Ask Boswell

Sep 12, 2011

Washington Post Sports Columnist Tom Boswell answered your questions about Stephen Strasburg's return, the rest of the Nationals' team, the Redskins' upcoming opener, the rest of D.C. sports and more.

Past Ask Boswell chats

the 'Skins actually looked like a football team. Gives one hope...

Ahhhh, hope.

Lets get rolling. Good thing there’s nothing to talk about this morning!

*The Redskins not only whipped the Giants, 28-14, but showed bright points of light all over the field, not just Rex Grossman’s 300-yard passing day against the Giants beaten-up defense. Ryan Kerrigan (deflection-interception-TD) who may be a bookend for Brian Orakpo (blocked FG), Fred Davis now compliments Chris Cooley as a twin-tight-end deep threat and Tim Hightower is now an all-purpose all-down (worn out?) running back.

*The Ravens destroyed the Steelers, 35-7. Are they that good? Did the Redskins pre-season domination of the Steelers defensive starters in the first half of their exhibition give us a clue? And if the Ravens are that good, does it say good things about the Skins that they were able to play evenly with the Ravens starters in their exhibition in Baltimore? Seems like it should.

*Check out the worried looks on Nationals faces as Stephen Strasburg’s appeared to lose 2-to-3 m.p.h. (or about two feet) off all his pitches in his second start. Should he be shut down for the season and miss his last three starts, two of them at home. That’s the way I’m leaning right now. I may change my mind, but, last year, Strasburg had a shoulder issue ("couldn’t get loose") and it ended up looking like a warning. After a 15-day DL trip, he came back and blew out his elbow. If you let him keep pitching now, will it be a case of Stupid Would You Feel if he hurt his shoulder?

*Serena Williams melted down in the U.S. Open final when she became so angry at "bad" calls that she may have obsessed about that more than the match at hand.

*The Red Sox are collapsing, the Red Sox are collapsing. Well, their lead is down to 3 1/2 games after being swept by Tampa Bay and David Ortiz said, "Hell, yeah, you’ve got to panic." Now the Rays __how can they lose so many players and still restrock so fast__ play the Orioles next. For once, since I’m crazy about the Rays, I’d just as soon see the Birds lose a few. They’ve had 140 games to win.

*And Donovan McNabb __nice first start in Minnesota: A total of 35 yards on 7-for-15 passing. "I could sit here and make excuses up," he said. Pretty soon, that might not be a bad idea.

Congrats to the skins for a gutty performance, especially by the defense. Every time Rex drops back and lobs the ball I hold my breath, but today it worked. Do you think he has enough arm to be a winner here? And what's going on with Trent Williams? He's a long way from being a top-flight tackle - Am I right or wrong? But a win is a win, and I am ecstatic to be 1-0. Gill in NC

Rex has enough arm when his feet are planted or when he's scrambling and has his momentum going forward __like his long bomb on a scramble to his left that almost gained 50 yards to Armstrong in the second quarter. But when he throws off his back foot __and Grossman does it more than most QBs__ his throws are especially weak. That were his "normal" size __rather than being 6-5, 230, shows up

His biggest problem, however, is still fumbling when hit in the pocket. Yesterday was his FIFTH lost fumble in just four Redskin starts. That's always been his M.O. __but not THAT badly.

That raises the core question. Flaws and all, he looks crisp in the Shanahan offense for extended periods. He's a streak QB. All are, but Rex more so. Do those periods when he "feels it" and roars down the field on quick long drives outweigh his history of turnovers on bad judgments, back-foot throws and fumbles?

He probably wants to know the answer as much as you do.

Trent Williams hasn't been dominant yet. In pre-season, he looked worrisome at times. Lots of talent. But time to show a little more of it. Not a problem. But I watched the Giants tape over again late last night and he caught my eye too often __not for good things. Plan to watch it again just to focus on every play for Williams and Kerrigan.


Alll related: If Trent had actually showed up to play, and Armstrong had caught some of those drops, Rexy would have had about 500 yards passing. Couple that with McNabb's sorry showing, Shanahan is on his way to shutting people up about his decision to go with Rex.

Rex missed two deep throws that were definitely there for huge gains. Shanahan mentioned that they didn't hit "everything that was there." On the other hand, Grossman took a lot of hits as he threw, not just the four sacks. He probably did a good job of only having one turnover.

