Ask Boswell about Tim Tebow and the NFL Playoffs, the Capitals, the Redskins and all Washington sports

Jan 09, 2012

Washington Post Sports Columnist Tom Boswell answered your questions about the Redskins' game, the Capitals, the Nationals, the rest of D.C. sports and more.

Past Ask Boswell chats

I'd personally like to see a 49ers-Ravens Super Bowl, but feel we're going to see the Packers and Patriots. Any chance that won't happen? Yes, I know Tebow had a good game, but beating the Patriots after losing last time? Could happen, but I wouldn't put money on it (even in states where it's legal).

I'll go with Ravens/Packers.

As for the Pats/Broncs, their 1st game wasn't that one-sided. The 41-23 score was deceptive. Everybody moves the ball on the Pats. Tebow was 11-for-22 for 193 and rushed for 93 yards on 12 carries. But that was in Denver. I assume the Pats will handle them in New England.

Denver has to game-plan toward Tebow instead of away from him, as if they think he just can't play. The last weeks of the season, they looked like they were thinking, "Don't let Tebow lose it." Where is their faith (in him?) I don't think they had much until yesterday. Now that you're in the playoffs, if you aren't going to let Tebow run a dozen times and throw deep a half-dozen times off play action __and do it early enough in the game that you aren't playing catchup__ then you aren't giving him a prayer.

All in all, I'd say I've moved down a knotch in my evaluation of him from a month agao. He ended up losing six fumbles (a risk with the option) and throwing six interceptions. To be more than a pretty good (novelty) quarterback in the NFL, he has to keep his turnover very low, which I thought he might be able to do. (He protected the ball very well at Florida.) His "0" turnover were very important yesterday.

I was in college in Phila during the 76ers miserable 1972-73 season and I don't recall its being anywhere as near as bleak. Maybe because I was younger and more optimistic, but I didn't have the feeling it was over for the foreseeable future, the way I do with the current Wiz.

They're awful. In my college on Wall, I didn't want to go too far off subject, but he isn't the only terrible shooter on the team. Jordan Crawford, now the "shhoting guard," has an even lower effective field goal percentage than Wall and  Blatche, who thinks he can shoot, but can't, was at .447 last year __one of the 15 worst in the NBA for a player with 20-min a game. 

What kills them is that Crawford, Blatche and Wall ranked 1-3-4 in number of shots taken per 36 minutes last year. Now they are back at it. Almost everybody else on the team is a MUCH more efficient scorer. But those three, along with Nick Young who was .497 last year, just jack it up as soon as they can see the rim.

The Wiz don't play basketball so much as they try to see who can "get his shots." Selfish team. Not basketball smart would be an under statement. They keep saying you have to put up with bad defense from the Wiz because they are "a team of shooters." What a joke. They are a team of bricklayers.

Who put this group together? Who so much for such high draft picks? Who is the main person who couldn't evaluate accurately or didn't even see what roles various players were suited to play? I'd start by pointing the finger at Ernie. Flip Saunders doesn't seem to fit this group. But he had seven 50-win seasons in Minny and Detroit. The Wiz have not had a team with more than 45 wins since '79. Pretty tough to even think about firing a coach who's had 58, 59 and 64-win teams since '04 when you've been the 2nd worst franchise in the NBA for a third of a season. If anything "Free Flip" might be the merciful point of view. He may have had good players in other towns, but he's also PROVED he can coach.

Could anybody coach this team of players who don't understand their own games and don't fit together? 

I think a strong argument can be made that the Broncos are now the favorites to win the Super Bowl. They have the best defense of the remaining teams, they have the best running game, the best field goal kicker, and now that Fox is letting Tebow throw the ball, they have an awesome quarterback. Tebow picked apart Pittsburgh's defense all night, hitting long pass after long pass when he wasn't running for first downs. I think the Patriots are in for a surpsise next week. Brady won't have any time to pass and Tebow is going to make an already weak Patriot's defense look amateurish. I'm not even sure that game's going to be close.

So you're the one.

Santa Rizzo delivered Nats fans a badly needed power lefty in Gio Gonzoles - even though the cost was very high. I was very impressed with Detweiller's improvements in his confidence and command in the second half of last season. I think he has excellent stuff and could end up being a better pitcher than Gio in the long term. What's your take on Detweiller?.

