Ask Boswell: Redskins, Nationals and Washington sports

Jul 07, 2014

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

Only one all-star. On pace to win only 90 games (95 if you go by expected wins). The season is a disaster, right?

First, for context, BaseballReference.com has a ranking system, based on W-L, run-differential, strength of schedule. The Nats are No. 1 in the N.L. and No. 4 in baseball. So, only one All-Star really should jump out. Every other N.L. team with only one pick has a lousy losing record. 

There are a lot of conversations, texts, sent back and forth among people at the top of baseball to decide All-Star rosters: so the Nats one-star snub is not just Mike Matheny (or the Cards) not particularly liking the upstart Nats.

Maybe the game, by semi-accident, is sending the Nats a message: Why don't you guys win some games, and a post-season series or two, BEFORE you get so much credit. IOW, some hype backlash. If so, that wouldn't be much of a problem to me. BUT it's still a fact that a team on an 89-win pace that 1/2 game out of first after a ton of injuries deserves more than one All-Star. And Soriano or Rendon or both deserve it.

Ever since the Nats stumbled into Strasburg/Harper back to back, and got so many magazine covers (etc) because of it, I think there's been some resentment within the game toward the Nats for getting credit too soon. Also, long established teams like the Cards, Giants and Braves REALLY don't want another team to establish itself at their level. And the Nats are knocking on the door of "Perennial Contender."

The Nats have players like LaRoche and Rendon who can probably use the four days to get fresh for the second half.  But LaRoche has NEVER made an All-Star team, not even the year ('12) wheen he ended up sixth for MVP!

I mentioned this to Werth. He said, "WHAT!!???"

LaRoche has driven in 83 to 100 runs six times and is on pace to do it again. For a first baseman, that's "not quite AS." But he'd make a great last-minute add to the team if a first baseman gets hurt or begs out.

Where does Kershaw rank among your top lefties?

Just the ones I've seen:

1) Warren Spahn. Won 20 13 times. Career WAR of 92.6. As a hitter, batted .194 with 35 homers. Great pickoff move that erased running game. Fine fielder. Led NL in wins eight times. Four K titles when young.

And 363 wins despite THREE full years in the Army in WWII and fought at the Battle of the Bulge where (I think) he was in some danger of having his foot amputated.

2) Koufax: Dominated his era even more than Kershaw does this one. Also, K's were much tougher to get back then -- less free swingers and everybody tried to make contact with two strikes. MVP of two winning World Series team -- Kershaw hasn't been to a Series. In '65, counting Series, Koufax pitched 359.2 innings and won 28 games.

Carlton: 300 wins still trumps a partial career like Kershaw.

Kershaw: Probably. Though I'd have to think some more. His still just half-way through his fourth season of utter dominance -- 61-25 (.709), 2.17 ERA in that period.

His ERA+ of 169 for '11-'14 is going to pull him up if he keeps this up.

But, right NOW he is in the midst of his mega-record-setting period, consecutive-scoreless-inning binge. He's total Must See right now.

No way he's not an All Star. Do you think he and John Farrell sat down and decided it was better for the Red Sox that he get three days off? It's highly unlikely they'll make the WS so home field advantage is not an issue.

Koji is still amazing. Watched him the other day. I see why he's very, very good. But I still don't see why he is THIS good. He must be as "sneak fast" as anybody in a long time to set up everything else. 

You can only keep one long term, who do you get under contract?

These days, hitters are being valued more highly than pitchers because it's a low-scoring pitching-rich era so premiere hitters, especially up the middle, are harder to get. You can supposedly develop pitching. This reverses the thinking for decades: never trade top pitching for top hitting.

So, if it's only one, I'd say Desmond because he's also a team leader and it's hard to find a SS who in both '12 and '13 was runner-up in both Silver Slugger and Gold Glove. Nats have other pitching options -- extend Fister, wait for Lucas Giolito after '15. And Desmond gives the impression that he's more interested in being a one-team player his whole career.

