U.S. Open, Nationals baseball and more: Ask Boswell

Jun 13, 2011

Washington Post Sports Columnist Tom Boswell answered your questions about baseball, local D.C. sports and more.

Past Ask Boswell chats

OK, this is a GREAT chat day. U.S. Open is big-time thrill.  Nats looking much better with a 6-5 road trip after winning a series from the Phils.

But first, I wanted to quote a "maxim" that I first heard from the late-baseball commissioner Bart Giamatti. I think it might apply to LeBron James: "We promise according to our hopes and perform according to our fears."

James is the most paralyzed by fear of failure player I've seen __who was also perhaps the most talented in basketball__ since Wilt Chamberlain used to go into a fourth-quarter psychological withdrawal/choke vs Bill Russell.

I will be attending Thursday's round at Congressional and would appreciate any advice on who I should be following now that Tiger will be absent from the field.

The U.S. Open just kills itself to come up with imaginative threesomes that play together Thursday and Friday. They've done a great job. Here are some choices of who to follow.

No. 1-2-3 in the World play together! Donald, Westwood, Kaymer.

Mickelson, (titanic) Dustin Johnson and Rory McIlroy (19, who had a shot to win the Masters before the Sunday 80) is even better for "fan appeal."

Oldies but still goodies: Els, Love, Furyk.

Kuchar-Casey-K.J. Choi (6-10-16 in the world).

Ishikawa (teen sensation), Anthony Kim (won at CCC) and Y.E. Yang (major winner).

Bubba Watson-Adam Scott-Robert Karl;sson (who's gotten hot).

Italians: F and E Molinari (Ryder Cuppers) and teen Matteo Manassero.

Spanish: Sergio Garcia, Jimenez, Alvaro Quiros (might be the longest driver).

All Crazy Fashion group: Rickei Fowler, Ian Poulter, Hunter Mahan.

All-Hearthrob (?): Camilio Villegas, Aaron Baddeley, Brandt Snedeker.

The semi-sarcastic grouping of 'did-these-guys-really-all-win-the-Masters-in-the-last-5-yrs:' Schwartzel, Immelman, Zach Johnson.

U.S. Open, British Open and U.S. Amateur champs __and NOBODY can spell all three of their names correctly: Graeme McDonwell, Louis oosthuizen, Peter Uihlein.

Just a good group with two past Open winners: Nick Whatney, Lucas Glover and Geoff Ogilvy.

Also: Steve Stricker (top U.S. player), Retief Goosen and (hot in '11) David Toms.

Seriously, thos are a LOT of excellent groups. None of them will monopolize the crowd, except maybe Phil. So you can actually see them. And they will be spaced out __some a.m., some p.m. Some going off No. 1 tee first, others going off No. 10 first.

I think the first two days offer great fun because you don't HAVE to follow Tiger. (And, come on, for a lot of fans, they feel forced to follow Tiger because otherwise people say, 'So, you went to the Open. How was Tiger?'

Tom, We Long Islanders have been spoiled in recent years with so many US Opens: Bethpage, Shinnecock, Bethpage all in the 2000s (also, Shinnecock in 1986 and 1995). I'm so glad that our national championship returns to our Capital. I hope that the golf fans and sports fans enjoy the atmosphere. The practice days are well worth the ticket price. As for those on LI, we do have the US Women's Open in 2013 to look forward to. Good luck and have fun. It'll be great.

The practice rounds and Thurs-Fri are all great. I'm not sure that Sunday isn't better at home on TV.

Oh, don't forget to come to the playoff on Monday....Grrrrr. Worst idea in sports. I've covered SEVEN of them on Mondays in 30 Opens. Except for Woods-Mediate I remember relatively little about 'em. Which should tell you what a bad idea they are.

I know the speculation is that Marquis is not part of "the future" and the Nats will trade him before the deadline. But wouldn't a rotation of Strasburg, Z-mann, Marquis, Lannan and Gorzelany be competitive? An actual major league rotation for the first time. Call me crazy but put a center fielder in this lineup with this rotation and the Nats could be competitive. Am I crazy?