Detwiler looked good the last two months: 3.20 ERA, 4-5 in his last nine starts and only threw 82 pitches a game because he had to build up arm strength after being in the bullpen. They like him a lot and Davey, all things being equal, would prefer three lefties in a division with Phils and Braves. But he also knows the value of someone like Wang who's mature, been through the wars and thinks of himself as that back-to-back 19-win guy in NYC.

I assume they are going to give Detwiler a serious shot at the rotation because he's got good stuff  (not as good as Gonzalez whose curve is sharper) because lefty Matt Purke is a fast-to-the-majors type and they paid 1st round money ($4.15M) to sign.  

Tom, I'm disappointed over their loss, but I'm also a little upset over the unfairness of the playoff setup. I understand that the four division winners get home games and the wild cards are away, but when there is such a disparity between the records of the Steelers (12-4) and the Broncos (8-8), it makes you wonder why it's not rewarded. The difference between the Falcons (10-6) and the Giants (9-7) was minimal and didn't really bother me (although I'm sure the Falcons felt the same way about their game.

This has always bothered me, too. It's ridiculous to have a 12-4 team "away" against an 8-8 team. Ah, the league that invented the "balanced schedule" __with actually means imbalanced__ to give the aertifical appearance of more parity than actually exists.

Maybe the Steelers were due that awful call when their backwards lateral, that would have given Denver the ball at the Steeler 15, was blown dead and called an incomplete pass. That was a three-to-seven-point ref's mistake. That one call, with Denver up 20-6,  may have been worth as much as home field usually is.

I am thinking the Wizzards may be the worst team ever.

That's the only thing interesting about them. They're fascinating right now in an Amazin' Mets kind of way. But the Mets were infants. The Wiz story is 33 years old and everybody is sick of it. As soon as th Wiz win one game, they have a chance to become the least interesting pro franchise in Washington hsitory. Man, that' s a feat.

Tried to watch part of the Wizards game yesterday. I have seen better, more inspired play at local gyms. It's clear that Flip Saunders has not reached these players and that Ernie Grunfeld has made a number of horrible decisions (most notably the Arenas and Blatche contract extensions). How do you fix this mess?

You can't. Right now, it's unfixable. Eventually, you need to replacve Grunfeld and probably Saunders, too, because he's not a Kiddie Coach type. But there is no rush. Why bring in new people, as if this were salvagable, and let the strench get all over them?

Boz- any new rumors on the Nats and Prince? I feel like we've been talking about this for a while, and nothing's happening either way. I am wondering if the Nats have offered him a good annual rate, but for fewer years than he wants, but nobody else is willing to beat it. Is there just no market for this guy this late in the off-season?

As I mentioned in my column a couple of weeks ago, Jan 18 is the date that matters. That's the deadline for Yu Darvish to sign (or not) with the Rangers. As soon as he does, and the Rangers have spent their $100M+ on him, they will be far less of a factor in Fielder. If they don't get Darvish, then they will be the REAL "mystery team" in about five seconds. And they'll get Prince.

The Nats have no reason to move a muscle until the Darvish deal is done and the list of teams that "What Fielder" is very small and the number of teams that actually NEED Fielder is down to zero.

Then the Nats might have to think seriously about doing a contract which, frankly, causes them a lot of problems down the road with extending Z'man, keeping Morse after  '13, extending Strasburg, Zimmermann and/or Harper when the time comes. And nobody lets a catcher like Ramos go; how do you replace him? All that is going to cost money.

Because the Nats don't need Fielder, that should (finally) put them in the driver's seat in a negotiation. If there ever even is a serious one. EVERY other $140M+ signing for a first baseman has been for a team that saw that slugger as a perfect fit for them: M Cabrera ($152/8yrs), Justin Morneau ($80/6), Adrian Gonzalez 154/7, Teixeira (180/8), Pujols. The Nats have a dsecent 1st baseman in LaRoche and, more important, a 1st baseman in waiting in Morse whose stats the last two years __per at bat__ are fairly close to Fielder.