But you're riught, he probably had a chance __just a chance__ at a 400-yard game.

Almost as good as the first game of Cam Newton's career!!! Okay, I never saw 422 yards coming. They used a lot of max-protect and apparently only sent out 1, 2 or 3 receivers on some patterns. But who cares! What a start.   

That's not funny, that's sick. He's veering perilously close to Milton Bradley territory. I hope he gets help soon, before he wears out his welcome yet again.

Morgan is very hard to figure. Almost nobody ever takes offense at anything I say to them in a lcoker room. I've been doing it all my life. I know how to aggitate or banter or whatever you call it. Morgan was so defensive, so quick to look for negative spin on anything I said __a unique experience. I don't know if he "needs help." That's very strong. But he certainly reacts too strongly sometimes.

The Nyjer-Albert flap goes back to his Nats days. It's a bad sign to pick Pujols as somebody you want to call names. That won't go away.  

Thank goodness. How arrogant to sue over an article you haven't even read! What a jerk.

That was a disaster.

In my opinion, it's also unfair that the City Paper still had to pay its legal fees, which went well beyond the $34K that the public donated to help them.

Dan has a coach and a GM. Now, he just needs to step waaaaaay back and not have any more smart ideas for a long time. 

For me, the most memorable line in the Snyder suit was the one that said: "Mr. Snyder has more than sufficient means to protect his reputation."

"Means," yes.

But enough "common sense?" That's another question.

As I've said many times, in an owner drives you crazy, make your evaluation of him/her and then move on. If you care about the team, watch the team __to the degree you can__ without spoiling the experience by obsessing about the owner.

This season will be an excellent opportunity to see if that can work.


Chris Marrerro seems to be the real deal in terms of hitting - assuming he gets a little more power than he's shown - but his fielding is Dunn-esque to put it kindly. Do you see him as a future Nat or a piece to trade to the AL where he can DH?

You have the problem nailed. He can hit, doesn't strike out much (compared to other Nats) and her has doubles power. But, even in the minors, he only shoped 12-15 homer power. So, even if he hit .280 or a bit more, but with a dozen homers, can you justify a first baseman with a poor glove at that stat level? He's not as bad on D as he looked his first few games when he was nervous. A good first baseman makes that play to finish the 5-4-3 TRIPLE PLAY in Lannan's next-to-last start.

He should be proud that he really looks like a big-league hitter. Not a star, but a big leaguer. Maybe he's shown enough to be part of a trade. Right now, there's no way he can play ahead of LaRoche who's had 25 homers almost every year when healthy with a fabulous glove. And LaRoche didn't K much this year. Also, Morse is far better at 1st base __where he's more than adeqaute__ than LF where you really fret on every line drive. Had to laugh when F.P. __good guy, plenty of good "inside" points to make__ said that Morse was a gold glove or near-gold glove 1st baseman. Tie that man to his chair! Morse makes some nice plays. But he's no LaRoche.

I was pretty down on the Shanahans last year. After looking like they had swiped a competent QB from a division rival, things quickly went downhill, getting into a distracting standoff with Haynesworth that would hang over the team all year, and eventually embarassing/benching/alienating their QB and running him out of town, with no credible backup plan. Then they had the worst QB controversy in history (Rex vs. Beck), before incredibly giving the job to Grossman despite praising Beck to the high heavens all year. I thought these guys were completely incompetent! But without letting one win over the hapless and depleted Giants get my hopes all up, it looks like the incompetence of the Shanahans might begin and end with having gotten McNabb in the first place. This is the fifth game in a row that the team looked competent and not outmatched (as they so often were during the Zorn "era")...and indeed this one counted! And they actually made the OTHER team look outmatched.'s hoping this isn't just an illusion.

Thanks. I agree with several of those points, especially the insight that, except for the McNabb-for-the-Shanny-system blunder, a lot of the rest of the problems are minor or water now under the bridge.

I try to point out my mistakes here __like saying in May that the O's young pitchers might look better than the Nats!. But sometimes you get one right __and my column after the LAST game of last season looks pretty perfect in hingsight about '10 really being about hard-to-see progress, restored sanity and how the year, for all it's dark comedy, was really a step in the right direction.

Okay, this is utterly shameless, but I'll link it. I rpomise to call up a sinker the next chance i get. That shouldn't take long!


