Ask Boswell: Redskins, Nationals and Washington sports

Apr 20, 2015

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

If 21 year old Tiger Woods had played in the 2015 Masters, would he have beaten Jordan Speith? Arguments for Speith: Much tougher course than 1997 Augusta; much stronger competition at the top of the field Arguments for Tiger: Completely dominated the field. He's Tiger Woods.

Despite the 600-yd different in distance between the '97 and '15 courses, the difficulty of the Masters in the two periods is comparable because new equipment has added ~600 yards to everybody.

Woods was more impressive. He dominated the field. He overcame a 40 on the first nine holes. And the course did not "play easy" that weak. It will seldom play easier  -- especially for all four days -- than it did this time.

BUT it is still a magnificent win for Spieth. He carried the burden of the lead for all four days. And it is a burden. He faced down memories of his Sunday mistakes in '14.

Spieth probably lacks the length off the tee to approach Tiger's records. He's long enough. But he doesn't just eat every par five alive. It shouldn't be expected that he, or anybody, "should" approach 14 majors. But he and McIlroy (4) already have five majors between them. Could/should be a great rivalry for the next 15+ years. If Ricky Fowler wins a major and adds even more confidence, he and Spieth could help the U.S. compete better in Ryder Cup. (Hey, the U.S. can't possibly look worse.) Excellent Masters. Also, good to see Phil contend at 44 and Tiger (finish T17) put his chipping yips behind him (maybe). 

I found your story about Zimmermann and Desmond's contract situations very interesting. I always support the players vs the owners and do not begrudge them their money. But I do find it fascinating how they get obsessed over amounts of money that are so large that in any practical sense they same. Mathematically yes a 160 million is more than 107 money or 130 million and the difference of 30 or 57 million is a huge amount of money. But at some point you have to wonder what you can buy if you make 160 million over your career that you can't buy if you only made 124 million. Or for that matter what extra things your children can buy over their lifetimes. So while I understand not wanting to leave money on the table but I think the players need to relax and remember that this is more about ego than any practical reality in the lives and the lifestyle their families will have. If they really think about it they should understand that they are focused on differences that simply don't matter in the long run as the saying goes a difference that does not make a difference is not different.

I think more players should put stability, long-term happiness and a lifelong identity ahead of the best possible contract. Not all of them, of course. But more should give it a larger weight. I could give 100 examples in various sports.

Players don't always understand that their original teams can't (realistically) match the $$$ they will get in an auction-mentality market place. For example, the Nats (my guesstimate) offer of >$100M, plus this year's $16.5M is "only" ~ $120-125M. But the Nats assume 6 years of injury liability -- '15, plus the five extension years. So, it's a fair deal. But it doesn't approach what JZ could get if he has a big year and gets a Scherzer type contract worth >$180M for seeven years, plus the $16.5M he'll  get this year = about $200M.

Both sides are thinking rationally and have a sensible argument. I (personally) would be in the "take the $$, stay in one place for many years, be identified with DC for much/all of my career." (Yeah, any of us should be so lucky to have that choice.) But I understand that competitive people compete at everything. Jordan's very competitive.

The JZ contract is an example of one, imo, where the player does not have a "theoretical" responsibility to help build the market for future players. The offer is high enough (my guess) that it doesn't damage the "next" Z'mann. 

It seems like the Nats have found their CF of the future in Michael Taylor, right?


Assuming that Span now stays healthy and only misses 12 games, all the Nats injuries may end up a small "plus." Taylor should go back to AAA with great confidence, but also a sense of things he needs to work on -- including some balls he misjudged or didn't take charge of. Also, he can/will be called up on Sept. 1, or a bit earlier, and could end up on the bench in the playoffs, providing speed, a RH bat with power and defensive versatility.

It now looks like Rendon has come back far enough that he's in the midst of a normal recovery. IOW, he's now in the same injury-status situation as any other player might be on March 15th -- in the middle of HIS spring training, but needs another 2-3 weeks to be fully ready for the season.

Treinan, Aaron Barrett and Rafael Martin have also gotten better chances, or more work in high-leverage spots because of the injury to Jannsen. (Also, really sorry for Stamen, a great guy, very good pitcher. But, so far at least, that's the only "full-season impact" blow. Many contending teams have had far worse. The Mets lost their starting catcher Travis D'Arnaud (hitting .314) and ex-Nat lefty Jerry Bleevins on Sunday -- both with broken bones.

