Ask Boswell: Redskins, Nationals and Washington sports

Dec 15, 2014

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

Past Ask Boswell chats

Even though it really hurt the team and was ultimately wrong, I loved what Santana Moss did yesterday. Every Washington fan wanted to yell through the TV at the referee and Santana Moss was our guy to do it for us yesterday. I wish him nothing but the best.

I enjoy Santana, too.

But, after I got back from NYC last night, I watched the game again. The call on the Griffin TD-touchback is clear and correct. Much more so than I thought at the time because I focused on one especially good angle that shows No. 90 (Pierre-Paul) deliberately smacking Griffin's left arm and causing a fumble as he tries to extend the ball in both hands. It's great anticipation of Griffin's lunge. The ball is totally "out" -- in mid-air -- as our picture on D1 shows almost as well. That means Griffin has to "make a catch" of the ball, just as a receiver would, as he is crossing the goal line. He never even comes close, still bobbling the ball, which he never secures, as he rolls out the side of the endzone.

For once, those who yell "bad call" are just wrong, for once it's not ambiguous. 

Gruden did a very poor job of controlling his bench during the argument. Assists acted properly, jumping in quickly. Gruden just looked like his gut reaction was that he wanted to get away from the fire. Not very "coach-like." 

Hi Tom who is out there for the Redskins to hire to fix this mess? Who would be stupid enough to come here?

Of all the moves that scare Snyder the one he dreads most is changing the "expert" who sits near him and misguides him. He stuck with Cerrato for 10 years out of "yes, man" comfort. I doubt he'll move on from Allen soon. He should. He won't. Because Snyder's wired exactly backwards for the NFL. 

Boz -- Do you have any doubts about the extent of McCoy's re-injury? IOW, could this purported injury recurrence have been a ploy by Snyder/Allen and Gruden to get Griffin onto the field and limit concerns that Gruden has lost control of the team?

He was definitely hurt and very upset about it. Says when he's hit wrong his bulging disc just clamps up on him and "I can't do anything." Meaning do it like he needs to do it. He said, "I hit that (out pattern) 10-for-10. When I bounced it three feet short in the dirt, I just dropped my head." He knew. His day was over. He truly was upset afterwards. Toughness, ability to stay on the field, is a huge factor for all QBs. McCoy looks a little fragile for the position, so that's a knock he knows he has to beat. He thought he was really going to have a big day. Looking at the first drive, I think so, too. Really nice 19-yard gain on a read option, crisp on-time passes. Then the hit on the flush-scramble and it all goes to hell in an instant. Last guy in just lined him up and drilled him right between the shoulder blades. Mean, but legal.     

Boz, how many weeks are there until Pitchers and Catchers report?

Not that I'm counting -- about 62.

Nats sure had good news this morning, avoiding a grievance hearing on Tuesday with Harper and getting a two-year deal done for '15-'16 at $7.5M total.

Ugly things (have to) get said at those things. Bryce needs to focus on his game after his big DS. Through age 20, the player he was most similar to was Tony Conigliaro, followed closely by many all-time greats. Now, through age 21, he's most similar statistically to Justin Upton, Ruben Sierra and Andruw Jones. They had, or are having, very good careers;  Mantle and Miggy Cabrera still show up on the list of Top 10 comps. But so does Dick Kokos. This is probably the year we find out whether Harper is a great player or a very good one -- like Upton, Sierra -- but with flaws. I'll still bet on great. But it was a good break for everybody that the grievance and missing Natsfest, can and will be forgotten now that a deal is done. Everybody might have gotten past it. But now it definitely will. People in sports are very clear cut -- it happened or it didn't happen. If it "didn't," then you totally forget it and move on.

Here is Scott Allen's post on Harper not being at NatsFest.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/dc-sports-bog/wp/2014/12/15/bryce-harpers-absence-didnt-ruin-natsfest-for-most-fans/

Trade Clippard, Desmond. If signable, sign Zimmerman. Your thoughts?