BUT Zimmermann is wonderful. Right now, in a wildcard play-in game or a Game 7 I'd pick him over anybody on the staff because of his bulldog attitude and unflappable demeanor. He also "pitches to the scoreboard." Yesterday he had nothin' vs Arrieta, the hottest June pitcher. No fastball command. No effective curve. So he decided early that if it took him 100 pitches to go five shutout innings, he'd have to do it. He actually made it through six innings. But he knew the importance in a real pitcher's duel of defending the 1-0 lead he was given in the first inning even if he had a 'short stint.' 

Boz, Would you make this deal? Giancarlo (signed to a long term deal) to the Nats for Rendon and Span? Also, did the A’s trades make them WS favorites (not that they weren’t already).

Span with only one more year of team control (a $9M '15 team option) wouldn't have much value in such a trade.

Also, remember, Rendon is a super cheap value for many years. So, in the real world, the $100M+ that you'd be paying Stanton (in your example) could/would be used to sign another star. So, in the real world, I'd keep Rendon.

In the fantasy world olf world olf which 24-year-old would you rather have for the rest of their careers, I'd take Stanton because of his incredible power. But it would be closer than you might think. Per 1622 games, Stanton averaged 39 homers, 100 RBI, hits .272 and has a .902 OPS. That's excellent. But 100 RBI and .902 isn't THAT high compared to Pujols at that age, Trout, MCabrera.

Also, Stanton missed 85 games in '12-'13. Is that goes to be a pattern in his career?

I know Showalter's big on Schoop, but with his struggles this year, why don't they let Schoop learn more in the minors and bring up Lombardizzi, who they traded for in the preseason? I know Lombo won't carry a team, but he's a known professional product, comes through in the clutch, has major league experience, and will help the team this year. Thoughts? Thanks!

Can't Wait to see the next four games between the first-place O's (!!!), 48-40, and the 1/2-game out Nats, 48-39! 

Nats starters, as a group, have been mediocre vs O's hitters. A couple might get lit up. But I still think the Z"feel" of the pitching matchups favors the Nats (slightly): Strasburg-Tillman, Fister-Norris, Roark-Chen (Nats hit LHers) and Gio-Jimenez.

Thed problem with Lombo for Schoop is that Schoop (.596) has about the same OPS as Lombardozzi but also has a little pop with six homers. As long as you don't think you are damaging Schoop's long-term development by exposing him to MLB pitching at 22 (he's hitting .224) then go ahead and use him.

I'd trust Buck's judgment on this. But then I'd trust his judgment on a lot of things. It'll be interesting to see if Matt Williams can hang with him for four days of head-to-head managing. A draw would be a big win for Williams. Buck gets the best of most of 'em.

Jim Brosnam recently passed away. He was a pitcher with several teams and the author of two baseball books in the late 1950's and 1960's, The Long Season and Pennant Race. Unlike Jim Bouton who made Ball Four famous a decade later, Brosnam actually wrote the books without a ghost writer. Did you happen to read either of these books?

I loved both of Brosnan's diary books and read them -- and reread them -- at the proverbial "impressionable age" as a kid. They're both way up in my top baseball books.

They are probably one of several reason I eventually considered being a sportswriter -- because "The Professor" showed that baseball, on the inside, was just a game with the whole entire range of people. In other words, as excellent a field for writing as any. And one that had barely been touched (imo) because previous generations had either been myth-makers or chipmunk debunkers. My basic reaction to Brosnan -- granted, a teenagers reaction -- was: Baseball hasn't been written about AT ALL before this.

His books weren't "exciting." They were insightful, funny, cynical but empathetic. And they gave what I now realize was an entirely accurate sense for the texture of the game and the feel of the people, including the jerks. RIP.  

I am extremely happy for Jordan Zimmermann, but I cannot believe he is Washington's only All-Star. It is often said that we have the best bullpen in the National League, but neither Soriano nor Clippard, both of whom were very qualified, was named. Not Rendon, nor LaRoche, nor Span. Why? LA has five, St. Louis, Milwaukee and Cincinnati have four, and we have one along with bottom feeders Philly, San Diego, the Mets, and the Cubs. It's WRONG!