The Nats showed their hand last winter when they made the $100-million contract extension offer to Greinke. They want a third dominant pitcher to put with Strasburg and Zimmermann, a pitcher who has or might win a Cy Young. So, I'd doubt that they'd want to use Marquis-sized payroll _$7.5M/yr for two years__ when they seem more interested in a $15M-a-year starter. Did you ever think you'd hear that said about the Nats?

Right now their roster screams for one top pitcher and a CF/leadoff man. And they have plenty of payroll space. So, I'd think they would want to trade Marquis by July 31, if they get a decent offer, or simply keep him and hope he has a 15-win season and helps them make a run at .500. 

Of course, the dust-up with Riggleman __and it was viewed as significant within the team__ won't help him stay. Neither's stock went up but Marquis was entirely the one who caused the problem.  However, it also brought up the question: Does this happen if the manager has a good working relationship with his players, especially his dozen-or-so key veterans players? If they talk regularly, have a sense of each other, especially since Marquis has been on the team two years, is there a blow up that has to be __and appears to make been__ mended. 

But it's not crazy to be optimistic about the Nats. If they stay above-averaghe healthy the rest of this year, they may get close to .500. However, I'll note that last year they kept talking about 'holding the season together until Strasburg gets called up." Oh, then they'd get even better.  They were 27-31 the day SS made his debut, then 28-31 after he won. Then went 41-62 for 69-93. Yet another lesson in counting chickens before they are hatched.

Considering his inability to hit with risp, is Werth the long-term answer as the Nats lead-off CF (with Harper eventually in RF?)

When they got Werth, the Nats thought it was plausible that, when they reached the point where they thought they could contend for the playoffs, that Werth might be able to play CF for one or two years. They weren't sure. It was a time-will-tell deal. But he has played there and says he still can. Would he want to do it in '12 or '13? Don't know.

But you don't pay $126M to anybody to be a leadoff man, unless its R Henderson in his prime. The question for next year is: when you have Z'man, Werth, LaRoche, Morse/Nix, Espinosa, Ramos, Desmond and, at some point in the season, maybe even Harper, where do you put 'em and where do you bat 'em.

Werth to CF at some point: Maybe.

Werth as long-term leadoff man: No way. Werth hitting 2nd? Possible, if others work out well enough.

Of course, Anthony Rendon might win a few batting titles hitting second. (Just kidding.)

Boz, Strasburg, Zimm, Lannan, Marquis and Gorz. One could think post season with that rotation. Will the Nats re-sign Marquis or will they be tempted to unload him next month for a true leadoff guy?

What's interesting is that they have SS, JZ, Lannan, Gorzelanny, Detwiler under team control for the next couple of years, at least. And Livan would probably always come back if asked. Hey, pretty experienced 4th-5th starter. Marquis will be interesting. As I pointed out, the Nats are not aiming low in this period. They want to have a third stater who is dominant. How long will it take to find out if A.J. Cole or Sammy Solis or Robbie Ray (from the '10 draft) or the 6-foot-9 has-touched-100-mph Meyer (just drafted) will fill the bill by '13. Also, where do the older prospects __like Tom Milone__ fit in the mix.

Nice problems. Folks, the "old Nationals" era is ending. It may linger the rest of this year. Or not. But with the pipeline in the minors, the payroll room and the key players already in place, this is a high-ceiling team over the next few years. And folks like the Lerners, Rizzos and Rigglem an will be judged against this MUCH higher standard of minimum acceptable performance.

It's a new mindset. Get your head around it. This week, this month, this year? Who knows. But mid-term things are getting a lot clearer. Desmond is now your shortstop. The Nats are now 3-4-5 in fielding percentage. Espinosa has nailed down 2nd. Great game-winning AB vs Heath Bell in the 9th yesterday in San Diego. He was robbed of two singlees, a three-run double (on the SF) and a HR (which was caught above the CF fence) in San Diego. Hey, when his BABIP normalizes...