At what point should a manager/coach make it publicly known that poor play which costs the team is not going to be tolerated? Williams pulled Harper last year for not running hard on a sure out. Desmond drops, kicks, and murders sure outs and he plays on. I don't get the difference. A little public embarrassment goes a long way.

Completely different. Desmond's errors are while he is hustling, probably trying too hard. There is no issue of accountability whatsoever. He's so accountable he stands up to a grilling after every game with an error. It's the difference between physical errors (forgiven) and mental-or-effort errors which are much harder to excuse. Harper was a rare case; Williams chewed out the whole team, said the next guy who doesn't run one out will be jerked from the game and, two days later, Harper forgot, put himself in the cross hairs and got a public embarrassment. To his credit, he completely  got it, had no problem with it.

It's been a week since any public update on AR, as far as I can tell. Whazzup????

His knee took a long time to stop hurting (a little). They were careful since he was the best everyday player on the team last year. He's been back to normal for some time now. But he'd been shutdown for so long that he was a "normal" player on ~Feb 25th who wasn't anywhere close to being up to regular-season speed.  They're handling it properly. They were worried (THREE medical opinions) when his sprain was slow to improve. But now, presumably, he's making normal progress. I suppose Nat fans won't completely uncross their fingers until he's back in the lineup. But the Rendon situation has gone from Worry to Just Wait A Little Longer.

Congratulation Boz. Well done. Well deserved.

Thanks a million.

Somebody asked me yesterday, "What does it mean to you?" I was stumped. Then last night I realized what it was. My first football card was Eddie LeBaron (the Little General), my first hero was Roy Sievers, my first writing hero was Shirley Povich. My dad came to DC the same year the Skins did. He loved Sammy Baugh. He and I watched all thee Jurgy aerial show teams together growing up. His favorite was Bobby Mitchell. When I look at "Joe Theismann," I think of my first date with my wife when Theismann had already won a Super Bowl and she said, "Who is Joe Theismann?" My son graduated from Maryland in '10 and he stormed the court after big wins by Gary Williams' teams and even phoned me once to say, "Gary just beat (Duke, I think). We're going to storm the court. My mom loved the gentle giant part of Frank Howard and loved to watch the moon rise over RFK at night Senators games. My high school football coach Sleepy Thompson had a best friend -- Joe Gallagher, at St. John's. The first byline I ever had in the Post was a Carroll High game coached by Maus Collins. I covered John Thompson when he coached St. Anthony's and he called my mother a couple of time for child-rearing advice with JTIII and Ronnie when he was still a HS coach and they were tiny ("Those country girls are wise.") I "discovered" Adrian Dantley and wrote about him -- in the eighth grade! That's about half of the list. They're all on that board. Hard to believe I am, too -- in the athletic sense. But, in every other sense, it just feels wonderful to be bunched with 'em -- Mo Siegel, Michael Wilbon and Warner Wolf.

My whole life -- not just sports but three generations of family connections and friends -- are linked to people on that board. Of the >120, I must be connected to >75 of them. But what I realized is that this is the way that EVERYBODY feels about the Sports Names of Our Lives. For those of us who are fans, it's a web -- of community, city, memories, elation, dejection and a constant free-association that reminds us of someone or something else --that we're all caught up in. That's why the emotions are strong, but also vague. (So, you could say that I'm probably pretty happy about being on the list! And that is the LAST I will mention it. Promise.)

Tom, In reflecting on the Masters, I have two observations: 1. People who've had success there could just parachute in and play very well (not just Tiger and Phil, but Ernie and Louis O.). Maybe Tiger should start every year there. 2. Has the back nine been neutralized by long hitters? I remember leaders and challengers finding much more water on 11, 12, 13, and 15 in the 80s and 90s. Birdies and eagles are great, but doubles are interesting, too.

The soft greens this year made the back nine play easier. You could take extra club, as Spieth did on his 2d shot on the 15th , and throw it 10-12 yards further back on the green, yet know that thee ball would still stop as if you'd hit a high 9-iron. That erased mistakes. Spieth actually miss-hit that 5-iron, thought it was going in Rae's Creek, then it cleared the water. If the greens had been rock hard, maybe he'd have laid up or gone for it with a 6-iron (so he wouldn't bounce far over the back). Then his 6-iron shot probably WOULD have ended in the water.