Sign Desmond, who's very hard to replace and excellent in the clubholuse, and Fister, who'll be expensive but is also a big chemistry piece. Let Z'mann play out his season, probably use him as your ace in a World Series run.That's my feeling on 12/15/14. Ask me again next week. You may get a different answer.

You'd love to sign all three, but I just doubt there's enough money for a non-NYC-LA team to even think about doing that. Between RH starters Cole and Giolito, just hope you can replace him.

I'm a huge Clippard fan. But let him go free agent and be somebody's closer and make a zillion bucks. He has a lot of miles on his arm and you probably got his best years. BUT what if he really does have a rubber arm, a funky delivery, an Invisible Fastball and keeps adding pitches (curve, split) to his great change-up as he ages? He might still be dominant at 35. Trevor Hoffman (change-up artist) never got old. See, these are all tough calls.

Z'mann creates unusual problems. If he accepts an offer, great, but that has complications; then you probably can't do Desmond, too, because you just don't have the money for >$275M in two deals. So, what do you do with Fister if you already have Z'mann in hand plus Cole/Giolito on the way? You probably don't go hard after Fister and thus you lose him as well as Desmond. Not good.

In the real world, I think you can, with luck, get Desmond AND maybe Fister, too, or you can just get Z'mann and lose Desmond, because you can't afford him and Fister because he's an extravagance if you have Z'mann long term.

I like A better than B. This minute.

Seven and a half million for two seasons? Seems kind of cheap.

It's typical of how the MLB system works for every player. As Rizzo told me that he once told a young player: For three years, we (take advantage of) you. Then for three years we go to an arbitrator if it'ss needed. Then you're a free agent and you (take advantage of) us. 

This means that for his first FIVE seasons as a Nat (thru '16), Harper will make (only) slightly more than $15M. What has he been worth? His career WAR is 9.6 now which some sites/systems consider worth >$4M per game of WAR. Or nearly $40M strictly as a player, not as a drawing card and seller of jerseys. Say he duplicates his reookie WAR of 5.1 in '15 and '16. That gets his WAR for his firsst 5 seasons to ~20.0 or a value of about $90M.

What has he meant as a PR magnet, etc? Thru '16, I'd b et another $75M to $100M. So, he's ghettin g paid, imo, LESS than 1/10th of his real value for his first five years.

This is another reason fans should think twice before resenting big FA paydays TOO much. Harper may be $150-to-175M BEHIND on the day he signs a big free agent deal. Remember to subtract that if he gets a $250M-8-yr deal (WAG). He really got $15M + $250M = $265M for 13 years from 19 through 32. So, at ~$20M x 13 yrs, he might be underpaid if you include his Drawing Card franchise value.   

How many times do the Redskins start inside their own 15 all season? Roberts has no awareness. He routinely fair catches inside the 10 or runs out of the way and lets a Giants player catch the ball inside the 5? Why not at least pretend to catch the ball and then run out of the way and hope the ball goes into the endzone. Yes, I know the whole team stinks, but still.

He's a perfect fit for this team -- subtly worse than seems possible.

A "burner" who never breaks one and (Sunday) got caught from behind on a 61-yard pass reception with an open field in front of him. DeSean Jackson would have turned that into a ~90-yd TD and crossed the goal line 10 yards ahead of the nearest guy behind him.

OK, OK, Roberts is the least of this team's problems.

Trade? Free Agent? If you had to make a guess, which would it be? That's the only big piece Nats are missing. I'm guessing a nice trade will eventually drop into Rizzo's lap, one he can't refuse, from someone wanting a starting pitcher, even one in a contract year.

I've looked at "everything," including third basemen Rendon moving to second (a solution I would not like). What a waste of time. I don't see anything particularly promising. I bet Rizzo sees at least three good solutions.

Nobody ever mentions Rendon as a possible future SS. Never discount Davey Johnson. When I asked him about Rendon's natural or best position and if it might be second (his position), he said "Strong left side arm." He didn't say "third base" just "left side."