Clippard is one of the most over-looked pitchers in baseball. Since he became a reliever in SIX years in D.C., his ERA in 421 inning is 2.65. He's allowed 5.8 hits and gotten 10.5 Ks per 9 innings. So, when he's pitching, he's both harder to hit that Kershaw and strikes out more.

No, he couldn't do it for 220 innings a year. So he's NOT Kershaw. But you really should enjoy watching him make fools out of hitters. He's better now than ever. He has a good curve that he often uses early in counts to freeze hitters and  get ahead in the count. And he has come up with a bastard splitter that tore up Tulo and (yesterday) Castillo in key spots for K's. Tulowitzski turned to the ump and asked, "Split or change?" The ump must have said "split" because the expression on Troy's face was like, "Oh, bleep, now I have to think about that, too!?"

Last week with the Orioles and Nats both playing at home, both right around first place in their divisions, I noticed that the Nats attendance was close to 30k per game and O's was about 15k. I wonder if any of the self-appointed experts who love Baltimore as a baseball town - and who still consider DC as a "two-time-loser" might have noticed?

The facts, please.

11th in attendance: Cubs 32,076

12) Wash 31,087

13) Cinn 30,702

14 Philly 30,437

15) Atlanta 29,385

16) Baltimore 29,017.

First, the Nats now outdraw THE PHILLIES. Talk about a black eye for all those bus loads of fair-weather Phils fans who used to invade Nats Park. 

Second, DC and Baltimore combined now draw more than 60,000-a-game. For 30 years I had to listen to baseball people, and several commissioners, tell me directly that 1) the two cities couldn't support two teams, 2) that, aside from NYC and LA, the only viable two-team markets were SF-Oakland and Chicago and finally 3) that putting teams in Florida and Texas was a FAR better idea than coming back to D.C.

I told them they were crazy, they didn't understand D.C.'s growth or demographics as well as the depth of the O's fan base. They undersold both cities. And I told them baseball would be a bust in Florida and wrote it many times.

So, Bud (and others), who was right?

DC-Balt now draw 60K. The two Chicago teams combine for 52K, the two Florida teams for only 38K (!), the two Texas teams for 57K. SF-Oak average 64K and edge us, but they  have two powerful teams. The Giants have two recent WS wins. Oakland has the best team, on paper, this year.

Baltimore hasn't won a post-season series -- usually the thing that ignites the next wave of fan interest --since 1983 and Washington has done it since 1933.

So, both town, their teams and their fans should spend this week  reaking their arms patting themselves (and the other town) on the back.

But, yeah, the Nats are outdrawing the O's. And they outdrew them in the beltway series last year 77K for two gamesd to 70K for two games in B'more. So DC has those bragging rights.

And the Nats may soon move ahead of the we-give-up Cubs in attendance. Let me shake my head: Washington -- that awful baseball town -- outdraws the Phils and all its other NL East rivals, as well as (maybe soon) Cubs Nation and Baltimore. What would happen if the Nats ever won a post-season series or two?

Hello Tom: Right now the Nats are only a half game ahead of the Orioles. Who has the better team? What do you expect to see tonight?

Probably because of the years of continuity with Showalter, the Orioles play with more sense of identity, toughness, resiliency after a bad loss and they seem to be having more fun. The Nats are relaxing more lately -- finally.

O's are better fundamentally, though Nats now are vastly improved in defending the running game (credit to Williams) and rank No. 2 in that category. But Nats still make too many mental mistakes -- at least three in 2-1 win over Cubs -- that Buck won't tolerate and, over time, eradicates either by teaching the player or getting rid of him.

Nats have far better starting pitching (duh) and deeper pen. O's have more power BUT the gap between the two teams in homers should not be as great as it is. Nats have gotten NOTHING in HRs from Harper, Z'man and Ramos.

If Nats show the power -- No. 2 through No. 8 spot --that they SHOULD have, they'd be the better team. But they haven't. So, right now I'd call it a toss up with a hair of edge to the O's on managing, more poised team identity and real HR power as opposed to the Nats as yet "theoretical" HR power. If the Nats lineup ever breaks out together, that's a different story. But since they've come back from injuries, Z'man, Ramos and Harper have shown NO HR power. That's a key factor.