I hope that's kinda clear. Soft greens enormously increase margin of error for these guys, take double bogey out of play. And, remember, from 175 yards, these players expect to land the ball within two yards of their target.   

Tom, I struggle to understand Wittman's coaching in the fourth quarter of games. Wiz were firmly in control and Beal was having an awful shooting game. Why would he continue to run the offense through him when Pierce was rested at that point? Would it not have made sense to have the offense go through Pierce? I thought using Pierce at the 4 was a smart move but this was a game that should never have gone into OT.

You make good points. I'll counter a bit by saying that when you have two young stars like Wall and Beal -- and a very old former-superstar like Piece -- you probably want to use these valuable playoff series for your present AND FUTURE stars (like Beal) to get the experience and carry the load.

I thought that was a huge win for the Wiz because, when they blew a 15-pt lead in the fourth quarter you (and they) HAD to think "this is SO freakin' choking-dog Wiz that I just can't stand to watch it again."

Then Pierce hits the BIG trey (after they were fortunate enough to get the first offensive rebound of OT) and they win the game clean and clear in one of the louder buildings in the NBA. It was the Anti-Wiz ending. Or it was the Paul Pierce ending. At any rate, when it mattered they "put on their cape," to borrow Jayson Werth's phrase. Big time athletes, in big moments, have to think of themselves as a kind of superhero. They sure can't feel like flawed nervous mortals -- iow, like the last 35 years of Wizards/Bullets. Denard Span stays that he thinks of himself -- as a person -- as "Denard." Kind of a nerdy, normal name. But when he plays, he tells himself to "Be SPAN." Cool name -- like a comic book superhero.

The Caps and Wiz -- and Nats later this year, I expect -- been to start putting on their daggone CAPES in the post-season. In these essentially even 4-vs-5 matchups, like Caps-Islanders and Wiz-Raptors, it's often the team with the proper athletic arrogance, thee constructive unapologetic swagger (not the rockhead kind) that wins the close series. 

The Caps have lacked it for 30 years, the Wiz for 35 and the Nats for the last 3. (There is a difference in those lengths of time! These teams are NOT in the same place.) Once one team shows the way and goes further than it is supposed to -- largely on will and confidence -- it may help others.

But, man, playoffs are so inscrutable. Two weeks ago I'd have said the Caps were rolling and the Wiz flopping. I STILL think the Caps will come back and wear down the Islanders and win.

Here is a Scott Allen link to the sad history of Caps and Wiz playing playoff games on the same day.

Once that gets reversed, maybe it rolls to the other way. Teams, and sometimes entire sports cities, do run in long cycles of failure or success.

Hey Boz, Congrats on being inducted on Sunday. It must be incredibly satisfying from a professional perspective to share the accolade with the immortal Shirley Povich. Any way, according to an ESPN player poll, his peers consider Bryce Harper to be the most overrated player in MLB. Yet this year (admittedly early in the season) he leads the bigs in intentional walks. Those two things seem incongruent to me. It's also easy to forget he's only 22 and has yet to face a pitcher younger than he is at any level of professional baseball. Dispassionately speaking, I think he's doing just fine when compared to anybody not named Mike Trout. Thoughts?

In his first and second years, Davey Johnson told me several times: "You wanna know how good Harper already is? Every team we play pitches him like he was &^%^$%^* Babe Ruth. He gets NOTHING to hit. And they show almost none of that respect to anybody else in our lineup -- and we've got some good hitters. But everybody sees how good Harper is." 

The more Harper walks, the more home runs he will hit. He has 111 walks and four homers now, both very good starts. It always goes together. The more patient you are, the more pitches you see. And the more pitches you see, the more likely you are to get the mistake, or the decent pitch that's in a spot that YOU can handle for power.

Harper looks close to "locked in" right now to me. Williams wants to underline that he doesn't need to hit for "how long," but just for "how many." So, the next day, Harper hits his longest so far -- 4461' to dead center. Another 6' and it land above the grass in CF and bounces through the storage-security shed doorway on the concourse level. That's nuts. Hope he keeps swinging semi-easy. (They go just as far.)