Rendon's speed, now that his old ankle injuries are healed, has fooled everybody. He's fast. Does he have the range to play SS? I have no idea. But I haven't seen anything on a baseball field that doesn't come to him quickly and (seemingly) easily.

In the wake of Bryce Harper and the Nationals coming to terms for the next two seasons and the Redskins continuing their circus, I think it's time the Nats make a move to change Washington's sports culture and make them the dominant team in town for the next few years: Sign Max Scherzer (whose ties with Mike Rizzo are well known) as a free agent. Yes, this means Jordan Zimmermann and Doug Fister almost certainly will walk after the 2015 season (the Nats should focus their in-house work on retaining Ian Desmond, who's been a favorite in D.C. since he made some slick plays in the April 2005 exhibition game at RFK) -- but you'd have all three in the rotation this season alongside Stephen Strasburg and Gio Gonzalez (no one in MLB would have a 1-5 punch like that one). The Nats would get draft picks as compensation, and whomever signs Z'mann and (maybe) Fister probably would have to pay more than what Scherzer would get. And remember, Lucas Giolito should reach the bigs sometime in 2016. Is it a bit of rolling the dice? Maybe. But the Nats have a lot going for them; they aren't the Oakland Athletics renting Jon Lester with no chance of retaining him.

Feel free to start a rumor.

Do you really think the Lerners are going to sign Scherzer, Desmond and then go after Strasburg, too?

Even if they assume, as they should have already assumed, that the MASN deal will eventually be finalized along the lines that the MLB "committee" recommended, I doubt they'd think they have enough money for all that. I'd be glad to be wrong. As I always say, NEVER under-estimate the long, long term value of an "era" like the Bullets in the '70's or the Skins under Gibbs I. You could live off off two WS visits and 1 title for 20+ years.

BTW, I ate at Osteria Morini on Water Street about 300-400 yards from Nats Park on the waterfront on Saturday nite. Wow! I guess I'm not supposed to give restaurant reviews since everybody's taste is different. But my wife (she counts) thought the food was exceptional. Anyway, what I KNOW is that it is one of the most beautiful settings in D.C. with lighted bridge, park. There are also two other restaurants beside it on Water Street -- one open and upscale, one "opening in spring '15." IOW, that area, with its two-mile walk on the waterfront, has already started to come to life and will only get more wonderful when the new soccer stadium is built. It's happening. Made me feel really good for the city.

Who in your opinion is the best NFL quarterback RIGHT NOW? I realize that Tom Brady and Peyton Manning are all-time greats, and possibly Aaron Rodgers and Drew Brees, but isn't Ben Roethlisberger outperforming them all at the moment? He had 360 passing yards yesterday and LeVeon Bell (who had 200 the week before) only had 47 rushing yards. Will Big Ben make the Hall of Fame?

I enjoy watching Brady the most. Because Rodgers is younger and more willing to run for yardage, not just to buy time to throw, he may be better right now. But I'll take Brady.

Roethlisberger probably doesn't get his due because he looks like a big lug, who should lose 20 pounds, chugging around on the frat house lawn in a touch football game. Never overlook the guys, like him, who were just born -- wired perfectly -- to play their sport. The game is slower for a Bird or Magic or Gretsky. Probably for Big Ben, too. But I still put him below all the ones you mentioned. 

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I just saw a post by Dan on something that got overlooked by many. The Skins quit in the final minute -- punting when they were down 11 points. I was about to tweet out "WHAT????" when they recovered the fumbled punt.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/dc-sports-bog/wp/2014/12/15/the-redskins-and-jay-gruden-gave-up-at-the-end-of-the-giants-game-and-it-was-weird-and-sad/

Gruden (sort of) explained that he thought Griffin might have been hurt on a previous play and didn't want to....well, he did say it, but, you know, GET KILLED by sack No. 8. But he was aware of it in his post-game presser and kind of slid in a remark at the very end.

It looked bad.

Anybody who wants to make the case that he's a competent offensive coordinator who is out of his depth as a head coach can certainly find enough anecdotal evidence to make that claim. It doesn't help when you go for fourth downs in three straight close games -- in situations that feel a little or a lot like panic -- and they all fail with bad consequences. But if two of those three plays work...