Boz: Thanks so much for these chats. When Jim Brosnan died this past week, you tweeted a recommendation that people read his "The Long Season." Have other baseball books you feel are essential reading?

I always mention the Fireside Books of Baseball because they get forgotten. I think there are four editions going back to 19th century and everything else imaginable up to the present. They are fabulous collections -- especially the first one which is a 'must." I assume you can find them online.

I love Nats Park. Nice wide concourses where it's possible to view the game while stretching one's legs. But if I were in charge, it would be much less :"hype-y." I think the bombardment of scoreboard contests during batting practice/infield detracts from the experience. And the pro-wrestling style PA announcer has got to go. What do you think?

Nats Park ranks very high for Least Visual Clutter inside the park. It's the anti-CitiField (hideous) of the Mets. But some "clutter" hits your ears -- AAA stuff. They need to class up, and tone down just a touch, that part of the operation. You never want to think "bush league" and the Nats still sometimes make you feel like you're in Hagerstown not Washington. (I like Hagerstown, btw.)

Mr.B: It's good to see the Nats on a roll, but, should I be worried about the continuing confusion on the base paths? "Aggressive" is one thing, but mistake after mistake?

You are preaching to the choir.

Hi Boz, So what is your take on the Caps' big free agent signings last week? They now certainly have the best defense they've had in years (more than a decade), and yet that Orpik contract seems way too expensive and long for a guy who will be 34 when the season starts? And what can we learn about the new GM from these signings?

Orpik will be a nice litmus test for the new administration. I liked it a lot initially, despite the length of contract draw back. It focuses on the biggest need, but some smart hockey folks -- and stat people like our Fancy Stats -- don't think much of it.

So, we'll see who's right. They either fixed a problem or spent a lot of money to make it worse. You seldom see a range of opinion that wide in any sport.

Boz, How do they figure, if at all, in Nat's future plans? If not, how marketable are they? And would they bring much in return?

Souza is hitting over .350 with an OPS over 1.000 at AAA.

You should either find a use for that or "sell high" and get something of value -- even a prospect but at a different less crowded position -- for him.

Tyler has never gotten a fair shot. His teammates can't wait for him to be out of options so he'll have to play for the Nats or get a chance somewhere else -- where, imo, he'll immediately turn into Josh Willingham. I mentioned the Moore-Willingham pairing  --body type, hitting style -- to LaRoche. He said, "Yes, I think that might be about right."   

Boz, How rusty did he look? Is he a factor fort he British Open? Or, is the PGA a more realistic goal? Golf has sure missed him.

He looked more than rusty. He's tweaked his swing, too -- a little shorter, flatter, not as big an arc. His left foot is more "open" to take pressure off his back, I suspect. It takes a long time to groove a new swing even if the changes in the swing seem small. I don't think he has any chance whatsoever in the British Open. I want to see him win another major. I'd be stunned if it's at Hoylake, even though he likes the course.

Lets see how he does at the Open. Bjt my operating assumption, until facts change my view, is that '14 is a wasted year for Woods in the majors. I'll always wonder if he'd have needed back surgery if he'd used better judgment the last couple of years in rushing back from injuries.

Was it inevitable? That's possible, too. Too much torque for too many years.

Boz--While Sunday was not the final result he wanted, Naval Academy alumnus Billy Hurley III represented his alma mater and hometown of Leesburg well. Back to back Top 10s on the PGA tour at Congo and Greenbrier? Incredible considering he did not play for years while at sea. Now qualified for the Open in a few weeks. What do you think? GO NAVY BEAT ARMY!

I follow Billy. Nice 63 at the Greenbrier! He didn't win but Top 10 and a trip to the B.O. is very nice. Go, Annapolis (and Navy). 