I think the Giants would have had a better chance at winning the game if Coughlin didn't spend most of the game yelling at the coaches, but coaching instead.

I wish I'd had room in the column to do verbatim exerts from Coughlin's post-game remarks __"we looks disorganized...unacceptable...terrible execution...performance on 3rd down was awful." Etc.

He only forgot one thing. He never mentioned the word "Redskins."

It was just the Giants screwing up out there with no other team on the field! One of the pleasures __rare for the Redskins__ is getting Coughlin's goat. The photo of the post-game handshake between Coughlin and Shanahan was on our web-site at one point. Just fabulous. The least sincere exchange of smiles between two football loons in the history of the NFL. Like "look at this huge fake smile on my face and just IMAGINE HOW I REALLY FEEL ABOUT YOU."

Tom, seems like on almost every 3rd down the Giants sent 5-6 defenders and the Skins were never ready. Is that how you saw it, and what should they do in the upcoming games?

Some of us were surprised they didn't bring more pressure early because of Rex's history. But he started cold __0-for-4 the first two non-drives. So, what's the rush (so to speak). And they were probably scared, with so many injuries and a supposedly weak secondary, that they'd get burned deep.

A lot of teams will try to storm the Skins. It's good to have two QBs because, even if Rex isn't actually injured, he's going to take a beating and there may be points when you want Beck just because he's in one piece and not semi-shell shocked. But Rex stood in there quite well, took a couple of big sacks without exposing the ball. 

Give Hightower big (hidden) props for his TD-saving tackle after Michael Boley picked up Rex's fumble and started rumbling goalward. Hightower was very alert, anticipated what might happen and ran the play down. If he'd hesittated one second, he'd have gotten shielded by a Giant defender-turned-blocker and it would have been an easy score to tie the game 21-21. Then it might have been a different game. Hard to "finish" __the big subtext of this game__ when you get an intercept-return-TD then cancel it if you suffer a  fumble-return-TD  

You gotta like how the Skins stayed tough after falling behind early, took some sacks, and the turnover, no?

Good point. Trailed 7-0 and 14-7. Many said the Skins wouldn't be able to play from behind. That's not true. When Rex is hot, he can rip off long drives: 10 plays-61 yards, 11 plays 66 yards, 5 plays 80 yards and 10 plays 70 yards. Those are also excellent possession drives. Skins won time of possession 32:26 to 27:24.

The Grossman problem is not his ceiling. That is high enough. The problem is his BASEMENT. How low is it? And how often will he and his turnovers end up there.

QBs tend to protect the ball better as they age. Grossman is 31. He sure didn't last year __eight turnovers in 3+ games. But lets wait. Remember the year Mark Rypien fumbled every time somebody breathed on him. He worked on it and got much better the next year.

Looked great, could be even better with L. Landry. Seems like the personnel matches the scheme this year.

They really need Landry because Reed Doughty was close __but not close enough__ to almost every big play the Giants made. He bit on the pattern when Nicks gained 68 yards to the two. Doughty works hard, plays smart, but he's just limited in talent. And every team is going to put a circle around him until LaRon gets back.

Now about those Landry tweets! That's the old Portis/Haynesworth discipline problem again. Somebody shred his twitter rights. NOW. If I ever see one more out of him, I'll wonder a little about Shanny. He didn't throw the Skins staff under the bus just once, but twice. Yes, he said a big "sorry." Shanny must have made him wish he'd never heard the "tweet." It's the Won't Happen Again Part that really matters.

Friday the MASN announcers said that Clippard had followed Storen only twice before. And Saturday they jokingly remarked that Storen had set up for Clippard. How did it happen that those two, who are best friends & share a condo, are paired so much, and how did Clippard become the set-up man and Storen the closer? (I do realize that Clip was Capps' set up man last year.)

Clippard is older and more comfortable with pitching two innings at a time, when needed. Also, Storen arrived as a closer. C;ippard's never had the role. Also, Clippard is so valuable you don't want to change what he does unless you have a very good reason. Besides, it's often the 8th inning, not the 9th, when the heart of the other team's order comes to bat. So Clip often gets the tougher outs. ESPECIALLY because the Nats have won so many low-scoring games this year. Think about it: In a 2-1 or 3-2 game, the losing team often only sends 34-35-36 men to the plate. So it's the 8th inning when you may see No. 3-4-5 or No. 4-5-6. And, in such games, Clippard gets them. 