The go-for-it Sunday was a Worldclass Clusterbungle. First, they couldn't get the play off -- DeSean Jackson was disgusted and walking toward Gruden, motioning for a time out. So, Gruden really had no choice. Jackson would have been in lined up illegally. You know, coach DeSean. When the ball was snapped (an instant after the timeout was called), if looked like two receivers were open for an easy first down.

Then the real go-for-it play was pure "RGIII just can't play from the pocket." Quick slant to TE Reid. Griffin doesn't see it, or can't pull the trigger or... What the hell, you just look at it and scream, "Throw the ball to the guy the play is designed for. He's only going to be open for an instant but this is the NFL and THAT'S THE PLAY.

If Gruden's true opinion of Griffin is "Gifted But Just Can't Play NFL QB " then it is plays like that which would convince him.

But it's also true, I think, that everything about "RGIII" drives Gruden, the lifelong grinder, the offensive system creator, the play caller, the precise-football guy, absolutely nuts. Griffin wants to make one read and if it isn't there, express himself by "making a play" by "being competitive" and running around being thrilling. And he made about three thrilling plays Sunday and looked faster (to me) than he has since'12.

Gruden's waited a lifetime, 25 years of it in the minors, to coach in the NFL. Seriously, he's got to be the last guy in the world who just wants to see Griffin take his offense and treat it as, well, one option, before he puts on his RGIII cape.  It's a marriage made in hell. Or Ashburn. Or, these days, is that the same.  

I know he's a jerk, but you almost (almost) have to feel sorry for him. But it serves him right to have that obnoxious "money" symbol thrown back in his face, something he should have anticipated. He won't be making much more of it if he continues to play like he did yesterday.

Marvin Lewis called Manziel a "midget." Then apologized.

Actually, Manziel is a little itsy-bitsy tiny person, with a weak arm, lots of guts and no knowledge of pro football, who looks like a lost child who will be thrown around like a rag doll in the NFL. I felt sorry for him. What a joke.

Otherwise, put me down for "Great Future."

Is he gong to survive? This is a very poorly coached team.

I seem to have very strong opinions today. This state of (dis)grace hits me about one day every 10 years. Then I wake up the next day and think, "What was THAT all about?"

I guess, since it's one of those days when I just can't restrain myself, I'll say what I'm thinking:

Oh, you mean they are coached?

When they were called for 12 men on the field on Sunday I thought, "This is probably the only time in this game when they've had 11 men on the field who actually knew the play. Now we'll never get to know which one of the 12 would have jumped off sides."

It can't be this bad. It just seems that way once every 50 years or so when they LOSE 19 OF THEIR LAST 22 GAMES. 

Training a cat, or predicting Mike Rizzo's moves?

The quality of the chat just improved. Thanks.

I think you have said all that can be said and answered all pertinent questions. Can we move on?

Yes! You are right. I am wrong.

Loved the way Wall played against Chris Paul and the Clippers in a strong win at the phone booth. Didn't get into a mano-a-mano shoot out. He was a defender, distributor, leader and filled up the box score nicely, too.

Three years ago, if you had asked me which of the young No. 1 overall Washington draft picks of recent years -- and put Griffin in there, too -- would mature most as a person, work on and improve his game the most and become a true leader of a winning team, I would NOT have put Wall ahead of Griffin, Strasburg and Harper. But he has. He's even worked so hard that he's gone from a truly bad shooter to a good one. All of them have their good points. I'm not knocking the others. I'm just saying how impressed I am with Wall. Sometimes it's really a pleasure to watch people grow up -- especially because it's tough to do when they are instantly rich, famous and in the public eye. 

Do you think there's any truth to the Nats trading away Zimmerman, Harper and Desmond to Seattle?

I thought Rendon, Zimmermann and Strasburg were in that trade, too.