Harper has had fine Aprils before. Lets see if this time he stays healthy and also hits better with men on base. The three-run homer on a slow curve -- also dead out to CF -- against the Phils was a small but good MOB HR sign.

Harper's arm in RF is getting some runners not to try to go 1st-to-3d. However, he's still got a long way to go as a "fly chaser." Several good routes to balls, then, the next one, "aarrrgghh, what was THAT." Presumably that improves with time.

Longtime Caps fans actually cheered yesterday's loss to give the Islanders their second win in the series. While we can take losing a game in a series, we cannot take losing a series after having a 3-1 series lead. So anything that avoids a 3-1 Capitals series lead is welcomed. And don't get me started on Game 7s at home.

Yes, Caps fans do have a lot of scars, and even weird reverse hexes, like almost "wanting" to lose a certain game to avoid being ahead 3-1.

But that was a bad loss because the Caps had gone from being completely outplayed for two periods to dominating the Islanders in the third period. They had flipped the "mo" perfectly. Then they lost in 15 seconds on a sequence that, after watching it six times, I still can't draw any conclusion except that a lot of NHL games are won on a combination of effort, alertness and (dumb) luck. I tried to time it: I think Holtby was hit with THREE shots on goal in less than ONE second. It was that fast in real time. And his first two saves were all you could ask.

Going to be a long fine series, I think. And, yes, a good chance that the Caps will have a Game 7 at home. That really should be an edge with Trotz getting some of the match-ups he wants. He did a good job of line juggling to get Boychuk off Ovechkin as Game 3 progressed.

Whether it's past playoffs or the Olympics, Ovie seems to disappear during big games on big stages. This is not an indictment on his talent, more a question of how to get him to play at his best when the stakes are the highest?

As a desperate last resort, lets actually look at some facts. In regular season, Ovechkin has averaged 0.63 goals and 0.55 assists per game -- or 1.18 points-per-game) in his career (760 games). In the playoffs, he has averaged 0.524 goals and 0.492 assists per game -- or 1.02 pts-per-game -- in 61 playoff games.

Pretty close. And, by definition, against tougher competition in post-season and, also, in playoff circumstances when more players are willing to sacrifice their body to block shots and goal scoring is lower.

Except for '12-'13, when he had one goal in seven games, Ovechkin has been consistently productive.

For Russia, he's had 19 goals and 21 assists in 31 games. Also good.

I do agree that he didn't seem to be as consistent a force in Game 3 as I thought he would be. He had big its an d good moments. But I kept thinking, "Where IS he?" (His work, and screen, on the tying goal were important.)

So on Saturday, Ian Desmond committed an error and a can't-call-it-an-error-cuz-you-can't-assume-a-double-play. Leading to two Phillies runs, giving them the lead. He came to bat the next inning and ... got a huge ovation. He commented on it after the game, too, talking about how awesome it was for him personally and really meant a lot in how the fans were still behind him. Are these moments where he maybe comes closer to staying in DC? At this point, if he decided to give the Nats a hometown discount, would they sign him? Or have they fully moved on? He kinda talked like he realized what he might be missing next year if he goes to another team.

Anything is possible. But I assume that bridge has been crossed.

The Nats traded for two shortstops -- Yunel Escobar for two or three years (team option on third year) and Trea Turner for the future. That's what you do when you decide to "move on." You spend valuable resources.

Perhaps a small point but Espinosa has hit everything hard batting lefty in the last week. His stroke looks short and his right foot is quiet (that big leg kick has gone.) His best position is SS (if he continued to become a decent switch hitter again, as he was in '12.) 

Desmond has been through so many down times, and had so many doubters, for so long -- including me at times a few of years ago -- that I think he'll rediscover his confidence (and mechanics) and "just play." And he's really hitting well right now. If he ends up with 18-20 errors but keeps hitting then in six weeks we might say he's making a "salary drive."

This is baseball: Judge slowly.

No, slower than that.

Tom: Congrats on the Hall of Fame! Well deserved. This may be a stupid question. When watching a baseball game on TV, you always see the catcher sneaking a glance at the batter to make sure the batter is not looking to see the signal to the pitcher or where the catcher is setting up. Is this one of those "unwritten rules" that the batter cannot look? Also when there is a runner on second, does he try to signal to the batter in some way if the catcher is setting up low and outside?