Just kidding, but you gotta like the Skins ability to play all 60 minutes yesterday.

Their first 11 games are relatively "easy." (Ha!) The last five get very tough. But there's a real chance that they get on a run and make a lot of pundits look bad. Man, Troy Aikman had his Rex Is Toast speach all ready yesterday. Listening to the tape again, I thought, "Oh, he's just waiting to kill this guy." Then he had to make nice.

Too bad. Troy is an ex-Cowboy, right? I forget.

Romo is so you-think-this-song-is-about-you. Nice choke against the Jets. Fumble at the goal line with a seven-point lead. Then throw an unnecessary gift pick to set up the Jets game-winning FG. If Grossman or Beck had done the same things, the gentle townspeople of the D.C. metro area would be handing out the pitchforks and torches this a.m. 

Even though he wasn't special yesterday, they stayed with him, which was encouraging. He seemed best running straight ahead in the 4th quarter.

They need to trust Torain, too, assuming he's healthy. They probably didn't want to risk using a guy at RB who was coming off an injury that could lead to a fumble  __not in the Opener anyway.

But it can't just be Hightower all season. Gotta see Helu, too. But Hightower can run inside, run outside, really catch the ball well AND pass block. I'm not putting him in Canton. Arizona didn't keep him. (Yeah, yeah, fumbling.) But he looks good in a lot of areas. 

One writer in Minnesota wrote that McNabb had less yards passing in the second half of yesterdays game than there are Kardashian sisters. You seemed to take an "it's everybody else's fault" approach to McNabb's performance last year. Based on the Eagles benching him twice and trading him, his performance last year and yesterday (with good weapons around him), do you still stand by your analysis of McNabb from last year's football season?

McNabb's QB rating last year (77.1) was just bad enough to think his skills might be eroding. And that's the way he looked to the eye, too. Maybe still good enough, but in the wrong offense. Maybe the eagles got rid of him too soon. I'm not going to worry about having too much confidence in a QB with McNabb's record of winning.

And, even last year, a lousy one for him, he turned the ball over by interception and fumble 16 times in 13 games while Grossman turned it over eight times in three games plus a fumble.The Skins huge problem last year was their next-to-last defense. Their offense __with McvNabb__ was just below middle of the pack. Not good. But McNabb did win five games with a team that lost 12 the year before.

But you're right, one game into '11, McNabb's running short of chances. This nis an example of: Oooops, probably gave McNabb too much credit. I wonder if we'll ever find out how much Snyder's enthusiasm for getting McNabb played a role. He told me that when he first heard about the trade he was at a party and said, "Are you kidsding me? Don't joke about that!!!" Or some such remark. Then he said he was as happy as a little kid. 

On Wall Street, they say it's safer to be wrong in a crowd. Plenty were wrong together on McNabb, including Shanny.

Here's what amazes me. There is a LOOOONG list of distingusihed QBs who were givcen up on at about the same age as McNabb. Almost all of them have plenty of good-to-great years, from Tarkenton to Favre. And Sonny Jurgensen was one of them.

But the Skins have gone that path three times in the last 20 years and ended up with: Jeff George, Mark Brunell and McNabb. Thanks a lot, gods of football.

3-4, 4-3, 46 defense..whatever. It's clear to me that when you put Kerrigan and Orakpo on the line as DE's, good things happen for the Skins. Why must we force these natural DE's to be linebackers?

Because OLBs who are big, fast and violent are the key to the 3-4. When you've got 'em, they raise constant hell. Physically, Orakpo and Kerrigan are monsters, but also trim and fast. Kerrigan got beaten once in coverage yesterday, but only once. At OLB, they can rush the passer plenty but also be more destructive all over the field. The Skins are using them correctly, imo. In fact, they'll be the heart of the defense __if it works the way they plan.

Tom, Any chance Rizzo leaves for the Cubs job and if so where does the Nationals look for a replacement?

The Nats have Roy Clark who could do the job very well, I assume. He was groomed for the spot in Atlanta, it seemed. But Frank Wren got there after Angelos ran him out of town and worked out well. But Clark ran those drafts.

However, you don't want Rizzo leaving. The Nats should keep a close eye. The further you are from Washington, the better reviews he gets. It's widely known that he didn't want Dunn back. No hostility. Just hated a bad defensive 1st baseman, though he might get heavier as he got older. But he never spotted this historicially awful year. BUT in baseball he gets graded on escaping Dunn and finding Morse (for Langerhans) just as much (almost)  as he's under the gun for Wewrth.