Do you believe he is the coach that gets this team to an Eastern Conference Championship? When healthy, the Wiz can play with any team in the east but I'm wondering if Wittman has the ability to motivate and gameplan against the best in the NBA? BTW, all Gortat quotes are the best. His relationship with Beal is awesome and you can't help but love his attitude and enthusiasm (be it free chicken or life as a millionaire).

Yes.

Wittman is an excellent game coach. That Miller-to-Beal 25-foot lob-to-the-rim with .08 seconds left to beat the Magic -- there was still .04 seconds left on the clock when the ball left Beal's hand! -- was a wonderful coaching moment as well as a team-execution moment.

Stan Kasten was president of the Atlanta Hawks for years as well as the Braves. Doc Rivers and Randy Wittman both played for the Hawks then. Stan keeps rooting for both of them to get to a showdown between them. When Wittman was still a Wiz assistant, Kasten said, "Watch out if Wittman gets (another head coaching) job. He's one of the best basketball minds." You say, "Yeah, how does Stan know so much?" Well, his buddy Magic could tell him. Or Doc.

Loved Mike Wise's Gortat column the other day.

So, apparently if you don't show up at one event, your contract problems disappear??

Boras has really nailed teams to the wall when there was a contract loophole or detail that he (correctly) picked up to his client's advantage (Drew). So if he or his people forgot to "dot an i," plenty of teams would have enjoyed it. Now we won't know which side would have won that grievance debate. But I'd say Scott owes Bryce one. The 22-year-old took the heat for missing Fanfest and it appears, by doing so, he may have helped bring the problem to a resolution where nobody looks bad. Except Harper, slightly. He doesn't look bad in my eyes -- just a case of "it's business." But some will add this to the "ammo" to criticize. 

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/nationals-journal/wp/2014/12/15/bryce-harper-nationals-avoid-grievance-hearing-after-settling-on-2015-salary/

I've been trying to find a comp for John Wall. A No. 1 overall pick who is widely (by the blogosphere) considered a bust for 2 1/2 years...and then plays his way to a max contract thanks in large part to budding chemistry with Bradley Beal. A solid all-star season follows, and then: Superstar! There are a number of unheralded players who have hit the really big time, but how many top picks disappoint so much so early (in hindsight, of course, it was the injuries) and then shine like they were expected to do? Other than Doug Collins (a much better coach and analyst after his playing days), the closest I find is Joe Smith, who is more famous for the T-Wolves scandal than the fact that he became a decent player. But he was never the player that Wall has become. DC fans should be paying attention; it is very rare to watch a player become all-world in front of your eyes.

Great point. You rarely see something new in sports -- like a career pattern for which you can't remember a comparable.

...

Here's the link to the Harper story by Adam.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/nationals-journal/wp/2014/12/15/bryce-harper-nationals-avoid-grievance-hearing-after-settling-on-2015-salary/

Can we please just move on to something else....basketball, hockey, or better yet baseball? I've been a Redskin fan for more than 40 years but this is the most painful season that I can remember.

The Caps have won last four of five games. Backstrom got a hat trick, which delighted his teammates because they know how good he is and what a facilitator for others.

Now, if they keep playing better, we can enjoy Barry Trotz quotes, like calling Backstrom "sneaky dirty" or pointing out the one black hair on the side of his head that his team just "turned to white" by scaring him in a close game.

Hey Bos. I am a 10 year full-season ticket holder - have never attended the Nats Fests (even when they were free - just not my thing). Do all clubs charge for these types of events? Seems to me like 20 bucks is quite a bit of money for something like this - and it also seems to me like it should have been free to us full season ticket holders - not that I would have gone anyway. Glad that Harper deal got done!

It's commonplace for many teams.

My understanding is that the money goes to charity.

And I've never met a fan, anywhere, who didn't enjoy off-season meet-and-greet events like this. Athletes really like and appreciate their fans __most of them certainly do anyway. But there aren't many low-pressure opportunities to show it. This is one. The ballplayers, most of them anyway, are NOT faking their enthusiasm for the people who love their sport, understand their craft, cheer for them and, ultimately, pay their salaries.