Unless the Nats get wind __and not from Scott__ that the Darvish deal is dying, they should sit tight. The Cubs just traded for a young 1st baseman. Seattle clearly doesn't want a Prince-sized contract. Toronto has never spent much. The Nats should just wait. There's no rush and there's no need. There may, however, be an opportunity.

Baseball is set to announce their HOf inductees for 2012 today. Anyone you feel strongly about that should get in? What are your thoughts on Dale Murphy and Don Mattingly?

I'm a "no" on both Murphy and Mattingly. They were  great in their primes, but not for a long enough poeriod and when they got old they got old fast. 

I think Larkling deserves it, but maybe not in his second year. I'd vote for him this year but don't think it's a problem if he has to wait. Bagwell is a tough call. He only won one triple-crown title __an RBI title. His career totals __nearly 450 homers and over 1500 RBI__ can go either way. His OPS+ (149) may be his biggest accomplishment __that's REALLY high, 34th in history__ and I think the Saber crew will get him in eventually. But not yet.

I wonder if Elway thinks Tim "pulled the trigger" yesterday. An amazing performance from Tim Tebow, especially when compared with his passing performance throughout the year...and against a great defense, too. One thing I am wondering: Given Elway's supposed dissatisfaction with Tebow, what were Elway's numbers like his rookie year in the NFL?

Nice question.

This is Tebow 2nd season. Elways was 4-6, then 12-2 as a starter his first two years. His QB ratings (which tended to be quite a bit lower in the '80's, were 54.9 as a rookie (!!) and then 76.8. His TD-Int ratios were 7-14, then 18-15.

Tebow still has a big windup and throws a ridiculous ugly-duck ball at times. He's getting better at looking the safeties off his primary receiver, but that big windup gives them an extra instant to get back in the picture.

The most fascinating thing to me is how offended people seem to be over Tim Tebow kneeling after a score or a win, praising God for the gifts He gave him. I Troy Polamalu vilified for blessing himself with the sign of the cross before every single play? Why does Tim seem to be singled out for ridicule when, quite frankly, many professional athletes praise God on camera as well?

The day my views on life's most serious questions are influenced by a pro athlete's actions I that all you nice chatters come down and take me off to a padded cell. 

H.L. Mencken's "Treatise on the Gods" is smart fun, if you can still find it. "There is no purpose here to shake the faithful, for I am completely free of the messianic itch, and I do not like converts," Mencken wrote in '46. "Let those who believe, and enjoy it, heave this book into the dustbin...The world is very wide, and there is room amidst its dermatitis for all of us."

So here is what I am hoping to see happen for the Nats. Some other team signs Prince Fielder to the monster deal Boras is known for. Adam LaRoche comes out of the gate healthy and tearing through the league crushing the ball in the first half of the season, making him a very attractive trade chip. The Rays, fighting tooth and nail in the tough AL East need a bat for a tough stretch run for the playoffs and have been getting little to no production from their very thin 1B depth chart. So in a deadline deal a package is put together that ships LaRoche to the Rays for Upton. By then, Harper is in DC (RF), Morse slides right back into 1B, Werth moves to LF and Upton patrols CF. What do you think?

I think I like it a lot. And I think LaRoche will come back and do well. He proiles at age 32 like several hitters who did very well after that age, like Paul O'Neill. LaRoche is an average hitting first baseman, but he is far above an average hitter with an .815 OPS. He's far from Fielder, but LaRoche's excellent glove, and Prince's poor one, makes up a bit of the different. So, his trade value may be considerable, especially since there is a $10M team option in his contract for '13, and that's just about the time you want to bring up Harper and are beginning to want to find a spot for Rendon someday.

Do you get the sense that Wall has any clue that his very poor play has been a factor in the Wizards horrible start? And Wall is hardly in a position to have people in his "camp" bitching about the state of the Wizards - someone seems to think he is the next Magic Johnson or Derrick Rose when in reality his poor play would have him stuck on the bench for most teams in the NBA. Great point guards make the people around them better - lousy ones can be the anchor that sinks the ship.

I don't think Wall would be on the bench for many teams. Lotta talent. But he has a lot of learn, too. And he won't learn it until he realizes that he needs to.