J Z'mann looking like a young Dan Haren or at least as good as Yovani Gallardo. Storen bounced back from a bad game and saved three in a row. A lot of key pieces are really looking solid. And Morse __okay, so he's "just hot." Well, a basic question about players is "How great are they wehn they are hot and how awful are they when they are cold." We have an answer. Morse just carried a bad-offense team to a close-to-.500 record __without Z'man and with Werth AWOL__ for WEEKS.

The franchise record for innings without an error is nice information (hey, just going errorless in 11 consecutive western games in an achievement), but I wish we knew what the previous Washington baseball record was in that category. It admittedly wouldn't be the easiest thing to find, but with baseball-reference.com and other sites, it could be done. Which brings me to Bob Carpenter, who isn't as cognizant of D.C. baseball history as he should be -- he recently made references to Gil Hodges and Jeff Burroughs (the latter in relation to Sean), not noting their ties to the Senators in either case. Then again, Carpenter doesn't seem to understand the inherent fatalism of the Washington baseball fan -- this isn't St. Louis, where there's long been a polite optimism in the fan culture. But it could be worse -- at least we don't have John Sterling or Ken Harrelson doing Nats games.

The first story on MLB that I ever got in the Post was in '70 or '71 when I was a copy boy was when I figured out that the (poor) Nats were actually about to break the MLB record for best fielding percentage in a season. Back then, I usually got to write about 5 a.m. bike races or boomerang throwing contests, if I got to write about anything at all. Eddie Brinkman, etc.


Boz, Over the weekend, did you notice Jason Werth's facial expression each time he came to the plate? He looks lost, beat down, or depressed -- maybe all 3. He had a number of chances to knock in runs and couldn't get the ball out of the infield.

Werth looked borderline demoralized. I have no idea why they batted him No. 1. The explanation? Oh, come on. No. 2 is credible, I guess. But No. 1? It just looks desperate. And it didn't work. Unless you think 4 runs in 2 games is a lot of scoring.

If Werth hits No. 2 or 3, he'll have Z'man, Morse, Nix and Ramos behind him. He Are Out Of Excuses. The pace for 56 RBI __yes, 56 RBI__ is unacceptable for a mediocre MLB veteran. Much less Werth. I assume he'll get back on track. But it time to step up and break out. He's a streak power hitter who uses patience when he's slumping to keep his OB% up; but he's not a "good hitter." (That's why his career avaerage is .270). It's time to get hot and show the 46 double 30 homer power. Stop this leadoff nonsense. Or what he does best is get on basew. Nonsense. What he does is hit the hell out of the ball when he hits it. He had 75 extra-base-hits last year. Now on pace for 54.

It's going to be fun to watch if this is just an example of reversion to the mean. And I assume it is.

Hi Mr. Boswell. Here's a question no one seems to be addressing in the press: By taking Rendon, and then being coy about what position he will play in the big leagues, are the Nats trying to get some contract leverage over Ryan Zimmerman? Thanks.

No, not at all.

Rendon fell in their laps in a span of 25 minutes. There was no time to "think" about anything. It was just, "Oh, my God, Anthony Rendon just fell to us. GRAB HIM. Figure out the rest of it later."

People in DC don't hear much about college baseball in Texas, much less Rice. His frosh and soph years, this guy was head and shoulders the best college hitter in the country and those guys usually (not always) project.

He'll get well. He'll hit. Does that mean .280 or .315 when he's 24-25-26? Will he have 10-15 homer power or 20-25? That's the difference between a "blah" but useful player and a star

When is "Dirk Nowitzki Day" in Cleveland?


The chat appreciates all contributions of this quality!

I tried not to be too judgmental about "The Decision" and The Big 3 (maturity comes late to certain people), but their mocking Dirk's illness put me over the edge. I was once a decent college athlete and can't imagine playing with a 101 fever, much less playing well. Grow Up Already!

I've never liked James much. All the Wiz memories probably. But I wasn't a knocker either.