Any thoughts on Bacarri Rambo's performance against the Pack yesterday ? Maybe Washington shouldn't have released him.

Just the 1,000th head shaker.

One of the proofs of an awful culture and bad coaching is when somebody who is supposedly not good enough to play for a rotten team goes somewhere else and succeeds for a better team.

But, no, I did not think I would ever read the words, "Bacarri Rambo intercepts Aaron Rodgers -- twice."

How serious is this "Rizzo annoyed by Harper" issue? How is Harper seen by his team mates? Are there any other dramas simmering under the surface in NationalsLand? How would you describe the organization's culture? Is that too much for one question?

Yeah, it's kind of too much!

It's mostly Kabuki Theater. Especially when a deal gets done and then everybody can say, "Hey, no hard feelings. We all have a role to play in these ritual contract fusses."

There's VERY little drama in NatsLand. Sorry. It's a strong culture, with Rizzo at the center of it. And other teams know it and will try to steal Rizzo. The one headline you don't want to read is "Nationals Take Rizzo For Granted, Lose Him to...."

The Lerners are sometimes oblivious to what they don't want to think is happening. For example, they didn't know that Kasten was fed up and still thought he'd be their team president, 11 months after his best friend knew he'd decided to go. That's not being "on top of it." They probably think Rizzo is the happiest camper on the planet. He's happy -- enough. Keep it that way. The day he isn't, there will be plenty of poachers with double-barreled loaded checkbooks.

That's it for today. Thanks again for all the wonderful questions. I'll keep reading 'em -- and learning.

Here are a couple of links for YOUR reading pleasure. Steve Goff from the College Cup. And the plight of That Team's Secondary.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/soccer-insider/wp/2014/12/14/virginia-wins-college-cup/

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/dc-sports-bog/wp/2014/12/15/odell-beckham-is-just-the-latest-receiver-to-look-like-an-mvp-against-the-redskins-secondary/

Is it true that the Redskins don't have a special teams coach?

They knew it was coming, had their "hands team" on the field. But were still outwitted.

The Giants kicker "quick kicked" and Washington was caught going the wrong way. Kicker pretended to be walking away from ball -- casually, with his back to the ball -- as the Giants appeared to be shifting to their right. Washington reacted to the shift, sending an extra man to the side of the NY shift. Just as they were doing that, the kicker spun quickly, ran to the ball and kicked it to the Giants left where New York had a four-on-three advantage in players in position to field the ball. The player most caught by surprise was Breeland, walking in the wrong direction.

So, Washington was ready IN THEORY. But got outcoached anyway. If you get a chance to see a replay, slow it down. It's beautiful 11-man execution, choreography and trickery.  

Hi Tom. Were you surprised at the lack of confidence the NATS coaches gave Det? We need a lefty reliever and Det fills that bill. Guess it is more to it than the average fan knows. Thanks.

Glad Det gets a fresh start, as a starter, in Texas in a home-run crazy park where his sinker should work well. Also, with luck he will never have to pick up a bat again -- an ugly sight.

There's a decent "tea leaf" in this deal. If the Nats intended to trade either Zimmermann or Fister, would they be dumb enough to trade such a strong insurance chip as Detwiler for minor prospects? No, you wouldn't think so.

So, it's a move that may tip you off that there will, probably, be no more moves with Jordan or Doug, unless a blow-away deal falls in their laps.

Are they any doubts in your mind that the Wiz are for real after their impressive win over the red hot Clippers? Not to mention, they avoided an emotional letdown in what was a trap game against Utah last night. They like the real deal this year and for a few years to come with Wall, Ball & Co. Looks like they could deep in the East in the playoffs.

What am I going to do for fun this afternoon? Watch Wiz tape that I missed! Hey, you wait 33 years, you get rewarded. For a frame of reference, the best Wiz team since the '70's won only 45 games. This team is on pace to win 60.6!!!!

It's early. But pace for 61 -- a REAL NBA team -- is pace for 61. Enjoy it.