His last couple of games, 13-for-32 from the floor for an eFG% of .406 vs his career mark of .419. He should be shooting 10-11 times a game, imo, not 14-15-16. It changes the feel on the floor when teammates know he's only going to take the highest percentage shots and look for them at all other times. As I wrote, I think he just needs some veteran or coaching guideance from somebody he expects. No reason, even if the bad shooting is permanent, that he can't be Rondo or Mark Jackson. And he could get much better. But not the way he and the Wiz are going about it now. JMO.  

The Redskins should do whatever it takes to move up and take Robert Griffin. 1) You can't win in the NFC without a franchise QB. Of the six NFC playoff teams, only Alex Smith would be cursed with the dreaded "game manager" tag. 2) You can't get a franchise QB in free agency. The last one was Drew Brees. 3) You CAN get quality, proven offensive linemen in free agency. 4) With the new rookie salary scale, you can get a QB at relatively low cost for the first 4 years. The savings can be spent on free agents. 5) The Redskins have many needs. However, they will not be able to rise above mediocrity without a franchise QB. If they draft extremely well this year and improve their 2012 record to 7-9 or 8-8, they still won't be in a position to draft a franchise QB next year.

Thanks. That's the best analysis/case for trading up for RGIII that I have seen. And I'm crazy about Griffin, think he's going to be exeptional.

It's just so ironic that as soon as they decide to build through the draft they have a year that perfectly illustrates the reasons to do just the opposite __once.

Of all the available QB options for '12 __okay, there arren't that many__ trading up for Griffin is the only one that keeps jumping back into my mind as very exciting and possibly smart, too. BUT that assumes you can get a partner. And it's going to take a ton to get all the way up to No. 2 to be sure you get your man.


Is there ANY chance Boras goes for something like 3yrs/$75mil for Prince? That would perfectly clear the books in time for the Nats to extend some young core guys and/or pay their arbitration raises AND put Prince back on the market at a still very valuable 30 years old. Win-win, no?

Never happen. Too humiliating for Boras and Prince. It's not illogical. I still remember when A-Rod "opted out" during the last game of the World Series, got terrible flack for it, then changed agents, ripped Boras and negotiated directly with the Yankee ownership __and got  his monster deal that's now strangling (even) the Yankees. Neither has many kind words to say for the other. 

As I've said before, the biggest issue for the Nats is how big they ultimately think their payroll can get? How rich is the Nats market? Can they afford to spend ~$63M on Werth, (extended Z'man) and Fielder starting in '14 and going for many years?Here are some numbers to help you think about it. It's been suggested that the Nats could Do It All if they were willing to go to a $140-145M b udget in a few years. Oh, indeed? How nice. But how many teams have a fan base and TV deals to support anything close to that?

Top Average Payrolls the last three seasons.
Over $100M = Nine teams: Yanks (207), Red Sox (151), Phils (139), Mets (139), Cubs (137), Angels (125), Tigers (118), White Sox (109), Dodgers (107).
Others over $90M = Five teams: Giants (99), Cards (97), Seattle (94), Minnesota (92), Braves (90).
That's 14 out of 30 teams. The Nats were 22nd in total attendance last year. I've maintained for years that the Nationals should be in the $85-to-$100M range. Maybe more if the4 MASN deals increases a lot. But if you give $60-to-$63M/yr to Fielder, Werth and Zimmerman, how do you build the rest of the team and how do you extend any of your young players when they reach their arbitration years __and that's a long list: Strasburg, Zimmermann, Storen, Ramos, Espinosa, Morse, Harper and plenty of others, like Clippard, Rendon, Matt Purke.
If you sign Fielder and Z'man out to '19 with Werth already out to '17, and you also want to keep a reasonable percentage of your young stars, then Nationals Park better be packed, and I mean 35-to-40K every night, not just 30-to-35K, for years at a time. It's nice to be optimistic. But this strikes me as foolish.
Finally, if Strasburg, Z'mann or Gonzalez gets hurt __just one of them turns out to have a short career like Prior__ where do you get that third top-of-rotation starter? That may be where the free agent money needs to get spent in '13-1'14-15.
The question is not "Would you like to have Fielder on your team?" Of course you would. The question is: How much and how long. And, because Fielder is not a "fit" for the Nats position needs and because the N.L. has no DH, he should not be worth nearly as much to the Nats as he would be to the proper A.L. team.
However, this year, that "porper A.L. team" doesn't exist. Unless it tuens out to be the Rangers, which is quite doubtful. 


