Ask Boswell: Redskins, Nationals and Washington sports

Aug 11, 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

Welcome back, Tom. While I was rooting for Rickie, I was still glad Rory won. The turn around from the British to the PGA is only 17 days making the mental aspect so daunting. Throw in the win last week, and this was some month for Rory. He has eight months to wait for a chance to tie Phil on the majors list with five. Isn't that something?

The identity of golf changed in 25 days from the start of the British Open to the end of that dazzling PGA yesterday. I've never seen a pro sport have such a major shift in such a short time. The game went from "Pretty Much Lost" to "Look What We've Got!"

The whole sport should thank Rory, especially for the way he pulled himself together on Sunday in mid-round when he was +2 for the day and seemed like his swing was losing its crispness and he could have gotten cranky. Instead, he closed like the champion he is.

The back-nine leaderboard of McIlroy, Michelson, Fowler (Top 5 in all four majors this year with two seconds and a third) and Stenson (symbolic of the 30-or-so "other" top players who can jump up in a major) was about as exciting and crowd-pleasing as you could ask.

McIlroy gives golf what it has always needed -- an identifiable great who's the best in the world and whom the public appreciates. He's already got more "it" than Tom Watson did when he was No. 1 or Faldo at his best.

Add Adam Scott, Jason Day (a favorite of mine) plus a half-dozen others and you have a healthy sport -- suddenly.

Right now, the sport would love to have Tiger back as a force in majors. But (I'm amazed to see myself write it) I think we are now firmly in the Post-Woods era until such time as he wins another major. If he does.

Woods should never have come back so soon -- not D.C. and not the British Open. Yes, easy hindsight. But I've written over and over that Woods has become his own worst enemy. By the PGA, what a wreck. And what a risk to take for such a long-shot gain. He almost HAD to know what a mess his swing and game were -- even if no one else did.

If Tiger never becomes a true major contender again, golf will be alright. His No. 1 concern now should be to avoid the kind of injury deterioration that ended Seve's competitive years far too soon.        

Okay, the topic line may be misleading. But I want to know, which topics do you think you'll see more today: "Redskins are awesome" or "Nats suck"?

Now that is amusing.

Reality checks are sometimes helpful. The Nats, for all their in juries and aggravation -- which I'll get to -- look like the second-best team in the N.L. after the Dodgers and slightly ahead of the Brewers (whom they play well). They have the best run-differential in the NL by a good margin. If the post-season started today, they'd play the Brewers while the Dodgers played the WC winner. That might well give you a Nats-Dodgers NLCS. The Nats do best against lefthanded pitching (Kershaw, Ryu) and teams that are not any sounded in fundamentals than they are (Dodgers and Brewers).

You can worry about the Nats, especially Ryan Z'man's hamstring, but remember to do that fretting in the context of a team that, in two months, may be playing in the NLCS for a chance to go to the Series.

The Skins are a tough team to be honest about in pre-season because I believe in optimism -- fans are entitled to it since the real games are tough enough on the nervous system.

BUT.

The Skins gave up their most points-per-game since '54 last season. And the brains of the outfit (Fletcher) retired. Jim Haslett has the worst long-term record as a defensive coordinator or head coach of anybody I have ever seen -- it goes all the way back to the 20th century. You are your record, at some point. In '08, the Skins were sixth best in points allowed and fourth in yards allowed. Under Haslett, they were 21st, 21st, 22nd and 30th in points. He assembled this unit and the theories behind it. Lets hope he does better. But those aren't the way the facts point.

Also, bad luck didn't beat the Skins last year. They always say, "We were close in a lot of games." Not really. It's all relative. The NFL is a "close league" by nature. If you added six points in every game to all the NFC East teams last year, the Skins would still only have been 5-10-1. The Eagles, Cowboys and Giants would have been 12-4, 12-4 and 9-6-1 if you gave them six points in every game. All of them are MUCH closer to improvement than the Skins.

Somebody needs to say, "The Skins are only five good defenders and two good offensive linemen shy of being an 8-8 team."

Of course, I would never say that.

Boz, Have the Nat's given up on him? With the recent call-ups, it sure looks that way. It seems a shame because he never has been given a chance to play on a regular basis.

He'll have his chance when the Nats run out of options on him. In MLB, you can't stay "locked up" forever. Even players much better than Moore get trapped in the minors. Look up Wade Boggs. He couldn't crack the Boston lineup as a regular for a full season until he was 25 years old -- when he hit .361 and won the batting title. He "wasted" 724 hits in SIX full seasons in the minors and batted .335 without getting a call up. 