Mr. B How concerned do you think the Braves are that after going 9-1 , they are only a half game ahead of the Nats ? Also, regarding the All Star snub to the Nats . Is it THAT big of a deal ? Will JZ actually pitch in the game if he has another start by next weekend ? MVMD

I'm impressed the Braves could run off that streak after all their injuries, plus the latest DL trip for Gattis. I think the Nats will run them down and have a solid lead by the next time they meet on Aug. 8 for three games in Atlanta. But I've been wrong a time or two in my life. 

One of the most appealing things about the Nats' team identity is the way all the parts reinforce each other and the resulting absence of superstar-sized egos--Harper/media mini-dramas notwithstanding. But they're also a team that sometimes seems to lack the killer instinct to finish off opponents or deal with the unexpected. Any chance in your view that Matheny's pretty egregious show of disrespect to the team and Rizzo turns out to be the burr in the saddle that spurs them the rest of the way and hopefully into October?

Good points. They already have a bunch of burrs under that saddle. One more won't hurt.

Does yesterday's championship go down as one of the all-time greats? I haven't seen a major championship match that well played and dramatic in a long time.

I couldn't drag myself away to go to my job (Nats game) until after the fourth set. I've taped the fifth set and will watch it as soon as this chat is over. Great match, from what I saw. It sure looked like Roger was going to pull it out. Bet it gets greater in the fifth set!

Tennis, especially at Wimbledon, is the only big sport where everything looks and feels exactly as if time has stopped. I watched yesterday trying to find anything -- clothes, styles of play, new tactics -- that were different that the Wimbledons I covered in '80 and '84. I couldn't find anything. Okay, McEnroe wasn't yelling about line calls. I don't know whether it's good or bad for a sport to remain absolutely familiar.

Can't stand them, but jeez they are strong. They peel off winning streaks that are nuts. Aren't they still the favorite based on moxie alone?

If they beat the Nats in the NL East this year, I may institute an annual Moxie Award in their honor.

How do you turn +12 runs for the year into +10 wins over .500? Congrats. But it's a tough trick to continue to pull off.

Should we read anything into Matt Williams not pulling Zimmerman yesterday in the ninth after he batted in the eigth to get the lead? I would think that Rendon at 3B and Espy at 2B would be a better defensive alignment (and Williams seemed to agree on Fri/Sat). Zimm made two fine plays in yesterdays 9th but it seemed like Williams had a plan in place for such situations.

I thought it was nuts to leave Z'man at third in the ninth. A flat olut big mistake. And Z'man had been the last hitter of the previous inning so he wasn't going to bat in the bottom of the ninth if there had been one.

The only play he's as good at Rendon at is the ball he charges and throws underarm. And he got two of them in the ninth! Talk about dumb luck. For the Nats sake, you should probably root for Williams to do that again and lose (or almost lose) a game when Z'man -- the epitome of the Honest Workman -- throws one overhand into the box seats on a routine play because he has sacrificed his shoulder to the franchise. Maybe Matt has to see it to believe it. We've ALL seen it. 

Bos, As a wordsmith of the highest caliber, what is your take on the current trend among sports commentators and play-by-play analysts to use adjectives in the place of adverbs? I.E., "He got to that flyball quick" as opposed to "quickly. "He got into second base safe ahead of the throw." I love FP Santangelo's take on the game, but he is the prime offender in this growing trend. Your thoughts? Cuban Pete

You mean you keep the sound on during sports events?

Somebody should name an award after you. Or at least an adverb.

Simple solution to the lack of all-stars: win a pennant and Matt Williams can select everyone on the team the following year.

An idea that may have flashed through the mind of a few Nats yesterday.

I'm ready to give Showalter Manager of the Year at the All Star Break. Looking at the O's lineup and especially their rotation they don't have the horses to be in first in the AL East - and yet there they are, by TWO games. Can a manger really make that much difference?

Yes.

But, since managers impact so many measurable, but also immeasurable parts of the game, it will probably never be quantified.

Which reminds me, I chuckled when I saw that Norman Chad had criticized the use of too many statistics in sports. It's a good thing for Norman that, as everybody knows, there are no statistics or probabilities in poker.

 

Did you forget about Randy Johnson? He was pretty good...