If you assume a team would need 90 wins to get a playoff spot, then you assume the pitching staff improves to the level of the Dodgers/Padres/Rays and gives up about 612 runs, the Nats will still need to add about 60 runs to their 2011 offense to reach the 90-win mark (using the so-called Pythagorean model). If not from Prince Fielder, where do Nats find those 60 additional runs?

By getting back to '09 Nats levels when they scored 710 runs __86 more than last year__ with Z'man, Willingham and Dunn. Can Z'man (who had a very poor '11), Morse and LaRoche equal that trio? Probably not. But the '09 team didn't have Espinosa and Ramos who hit almost 40 homers last year. And, by m id-season, Harper may add something.

So, finding the runs isn't as hard as it may seem. BUT Z'man, Werth and LaRoche all have to hit up to their career norms and stay reasonably healthy. Obviously, Fielder would erase the runs problem. But this is not a team with a one-yr win-now window, especially with Strasburg getting shut down by Labor Day. All the Nats questions should be in search of long-term answers. That might be Fielder. BUT the idea that a team with a future as bright as the Nats should be drooling over what Fielder would help create in '12-'13 is not good baseball planning. Of course, Prince should be delighted that we're talkking about this. It's how you "build a market" __or the appearance of one__ where no natural market for a player exists.  

Lost in the Denver stunning play in overtime was the fact that the refs completely let Pittsburgh get back in the game by blowing the whistle on a backwards pass that was recovered by the Broncos on the Steelers 18 yard line. Instead Pittsburgh goes down and scores a touchdown. If Pittsburgh wins that game, that stupid whistle would have been talked about in Denver for years.

Yes, absolutely.

An unnamed prominent baseball writer recently wrote that he could not support former players who he even suspected of steriod use and listed Bagwell and Piazza as examples. Now I have no problem with saying no the Palmieros and the McGwires but when suspicion enters the mindset that is a scary thing. If that is your criteria, then why not have 2nd thoughts about Cal Ripken whose best friend was Brady Anderson who tripled his HR #'s in a single year and bragged about his body building. I know you are not a voter, but where do you draw the line between admitted and suspected when it comes to steroids and the HOF?

Don't vote (Post rule). And I don't know the writer. But, in theory, I think I'd go with a personal "99 and 44/100ths percent" rule. If I think there is enough information to be virtually certain that a player used PEDs __and I'd include Bonds, Clemens and (of course) McGwire__ I would vote for them. "Suspected" or "rumors" mean nothing. Throw that out.

Is that a lousy method? Sure, it stinks. So do all the others that I've seen. Glad I don't vote for the HOF anymore. What a mess.

And the "issue" really starts heating up next year. If Larkin gets in today it may be the last clean simple day of cheering for the HOF results for a while.

Besides the backward pass, don't forget the Brees fumble which would have been a touchdown. Also, the Giants not getting a good spot at the end of the first half. Terrible officiating especially considering it is the playoffs.

There were two bad spots in the Giants game.

Couldn't believe Mike Smith took points off the board, then later got stopped on a QB sneak after he'd tried to get an offsides. The Falcons shifted so much that they ended up with an empty backfield when they snapped the ball. Fake a play, fine. I assume the Giants win anyway. Their defense and running game are looking so much better. Did the Skins really beat these guys TWICE and beat them badly in the Meadowlands? 

Any chance the wizards use amnesty for Blatche midseason? I understand he may have some value in a trade, but dumping him midseason would send a pretty clear message to the team about focus.

It's Grunfeld who needs "amnesty" for the contract he gave him. What player was he looking at?

Seriously, do you want to use up your one franchise chance at an amnesty contract for Blatche. You think this is The Worst Deal the Wiz can sign during his CBA? I look at history, I consult mediums, I gaze at the stars and I say, "Give 'em time. The Wiz can do a contract much worse than Blatche."

Of course, maybe Ted rememders all the joys of his $77M Jagr contract.