Don't give up.

Out of Moore, Zach Walters (traded for Astrubel Cabrera) and Stephen Souza, my guess is that one of them will make an All-Star team even though they all must feel like they are waiting for parole from the bush leagues.

Do you think the Nats owners ultimately would prefer to get out of the MASN contract, or would they take an increase payout for their TV rights in lieu of that? Can you think of any other franchise which has its television rights controlled by another team?

I assume the Nats would love to get out of the MASN deal. But the increased payout -- that MLB's subcommittee on local TV revenue has approved but MASN/Angelos won't pay and claim they shouldn't have to pay -- would suffice.

Overview: I'm delighted that this brawl is finally coming out into the open. And I'm glad that the Lerners have finally decided to stop waiting for Selig to act and gone to the heavier artillery. They were wise to get MLB's own ruling -- which essentially took their side in the argument -- on their side before taking any other further action. But that took YEARS. There are human years, dog years and Bud Years. Bud Years are the longest.

Now we can look forward to infinitely interminable dispute around "the language" and terms and "formulas" of the original agreement. But at least there will be an end game someday. And it now seems almost certain that MLB has been "making the Nats whole" with payments for past years.

Did MLB and Selig deliberately make the original MASN/Nats/O's deal -- long before the Lerners owned the team -- complex and ambiguous enough that both MLB and the O's thought they could win a court case? Maybe. Did Selig present the MASN deal differently to different people? Don't know. I do know what he told me at the time. It jibes very closely with the Nats position. But, in my experience, Bud holds a lotta all-time sports records for Selective Veracity.  

I'm just glad the billionaires are finally going to thrash it out. And we now know one thing: MLB's own committee ruled in the Nats favor. The O's squawk that MLB's position contains a conflict of interest because "rights fees" and local cable TV revenue are treated differently under revenue sharing rules. We'll see how much that helps them.

Least likely outcome: a full-blown court case. MLB is terrified of what might come out on "discovery" about how they run their business and what financial  shenanigans have gone on to disguise revenues streams from the players union or to get new ballparks built, etc. The MLBPA and every baseball writer on earth would be in a race to get their hands on that info first. 

What do you think will be the final straw that will force Snyder or the league to make the name change? Over/under on years until the name changes?

I would think that those who dislike Snyder (or the team) would prefer that the argument go on forever because it's a ton of heartburn and, at the  least, a distraction to the organization. And I'd assume that, fairly soon (though perhaps already), Skins fans would recognize that any resolution would be better for their favorite team than more fussing.

The Skins tie themselves in such knots explaining why they should keep their moniker that one new nickname does come to mind: The Washington Sophists. 

Sophists: "a paid teacher of philosophy and rhetoric in ancient Greece, associated in popular thought with...specious reasoning. A person who reasons with clever but fallacious arguments."

Maybe the correct over-under would be: Which comes first, a world title for the Skins-Nats-Wiz-Caps or a name change? 

Are the Braves the Nats kryptonite? Meaning, do they have the right personnel to perfectly counteract the Nats this year and last? And what do you make of the sparse attendance at the game last night? Not too many fans for a prime time match-up vs. a division rival.

I think the Braves hex ended on Atlanta's last trip to D.C. in June when the Nats fought back to get a split. I just don't think everybody's noticed yet. The winning pitcher in game four of that series was Tanner Roark, just as his seven one-run innings on Saturday night (after almost a four-hour rain delay) was the key win last weekend.

Last year and in April of this year, the Braves actually dominated the Nats. In Atlanta they won five of six and doubled the score on the Nats. In their last seven games, the Nats have outscored Atlanta 22-20 and gone 3-4. It's the difference between a "hex" and two good teams playing evenly.

That's very bad news for ther Braves who, after a 17-7 start, have gone 43-50. For the year, they've only outscored their foes by three runs. I think it's pretty clear that the N.L. East "race" is running on fumes and may be well on its way to being decided in the Nats favor by this time two weeks from now. The Braves are five games into a 19-game stretch where they play all winning teams. 

If the Braves are on the Nats heels on Aug 24, then it'll probably be a battle to the end -- and more credit to the Braves because they're doing it with mirrors and without four expected starting pitchers. 