You are correct on all counts.

The catcher can look at the hitter -- unwritten rule.

The hitter can't "peak" at the catcher -- or he'll get knocked on his butt or worse.

Many runners signal "location" if the hitter wants it, and if there is enough split-second time. But good catchers "reset" many times and give a false location. And catchers even make sounds, sometimes with their glove hitting the dirt, to let the hitter "hear" where they are -- when they are actually somewhere else.

Tebow mania returns. Except why? The facts are obvious: a quarterback who hasn't played in the NFL in 20 months is getting a chance to be a backup. How is there any more to this story than that? Yet, watch how many journalists will try to make more out of it. Are actual editorial decisions made to over cover a story like this or does some sort of weird herd instinct kick in?

If he ever switches to a different position, like TE, I might pay a LITTLE attention. Until then, zero. In Philly, he'll be an offensive "wrinkle," not an offensive weapon.

The website 'MarketWatch' published an article by the title in my subject line. The gist was that TV ratings for golf are not good when Tiger isn't in the tournament being broadcast. Here's a quote from the article, "Give Jordan Spieth, Rory McIlroy and Bubba Watson all the green jackets you’d like. Tiger Woods is still the face of professional golf." Your thoughts?

Among general sports fans, there is plenty of Tiger Hate because, in part, he is an easy target for angry or disturbed people. And some dislike him on merit.

In golf, if you walked with him at the Masters some, as I did, the frenzy no longer exists until AFTER he does something, not in anticipation of it. But, among actual golf fans, you hear nothing negative and plenty that's positive. He's seen by many as the greatest golfer ever -- though unlikely to have the greatest CAREER ever (Nicklaus). That, and all the memories he created, are appreciated. He made a fool of himself in his private life, and hurt others, but he paid for it (probably several times over) in money and mortification. So, I think most golf fans were "over it" years ago. Some in the media have a harder time. He sold them (us) a non-existent perfect person; they (we) bought it and got a pie in the face. I'm accustomed to looking/feeling foolish periodically. We don't figure out everybody correctly. Or we only figure out parts of who they are. 

Golf climbed a Tiger Mountain when he was the most famous athlete in the world. That's over. Been over a long time. Golf is drifting back to its normal place -- a fine two-tier sport with a devoted niche audience. The better Tiger plays, the better for short-term ratings/interest. But, even medium term, he's going-going out of the picture. And golf will be just fine. I covered golf when it would "never recover" from the loss of Nicklaus as the Golden Bear. And there WAS a lull, until Woods.

No matter which of these phases the game is in, I've noticed that they still play the Masters, U.S. Open and British Open every year. Long ago, asked about the bigger popularity of "major" sports, Jack once said, with a shrug, (paraphrase): Golf is just golf; it's not for everybody.

But plenty still love it.

Danny Espinosa has been making good contact at the plate and seems less inclined to chase pitches that are out of the strike zone. Could we be witnessing the resurrection of Danny's bat?

Players do continue to learn over their careers. And finding the right technique or approach -- for YOU -- really matters in baseball. So, it's certainly possible.

Everybody recognizing that Espinosa has every tool, and a great tough attitude, except the ability to make enough contact hitting left-handed. Hope he fixes it. Have no idea if he will. If I had to bet, I'd bet he has several good years somewhere. If he has a couple of 'em for the Nats this year and next, it's "found money." And not chump change.  

What did you like and dislike about Taylor after watching him in Spring Break and the first 12 games of the season? Are his flaws (strike outs, defensive misreads) the kind of things that improve with age and experience or did you see something that gives you pause with respect to his ability to replace Span next year?

I liked everything.

He's diligent, bright, coachable -- all that good stuff. Started as a SS. Still mastering the OF, though he's closer than it may have looked in the last two weeks. Gotta  a cannon in CF. Looks like he'll either be good enough or REALLY good.

How much longer will the Wizards and Caps hang around distracting attention from the my Nats? Will they both be out of the way by May as in previous years?

I think/prefer that the Wiz and Caps hang around as long as they like -- and I think it may be longer than usual for one or both.