If they start winning, they'll fill up Nats park. The TV deal may actually be a blessing since it can be reset every five years. Imagine the money they'll get in 2016 if they win a WS and have players like Harper, Strasburg, Fielder, and Zim. Look at the Redskins and Caps. This team is a potential gold mine.

Scott, thanks for joining the chat!

But it's a point.

Two years ago, you couldn't get anybody to talk about the Nats. Now it's "how many World Series will they be in?" Patience, dear folk. They are a nice team with a lot of promise. But it's harder than it looks. Harper hasn't succeeded at AA yet. And a dozen other question marks.

But they are now fascinating question marks!

Caveat: I'm a Skins fan, but I've always respected the way the Giants do business. Now, my question: Can the Giants beat the Pack? I find myself thinking tthat Eli & that running game will move the ball, & score, against the Pack, & their D just might be able to throw Rodgers off his game. Am I nuts, or what?

Not nuts, but gimme the Pack.

I didn't realize how hostile Green Bay felt until I went there the first time. This time of year, it's like holding a game in Siberia. You get off the plane and say, "Why am I here? And why is every part of my body cold?" Gotta check to see if there's a warm front.

Is listening to the sports pundits on ESPN shout at each other over this guy. Why does he bring out so much emotion from the guys who are called analysts? Doesn't seem very analytical.

With ESPN football analysts you have to realize that these are actually profound religious debates __because to them, the proper way to play QB in the NFL IS a religious debate.

To an NFL "expert," Tebow is the Anti-Christ. He calls every element of their football faith into question. That's why I enjoy him so much.

My take on steroids and previously oft-injured players like Bonds and McGwire is that steroids may have increased muscle, but most of their effect was keeping those players healthier (in a ready-to-play sense). Which leads to a natural (though quite possibly off-base) suspicion of Ripken. Ah, the joys of the modern age!

With all due respect, that's insane and completely backwards. Players use PEDs to recover from injuries __injuries which in many cases they got in the first place because they used PEDs. The No. 1 reason to think that Ripken did NOT use PEDs is the Streak itself.

One reason teams shy from long contracts to sluggers is that they worry they will get hurt more frequently, and worse, if it turns out they use PEDs. For example, Fielder's high number of games played argues for him being clean, not the opposite.

Here are the top 5 contracts in the NBA this year 1) Kobe Bryant - $25.2 mil; 2) Rashard Lewis - $22.1 mil; 3) Tim Duncan - $21.3 mil; 4) Kevin Garnett - $21.2 mil; 5) Gilbert Arenas - $19.2 mil. 3 of these guys have won NBA championships, would probably be on the All- NBA team of the last 15 years and are certain HOFer's. The other 2 ( 1 is now OUT OF THE LEAGUE) were given their contracts by the WIz. Amazing !!!

Ah, the Wiz-ness of it all.

(The Magic gave Lewis his $118M deal.)

Boz, Why isn't anyone talking about how the Werth signing is killing the Nats right now unless they sign Fielder. It continued a good run with Boras, only makes sense if you keep it going. But the cost of Werth/Fielder/Zimm wasn't a secret last year when they were signing Werth - did they just completely lack foresight? The only explanation I can buy is that they didn't think Fielder would be an option because an AL team would be much more motivated.

They didn't think Fielder would be in their picture. Nobody anticipated a collapsing market for him. It's been pretty amazing to watch.

What I'm curious about is how the TV deal can increase with relatively few people watching? I know it's better than a couple years ago, but still it's not like a million people are tuning in every night.

MASN agreed to a deal, adjusted every five years, based on RSN prices in comparable cities based on market size __not team record or attendance. And, if I remember the arbitration process correctly, Selig is the tie-breaking vote. The comps are Houston and Dallas __all 2 to 3 times as high as the Nats ~$28M.

Is the egg the Caps laid in San Jose indicative of something or just a bad night missing 2 bigplayers and a little luck? Hendrick's shot goes in it's a whole different hockey game.

I still assume the Caps are in the process of adapting to Hunter's system and will gradually play better, rather than falling back into this mundane 16th-best-team in the NHL rut. But it is odd to see the Caps losing Green again and Semin never living up to what was assumed. Now, they are actually trying to play like the Caps of the '90's. I've grown to hate the phrase,  "How's that working out?" But it does come to mind. Lot of talent, good tough man as coach. I think they gradually improve into the playoffs. Still, the first half of gthe season is almost over and they sure aren't where most people thought they'd be.


so, how do you like this year's Hoya Basketball team? Kinda young still?