However, it's not alaways a winning streak that decides a division race. Three weeks ago, the Nats and Braves were tied. The Nats went 10-10. Bu they are 3 1/2 games ahead. The Nats have had bad luck with injuries but they have also had plenty of good luck this year. The Dodgers could have been a powerhouse. Looks like they aren't. Cards and Braves, who give the Nats most match-up problems, will be life and death just to make the playoffs. And the seasons of Fister, Roark, Spann and Rendon are major good news.

Over the weekend, both teams got what they HAD to have -- the Braves a series win, but the Nats a win to keep their lead solid and avoid more jinx thoughts.

BTW, will Gio Gonzalez eveer learn how to cover first base? He should have beaten Heyward to first by 15 feet. Instead, he falls asleep for the 500th time. It drives the Nats nuts. Gio said, "There is no excuse." Yeah, then stop doing it. Matt Williams, over time, will probably hold players accountable more publicly as they screw up on HIS watch, not in previous years. "Ultimately, that's the difference in the game,' he said. "If it's 1-1 there, then we have a different story."      

We keep reading that the Nats pitching staff has improved this season at holding runners. But could you explain in lay terms just what, exactly, the staff are doing differently than last year? Just as importantly, how has this translated into "runs saved" and, ultimately, into more wins? How many wins has it been worth?

The Nats are now No. 1 in baseball in stopping the running game after being horrible last year. They have allowed 43 SB -- second lowest in MLB -- with the lowest success rate (60 percent). You'd take their 43/28 SB-to-ThrownOut ratio over the Cards 37/20.

The Nats have done EVERYTHING to improve. Their pitchers throw to first (and second) base more often, have multiple "looks" on their pickoff moves, step off the rubber more to disrupt timing and "look back" to second base more often (and unpredictably) to prevent steals of third.

Also, Doug Fister and Roark, two of the best RHed pitchers at holding runners, have arrived in the rotation. Roark is remarkable -- only six steals allowed in 11 attempts in 23 starts. Almost nobody runs and few who do arrive alive.) 

BTW, the more you look at Roark the better he seems. I'd say that a truly Excellent Start was a minimum of seven innings and a maximum of one run allowed. You're going to win a VERY high percentage of those games.

Strasburg has 16 such Excellent Starts in 100 career starts (16 percent).

Roard has 11 in the first 28 starts of his career (39 percent)-- all in less than one calendar year!

In 10 starts against contending teams, Roark has a 2.54 ERA. In Fister, Jordan Zimmermann and Roark, the Nats have three of the better Mound Presence pitchers. That gives Strasburg and Gonzalez, who can be their own worst enemies, models for improvement. 

In holding runners, you see an emphasis in Matt Williams approach in spring training. But the Nats also lead MLB in most sacrifice bunts, fewest walks and fewest home runs allowed. Excellent indications of team discipline, good instruction and a consistent  message from the top.

Finally, the Nats have moved up to 15th in fielding percentage (out of 30) from the very bottom in April. So, apparently, the Nats do not have an "error problem." Or else Williams has had some influence in helping correct past issues.

I sometimes think Williams hasn't developed a feel yet for handling the touchy seventh inning with his starting pitchers. But that's hard for all managers. He was hired to improve fundamentals, fielding and intensity. Seems like he's doing it. Also, he has a team that's one of the most injured in baseball in first place by 3 1/2 games. All good signs for a first-year manager.

Now about that ultra-aggressive base-running that is supposedly "in our DNA" -- I've still got serious reservations about running into so many outs and injuries. But I'm watching. Give it a full chance.

Do you have any second thoughts about the walters/cabrerra deal? I feel we traded a young player with very high upside for an average hitter who is likely to continue to hit around 250 with moderate pop. We could have platooned Danny against lefties and Walters against the the righties.

I've always liked Cabrera and thought he played an amazing second base when he was called up. The Z'maan injury is a huge problem, especially if -- nobody knows -- he doesn't come back until '15. You have to give yourself a chance to win big in '14 and Cabrera, an All-Staar two years ago, gives you that open window chance.

But I think trading Walters is the biggest egg-on-face risk that Rizzo has ever made in a deal. The Indians HAD TO HAVE HIM. They sent him down to Columbus (AAA) and Walter hit .387 with a 1.097 OPS in seven games. Guess what, he's now up with the Indians and started in LF on Sunday. Davey thought he'd end up a left-side-of-infield star with big arm, lots of power, despite a lot of Ks. For some reason the Nats clubhouse didn't seem to warm to Walters, something about him carrying himself as if he already belonged in the big leagues. Isn't that what you want -- confidence? I really enjoyed talking with him.