It's so boring to think that the future will always be like the relatively recent past when history tells that isn't how it usually works. Everything in sports tends to revert. Of the 16 teams in existence in 1901 -- all still in existence today, too -- 11 of them are with two percent of .500 over the entire 114 years (like 20,000 games). And two others are only 2.5 percent away from .500.

The exceptions? The Yankees (good). The Phillies (bad). And the Giants (good). This is off the top of my head, so I hope I didn't mess one up. But the point remains the same. Reversion to the mean is real. And the sports expression "We're due" has far more predictive truth in it than just self-delusion.

(Though it sure feels like self-delusion until it starts changing.)

What's your take on the Royals' batters getting hit by pitches? How should the Royals react and how does this kind of (revenge?) cycle end?

The fact that almost every Royals hitter is batting .300 to >.400 may be drawing the attention of pitchers.


Come on, where are the Skins draft questions!?? I got answers.

Enjoyed the recent Post articles and different perspectives from across the country. In your experience, what cities excel as overall sports towns? Does Washington really qualify as long as Synder runs the NFL team?

Just my opinion, Washington, overall, is a good sports town, and an exceptionally bright sports-knowledgeable one with a top-of-the-charts passion for one team which Dan Snyder hasn't been able to kill. Though heaven knows he's certainly giving it a try.

We not only have the four major sports, as well as major college football and (several) major college basketball teams, but are building a new stadium for D.C. United, host a PGA Tour golf tournament, have the WNBA and on and on.

Go beyond the NFL, MLB, NBA and NHL and a Top Dozen of sports/teams/events that the D.C. area supports, year in and year out. There are (inexpensive, family-friendly) minor league baseball teams in Bowie, Potomac, etc.

Then see how many other cities, besides NYC, LA and Chicago, can match the D.C. area's depth of sports offerings and continuous support of them. A few. Not many.

D.C. sports fans $UPPORT their teams louder than they sometimes cheer for them. (That could stand some improvement.)

I really like Drew Storen, but do you think he is a bona fide closer for a team with World Series aspirations? If he can't throw his breaking stuff for strikes hitters just seem to content to wait for the fastball. His fastball seems to be too hittable for a closer. What do you think of Drew?

Drew's looked good this year.

As I've mentioned, Aroldis Chapman (signed through '16) may be on the market at the trade deadline. That's an eon away. But Drew will either be very good (the most likely outcome) or the Nats will go after somebody who is. With all their trade pieces, including the minors, they will NOT arrive at Aug. 1 with an obvious weakness that everybody recognize. Will. Not. Happen.

Still think trading Clippard for Escobar was a bad deal? He seems to be an excellent player, if he can stay healthy, and an 'everyday' player - not one who comes in for an inning every couple of games.

I like him. Good field, solid contact hitter, can hit-and-run, occasional pop, has some speed and plays with some fun/flare that probably helps a team like the Nats that can use a little of it.

But I liked Clippard a LOT. Especially because he gave you a proven "second closer" if your existing closer got hurt on the eve of the playoffs. Quite an insurance policy. And one of the five hardest-to-hit pitchers in MLB for years. 

I don't mind changing my mind. It's one of the ways that you prove that you actually have one.

How do we understand Espinosa suddenly finding his left handed hitting stoke? Change in attitude? Listening to Schu? And who knew he could play third base?

Well, he's gone from a high leg kick like Oh to a two-inch "stride" like Paul Molitor. Could have something to do with it. We'll see.

First, congrats on your selection to the D.C. Hall. nice honor. my question is, why can't a double play be assumed? especially when it's so obvious, like when a force has been made at second and the first baseman then drops the ensuing throw, right in his glove, and way ahead of the runnr. clearly, the fielder has made an error. but baseball scoring rules don't allow it. I don't get it.

I agree. Scorers have to make lots of judgments on what a "normal" MLB player should be able to do on countless types of plays. And if you can't meet that standard, you get an "E." I'm sure Desmond would agree that he deserved an error for dropping the pivot on Saturday. He spoke about it as a terrible play -- "brutal."

One slight problem: era-to-ear stat comparability. Traditionalists might hate it. I'd sure be open to that discussion.

Boz, On a scale of 9 to 10, how worried should we be about Ian Desmond's current fielding woes? This seems much worse than his standard April. There have been lots of players who get the throwing yips, but do you ever remember seeing a shortstop repeatedly unable to transfer the ball from glove to hand?