Thanks. Of course. Put him ahead of Carlton.

Memo to self: Never make lifetime lists off the top of your head in chats!

It's only a snub if you think it means anything to be a part of this glorified exhibition. All star games in all the major sports are just fan popularity contests. I love my Nats and I like the way the team is constructed, but who really shines for baseball outside of the DC area? Certainly not Harper. Certainly not Werth with his demeanor. Certainly not Strasburg, with his shakiness in pressure-packed moments. Ignore this, take a break, and go beat the Cards, Braves, and Clayton Kershaw consistently. Only agents remember who made the all star team. The rest of us would like a penant flag and Series win.

SEVERAL Nats mentioned how odd it was that home-field advantage in the World Series is decided by what some called "a popularity contest." They were not amused, especially since their current odds of being in the playoffs are over 80 percent.

First it was the anti-Redskin (before the name controversy) sentiment and now it's anti Nats? What is it about DC that turns America into such haters? Jealousy? Anti-gov't? What? Ridiculous there are not more Nats reps in All Star game. Let's use it for motivation; especially this week! Also, can you explain how the "small market" O's get so many votes - they have three All-Star STARTERS? WHAT??

Maybe the Orioles fans do a better job of voting.

(I always find a way to fill out a bunch of votes. Maybe it's not "cool." But I think it's a tiny part of being a 'good fan.' But I don't insist.)

Should we care at all about his tantrums? One one hand he's a kid and still learning and hasn't "broken out" yet. On the other hand I'm guess it's getting old in the locker room. Or am I way off on this?

I think it was a summer squall, that's all. He's a National for the next 4 1/2 seasons. There were enough meetings last week that I suspect he's gotten the message. 

What do you consider to be Anthony Rendon' ceiling? I have been consistently impressed by his approach at the plate, the field, and off the field (and am still amazed that neither him nor Laroche will make the all-star team this year). I remember when he was signed there was a great deal of excitement but not like for Stras or Harper but is he destined for the same type of career as those two?

Between Bill Madlock and Edgar Martinez. More power that Mad Dog (2008 hits, 163 HR, 174 steals, three batting titles) but maybe not the .305 career average. Less power than Martinez w six 100 RBI seasons, but much better glove and speed. Nedither are HOF. So these aren't insane "ceiling" calls. And there is plenty below a "ceiling."

He's just so much fun to watch. Sometimes I'm not sure he's awake in the box until the pitcher starts his windup. Maybe his swing thought is: "The ball is coming. Time to open my eyes."

Bos, $12M/year for Gortat was probably a little too high. I know other teams were interested, but I didn't see many with cap space. But reasonable minds can differ. As to five years though? He is already 30, and it was actually impossible (literally, under the rules), for any team other than us to offer him more than four. Do you have any insight into Ted's thinking, inner circle, etc? How has EG kept his job for so many years after so many bad decisions? It's not that he doesn't get basketball (I LOVE Gortat's game and his fit for this team), it's that he doesn't seem to understand the CBA, the cap, etc. And it's pretty important.

I'll stick to the simple part: They HAD to keep Gortat. Without him, all the progress falls apart.

Mr. Boswell, I'm a big fan. How much of the reader comments do you read, and what, if any, impact does this have on your columns - topically and stylistically?

Very little. You just shake your head when you do. I glanced today. The first one I saw said that I always sat with Ted Lerner in his box! I don't even know where his box is. The last time we talked we accidentally got on the same elevator. (He literary had the "cornered" look on his face.)

Just wanted to note in an earlier response that, of course, the O's were in the playoffs in '96-'97. It's the World Series that they haven't been in since '83. But the point is the same -- DC + Balto attendance is very healthy despite no recent great success by either.  

You overlooked their 2 Division Series in '96 and '97, managed by some guy named Davey Johnson. Whatever happened to him?

Thanks.

He's doing what all famous/classy managers and coaches do it sports -- stay the hell out of the next guy's way.

Just to follow up on your comment below about turning the sound down on TV, I've been struck by how much more articulate the British announcers are than ours during the World Cup.