The Nats got what they needed badly for '14; Cabrera is a free agent and presumably will not be back in '15. But what the Indians got for the next 6-or-7 seasons may be a lot. Could be an "OMG" in retrospect. You don't get an established player, under 30, like Cabrera without giving up a REAL prospect. And that's what Walters is. 

Boz, Welcome back. This year's bench was supposed to be an improvement over last year's, but it hasn't happened. Pinch hitting doesn't scare anybody. In Spring Training Matt Williams mentioned that he intended to use everybody on a regular basis but it hasn't happened

Losing Harper, Z'man and Ramos for what will be at least 200 games (combined) has pushed Williams into using Werth, Desmond, Rendon and LaRoche as long as they can stand. If Z'man hadn't hurt his hamstring, it wouldn't have mattered. Everybody would have gotten rest. Now, it's probably going to be A Problem, especially for Werth, 35, and LaR, 34.

It's tough to give rest. But that 3 1/2 game lead, slim as it seems, means that you should. If you're 3 1/2 back, no way.

Since June 1st, he has a 4.29 ERA. Is something wrong with him?

No.

He's the same pitcher he's been ever since he came back from TJ surgery. His fastball has never been the same. It's fast, but straight -- good enough, but not special, especially when he lacks command within the strike zone.

If Strasburg had had the same elbow injury one year earlier -- when he was in college -- and come back exactly as he has, he probably wouldn't have been drafted 1/1 and the mega hype (and the 14K debut) wouldn't have been as great. WEe'd look at him as a very good 32-26, 3.19 ERA pitcher (in his 88 post-TJ starts) who is easily thrown off his game by imperfections around him -- but still improving.

And we'd notice that he'll probably be the N.L. strikeout king this year.

A LOT of talented young pitchers are criticized (justly) early in theeir careers as they learn to maximize their talent -- like Bert Blyleven who was also rushed to the majors and was a near-.500 drive-everybody-crazy high-K semi-disappointment kind of Big Talent until he was older than Strasburg is now. He was durable, he improved steadily and he's in Cooperstown.

Will Strasburg be durable? Could the arm-injury naysayers be wrong. Well, he's 26 and past the "magic" age of 25 where you say, "Maybe this arm is fully developed will last a while."   

Mark Prior, often cited as a Strasburg comparable, only started 106 games in his whole career and none at all after he was 25. Knock on wood, maybe that's the good news about Strasburg. (Kerry Wood made it to 26, still power pitching, then broke down, so Stras isn't out of the woods.)

Do you think McLouth is actually injured, or is this just a way to get Souza up who can actually help?

Convenient injuries are as old as baseball. Nobody cares.

Isn't Strasburg's fragile mind or Harper's ego. It's health. It's pretty clear they've got a bunch of battered guys in the everyday lineup: Werth, Harper and Ramos. None of them is going to generate the expected level of offense because of nagging injuries or recovery from them. Thrown in R. Zimmerman when he comes back and you've got another one. When do the Nats accept these guys are what they are this year and bring in some reinforcements, another veteran bat or two for the bench, especially after the rosters expand on Sept. 1?

You play out the hand you have -- the good parts as well as the worse-than expected. (For example, Ramos is hitting ~.290 and clubbed a long HR on Friday. His power may be returning. Harper has always been streaky. He hit a walk-off homer to the opposite field last week. Don't write off his season. Will Z'man be  back? And will he hit decentlky if he does? That's the Huge X Factor.)

Despite all the injuries, the Nats lead the N.L. in run differential and probably have the best (total) pitching staff among contenders. What is "lead in run differential" worth as a predictive tool? Well, it's a lot better than a sharp stick in the eye.

Look back a dozen years. If the Nats stay on the same pace, they'll have a better run differential than six of the last 12 World Series winners and 12 of the last 24 pennant winners.

Will they play better in one-run games and against >.500 teams? We'll see. How will Gio, Strasburg and Harper, among others, deal with post-season pressure. (The Nats now have an 89 percent chance of making the playoffs.) We'll see.     

I know auto racing isn't part of your normal beat, but I was interested in your reaction to what happened. It's unclear exactly what happened, but it's very telling that a lot of media people who cover the sport for a living, when reporting on this incident, have gone into extensive detail depicting Stewart's past actions. They are clearly implying that he could have gotten angry enough to do something that led to this death. They're not stating he intentionally ran down that driver, but they're clearly indicating Stewart could have gotten mad enough to do something dangerous. That's really telling and something Stewart and his management team need to think about. Going into a shell behind closed doors and issuing an occasional statement isn't going to cut it. How do you sponsor this guy on the track? How do you hire him for your team, Joe Gibbs (the man who always said he looked for character when choosing players)? Tony Stewart isn't just facing legal issues, his entire future is on the line right now.

Stewart isn't with Gibbs Racing anymore. (Hamlin, Busch, etc.) But, other than that, you're bringing up questions that some are asking. I'm the wrong guy to look to for the answers. If there are any.

But the accident happened, supposedly, at a small track that was dark, poorly lighted and Kevin Ward, Jr. was wearing a black racing suit when he was hit and killed. So, I'd be very slow to connect so many extremely grey dots.

The lesson to tell your kids, perhaps, is that when things go really, really bad, it doesn't hurt to have a good reputation.  

If the Nats win the division (and the rotation stays healthy), I assume we can list Zimmermann, Fister, and Strasburg in pen as the top 3 in the playoff rotation. If the playoffs started today, doesn't Roark have to get the fourth slot? Aside from a half inning stumble against the Orioles, he's been great over the past month (6 starts, 41.1 IP, 33 K, 29 H, 8 BB). Meanwhile, aside from a solid start in Cincinnati, Gio has looked pretty mediocre since picking up his 1000th career strikeout.

Depends on who you play. Is your opponent weak against LHed pitching? How has Gio handled them in the past?

And, seven weeks from now, there's an excellent chance that a lot of things look different. But it's going to be tough to put Roark in the bullpen. But Gio is on the verge of pitching himself into the "Who IS No. 5 Anyway" conversation.

Boz, Welcome back to lots of excitement in the DMV! You've got the O's acting like they want the AL East title, the Nats can't seem to get it into gear - especially against the Braves, and the MASN/Nats/O's/MLB looking like it's going to get uglier before it gets resolved. Who would've thought before the season that the two weakest links in the Nats' rotation would be Strasburg and Gonzalez? Stras is just plain awful on the road, particularly at Turner field. What gives?

Don't be shocked if both the Nats and O's make the Final Four. O's are a pleasure to watch -- overachievers with a manager who's really in sync with them. Nats are frustrating at times, but they have hung together really well. They make mistakes, but they are a close knit team. Also, believe it or not, the Nats have scored almost as many runs this year as the O's -- and they've done it without the DH. The mountain of detail in any regular season tends to duill our senses to what is good while the bad sometimes sticks out.

BTW, the Nats hold an option on that amazing two-way superstar Denard Span for '15. Looks like I big problem/question for '15 -- who plays CF -- may have been solved. Good thing Matt Williams doesn't take lineup-change suggestions from his players. Okay, I admit it, I never thought Span would get this hot or this long and put together such an excellent season. And it couldn't happen to a nicer guy. 

Prediction: The Washington Nationals win the World Series but Ryan Zimmerman is unable to play thus becoming the Nationals' version of Art Monk in Super Bowl 17.

Interesting. I remember how the Skins "couldn't possibly" overcome the loss of Monk -- a kind of Face of Franchise player for years. Yet they did. That's sports. You never know when a band of Smurfs will come to the rescue.

So what's wrong with Gio? I've seen a few people point to his slide over the past couple years to the Biogenesis scandal -- that he's no longer juicing and not as dominant. And now this latest scare and he's oh-for-five or whatever it is. Thoughts?

We live in a time of jump-to-the-worst-possible explanation.

Gio's stuff is just like it's always been. He's always been a bit of a wild child on the mound. And Strasburg's stuff is normal, too. Baseball has some wonderful reality-check statistics to help us separate noise from message.  One of them is Fielder Independent Pitching. It's not perfect. But it's a nice counter-balance to ERA and even W-L that can be greatly influenced by luck, randomness and run support.

For example, I doubt there is one Nats fan who could put the FIUPs of the Nats starting pitchers in the proper order.

They are: 2.68, 3.00, 3.17, 3.38 and 3.73.

The correct answer: Zimmermann, Strasburg, Gio, Roark, Fister. 

Has a 21-year old position player with a ~.700 OPS ever caused so many distractions during a single season? From the benching to the thumb injury to the lineup speculation to the foot dragging it just feels like one thing after another with this guy. Meanwhile, the guy he had himself replacing in CF is putting up career numbers...

Good points. If you call attention to yourself by doing silly kid stuff, like dragging your foot across a dirt logo in all three of your at bats, you shouldn't do it when you are hitting .249. Bryce loves attention. But so did -- make your own list of great extroverts in sports from Babe Ruth to Ali to the present.

Here's Steinberg's post on Earvin Santana and the Nats logo: http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/dc-sports-bog/wp/2014/08/11/ervin-santana-does-not-respectthew/

Harper may be going through the lowest point of his career right now with two serious injuries (and surgeries) the last two years and lots of people on his case, some with good reason. Focus on the work and keep your head down a little.

"Look at me" is generally not what you want other people to think when they look at you.

Tiger missed another cut and appeared to re-injure his back at the PGA Championship. 1. Should Tom Watson make him a captain's pick for the Ryder Cup team? 2. Will he ever win another major? My take: no and no.

Woods is playing so badly, looks so lost on the course and appears so close to injuring himself again that I don't think there is any way he belongs on the Ryder Cup team.

Who will have the common sense to make this decision? Woods should -- for the good of the team. 

What do you think about this whole situation? Do you think its a wake-up call to NASCAR, to stop tacitly encouraging the personal confrontations that are now commonplace?

If this ISN'T a wake up call to NASCAR, about drivers acting macho (one step above pro wrestling posturing), then what would be?

I don't think any of us will ever know exactly what Stewart was able to see (or couldn't see) and what went through his mind. There is one answer that humans fight against and refuse to accept more than perhaps any other: You don't know and you'll never know. 

But this time I think we'll have to accept it and just move on.

Loved the Harper move- scraping away the A - in Atlanta. You? Also, what's up with the attendance there? I understand staying away on rainy nights, but what about Sunday night? The few fans who showed were the ones who were just there to stick it to Harper, IMO.

The Sunday night crowd, which I noticed too, was a "tell" I think that smart Braves fans know how badly their team is injured and how little chance they have of winning the division. I thought the 2:30 a.m. game -- I woke up at 4:30 a.m. and said, "What the hell, checked the score" -- was a big game. Getting swept means something. Losing two or three close games on the road (and leaving with a nice division lead) means nothing. Braves did what they absolutely had to do, but so did the Nats.

Can't catch up on three weeks in one day, although there were so many interesting stories -- like all the deadline MLB trades, the possible Wiggins/Love deal and Johnny Football's mediocre start. Got to say I'm fascinated to see how much the Skins might improve in one year. By the end, Shanahan was as big a hindrance to his own team as any coach/manager I can ever remember. I'm fighting the insanity of predicting good things. But that doesn't mean they wouldn't be fun.

See you next week. One thing I noticed on vacation was how much FUN sports are. They're games. Try to enjoy 'em.

Any thoughts on who will / should be the next commissioner of baseball and what it means long term (specifically the next labor negotiations) that there is a faction led by Jerry Reinsdorf that oppose Bud Selig's choice of Rob Manfred ?

Reinsdorf has done more behind-the-scenes damage to baseball during his years than any other one person. We'll see what he's up to this time. If "baseball people," especially in ownership, think Selig has done such a good job, especially in the second half of his tenure, then why is his hand-picked successor Rob Manfred a bad idea?

Thanks for all the questions (and free column ideas!) Cheers. 

Tom, isn't the fact that the Nats are underperforming their excellent run differential #s a sign of Williams's poor game management skills? Rizzo has got to be frustrated with him.

Sometimes that's what it means, especially if the team also has a poor record in one-run and extra-inning games -- both true of the '14 Nats.

But I don't have that reaction to Williams managing in real time. Or no more so than other managers. Come on, we all second-guess all the time -- that's a great part of baseball.

Over much larger sample sizes, I'd admit that there seems to be some connection. I remember Stan Kasten endorsing this theory several years ago. I said, "Stan, what a coincidence. This morning, I went through every manager in history with more than 10 full seasons to see which were the best and worst in relation to the wins that run differential would predict for them. And the manager of your team has right now has the worst record in the history of baseball. "

Here's when you separate the great execs/blarney-artists from the rest. Stan didn't miss a beat. "He's due," Kasten said.

 

Hey Bos, everyone is already saying the ALCS will be Oakland vs. Detroit. I think the media is completely overlooking how balanced the Orioles have become. If it comes down to a manager making a tough decision to win a game or series, I will take Buck over anyone currently managing. I like their chances to advance in the post season.

O's are still under the radar, especially improved pitching/bullpen as season has gone on. They'd be helped by dropping a 5th starter in Oct.

And the O's and Nats apparently serve fine (craft) beers, too. Here's a good original piece I just read and hope you enjoy.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/special/sports/best-beer-in-baseball/

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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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