With a Phillie on third and two out in a 0-0 game, he got the kind of routine ground ball that should be an out 100 percent of the time BUT when you are in a terrible fielding slump can lead to a tentative don't-make-a-mistake horrid low (or high) throw. Desmond gunned it so hard it was like he was trying to throw it through Zimmerman's chest. Perfect. Might have been a little turning point. Sometimes, you've just got to say, What the..."

Is he making "the leap" before our eyes? Seems like all of his at-bats are must see events right now.

Right now, I don't miss 'em. The 461-footer has a second "gear" like a golf ball on a drive at the Masters.

First, congratulations on your latest honor. Second, I haven't read where you have made your prediction about who will the Skins will draft in the first round. What do you think? Dan K. Rockville

Thanks! (For the question, especially.)

As I've said, I think the Skins should trade down. In all cases. Especially if Winston or Mariota is still on the board. I know they'll probably be gone. Even if Winston had no character issues, I wouldn't touch him with a 20-foot pole. He plays for a powerhouse team with quality skill players around him, but he threw 18 INTERCEPTIONS. That's horrible. He can't read defenses. Or he throws into traffic. Or his mechanics and accuracy deteriorate on the move. "Oh, but he was better in the second half." Give me a break. If he was an interception machine at FSU, he will be medicore to A Nightmare in the NFL. End of discussion. (Until I'm proved wrong.)

Mariota is RGIII with less bulk/muscles and less arm strength. Same style offense in college. OF COURSE the drums are now beating for both of them as Great QBs of the future. It happens EVERY year. It's the hyperbole disease.

The Skins No. 5 overall pick is worth 1700 points on the famous NFL Draft Pick Value Chart that GMs use as rule of thumb in trade situations, especially several-for-one trade-down scenarios.

So, what could those 1700 points translate into? I love this because the permutations drive you absolutely nuts but is such potential to end up with three quality starting players. 

As an example, if you trade the No. 5 pick (1700 points) to the team with the 14th pick, you could -- in theory -- get back their first-round pick (1100 pts), their second-round pick --No. 46 overall (440 points and their third-round pick (78th overall, 200 points). That's 1740 points in value received.

If you traded with the team picking 15th, their 1-2-3 picks would be numbers 15, 47 and 79 overall with a point value of 1675. 

It's not this precise. Nobody says, "Oh, this trade isn't quite in sync with the value chart. We can't do it." And a top QB, still on the board, might be worth more than 1700 pts to some needy team.

What could the Skins get, hypothetically,, with the 14th, 46th and 78th picks? (Or the 15th, 47th and 79th?)

The three top offensive linemen in the draft, according to SI, are Scherff (Iowa), Collins (LSU) and 6-foot-7, 319 pound Andrus Peat (Stanford). All >300 pound tackles. One of them will probably still be on the board at No. 14 or 15 in this example.

I think the Skins OL is close to awful. They've been working to improve their even worse (much worse) defense. With a No. 46 overall pick, you could probably find another quality offensive lineman like Tomilson (Duke, a guard) or DJ Humphries, Florida, OT. You might even find Ereck Flowers, 6-6, 329, Miami on the board. SI says, "Plays with as much edge as any lineman in this class. Stays engaged up to, and sometimes even through the whistle...Teams that draft him will have to live with penalties." And talent.

Okay, maybe they don't want two OLs in a row. But you get the point that a mid-40's overall pick should get you a starting player.

What could you get around No. 78-79? I still don't like the Skins defensive backfield because I doubt DeAngelo Hall will ever be the same after his Achilles Heel injury. At No. 81, SI says of Byron Jones, CB, UConn, 6-1, 199, "One of the most athletic players in the draft. (But) coming off late-season shoulder surgery."

The Skins may hate (or love) all these players. Thee point is that there's near-certainty in the middle of the first round, and the played in the middle of the second and third round could be just what a team as depleted as the Skins needs.

There are a thousand other scenarios like this one. The better scout and evaluator your GM is, then the better our odds by trading down and allowing his expertise to shine with multiple picks, not just one. So, let Scot, with one "t," show his gifts.

Trade down. Then get a line on how good your GM and scouts/evaluators really are.

Thanks again. See you next week.