The 'mock Dirk' thing, though it was mostly Wade, also put me over the edge into really wanting to see the Heat lose Game Six. But what about James post-game memo to fans!??? Paraphrase: You fans will wake up tomorrow and still be you. Yuck! I'll wake up (with $100M in the bank) and still be wearing underwear that says "King size" on the label.

LeBron still has that attitude from the pool movie The Hutler when the talented kid Fast Eddie loses to Minnesota Fats and says, "Even if you beat me, Fats, I'm still the best." And George C. Scott (as the manager, the devil, the world) says to Fats, "Stay with this kid. He's a loser."

Until you completely accept the verdict of the scoreboard __and build your game, your attitude, your interactions with teammates around that__ you seldom get over the top.

Dirk was smart to duck out of the post-game handshakes. After the Heat have implied that you faked an injury, or exaggerated it, you either have to act phoney or act no-class. So, he avoided both and just celebrated with teammates later.

BTW, Mark Cuban really did himself proud in the post-game. No, I'm not a Cuban guy. He's smart. But a lot of his stuff rubs me the wrong way. But, to whatever degree he really believes it, he nailed it when he said of his own role in the win:  It's an illustration of "people who are a lot smarter than me  than me telling me the right checks to write."

And Cuban is a REALLY smart guy. That should send a message to other owners: Business success doesn't translate to sports executive success. They are almost always different skill sets. Hire somebody who has proved that they have that skill set.

Looks like the Marquis situation will be another Adam Dunn showdown. He's needed, but will they pay him if they can't trade him?

Money won't be the problem. The nats have it and have proved they will spend it. Marquis is saying what all (sane) free agents say, "I want to stay." It's bargaining 101. OTOH, Dunn really WANTED to stay.

Of the slumpers, who will end the year with more RBI, more runs producxed (R + RBI - HR), Dunn or Werth?I expect they will both get back on track. Carl Crawford's #s still look awful, but he's coming around. I just don't think he will EVER be worth the m oney Boston paid him, especially playing in that park that doesn't suit him.

How colossally stupid is it that the NHL begins its regular season before the NBA starts and ends the season after the NBA finishes?

Noted...with emphasis.

I t hink the AL East race is all but over, but at least it's not the Yankees.

Have you looked at the Yankees offensive numbers! Staggering. Partly it's the new ballpark's short fences. But they are a scoring factory. Losing Joba will hurt. But it's not over in the A.L. East or anywhere else.

Hey Tom - love your stuff, have for many years. Anyway, I am encouraged by the youngsters. Espinosa, Desmond, ZMann, Ramos, Morse, and the pitching overall. I think we are on the right track - let Rizzo do his thing talent-wise, let the Lerners spend, and we should be OK in a couple of years. A long way to go, but the right track. Can we beat the big buck teams--NY, Boston, Philly, etc. over time? We'll see. Keep up the good work. Gill in NC

As I mentioned in a column quite a while back, baseball will almost certainly expand to 10 teams in the post-season next year. That fifth team in each league will help franchises like Washington and Baltimore have more realistic hopes. We know that, still in last place, the Nats are ahead of 9 teams in attendance. If they get to .500, where will they stand? What if they are in a wildcard race? What about the year after they make the playoffs for the first time? (I didn't say what year. Could be 2020.)  Those aren't really rhetorical questions. We actually do not know. Towns like Milwaukee have reacted much better than expected to pretty-goods teams. Some towns don't show much jump when things get better. We'll see.

Tom -- How do you think Charles Barkley, Reggie Miller, and Patrick Ewing are feeling today?

That same Giamatti-favorite writer said, in the 1600's, "Envy is a madness that cannot endure the good of others."

I don't think that applies to Charles or Ewing. I don't know Miller at all.

I will add that while "winning the ring" is very important, it is also used as a convenient club __by media and fans__ to beat up great athletes who have ahd wonder careers but didn't win it all. The ring matters. And a lot of them really matter, like Bill Russell. But there is nothing wrong with Dan Marino or Ernie Banks or Ewing.

Body of work. Quality of the life. Both worth more than a ring. Plenty of complete jerks have 'em, trust me.

