting up prime D Wade numbers for the last big chuck of last season. Looks like we have the answer: 20.8 ppg, third in NBA in assists, top five in steals and better sense of how to play at the end of games. If the Wall deal had been another Wiz bomb out, it would have been a franchise disaster. It wasn't. Sometimes it's easy to overlook the VERY good news when it happens. 

Looks like Wall, who still doesn't finish games as well as he may someday, is going to approach his potential. Now we get to find out about RGIII, Strasburg and Harper. Their ceilings are all even higher than Wall -- in theory. Will one, two or three of them get there?

Remember, we are talking about MUCH bigger accomplishments than most of the best Washington pro athletes of the last 40 years -- on the order of Ovechkin's three MVPs and 40 goals so far this year.

BTW, it sure is a shame that "all Ovi can do" is score a ton more goals than anybody else in the NHL and blow up opponents with big hits that other top scoring stars might avoid. Man, some people are hard to please. I don't think I'd START my criticism of the Caps season with criticism of Ovechkin. Some of the more extreme recent comments about Ovi -- no, he's not much on defense -- may be tied to Canada-Russia rivalries in hockey that intensify at Olympics time.

– February 10, 2014 12:31 PM
Q.

Scanning The Globe

Tom, my favorite league is MLB and second place is the Hot Stove League, The Nats farm systems has been tremendous, and I have a question. Do you see the Nats putting enough effort to sign international players outside of the traditional (Dominican Republic, Japan, Venezuela, etc) countries and into the Emerging Markets of Brazil, Aruba, Australia, Curacao? They're starting to play baseball in China!
A.
Thomas Boswell :

Baseball can make nice claims as a growing world sport. The Nats (and everybody else) has to scout as many places as they can. But, remember, The Shark was from Curacao. Les Expos: ahead of their time.

(I think I hear the Beach Boys singing, "Aruba, Jamaica, ooo, I wanna take ya Bermuda, Bahama come on pretty mama, Key Largo, Montego baby...

(BTW, if you missed it, watch the PBS special on Americana music with everybody from the Mavericks, Elizabeth Cook and Emmylou Harris to The Civil Wars, Shovels and Rope, Mumford and Sons (of course), Carolina Chocolate Drops. My favorite moment: Richard Thompson's "1952 Vincent Black Lightning." My wife actually jumped when he hit the last note of "But he smiled to see her cry/
And said I'll give you my Vincent to riiiide."

Okay, I guess we are offically far enough off track now --- and showing definite Vacation Relapse Syndrome.

A couple more and out of here.

– February 10, 2014 12:42 PM
Q.

AJ Burnett

Wouldn't signing him make a lot of sense for the Nats (assuming he can be had on a one-year deal)? Detwiler to the pen gives us another quality lefty and he's excellent insurance for an injury to a starting pitcher. And the Nats saved some cash by backloading the two-year Desmond/Z'nn deals. What's not to like here?

A.
Thomas Boswell :

I see your (overkill) point. Stomp 'em while you can. But it might be one of those "it sounded like a good idea at the time" trades. The Nats have a very nice pitching pipeline and you want to get soime answers about Roark, Jordan Taylor, Detwiler before the next wave arrives. Burnett's big year was a surprise to many (me) and I doubt he'll duplicate it.

– February 10, 2014 12:44 PM
Q.

Your take on Michael Sams...

I personally thought it took real guts to come out and say what he did on national TV.... however, given the reality of the NFL and the nature of prejudice out there that some people feel, do you think a lot of teams will simply shy away from drafting him, due to the constant focus he is likely to receive?
A.
Thomas Boswell :

Took guts. Glad for him. And a nice pairing on the same day that Vladimir Putin showed up at a Dutch-team celebration where he knew he'd meet gold medalist Ireen Wust who said "I did cuddle him." Lets not give Putin too much (any) credit for congratulating one of the seven opening gay athletes at the Olympics. But I guess you have to take the centimeters of progress where you find them.

I did get a couple of shudders down the spine when I was watching national TV commentators on the NFL pat themselves on the back as they congratulated Sams on "his admission" that he was gay. Another spoke of Sam's "choice" to be gay. Wow. Don't be too confident of TOO much progress.

Admission? People sometimes give themselves away in the choice of words they use.

– February 10, 2014 12:52 PM
Q.

Davey Johnson

I don't believe he quietly fades into the sunset. Does he still have an official role with the Nats? Do you know if he has other plans? Do you expect you'll see him in Florida?
A.
Thomas Boswell :

Davey will be classy and show up for maybe one day in the middle of camp. Just my guess. But he knows the game FAR to well to hang around and, in effect, look over the shoulder of the new guy. 

Hope he continues to give his views to the organization.

– February 10, 2014 12:53 PM
Q.

A-Rod

I was surprised by A-Rod's sudden decision to pull his lawsuit against MLB and, despite all the initial coverage, I haven't seen any real comment/analysis on why he gave up. He filed the suit immediately and coupled it with several long, angry comments about fighting his suspension to the death -- yet he suddenly walked away. I know a lot of his actions were bluster, but he seemed irate enough to follow through (though I was hoping he'd lose). Your thoughts?
A.
Thomas Boswell :

A-Fraud to the end.

His case was hopeless. He damaged the game as much as he could. He has now lapped Bonds and Clemens.

He apparently thinks that there is some hope that, by taking his (totally deserved) punishment now, he will come back in future and all (or most) will be forgiven and that he will take his place in the game once more.

Someday I want to visit the planet where that happens.

That's it for this week.

Lets chat again next week -- from Florida! 

– February 10, 2014 12:58 PM
Q.

The Barves?

Beneath you Mr. Boswell.
A.
Thomas Boswell :

Just a typo. As my editors would tell you, I'm lucky whenever I don't spell my own name Bowsell.

– February 10, 2014 1:00 PM
Q.

Richard Thompson

I think Richard Thompson would be quite surprised to hear himself categorized under "Americana."
A.
Thomas Boswell :

There's a nice analysis in the PBS piece on the musical influences across the Atlantic -- for the last 200+ years. There's a nice discussion of Thompson and Mumford and Sons. I'm not the music writer, that's for sure. But check it out yourself.

– February 10, 2014 1:07 PM
Q.

RISP

Was last year's outrageous RISP metric compiled by the Cardinals as much of an outlier as I think it is?
A.
Thomas Boswell :

Yes.

It was similar in its ridiculousness to the O's record in one-run games in '12 (the best in history). We saw how that worked out. The Cards are VERY good. But if they hit .269 w RISP (their overall '13 team BA), not .330, it'll make a big difference.

– February 10, 2014 1:10 PM
Q.

 

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