I understand that having a powerful/accurate arm might be more useful in RF but can you explain how Werth moving from RF to LF is supposed to save his legs and allow him to play more games? On average, are ther many more balls hit to RF rather than LF? It wouldn't seem logical since there are more RH than LH batters,they are more likely to pull the ball to LF. In your opinion is any advantage gained worth having them both adjusting to new positions?

Left is easier because you don't have to bust it on every play to prevent runners from going first-to-third on a single. In left, routine base hits get routine responses. Also, balls in the LF corner are almost never triples. Balls in the RF corner often require total hustle, strong throw to prevent triples.  Over 162 games, it adds up. 

Please close the book on Detwiler for me. His relationship with the Nats after Matt Williams arrived went South. But why exactly? On the one hand, he was a decent lefty who showed he had some postseason mettle. On the other hand, he struggled to adjust as a reliever and didn't apply himself to learn new pitches. Did the Nats give him a fair chance? Did he and Williams have a problem?

It  was an organizational decision, not just Williams, to make him the power lefty in the pen and give Roark or Taylor Jordan a chance as fifth starter. No problem with Williams. It just never clicked. Detwiler didn't get many chances. When he did, he did poorly. Downward spiral. Some (naturaal) deflated body language. Too bad.

Bobby Cox always thought he'd be a near-star. He may be a 15-game winner in Texas. Or he might not win 15 games in the rest of his career combined. He's at a make-or-break juncture. 

Boz, saw a report that Baltimore is the favorite for the ASG in 2016, then either Miami or San Diego in 2017. That would put the Nats in line in 2019 at the earliest. The MARLINS? A) the park opened two years ago. B) Nobody goes to their games. Why aren't the Nats more in the mix?

The AS game should come when the entire SE waterfront area has been developed. That was all part of the original dream. The Great Recession pushed that back several years. It's happening. Holding the AS Game out as a carrot, even several years in the future, is good. I wouldn't give it to Washington now. Towns love the $$$ and prestige of an AS Game. It's good incentive. When it does come, let it be GREAT -- a wonderful ad for DC and baseball in DC, rather than a case of "Is That All There Is To A Fire?"

Do you think the Redskins will take either Mariota or Winston if they are available in the draft?

Winston is an NFL disaster waiting to happen. So I like their chances to get him.

Hi Bos, I think we all agree that the problem starts at the top and that the only chance for the franchise to succeed would be to hire a competent football person to run the organization (not Bruce Allen) and keep the owner out of decision-making and out of the locker room. My question for you is about Jay Gruden. Bruce and Snyder hired him to resuscitate RGIII's career. He may have decided he is beyond resuscitation but he appears beyond his depth in almost every aspect of his coaching decisions. The conventional wisdom is that you can't fire him because he has 4 more years on his contract. I don't care about Snyder's money or that Gruden appears to be a likeable guy. The more I see of him, the less I think he will be a competent coach. What do you think? Do you think Snyder has reached the point where he would blow it up and let a football person hire a new coach and decide on the roster, etc?

New GM, real GM is the obvious and probably only hope for improvement -- after a two or three year total rebuild that will be ugly. Get the GM. Let him decide ALL or it. Keep Gruden or fire him. Keep Griffin or trade him as part of the rebuild. Fire Haslett or...well, okay, just fire Haslett.

Who is that GM who'd keep Snyder at bay, go 16-32 the next three years (or worse) -- as a draft strategy. I'd take the trouble to try and find out if I thought there was even a 1 percent chance that the owner would say, "We might go 2-14 next year???? Then use the No. 1 or 2 overall pick to trade down for multiple linemen! Good idea! Why didn't I think of that!"

But there isn't. So I'm probably not going to waste my time. If the next Bobby Beathard walked up to this team they'd try to find a way to get him to sell tickets for the Party Deck.