Good Morning Tom! Which of the top four picks in the draft do you see the Nats signing? Which one or ones do you think are critical for the future? Thx for the chats...

They'll sign Rendon (a Boras client), Meyer and the CF from Miami-Dade CC Goodwin. The fourth pick Purke is a gamble. They are using a 4th-rd pick to try to steal a high pick (by paying above slot) for Purke.

So how do you think Brendan Haywood and DeShawn Stevenson are feeling this morning?

If you haven't, read Mike Wise's excellent column on Game Six. He mentions that Stevenson, Haywood and Butler were chanting, "Worst to First!" after the game.

You were almost psychic about when Desmond's defense would turn around. A month or so ago I suggested that he and Espinosa switch, but you said to wait and see what happens after Desmond's kid arrives. Please feel free to take a giant bow (and a good nose thumbing to your few mindless critics).

The final verdict isn't in yet. But, man, it looks like __even after he makes a few errors__ that Desmond is in the process of turning a huge corner at SS. Some, who have the same stats in the minors and early MLB season, do get their fielding percentage up to >.965. His is now .971 and on pace for 20 errors, down from 35. 

The hitters he most resembles stat-wise at the same age are Orlando Cabrera, Julio Franco (a SS in early years) and Stephen Drew. Not greats, but very good hitters. Probably haven't seeen the best of Desmond at the plate. At 20-25 errors, he's a fine SS. At <20 errors, he's REALLY valuable, even if he hits 7th or 8th.

I'd really like to see the interior defense of Z'man, Desmond, Espinosa, Morse and Ramos/Pudge stay healthy and together for a while. It'd be pretty! Hairston made a great defensive play in the 9th yesterday and has done a nice decent job, along with Cora, while Z'man has been out. You can't ask them to be hitters. They copntributed what they had, like Cora;s three hits yesterday.

Is Jordan Zimmermann really rounding into becoming 1A with Strasburg as a true pitching ace?

Sure looks like it, doesn't it. Of course, getting bacxk-to-back starts in those huge parks in SF and Sd against pathetric offenses distorts it some __he gave up one run in 14 IPs in those games.

But in his last six starts he has a 2.04 ERA with 37 Ks in 39.2 innings and only seven walks. He really trusted his fastball in SD. As everybody noted as soon as they saw him in '09, he's not only fast (92-to-95, touches 96) but also sneaky fast. In four at bats on Sunday, he threw all fastballs __22 fastballs in all. The results, K, K, F4-6, 8. The more they saw it, the more they tightened up trying to "get to it" and the more he overpowered them. (But it was the Pads.) 

But feel free to be excited. Both Z'mann and Stras will only appreciate good times all the more after TJ surgery which, despite the high recovery rate, still scares any young pitcher almost to death. You see your career flash in front of your eyes.

Hi Boz, my friend and I have our friendly rivalry between that "Balmer" team and the Nats. The teams are tied for wins, but i noticed the Nats have played 12 fewer home games than the Os. Upon further review, the Nats have played fewer home games (26) than anyone but the Twins (25). Is there any history of teams that have struggled with a road-heavy start to the season making a remarkable bounce later on? Or with about 60% of the Nats remaining games being home games, should I expect only about what they've done so far at home (14-12)?

Both Nats and O's fans have reason to be happy going into their 2nd meeting this weekend. How stupid was it to have this series opposite the U.S. Open? Nobody's fault. I asked around. All teams ask for 5 or 6 "breaks" in scheduling but only get one or two of them.

Lots of home games should help Nats. Also, the odds are now balancing out and they are winning more one and two-run games. The O's really have two fine top-of-the-rotation arms in Matusz and Britton, though neither is a Strasburg. I still change my mind about Arrieta every time I see him. The O's problem is that they don't have nearly as many long-term pieces that are a solution to the puzzle. Vlad and D Lee will go. But Manny Machado (SS, No. 3 overall draft pick last year) has a .924 OPS in the Sally League for Delaware, the same league Harper is in. 