Now those announcers I do turn up! To learn and for the fun of it.

Saw three of the four quarterfinal games (not Brazil). Except for Costa Rica scaring the clogs off the Dutch, which was great fun, maybe I was just a tad let down. Or I was expecting too much. After Germany scored early the life went out of that game. Anyway, geared up for the semis.

Was watching the cable cop show "Endeavor" -- the prequil to the Inspector Morse series  -- last night and it was set in '66 with the running theme of England winning games in the World Cup running in the background of the whole show with everybody constantly being distracted from catching the obligatory serial-killing maniac to watch TV sets with those rabbit-ear antennae. 

One more and outta here. Got some Nats-O's to catch!

Did the Cubs make progress with their most recent trade or go further back? They seem to follow your new paradigm of trading pitching for hitting.

Yes, on the paradigm.

It sure was the A's who made progress! They sent ex-Nat Tommy Milone, having a decent season and coming off a good start, to AAA.

Bos - Just realized you've been chatting with us for close to two and a half hours. Thanks! We appreciate the insight/thoughts.

My wife notices -- thinks I'm certifiable. Gimme a break: I like talking with sharp people about sports. It doesn't cost anybody (including the Post) a penny and nobody has to read it. Seems like win-win. (Or maybe if the answers are too good, tie-tie.)

The soccer people in this country don't want to admit this, but until Major League Soccer becomes a viable force instead of the 10th-best professional league in the world, soccer fandom in the United States will spike every four years during the World Cup and then go back to usual. Do you have any thoughts on how this could change?

Well, I don't know about "10th best???"

Yes, of course that's a huge problem. But plenty of major countries LOVE a sport in which they do not have the world's best league. Japan has been nuts about baseball for generations, but Masahiro Tanaka has to come here to prove, ultimately, how good he is. Yeah, pretty good! 12-3, 2.27 and 130 Ks in 122 innings. 

That's it. Thanks for all the questions (which I'll keep reading.) See you next week.

Two noticeable differences for me: 1) racquet technology, which is hard to see beyond shape and thinness of racquet and 2) player fitness, easier to see. There's not an ounce of fat on either player. They were a little softer back in the day (as were all athletes).

Points taken.

Steven Souza Jr.???? How much longer can the Nats keep him in Syracuse? He clearly is too good for the minors. But the Nats already have four starters in the outfield. How does this play-out?

A new AAAA league needs to be formed just for him -- and soon.

Hi Tom, Suppose it is 1984 and by some miracle of a time warp you are reading the following sentence: June, 2014 The last place Chicago Cubs have just announced that they are moving their home game with the eastern division-leading Washington Nationals from Sunday afternoon to Saturday night in order to avoid conflict with a Gay Pride celebration in Chicago on Sunday. Which part of that sentence: division- leading Washington Nationals, Saturday night baseball in Wrigley, or accomodating Gay Pride celebration would be the most surprising? We have come a long way.

Cool. That time warp machine would have put a grin on my face.

Tom - does July baseball get any more important than tonight's game? Nats playing well and need to keep winning to pressure the Braves. Strasburg throwing in an important home game, good chance to establish some consistent stuff and excite the home crowd. Nats perceived all-star snubs another motivating factor. Oh and the out of town visiting team is in first place of their weak division. Big week.

Yes, this is the kind of week that, for decades, few could even imagine for local baseball fans. Enjoy it. Oh, and if you go to games, don't forget to yell. Especially BEFORE something happens. Every player will tell you it actually does impact games.

I write to ask your help with a citation question. I've been giving you credit for this description of how baseball changes in each ballpark: "Baseball is a liquid: it takes on the shape of the container that holds it." But I recently reread your books and couldn't find it in any of them. Do you remember writing this, or have I been giving you credit for the words of Roger Angell or someone?

Yes, I have a vague memory of it. I hope so! But I could be wrong.

Your question prompted me to guesstimated that I've published 10 million words. (I kinda wish you hadn't made me do that.) So it's possible I've forgotten those 15.

Cheers. Gotta go report up some more words.

In This Chat
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."
Recent Chats
  • Next: