Ask Boswell: Redskins, Nationals and Washington sports

Aug 25, 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

It's a word in Yiddish that is the perfect description of what Nats fans are experiencing. It means "delighted", but with sublime emphasis. Some teams look like the best in baseball earlier in the season (see Giants, SF), others are the best late in the season (see Nationals, Was). Bos, why is this a team go deep into the playoffs instead of one that folds in Game 5 of the NLDS?

They're older. Two years more experience.

They're better. Deeper rotation. Pen deeper. Rendon, Span, Fister, Soriano, ACabrera, Thornton added.

The NL isn't as strong this year as '12. LAD can beat anybody with Kershaw in Games 1 and 5 of a DS. But they're beatable, too. (So are the Nats.)

And the Nats have a chip on their shoulder. They've been taking heat about "producing since Oct '12.

They're the best team in the N.L. right now, though it's close vs the Dodgers. (Injuries can change that.) The A's and Angels look better in the A.L. But they have their problems, too.

Every team wants to peak at the right time (not April-May). Every team wants to have it's injuries early and get healthy in Sept -- that's happened so far, but is not a certainty by a long shot. Getting Z'man back would be a big boost.

Just enjoy it, day-by-day. Everybody want to win pennant and World Series. And they matter enormously in every sport. But they matter less -- relative to the performance/pleasures of the regular season -- in baseball because October baseball is just so capricious and everybody knows it. 

Great column today about how Strasburg may or may not get the ball for Game 1 in October. But that leads to another question that is being talked about on sports radio and among fans; who is your four man rotation? Zimmermann and Fister are locks. Stras, OK. But between Roark and Gonzalez, you do you go with? At this point, I would say Tanner because Gio has just been too inconsistent. Are Rizzo, Williams, and McCatty starting to have these conversations in the privacy of a locked room, or is it just too early for them (but not us)?

Roark's top innings season was '13 with 159. This year he's at 160. He's the logical bullpen candidate for several reasons. 1) He was even better out of the pen in '13 than he was starting. So, you assume he can do it. He gives you next extra options for the sixth and seventh inning and for an extra inning game. Like an extra and perhaps even better Stammen. 2) Gio "found" his curve in his last start. He's accustomed to long seasons and >200 IP years. He missed four starts this year so, ideally, he might really be strong in Oct. Same for Fister who still has only 124 IP, not even enough to qualify for the league leaders. Fresh Fister in post-season could be a nice edge. 3) Lots of playoff teams depend on top LH hitters. You may want Gio to start against them.

So, it's a very clear preference for Gio to pitch well and assume his proper role -- in the rotation. And Roark looks like a perfect guy to cut back the work load in Sept. Maybe skip a start or manager his pitch load so that you protect his arm (for the next five years) and also keep him sharp/healthy for October as a reliever or as the ultimate emergency starter for the whole post-season if somebody suddenly goes down.

So, there actually IS a correct answer. There usually isn't. Giving Roark six more starts and 36 more innings -- putting him near 200 -- then putting in the playoff rotation is nuts. What if you end up in a long NLCS and he ends the season w 220 IPs and then he has arm problems next year. You'd feel like an idiot.

We're talking about it. Bedcause we should. The Nats have a 96.6 percent chance to win the N.L. East. Come on. It's a perfect time. If their lead gets chopped in half in a week, we won't be talking about it much. The Nats aren't talking about it. Why would they. Who'll be hurt or ineffective by Sept 25? Who'll be razor sharp? What team might you match up with? 

There'll be plenty of time for the Nats to worry about it when it's appropriate. Nine out of 10 problems in the distance that are coming down the track at you run off the rails before they ever get to you.

Soriano has looked much better in his last couple of appearances (very good news for Nats), but I noticed he did not go through his normal ritual on Sunday. Was that because it was not a save, and/or not showing Giants up in such a lopsided loss, or could it be related to his being booed during the Pittsburgh series?

Soriano only untucks after a save because the work day is over.

He picked up two walkoff wins last week by pitching the top of the ninth. Of course he didn't untuck after those. Wonder if he untucked in the dugout during the celebration?

I liked your article this morning. Question: if Strasburg, during his six starts before the postseason, doesn't pitch well (say he even goes 4-2), do you roll the dice and let him be your No. 1? Okay, 4-2 isn't bad, but anything less (3-3 even) would be awfully dangerous to even consider him your No. 1 or No. 2 pitcher in the postseason. Thoughts?

As of today -- how else can you answer? -- I'd start SS in a Game 2 at home or in a Game 3 at home in the DS, depending (*obviously) on whether the Nats plays Games 1-2 at home or Gamess 3-4 at home. Stras has been much better at home this year and somewhat better at home in his whole career. Before I'd guess between Fister and JZ I'd have to see who the opponent is, what they've done head-to-head with them, etc. Either would handle it fine, though Z'mann has had problems with the Cards.

You'll notice I'm answering questions about the 75-54 Nats before questions about the Skins who have averaged 5-11 in their two years under both Spurrier and Zorn and the same 5-11 in four years under Shanahan. And they sure look like a 5-11 team now. The Skins aren't part of the national sports conversation at all (except for the nickname) and they seldom have been for more than 20 years. Year 1 of RGIII was the huge exception. But people outside DC have moved on from that. Griffin looks like this is his rookie-year exhibition season as he gets swamped by the adjustment from college QB to NFL pocket passer. In other words, he looks lost. But, since this is a rebuilding year, you spend it finding out what you can build with him since you traded away three No. 1s and a No. 2 to move up only a few spotss in the draft to get him.

The Nats, on the other hand, are now one of the significant national sports news teams of the next 6-to-9 weeks. 

On a national, not local "news judgment" scale of 0-to-100, the Nats are a 90, the Skins a 10. On a local scale, for a normal U.S. town, the Nats would be a 95 and the Skins a 50 (until they, you know, win one regular season game), because the NFL is huge.

DC isn't normal. But, in two years, I bet the balance is more normal. And maybe the Wiz can also get their due.

Boz, I've read some chatter, but nothing from any reputable source, about the need to prevent Tanner Roark from exceeding last year's innings pitched by more than 110 percent or something like that. Is this legit? Does the Nats front office worry about extending him too deep in the season or is this a "go for broke" year for the Nats? I agreed with the Strasburg shut down in '12, but I think this year's postseason starters need to be Fisk, Roark, Strasburg, Zimmermann.

Teams have no problem routinely increasing by 20 percent and often a bit more. BUT Roark will be 28 in Oct -- fully physically developed years ago -- and had three yrs of building innings in the minors. So, he's less of a worry. But, as I said in an earlier answer, there's no reason to load the work on him unless there is no reasonable option. Z'mann, Strasburg, Fister and Gio, with Roark in the pen, is a heck of a playoff rotation. Not historic. Maybe the best this year, maybe not. But powerful.

Before I forget, let me use this question as an excuse to point out -- from an MLB-wide perspective -- how little difference there is in quality between the Nats pitching-and-defense and the Nats offense -- once you adjust for the designated hitter. 

Every year for the last dozen years, the A.L. has scored almost exactly 6 percent more runs than the N.L.. That's the DH Factor. Lets see what happens if we add 6 percent more runs to every N.L. team's offense, but also add 6 percent more runs to its pitching staff (runs allowed). One asterisk: Throw out the Rockies because their hitting is awful on the road this year -- near the bottom -- and their relatively high standing in runs scored is strictly a Coors Field illusion.

Here are the Top Six Teams in Runs-Per-Game Adjusted 6 percent for the DH Factor.

1. Oak 4.80 runs.

2. Angels 4.68.

3. Detroit 4.66

4. Milwaukee 4.56.

5. Washington 4.55.

6. Pittsburgh 4.51.

Bet you didn't see that coming. Nats are now eigth in MLB in runs WITHOUT any DH adjustment.

Top 10 Fewest Runs Allowed Adjusted six percent for DH

1. Seattle 3.20.

2. Oakland 3.56.

3. San Diego 3.64.

4. Washington 3.67

5. Tampa Bay 3.76.

6. Kansas City 3.79

7. Orioles (underrated pitching) 3.81.

8. Atlanta 3.85.

9. Angels 3.92.

10. Dodgers 3.94

11. SF 3.96

Kershaw is unique, but ALL of the Dodgers pitching isn't that special. Or at least it hasn't been through 129 games. When they shorten up their rotation in Oct they'll get somewhat better.

I feel cheated. I've spent most of my life as a football fan, but the past three years I've made a concerted effort to give baseball a chance. Now I'm hooked... and wondering why I wasted the first 40 years of my life. It's my parents fault obviously. Why do you think baseball is the better sport, and what can we do about getting more people to realize it?

I think there are 99 Reasons (more after lunch).

(It was my second love growing up -- both to follow and play. It still is. But it just isn't as good as baseball FOR ME. Has anybody ever said, "Everybody is different" and "There's no disputing about taste." I do think, over the next 20 years, that the concussion isssue will change the discussion.

I'm an illustration of how things may change: I didn't know that seven years of "bull-in-the-ring" and full-contact two-a-days at football camp in August in high school, as well as lots of contact as regular practices in season were a Risk Factor. Long ago, we just thought that, if you didn't break your neck, you were OK playing sixth-to-12th grade football. Actually, I guess that's what everybody thought until a couple of years ago. My parents let me choose, though my dad, who'd played, obviously thought it was OK and my mom wasn't so high on it. If they'd known then what everybody knows now, I'm pretty sure my mom would have raised more hell with me and my dad. Don't know how it would have played out. But it would have been different.

Matt Williams seems to be very consciously maintaining an even keel personality, especially in press conferences where he seems almost sedated. When might we see glimpses of "the real Matt"?

Never.

It's fun when he "snaps." But that's rare. It's not like he's a volcano waiting to explode. He's a very, very self-controlled organized person, with enough sense of humor, who has a temper that, afterf sufficient aggravation, he can get mad.

But the sedated guy is pretty much the real guy -- or at least the real BASEBALL guy. What is he like on Xmas morning? Don't know.

Based on Harper's performance this season (fielding, hitting and base running (13 times picked off of thrown out on the bases in 69 games) and the possibility that Zimmerman comes back and begins to rake by the start of the post season...I think Harper should sit in favor of Cabrera. (Zim: LF; Rendon: 3B; Cabrera: 2B). Is there even the vaguest chance that could happen?

No.

Harper is either a big talent or an enormous talent. He looks like he's breaking out of his post-surgery slump right now. For a few days, he tried to hit every ball right back up the middle and was very successful at it. Yesterday he doubled over (immovable) Michael Morse in LF for a double off lefty Jeremy Affeldt -- that's about as good a sign as you'll see -- then he homered in gargage time against a mop-up man. Didn't mean anything. Maybe made him feel good.

Last year Harper had a >.850 OPS. No Nat is that high now. He's going to go back to that level -- at least --eventually. That is a VERY good hitter. But it isn't a .950 Big Star or a 1.050 Best In MLB Monster.

If Harper gets back to that .800-.850 level this year, he's a very big part of the rest of this season. He probably will. Even if he stays at his '14 level, he's still the best option.

Of course, like everybody, I wish he did not lead the majors in Incredible Baserunning Blunders. He actually doesn't know how to run the bases properly. "Be crazy aggressive" was always good enough at lower levels. It's clear now that he has NOT invented some new way to run the bases that changes the game. In time, he'll figure it out after Buster Posey picks him off first base often enough when he's dancing around 20 feet off the base distracting the defense (he thinks). Big Talents have to learn to adjust to the presence of other Big Talents. They usually do. It takes time (and enough embarrassment.) And, in LF, he's still a kid showing off his arm; he made a spin-and-heave throw to third on Sunday that let the hitter get to 2d base. But he also showed good range cutting off a potential double in the gap and his arm is a deterrent to some runners.

They all have to learn. Given the injuries and criticism Harper has played through the last two years, I'd say he's coming through it okay. And I do think he'll hit much better the rest of the regular season.

I'm enjoying the way the Nats are playing as well as anyone, but I am bit worried that they might be peaking too soon. Is this a valid concern?

No, it's about right. The 25-27 start means they didn't click (injuries) thee 1st 1/3 of the yr. Or you can look at the backl-to-back wins against Atlanta by Fister and Roark at Nats Park when they were 37-35 as the Take Off mark. That's almost half-way into the season.

The Nats have a ton of player who, because of DL injuries, but NOT season-ending injuries (like Machado and Weiters) should be reasonably or very rested in October: Ramos, Fister, Z'man (if he gets back), LaRoche, Gio, Harper and even Span. Werth just missed 5-6 days after his shot in the shoulder. Hed looks refreshed now. Made a very strong throw from rightfield Sunday.

The 8-game lead should let them give days off to Rendon, Desmond and Werth. They have to tie Desmond down to get him to do it.

So, in theory, the season has played out about the way you'd want since you WILL have injuries at some point.

BTW, the looked at the injuries of all the contending teams this year. The Nats STILL have the most games lost by key players. And it's by a bigger margin than I thought. Counting pre-season year-ending injuries to pitchers, the A's and Braves have overcome a lot __though they traded or signed pitchers to make up for some or all of the arm loses. The Cards have gotten badly banged up but not as much as the Nats.

There have been teams hit a lot harder, but they collapsed like the Rangers and Rockies.

Magic number = 25. OK to start counting down yet?

Boz, I watch the Skins regularly since I live here, but I root for the Ravens, so consider it an unbiased observation when I say his performance Saturday was troubling. Putting aside the decision making, what really struck me was the sloppiness of his fundamentals. Quite often, his feet were not set when he decided to throw the ball and that affected his accuracy. That kind of thing should be easily fixed by work on the practice field, and you can work on that year round. To see a quarterback beginning his third year in the league with such sloppy fundamentals made me wonder just how "coachable" he is.

Granted RGIII loooked awful vs the Ravens. But his offensive line got crunched. Once, on third-and-long, the Ravens rushed four, the Skins kept in five blockers and all four Ravens landed on top of Griffin like a bridge collapse. They simply came through or directly over the Skins blockers like they were little kids.There were three players left standing beside the demolished "pocket" with seven players in a gigantic pile (including some Skins blockers) with Griffin at the bottom.

Against big physical defenses, there's going to be a lot of that this year. Every team is going to look at the Skins very good skill players and think the same thing: mediocre-to-poor offensive line that's also smallish because Shanahan built it for his stretch-running scheme. So, STORM 'EM.

If you can "storm 'em" with only four rushers on third-and-long that's going to get ugly because RGIII first (and second) impulse is still to flush the pocket and run.

What bothered me was the contrast between the expression on Griffin's face -- when you could see it inside his helmet -- and his confident-as-always quotes after the game. He looked like a very worried, maybe over his head young QB who didn't recognize much of what he was seeing.

Every time the Skins fire a coach there is -- or always has been -- at least a half-season transition to a new system, terminology. The Skins schedule starts off hard -- @Hous, Jax, @Phil, Giants, Seattle. And @Seattle, @Indy are out there, too. It's good that the Skins defense and special teams look improved (up from historically atrocious). Too soon to know if that's real, but I'll assume for the time being that it is. They'll need it while the offense learns Gruden's system and the O-line gets tested.

Look at Griffin's three-game totals, not just his harsh QB rating vs. Ravens. It's 14-for-20 for ~125 yards, 2 INTs and no TDs. With 7 for 27 yds running and several sacks. It's poor but it's not OMG awful.

The Skins have no choice but to show complete confidence in Griffin and devote this year to developing him. Cousins may be a decent 20th-best QB in the NFL if you have to go to him someday. Or he may just be a backup. His final #s -- and performance -- last year, including his three starts to end the season were not nearly as decent as Griffin's. Don't fall in the Cousins trap. Root for him when he gets his chances. But don't kid yourself. He'd knew the Shanny system inside-out by the end of last year. Against real NFL defenses that could prepare for him -- not backups in pre-season -- he looked like a nice fourth rd pick. He did not look like The Future. You just have to have complete patience and find out if RGIII can be that future.

But, to keep it simple, I'm shocked that Griffin has looked this over-matched. He had a poor '13. Now the brace is off and the Shanny warfare gone. Don't be quick to judge.

But, over the course of this season, he WILL be judged.   

Boz - I've noticed over the past year that Griffin cannot answer a question without making himself the center of any answer. I understand that some level of ego is needed to play QB in the NFL, but do you notice how different his answers sound from traditional "team player" types? Even when he's admitting to bad play, it's an ego show.

I don't have much/any problem with how he speaks in public. As soon as he is "off," he's really relaxed and likeable. I think it's a very safe assumption that his teammates like him a lot -- in part because he's taken such a physical and psychological beating in his NFL career since his meeting with the Ravens in '12. What a difference one cut to the sideline on one play in that game might have made.   

Boz, Like a great many of us who have been with the team since baseball returned to the nation's capital, Zim is my favorite player (probably more for who he is than how he plays). I think it's clear that injuries will ultimately take him out the Hall of Fame conversation, but do you think he'd be a HOFer had he stayed healthy? I ran some numbers, and the chances of a healthy Zim getting 3,000 hits would be excellent. In addition, without the shoulder-related throwing issues, I believe he'd have several Gold Gloves on his mantle by now. His character being what it is, it's such a shame that his body has betrayed him so often.

He'd have been Scott Rolen -- and still may be, but at another position starting next year. And he may still be on the HOF ballot. He was always a long-shot might-make-HOF if he stayed healthy, played third for 12+ years and continued to produce offensively until 38+.

I see no reason whatsoever why he can't hit at his '12-'13-'14 level for many years as a 1st baseman. And first basemen don't get hurt much. Looks like Span's play in CF and Werth's shoulder worries make it pretty certain that you can try to get that mutual option worked out with LaRoche for '15 but pick up the $9M TEAM option -- entirely in the Nats hands -- on Span. You're going to need that spot at first for somebody who is guaranteed a lot of money for a lot of years.

No Wieters. No Machado. Davis hitting .189. Markakis 0 for his last 24. Cruz not far behind. They just got swept by the last place Cubs. Yesterday they got one hit and two walks. Is it time for O's fans to get worried?

Everybody always takes about team character. I actually think the O's have a lot of it. But I think the Machado injury is a big blow.

There's a central misunderstanding about the O's -- their pitching has been GOOD (not a "problem") over the whole season so far. And their offense, while good, is almost entirely HR centered. It worked for the Red Sox last year but it's not the usual October formula.

My concern about the O's would be that their pitching and has been both good and ALSO quite lucky. This is one place that advanced metrics may be insightful. MLB's ERA this year is 3.78. MLB's Fielder Independent Pitching (FIB), which tries to factor out some of the game's luck element, is also 3.78. When you see a team with a widely divergent team ERA and team FIP it's a pretty good bet that they will converge. Just as WE-L record and run differential converge.

So, what team's have been the "luckiest" this year according to the ERA-FIP gap. IOW, FIP predxicts a much HIGHER ERA than what the team now has.

Luckiest Seattle with an ERA that is .55 better than its FIP. That is a LOT. Then Oakland (.45), Baltimore (.42), Redxs (.40) and Milwaukee (.31).

Only onew colntender has beeen dramatically unlucky and may get better -- the Tigers whose ERA is 40 points worse than the team's FIP would imply.

What is the best FIP team? Well, oned club has a pretty huge lead in that category. It's in the NL, so "no DH" is helping.

That team is the Nats.

FIP

1. Washington 3.19.

2. Tampa Bay 3.43.

3. Cubs 3.47.

4. Braves 3.48.

5. Seattle 3.50.

Next are Pads, Dodgers, Indians, Angels, SF, STL.

The ERA/FIP gap says Nats's team ERA is slightly lucky (.10).

Clearly, at some point Snyder will have to cave on the Redskins name. What do you think will be the driver -- public sentiment or a huge bribe from the NFL. (My theory: At some point, the NFL will award DC a Super Bowl or two if Snyder changes the team name.)

Skins shouldn't be rewarded (w a Super Bowl) for bad behavior.

This is not among the world's 10,000 most important issues. JMO. I know which side I'm on, however, I don't get worked up about it. But the Skins got on the wrong side of it, because they aren't real sharp at anything except making money, dug in their heels out of stubbornness and arrogance and are now maximizing the damage to themselves. That is their pattern in everything because that runs straight to the owner's personality.

Yesterday's game was just ... wow. Another first-inning gut-punch, a big hole, and then? Storming back like nobody's business. Where the heck did that come from, and can we bottle that for the postseason??

The rallies -- for 14 runs on 18 hits in five innings -- were models of fundamental baseball (except Span getting picked off) and veteran situational hitting. I was REALLY impressed. And w/out Z'man, one of their best situational hitters.

Another example of Werth's leadership and his ability to succeed in different situations. Donw 5-0, they needed a spark and a man in scoring position quickly. He led off the fourth ripping a double into the LF corner on the first strike he saws. In the six-run sixth, his perfect situational liner back over the pitcher's head drove in thego-ahead run and sent the crowd wild. In the eigth, needing an add-on run, the Giants mop-up man made the mistake of throwing fastball right over Werth's head. He dug in, fouled off five two-strike picthes, had an 11-pitch at bat, drew a walk, then stole 2nd base without a throw. (Werth has one of the top five stolen-base percentages in MLB history.)

He might as well have held up a sign at second base that said to the dugout, "Are you guys my %^^&*$ or not? Kick this guy's *&^."

RBI single Desmond, Harper homer off the foul pole on the next pitch. Lobaton double high off the scoreboard. Espinosa homer that almost hit the upper deck in right center. I bet the Giants got the message. They were 2-5 against the Nats this year and the way the Nats came back and thumped them after losing the opener 120-3 was "interesting."

Nats don't play everybody well. But, so far, they seem to play "up" to the Giants, Brewers and Dodgers. The A's crushed them this year in a sweep and might just stomp them if they met in the Series. I suspect the problems with the Braves have faded in the last six meetings -- Nats have gone 4-2 with an 18-11 edge in runs. The Cards? Maybe we'll get to find out.  

Hi Bos, I know this is a bit "inside baseball" but Adam Kilgore's post over the weekend suggests that the promotion of the new assistant general manager was not well-received by the baseball people. Do you have any insight into this?

Yes.

It's a potential isssue. Only potential. No problems yet. But, generally speaking, you don't want what ballplayers call "green flies" buzzing around your baseball-side of operations. You're got outstanding people there, top to bottom. It's the franchise's No. 1 strength. Leave them alone to do their work.  No bean counters and report-back-to-the-family types with "oversight" need apply. I have talked to No One about this. I just know how it works. As soon as I heard, I said, "Don't the Lerners ever learn?"

My reading of tea leaves -- and it's so obvious that you don't have to read at all -- is that the Nats got Cabrera and Thornton without a ton of support from above. Indians are paying 100 percent of Astrubal Cabrera's remaining salary. That means -- always -- that Cleveland could then ask for a MUCH better prospect in trade. ("Hey, you got the $$, so WE get the better player.") They got Walters, who now has EIGHT  homers his year in very few at bats. I assume the Nats would have preferred, as any team would, to pay more in salary to Cabrera but keep Walters. Maybe the Indians would only do it with Walters. We'll probably find out someday. But when you see "took back entire remaining salary, but got good prospect," it often means that the other team would not pony up a fraction-of-a-season worth of salary.

Here are some names from the past: Did you see who the Tigers signed to replace ex-Nat Robbie Ray at AAA when Ray was called up to the big-league club? None other than ex-Nat SHAWN HILL! Can a John Patterson comeback be far behind?

Nice find.

If Hill hadn't hustled, and gotten into a run-down off third base -- which ended in injury -- he might have had a very nice career by now. Fine person, smart, wonderful feel for  pitching.

There is an old quote , attributed to everyone from RFK to Jerry Lewis to the Bible," From those to whom much has been given, much is expected". Is this part of the problem with Strasburg and Harper? If they had been selected in a later round of the draft, would we be excited about what they have produced thus far ? MVMD

If they had been drafted No. 2 overall instead of No. 1 overall we would be very happy.

No. 1 overall has become an extra burden in several sports.

Boz--Did you see Stras almost drill the kid running in front of the mound before starting his warmups Sunday? Stras then gave up a HR to the leadoff batter. Coincidence? Today Show aired for all the world to see today. I am worried about the kids, Boz, one might get hurt one day. Secondly, how does the small talk before game help team focus? Line the kids up in warmups and not seconds before first pitch. What do you think?

I've mentioned before in chats that I thought it was an unnecessary distracting (and bush-league looking) gimmick and they should can it. Apparently, they dodged a bullet, so to speak. (I haven't seen it.) Maybe that'll send a message.

Bos, listening to some local sports talk radio this morning certainly confirmed your statement. The ratio was probably 95/5 Redskins/Nationals. I was at the Park yesterday and that was as an exciting a game and revved up crowd as I've seen at any regular season sports event - whatever the sport. Good thing there are at least 32,000 a night who get the message... The Nats are the story in DC sports.

I seldom listen to sports talk radio. When I stumble on it, it's almost always Skins and almost always comical, like some hick berg with an SEC football power in its lil' town obsessing 24/7/365 over the latest collection of scholarship muscle heads. It doesn't bother me. I've lived here all my life. I get it. It's a D.C. tradition. Leave it alone. If the level of commentary on the Skins -- every year 11-5 is predicted and talked up, every year 5-11 is delivered --is any indication there's absolutely no loss to any other local team in being ignored. It might even be an advantage.

On August 1 everytone said the "real" World Series would be the ALCS between the Tigers and the A's, neither of whom are even leading their division. Moral: don't count your chickens before they're hatched. I'm pretty sure the Nats can start countingg now, though.

Good point. 33 games isn't a long way to go. But it's not in the bag yet. Several times in this latest homestand the Nats odds of winning the game were 15 percent or lower. Yet they came back to win. That's why they play the games. And we love 'em.

WAY too many good questions today. In three hours I haven't even read every last one. You folks keep me stocked with free ideas. It's like legal stealing. I really appreciate it.

No chat next Monday -- Labor Day. But probably Tuesday. We'll work that out and let you know. Thanks again.

Is there anyone the Rams could reasonably offer Washington that would pry loose Kirk Cousins, and if you were Cousins would you have your agent give Allen a nudge in that direction?

Keep Cousins. Yeah, you may need him.

The Golf Channel is reporting that Sean Foley is out as Tiger Woods's coach. It was an up-and-down relationship. On another subject, Tom Watson must have been happy to see Hunter Mahan win yesterday. That gives him another good golfer with some Ryder Cup experience to choose from.

Haven't heard. Very interesting if true. His swing when he came back was a mess. How much of that is the back?

Outta here.

I guess the kids in Chicago didn't get the memo that inner city kids aren't supposed to like or play baseball. Not sure how any parent could watch the LLWS and want their child to play football rather than baseball.

Interesting. Good point. This is the first time in decades of ignoring the LLWS that I think I made a mistake.

Swimming is hardly my area, but how about a huge hand for Katie Ledecky, 17, on her fifth gold medal in the Pan Pacific Championships in Australia and second world record in two days. After breaking the 400 freestyle mark on Saturday, she knocked SIX SECONDS off the world record in the women's 1500 freestyle (28:36). Picks up on Sally's point that the best women athletes can beat 99.9 percent of men in their sport. Just not 100 percent of men. But the quest for excellence,  the desire to push beyond previous human boundaries, is a universal desire that elevates everyone.  

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."
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