Was there any consideration by Cal to stop the consecutive games streak when he tied Lou Gehrig's record? Instead of having the record all to himself, he could have had his name tied to one of the most legendary figures of all time.

You mean as opposed to OBLITERATING the "unreachable" record of one of the most legendary figures of all times?

I'm a bad guy. I'm going with "obliterate."

So you went the WHOLE time without a question about Danny's team ?

Not one, that I saw.

(I think my producer sometimes sifts questions to remove nutty ones or duplicates, so there might have been one.)

There were a bunch thanking me for describing him in my column this a.m. as the most destructive Washington owner of my lifetime. But then they asked questions about other sports/subjects. One chatter did say, "Well, he didn't move the team out of town, like Griffith and Short" __ a good point. But actual questions about the team, nope. Am I the last one who cares? Where do I turn out the lights at FedEx?

Hi Tom congratulations on your well-deserved election to the DC Sports Hall of Fame. Over the weekend the Nationals drew over 100,000 fans to an April series against one of the expected worst teams in baseball in the Phillies. They did this despite all 3 games coming in direct competition with Wizards or Capitals playoff games, including a direct conflict with the home Caps game 2. Somewhere Peter G. Angelos must be re-thinking his "there are no baseball fans in D.C." bromide, although I'm not sure critical thinking is his strength. Thoughts? Thank you.

As is so often the case with chatters, my only thought  is, "You're right. Thanks for pointing that out!"

Is this the beginning of a breakout season for Bryce Harper? On Thursday he almost ran down Jayson Werth on the bases. On Saturday he hit a ball to center that almost landed on the concourse. He's drawing a lot of walks. He stared down a fan in the stands until that person gave a ball to a kid. Part of the attraction of going to games is just to see what he will do next. Also, he's younger than Kris Bryant, who's supposed to be the next big thing.

After I chat, I have lunch, then read all the rest of the questions to steal your good ideas. But you all aree out doing yourselves today. Nice "question." He also went high up on the wall and almost made a ~10'-high catch the other day but, more important, he did it the right way, getting good extension but not crashing into the wall. "Bump" the wall, sure. Crash, no.

You on March 2 re the Wiz: "I suspect 46-47 wins -- the most since the '70's but a disappointment after such a hot start." You nailed it. Do you favor a name change to the Washington Monuments? Not me.

Hmmm, how do you abbreviate "Monuments" in a headline? The 'Ments? The Mo's? The Mons?" The Monus?

But I'll grant that "The Wiz" doesn't always evoke the best first impression.

I hope Ted considers the needs of editors, including on-line editors in a no-more-dead-trees world.

Congrats on the Hall of Fame! I have been a Redskins fan for 45 years, but I can honestly say that if they move to Loudoun County I am done. They might as well be the Carolina Panthers for all I will care. Why can't they do the sensible thing and change the team name so we can get a stadium on the RFK site?

This is now the new norm for "Skins Questions."

It's time for a good deep sane draft. Not some looney QB grab.

Perhaps the reason Ovie has different results in the post season, is that the post season is officiated differently. Yes, they don't admit it, but it's common knowledge that post season is a different game. It means fewer penalties, which is where he really thrives.

Nice point. It sure doesn't help the uncontested NHL king of the power play goal. It's one of his gifts. It does tend to get muted.

Mr B. After watching a few Nats games this season, it FEELS like the games are moving faster with less time between pitches . Are they ?

You're right. The very early results were "11 minutes faster." 3:02 to 2:51. But I'd like to see something more up-to-date. Even 8 or nine minutes, in the first year, would be good. In future, imo, you can easily cut another 10 seconds off the between-innings and relief-pitching-change clock and, without anybody even noticing, instantly cut another 10 x 18 = 180 seconds or three more minutes. (As I understand it from the head of the Pace of Play Committee, that would not impact current time for commercials.)  It all helps. Get into the 2:40s, like 50 years ago, and that's just baseball __watch if you like, don't if you don't. But that will FEEL like good baseball. Okay, 2:35, someday, even better.  

Hi Boz, Process question. On average, how many questions do you receive during a Monday chat and how do you decide which one's to answer?

1) A lot. I start at 10:30. I still haven't read them all yet.

2) Hey, that's a good question! or Whadaya know, I have a decent answer for that question!


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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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