I went to my first Nats Fest on Satuday. A season ticket holder from the beginning, I was amazed at what a great group of guys these Nationals are. Probably not their favorite day of the year, but they were all smiling, laughing and seemingly having a great time. Desmond? Fister? Zimmermann? Sign 'em all, please! But Anthony Rendon really stood out. An hilarious guy "moderating" one discussion with Tanner Roark. Accommodating hundreds of fans with unscheduled "selfies." Looks like the real face of the franchise going forward, to me. How do his teammates regard him? And what do they think of the continuing little boy petulance of Bryce Harper? A very unfortunate and misguided no-show on Saturday.

See, I told you folks (in a previous answer) that these things are a blast for fans.

Teammates don't love Rendon, they adore him. Or maybe admire is closer. He loves the game. The game loves him back. He has no interest in attention. He's having too much fun to be bothered.  

I don't agree with your knock on Harper. I understand it. But I've heard he's usually good in gatherings like that with fans. He's never missed one. Probably won't in future. Unique week.

What a fun team! Between John Wall, Bradley Beal, Nene, Gortat, and Professor Andre Miller, and others, this team is a real pleasure to watch.

Agree.

GMs, in all sports, have batting averages or shooting percentages. Ernie just had a 10-year slump. Now it's all evening out at once for him!

Seriously, he couldn't hit water from a pier for years. Now, Humphries gets 21 rebounds. It's fun. Hope Otto Porter comes around. That's a big pick for a lot of years -- more important for the long term than some of these nice late-career pickups for the bench. But just enjoy it all. 

Hey Boz, Thanks for the restaurant review! As a DC United fan in the MD suburbs, i'm excited that the soccer stadium seems to be moving in the right direction. I go to RFK for 1-2 games a year, and split as soon as the game is over. With the new stadium and an array of bars and restaurants within walking distance, that 1-2 games per year will easily increase, along with the time spent in the district and most importantly, the money I'll spend there. Glad to know that particular area is starting to come alive thanks to Nats Park and the soccer stadium now!

Thanks.

Check, please. I'm outta here.

If Nats Fest is any indication, Ryan Zimmerman seems genuinely excited about the move across the diamond. I personally believe his range and glove work are as good as they ever have been. Do you think he'll win a Gold Glove at First?

If he doesn't win a GG within four years, or get close, I'll be surprised. (He's not LHed. That may work against him.)

I trained my cat to sit and shake hands. Predicting Rizzo is much harder.

!!

The guys on the Wizards post-game show yesterday seemed to enjoy pointing out that the Wiz have as many wins this week as the local football team has had all year. Yes, it is two different sports, but still...

On Sunday, I wondered if I was in the proper city or covering the proper sport for the best reading interests of Washington fans. By next year...

I had to listen to the game in the car yesterday driving from Williamsburg to DC. The homer-isms sound like a D2 college broadcast. When RGIII fumbled into the end zone, Larry Michael was indignant they would review the play. However, all scoring plays (at least in last two minutes?) are reviewed as Chris Cooley noted. When the call went against them, Larry was irate. Then during the opening kickoff, Jeff Triplett announced the two penalties with Larry shouting "we know!" and said Triplett was a bad official. I didn't mind when Sam Huff didn't know rules as he was an ex player and focused on defense. But Larry is such a homer that it's embarrassing. It's not professional.

Once you've killed a brain cell, it's gone forever. You have my condolences.

You happen to catch the college soccer national championship? I only watched part of it because UVa was playing (and eventually won). UVA employed a controversial strategy. They packed their whole team into a defensive posture in hopes of achieving a scoreless tie then winning in a shootout, which is exactly what played out. They did this because they had a great goalie and some solid defenders, but were pretty badly outclassed in the forward department. Question: What are your thoughts on the US team trying something like this? As a bandwagon soccer fan, the UVa strenghts/weaknesses seem identical to our national team's. The downside is that it makes for a really boring game, and every time the national team is on a big stage it seems like their job is as much to develop American soccer fans as it is to actually win.

Oh, I definitely think that would Grow Soccer in America.

Nooooo!

But thanks for bringing UVa's strategy to our attention. I've always liked a good 13-8 basketball game.

Actually, Lefty's 31-30 upset of Duke at College Park with a slowdown and Jim O'Brien was a great game.

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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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