Okay, this'll make some of you crazy. At you'll find the WAR (wins above replacement) for every player and they also translate it into how much salary a player deserves for his performance: his "worth."

THIS season, fangraphs (and it's widely respected, though less by me than most) says that Werth has been worth $12.1M to the Nats. That's a pace for $13.6M by the end of the season. Werth's contract this year, inclduing a $4M bonus, is only $14M!!!

So, go on, be sure to tell a friend that Werth has earned his salary __this year.

Almost all teams have similar methods for figuring out WAR, or an equivalent, and trying to match their salary structure to it. If Werth plays the next three years the way he's played since the AS break, then has years in '15-'16-'17 like this year, a lot of those methodologies are going to say he was worth close to $120M.

That'll make a lot of folks want to go to WAR.

In think about Rizzo, remember that he's rebuilt an awful bullpen, gotten contract done with Boras for Strasburg, Harper and rendon, among others. And gotten several above-slot players drafted and signed. Also, two Tommy John surgeries are, so far, working out well under his watch. And when Riggleman quit __a black eye for Rizzo__ he had Johnson and Boone in house to step in.

All those things will jack up your GM stock. Well save a list of negative stuff for a later chat.

One of his BIG calls will come in the next few days. Do you let Strasburg have those two or three more starts __the next two at home?

Strasburg said he felt just fine yesterday and was just hitting his stride when they took him out after 57 pitches after three innings. That is not what I saw. He was rolling bhis shoulders, several times, as if to get loose. In the second inning __after a 31-pitch first inning and a quick 7-pitch first by the Nats__ he looked gassed in the 2nd inning and every fastball was 92-to-95. McCatty went to the m0und to ask if he was "okay." You could see SS says, "Yes. I feel fine."

When you make a mound visit in the second inning, how can that be good? What's to be gained if he pitches 10 or 15 more innings? If you really want more IPs, then there's still the Arizona Fall League.

Strasburg wants to pitch. He doesn't want to be babied. And he's not going to be happy if he's shut down. He'll be a gentleman. But he won't be happy __at all.

I'm going to do some thinking, some calling medical people on this. My gut right now is: Shut him down. I may change my mind. But, for 35 years, I've seen pitchers who inexplicably lose a few miles off their fastball in one zstart have a major shoulder injury within a few starts. No, not all the time.

Last year, in all 12 starts, Strasburg's fastball had almost IDENTICAL velocity. There were ZERO outlier games with less velocity. Yesterday was an outlier. I don't like seeing that.

Ok My problem is .....watching the Jets/Cowboys game who both have average QBs at best from what I saw make worse mistakes than Grossman never get slammed like Grossman. I mean Romo chokes whenever he gets the chance (check last nights fumble and Int). And Sanchez who I never liked anyway glad the Redskins never traded up to get that guy. I mean it seems EVERYONE wants Rex to fail and everyone else gets talked up when they do the the same or worse. Aikman sounded like he could not wait for Rex to make a mistake. Little help here Redskin fan living in New Hampshire

Thanks for underlining a point I was making earlier.

If you were planning a trip to Viera to check out the Nationals in spring training which week would you choose? Next to last week? Last week? Thanks.

I love the first week of games. You get to see the regulars for a few innings but also the young kids and hot prospects __like Peacock and Milone and Lombardozzi next spring__ who are really trying to make the club.

Also, the weather in D.C. is usually awful. By the last week in March, you might be exchanging decent weather in DC for one of those windy almost-chilly weeks in Viera.

Lost in the win amid fantastic play by the defense and 28 points was that the receivers were getting open by 10 yards. This is, of course, fantastic and not seen often in Washington. What worried me was that Rex would often throw the ball at the feet of his receiver, or far over their heads, causing them to break stride and get tackled almost immediately. While he had a good statistical day, I think the film will show that he could have done much better if his throws had been more on target.

So glad you brought this up. This is a huge compliment to the Shanahans System. When Joe Gibbs first arrived, especially on crucial downs, you saw plays work by enormous margins. Yopu couldn't screw them up iof you tried. THIS IS COACHING. These are the midnight oil plays. And the Skins had multiple receivers wide open on some plays yesterday. That's one thing that much better AT the game __you can see the whole pass pattern. Once, Grossman looked away from Moss just as he broke open deep, but completed a pass to a wide open receiver on the OTHER side.