The Nats have a hard time with St. Louis and Maya, against Pujols, etc., doesn't look like a great way to start a homestand. But this could be a nice chunk of the season for them w 19 home games before the All-Star break.

Is the Bryce Harper to Larry Walker a good comparison. If Harper ends his career with numbers comparable to Walker, would that be a disappointment?

Larry Walker!!!!? The guy won batting titles hitting .350, .363 and .379! Okay, Colorado. Harper doesn't have to be as good as Walker (a superior OF) to be a success.

If he's as good as David Justice __ROY, three-time All-Star, once hit 40 homers, career 305 homers, .878 OPS and 3 AS teams__ I'd call that a big success.

People, this kid hasn't gotten out of A-Ball. He rubs some people the wrong way. He doesn't hit lefties with good breaking balls. Will he be patient enough at higher levels or too anxious to hit the next 450-foot bomb and chase too much? It's the COMMAND, not the stuff that really improves as you go up the ladder. How will he cope with that as he goes up the ladder? Lotta talent, but raw in other areas. Just root for him to be good. Leave "great" to the future.

I am as optimistic as anyone about the Nats but I am surprised everyone seems to think Lannan is part of the solution. He's a hardworking plugger but nothing special. (Is he a good guy? I can't remember.) I wouldn't be surprised to see Lannan gone either.

Okay, I'm a hopeless case. I studied Lannan over the weekend in as much depth as I know how to study any pitcher. After 107 MLB starts __a significant sample__ he has a 4.04 ERA but a 32-43 record.

Is he really an average MLB starter, and thus very useful 4th-5th starter, as his ERA would imply? Or does his high Whip (1.411 career) and poor W/K ratio mena he's a low-stuff guy whose record really tells the ttuth: lucky to be in a MLB rotation.

The correct answer is "A." I''m positive. His run suppirt his whole career has been abysmal __3.6 runs per nine innings pityched vs the MLB norm of 4.6. Think about that: 3.6 vs 4.6! You can hardly find anybody over a four-year period who has been supported that badly. Also, this is the first year he's had a good defense __and his ERA has suddenly dropped to the 3.60's. Connected? A pitch-to-contyact guy who is great at getting DPs. He has "converted" 16% of all GIDP "situations" __far higher than the league norm of 11%. That means he's gotten about 25 more GIDPs in his career than you'd expect.

What does that MEAN? I have a method to adjust WHIP for GIDP which adds an out and subtracts a runner from the bases. Lannan's real "adjusted WHIP" should be about 1.333. That, to me, explains why his ERA is 4.04, not 4.70 like the FanGraphs and FIP stats predict. They are missing a key factor. Also, his GO/AO ratio of 1.70 vs a MLB norm of 1.07 is really excellent. If you con sistently get that many ground balls __and he has for 107 starts__ then your BABIP will be better than normal and you'll get a ton of GIDP.

Oh, Goid, I didn't really just write that, did I? Just pretend I'm the guy quoting the Maxims of La Rochefoucauld, not the stat dweeb.

Sign Lannan to an extension if he keeps this up another six-eight weeks. Yeah, make him do it a little longer. Don't know why. I just feel that way. He's durable. Who knows why? But he ius. He's your 4th or 5th starter.     

I think the Heat can be a great lesson for the Phillies fans. Before the NBA season, The Trio (LeBron, Wade, Boush) were exalted, celebrated and raised to the highest pedestal. The Heat knew that they were going to win the ring this year with these three paying together. And then, they didn't win. Before the MLB season, everyone (including Phillies fans) was exalting the Four Aces and how these lights-out guys are going to return the World Championship to Philly and shut down all the other teams (the SI cover was "No Hitters" with the Four Aces). I said "So the Phillies are going to go 129-33, right?" (i.e., winning 80% of their games). Well, the aces all have losses. Yes, the Phillies have the best record right now, and they could win the WS this year (g-d forbid!) but maybe the fans should remember this NBA finals and remember that the games still have to be played and that anything can happen.

Wow, nice comparison!

Remember LeBron when asked how many NBA titles they would win and he said, "Not 5, Not 6, Not 7..."