Now THEY are fun. Watched the last few games. Young, quick, love to defend and never think they are out of it. But they are dependent on the three-ball. 

The Hoyas have never been able to handle West Virginia consistently. I intend to shift my winter allotment of Wizard Minutes to Hoya Minutes. I bet I'll have company.

Thanks for all the great questions. See you next week.

Could you clarify this line of thought? You're not the only person who has said something like it, but it confuses me. If Larkin (or whoever) is good enough to get in, why isn't he good enough in his second year, or for that matter his first? What is it about the second or sixth or ninth year on the ballot that changes his candidacy from "not enough" to "enough"? Is it simply that you want there to be an "inner circle" or something, to distinguish "ordinary immortals" like, say, Blyleven from "super immortals" like, say, Seaver?



I still see Toronto as the likely destination for Prince. I believe that they were all-in for Darvish and if he signs with Texas, they will look to invest in the next (only?) big name out there. They have a pretty big hole at 1B. If the Nats do sign Prince, any reason why they wouldn't trade LaRoche to Milwaukee to get a couple prospects back and fill the Brewers biggest need?

All good points. Toronto is the best fit. And they were 81-81 w Bautista to pair with Prince in the middle. They have nice young players coming. But do they have the money, does Fielder want to play in Toronto w the Yanks and Red Sox outspending the Jays forever?

Could the Wizards be traded even up for the Washington Generals?


The Generals had great teamwork, could shoot and sometimes beat the Globetrotters. Okay, 1 in 100. The comedy was great. But all of those games contained a lot of good hard basketball, because of the Generals. They were much more fun to watch that the Wizards. And, it appears, had about the same chance of winning.

Has he passed away or is he still available to coach the Wizards?

Thanks, I needed that.

Bryce Harper is in nearly the same situation that Mickey Mantle was in 1951 and Davey Johnson may play the role of Casey Stengel. In your last chat of January 3, you said that "Mantle was up at 19 in mid-season, hit .267 with 13 homers . . ." However, this is not correct. In 1951, Mantle, with 2 years of minor league experience, wowed the Yankees and other observers in spring training with his power and speed and Stengel prevailed upon George Weiss to allow Mantle to begin the season with the major league club as its right fielder. In July Mantle slumped and was sent down to the Yankees' AAA club in Kansas City. He started slowly with K.C. and as Mantle related many times, he wanted to quit baseball. His father drove to K.C., packed Mickey's bags. and called him a "coward". Mickey changed his mind, started hitting, was brought back to the big club, and the rest his history. Compared with Harper, Mantle had two years of minor league experience instead of Harper's one. He also received only about $1500 upon signing compared to the publicity and millions of dollars that Harper received upon signing. However, their stories could be similar this upcoming spring training.

Thanks.  Good stuff. I even remember the story about Mantle's father (wasn't his nickname "Mutt?") now that you remind me.

I see the Nats as trying to build a consistent contender for a decade. For that reason, I'm not sold on Prince Fielder. The 114-win Yankees of 1998 had not a single hitter with 30 home runs. They were made up of guys like Tino Martinez, Paul O'Neill, Scott Brosius, etc. who were good (not great), but their cumulative consistency added up to the greatest team of this era. Maybe Prince could hit 50 homers in 2012 and propel the Nats on a pennant run. Maybe they could even add Prince and lock up Zim and Strasburg as lifetime Nats. But they can't do all that AND lock up Espinosa, Ramos, Morse, J-Zimm, Storen, etc. NatsTown is so desperate for a winner that it's tempting to sign Fielder and make them a winner instantly. But I'd rather have an 8-to-10 year run of contention with a balanced team than 1 or 2 go-crazy seasons and then a long run of being saddled with massive contracts like the Mets/Cubs of today or the Orioles of the late-1990s.

It takes forever to get through all the questions. Sorry. Some are just so well written or interesting that I post them late. Like this one that summarizes one side of the Fielder analysis. That's it. Thanks agin. 

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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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