At all levels of football, the play that CAN'T be messed up is the play that tells you that the scheme, the system and the coach are doing the winning as much or more than the players. watching the tape last night, on the 3rd down plays, time and again the Redskins had the right play for the right spot. The Midnight Oil Plays. 

I know its early, but can I please have the left side back? I promise, I'm healthy...

Only if you stop holding on the right side. (First quarter yesterday.)

You've had a couple of weeks to watch them as well as Strasburg's two starts. Have you seen enough to convince you all the hype about the new wave of young talent having an effect beginning next year is true? Or is 2013 more likely the year we make the significant leap?

Milone may be a AAAA pitcher. Too early to know. Looks very calm. That's the bad news, because a lot of hitters are taking very confident swings at pitches that look like he's putting them right where he wants them. Excellent changeup. 

Really looking forward to seeing Peacock. He was throwing 95 in Strasburg's first start, seems to have a sharp curve and a good changeup. But at the MLB level, it's the command of those pitches that seperates you.

Yesterday in the 3rd inning, the Houston pitcher threw 94 mph fastballs to Ankiel, Zimmerman and Marrero. Result: home run to left-center field, home run to centerfield and double off the LF wall.

Back to rating the kids __so far. Lombardozzi has picked a bad time to hit a slump. I assume it's a slump. He stands on top of the plate. So, naturally, they started pounding him inside with two-seamers and hard breaking balls at his hands. He keeps fouling them off and getting behind in counts or grounding out weakly to the right side. They show him the fastball away but go soft and low when they want to get him. It can't be that simple. He ripped a couple of balls in his early at bats. Now he looks like he's pressing. Nice fluid infielder.

Last year, Espinosa and Ramos announced themselves very loudly and, as rookies, have follwoed up by winning jobs, presumably for years. Ramos has hit very well after a slow start. Espinosa, if he will just hit to the opposite field more __especially slicing balls into the corners__ will fix half of his K problems. Yesterday, =7 and =9. But it was clear quickly that they were important players. This year, it may be Peacock. Lombardozzi and Milone, so far, look a level lower than Espoy, Ramos, JZim in the past. And Marrero seems in-between __good hitter, but possibly no real defensive position. They've still got 2 1/2 weeks to show more.

The past weekend was the end of another losing period (the win yesterday was what should have happened the previous two games ) that has been a common theme for the Nats going back to 2005. I feel that the trappings of a losing team still surround the team and the Front Office seems to do little to address these issues and this is why promise of improvement is stopped at the end of each season. Do you agree that winning success in a baseball organization is more then just the act of finding players. Do you know if the FO thinks the world that surrounds the team is fine or are they concerned to try and address issues, from the quality of their own medias treatment to the fan experience at the park.

Once you get away from the core baseball people __front office, scouts, manger, coaches__ the overall quality of the Nationals operation falls off quickly, imo. And one former executive certainly felt the same way and it drove him crazy. Go first class, steal somebody good from somebody else or go for a highly qualified, more expensive person __or do a make-do hire? In too many parts of the Nats operation __game-day experience, concessions, the DETAILS, the Nats aren't there yet. And it's important that they realize it.

It's no longer a culture of losing. But a culture of oh-that's-good-enough isn't much to brag about either.

There's a lot of talent arriving and the window could be open for the Nats for several years. Shape up the rest of the operation. They STILL haven't done anything about the appearnace of anything associated with the Rcok and Gravel nightmare behind home plate. Make this happen. Somehow. It's been four years. It's hideous. Just an example.

I know it s a great day after the Skins and Nats both won. But I've got to ask....what has been learned by going with Davey instead of somebody on the staff that might have been right for the long term? Maybe Bo Porter? Not a knock against Davey's rich experience or past accomplishments. But he's not the answer. Keep him in the Org though.

I wrote a could of weeks ago that Rizzo was very enthusiastic about the job Johnson was doing and didn't mind saying it. That's a big tip off that, at that time, Johnson looked like the '12 manager. Of course, they do a search and weigh their options. But on-the-job performance is a huge factor.

At this point, I think they should be open-minded and look at all their options. FWIW, that's what Davey thinks, too. "My plate is full," he said. "Next year is the last thing I'm thinking about."