Only seen that level of hubris __before winning anything__ once before. When Nicklaus won the '86 Masters, they asked Norman how he felt and he said __wish I could remember exactly__ that he was happy for Jack and that he'd win a whole bunch of greeen coats. Wish I could remember the number. My jaw dropped. The "loser" sign went up over his head in my mind. And he lived down to that estimate of how he'd perform in the clutch. "We promise according to our hopes and perform according to our fears." Norman had plenty of those. How about the Phillies? Don't know. Not many, I suspect. Pretty tough bunch. But they are "just another 95-100-win team." That doesn't ice 3-4-5 World Series crowns for you.

Boz, I followed the Orioles religiously for decades before becoming a Nats fan and, without sounding pompous, I think that gives me a better perpsective than many of the people who write to you here or take part in the Nats Journal. You hear a lot of "fire the manager" and "fire the coach" and "dump that guy" and "send him back to the minors." In reality, baseball requires a blend of patience, prudence and decisiveness. You need to know when to do nothing, when to make a small but shrewd move and when to make the big move. Given the lackluster effort by the Nats front office in the first few years, I understand why fans get frustrated but don't you think a lot of Nats fans don't understand this?

Good observations. Isn't hindsight wonderful! The Nats certainly wasted the Bowden years. Not entirely. Z'man and a few others are his. He got on the scene before the Lerners ever got the team, made the "bet" that they would be the winning group and was tight with them. He had their ear. How'd that work out for 'em?

In your time covering Washington sports, have you ever met a better prep coarch that Sleepy?

I covered preps for six years and had plenty of contact w prep coaches after that. I'm biased having played for him. I never met one better. What seperated him was that he was a good enough football coach that West Virginia wanted him to be their head FB coach and a good enough basketball coach that Dean Smith wanted him to come to UNC to be his head assistant. He had Top 10 teams in the DC area with a school that had a graduating classw of 50-55. His FB teams had winning seasons 29 of 32 years. (And I was one of his QBs on two of the years when he was 4-5 and 4-5. The year after he was rid of my class, the team went undefeated and No. 5 in the whole D.C. area. How did those guys get so good as soon as we were gone?) Like his friend Morgan W at DeMatha, Sleepy had a "calling" as a HS coach. I'm sure glad he did.

Well, enough St. Stephens and St. Agnes School talk! Sleepy, a three-sport star at St. John's, who got his nickname from being picked off 1st when he was playing in the minors for the Red Sox, would have been in heaven this week. The Mavs played his find of smart team basketball. And he'd have been at Congressional every day! Saw his daughters recently. Good memories.

But all the new memories are waiting out at Congressional this week.

I'm rooting for the guys with the near-miss albatrosses around their necks. Duistin Johnson (82 in the final round of the '10 U.S. Open when a 76 would have won). Rory mcIlroy who shot 80 on Sunday this year when he had a chance to win the Masters. Lee Westwood who is 0-for-38 in majors and, at 38, needs to get it done. He was a terrible major-championship player __until the last couple of years. Now, he's right in it time after time but can't get over. Also, Luke Donald who's 0-for-21 in majors and underrated. Finally, after all his 2nd place finishes in the U.S. Open, I'll ever root for a cold Phil Mickelson who hasn't played well since January.

It's wide "Open." I hope were talking about it next Monday (and not walking around a playoff with 800 spectators.) Cheers!

ESPN's MLB Rumors page mentions Clippard's name being tossed around in trade talks. Would it be smart to trade him with his value now high, or is he a building block the team should hang onto?

Building block.

I kind of like Harper's cockiness, yes he is only 18. But DC has not had an athlete with any swagger since Riggo.

Arenas, Portis...

Lets not go that way

The USGA does a great job helping people with mobility issues enjoy the US Open. Folks who have trouble walking can take a courtesy cart to far reaches of the course. I made use of this service and found a bleacher adjacent to both a tee and a green and just parked myself for five hours. For fans who use a wheelchair, there are also (very good) designated areas.

Excellent info. Thanks.

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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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