He's done a lot to mentor individual players. As I wrote in an early editon of the paper on the Strasburg return game, I thought it was bad managing to bring Peacock in for his MLB debut when he did. I saw yesterday that Davey mentioned that he thought it was a mistake, too. He's very flexible and self-critical. It's still going to be very tough to get anybody better than Davey Johnson.

Tom, Year after year FOX gives Troy Aikman the color job for the Redskin games and every year we hear his biased bashing of the Redskins. Why does he keep getting the games?

Life is unfair.

Fans would never a huge pitcure of Lavar right under the TV booth, would they?

I am fine with Davey Johnson's decision to pull Strasburg after 3 innings yesterday given his relatively high pitch count and long wait during the Nats half of the 3rd. But it raises the question in my mind of how many innings will he be limited to next season? I have heard that they may have him pitch in the Fall Instructional League; how will that effect his innings limit for next season?

It has an influence. But how much different can a couple of extra starts __and maybe 10 innings__ really make?

I'm not a football fan myself, but many of my colleagues are. It's night and day when the Redskjins and Ravens lost, and when they win. Today, of course, the mood is totally jubillant. I hope they meet in the Super Bowl as my working environment will be so much more pleawsant!

You've still got a much better chance of that happening in the case of the Ravens.  Sorry 'bout that.

After Gano's missed field goal I thought "Here we go again," but this game saw the Redskins make (or luck into) several of those "hidden plays" that winning teams get and the Redskins have not had in the past . Specifically the 15 yard late hit penalty that gave the Redskins a first down (usually Landry is the one getting the penalty) and Hightower's tackle after Rex's fumble proved to be big as the FG was blocked. All I want is to be able to look forward to the next game with anticipation rather than dread. So far, so good!

The "anticipation not dread" stage has almost been reached. Almost. Give it a few more weeks.

Why did you drop the great line in your column last week about Davey Johnson havng a Joe Gibbs moment when he put Peacock in the middle of the inning with Mat Kemp coming?

Got a bunch of good post-game quotes so I used them in the later editions of the column. You still have to "write to your space" and something had to go. That didn't fit the general theme of the column. But I gave Davey grief at the press confrerence about it and mentioned the line about "That would have been bad managing in 1911" to Ryan Z. He didn't want to laugh, but did.

Davey is open to criticism or at least critical discussion. But he'll also say, "No, YOU are wrong." I like that.    

What were you doing on this date? As a school aged Sox fan, I was home early from school to watch the Red Sox blow a 14 game lead in a one game playoff against the hated Yanks (with my hero Yaz popping out to end the season). With Boston looking to cough up another big playoff lead (this one for the wildcard), what are the worst end of year collapses in baseball in your memory?

I was in the press box at fenway that day. Best game I'd ever seen and, maybe up until that point, the best game ever played in baseball history __because it had a 75-year build up. I keep three of my old score books in my office __the '86 World Series (Bucker), the '04 ALCS (Grady Little) and the '01 World Series (!!!). I threw away my score sheets from the '75 Carlton Fisk Game Six home run and the '78 Dent game. What a dope. 

Aren't you being a little alarmist about Strasburg? I agree we need to be prudent, but didn't he say he was going to back off the heat a little to give him more space to blow it past people when it really counts? Could that account for the lost velocity?

I might be a little alrmist. I'm thinking, I'm thinking.


Boz, What's your take on the Mike Wise story? Amazing to think a frat boy like, alcohol-involved discussion became a jetaway to Denver -- yet also explains some of the decision making from Ashburn over the past decade... And... might we have a glimpse into a similar kind of relationship: Rizzo - Davey Johnson? One has to figure there are various roles of "Advisors" (some are "official" and some are not).

1)( Great story.

2) No comparison at all.

Since you're allowing yourself a little self-congratuling on your end-of-the-year column last year, thought I'd give you a chance for a bit of a mea culpa....I believe it was you who, when the Redskins initially traded for McNabb basically indicated it was a steal, that the Redskins had pilfered their rivals for a potential franchise-saving QB. I agreed with you at the time, but given last year's performance, and his first game this year...ouch, that guy just looks done, and anyone who thought that was a good deal looks like a fool (whoops!).

Yup, you got me. Somehow, I just can't seem to find that link right now...

Oh, rats, here it is.

Thanks for the great questions. See you next week.



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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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