Ask Boswell: Redskins, Nationals and Washington sports

Jul 14, 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

Have seen no comment on Max's decision to pitch Sunday and miss All Star start. Is this fair to national fans (or National's fans)? Wouldn't his start help secure home field advantage for WS? Does he have too much authority to make his own playing decisions? Does he stay in games too long?

I liked the Nats decision -- strongly favor it. Nats need wins for post-season home field edge. Also, win rubber gamee from O's -- that's something Nats fans want too. As for AS Game, you never know who'll be sharp or get hit. They are all stars. Scherzer's just going to pitch an inning or two anyway even if he  does start.

No, he's not pitching to much. He's so pitch effecient now that he's throwing fewer  pitches than he did in Detroit. Last year, he was third in MLB in pitches thrown. Now he's 15th. Last year he was 70th of 88 qualifiers in pitch efficiency -- 16.51 pitches per inning. That's terrible. I asked him about it yesterday. Now he is THIRD in best efficiency -- 14.03 pitches per inning.

So, last year he averaged 110 pitches a start. Now, only 102.7 per start -- 1850 pitches in 18 starts.

It's an amazing transformation/improvement in a pitcher who already won a Cy Young Award. It's mostly a mental change: "attack, attack," he said yesterday.

Sorry about delay. Tech difficulties at Kentucky hotel across river from Cincy. They're a couple of centuries behind here.

Is Treinen the new Henry Rodriquez? Which guy is going to show up - the one with incredible stuff, or the guy who scares you to death? How long do you stay with him? J. Capossela

His control is a world better than Henry Rodriguez. But Treinen still walks far too many. It is his only weakness, but a big one and prevents him from being the late-inning guy they need. Right now, he's absolutely not the answer. But he could be. Maybe even should be. Nobody with the Nats thinks there is any excuse for the walks. It's not his pitching nature to be wild. His walks are up from 2.3 per 9 IP last year -- more than good enough -- to 4.4, which is awful, unacceptable, especially if you have a 97 mph sinker and almost never give up a HR. He had excellent control in the minors at every stop. This is ridiculous. Where is the four-year track record of good to excellent control? He's disappointed in himself. He could be a fine reliever if he threw more strikes. He can. He hasn't. I'm not usually harsh with "young" pitchers. But he's not young. He's 27. This is his big chance. The door's open. Look in the mirror, give yourself a kick, work on mechanics -- whatever it takes. But his stuff and tenacious makeup (in his life) aren't being reflected on the mound. This is a strong character person by all accounts. He can take criticism. I look for better results soon. The Nats really need him, especially if they don't get a top set-up man by the trade deadline.

Boz - what do the Nats do at the deadline this year? What should they do? Would you offer up what it took to bring in a big time bullpen arm or two?

Chapman (best case, almost a dream), Papelbon (if healthy), Benoit (solid though 38).

They don't have enough to cover the 6th-7th-8th in the post-season as they are currently built. It's obvious. When you have a low-cost FA reliever (Janssen) who'd had injuries as he ages and does it with mirrors, plus two DFA'ed relievers -- Thornton and Carpenter -- doing eighth inning by committee (and with poor results) then that pretty much defines Not Good Enough.

I assume Rizzo knows it, sees it, would like to see some development in the next two weeks that fixes the Bridge to Drew. Barrett has a fine arm. But this is no time for kids and discount FAs and Others. This team is trying to win a World Series. I wrote about this a month ago. Nothing has been fixed. Rizzo has the "pieces" to make almost any trade he can dream up.

So dream one up soon.

(Now watch. Barrett, Treinan, Carpenter, Thornton and Janssen will be the Story of October. It'd be a nice movie. But it's a long shot. The Nats don't need a long shot. They need One More Proven Back-end Arm.)

Surprised that in your chat last week when talking about Clint Robinson and other baseball players getting a late start that you didn't mention someone you covered a lot, Melvin Mora!

Nice. I was looking at LHed hitters. But Mora makes the point.

Am I the only fan who finds this utterly boring? To me, the magic of a home run is that someone can hit it off real pitching - 99mph gas or an ungodly breaking pitch.

Yes, in light of last night, you are the only fan left who doesn't think the (new format) Home Run Derby is not VERY exciting.

I realize you may have missed it. I've never seen an event that was on its death bed, or deserved to be anyway, get such a rebirth with a different format. Round after round Todd Frazier came from behind with the clock ticking to win every time. Lots of cool accidental stuff -- like the next pitch can't be thrown until the previous ball lands. Because of threat of rain they went from five minute rounds to four minutes. And that was perfect. The whole thing took 2:40 -- like a game. There were 159 homers, 51 more than the previous record (in '05) because nobody was "taking" pitches with the clock (or bonus 30-second clock for a homer over 450') running.

Joc Pederon got to show everyone that he's a new tape-measure king.

One of my thoughts was: They saved it just in time for Bryce Harper and the Derby at Naats Park in '18 at the All-Star game. The entertainment value of the event just went back up. With the Future's Game on Sunday, the Derby Monday, the game Tuesday, the Fanfest downtown and all the rest it really is a circus that you want to have come to your town.

How much "economic impact?" For small-market Cincinnati, maybe quite a bit. For a Top 10 market like Washington -- come on, who in the business world doesn't know what D.C. offers? But it'll probably add bucks to the D.C. tax receipts and it is definitely already catalyzing the building in SE D.C. Have you seen all the cranes now at work down there! A Lerner point of interest: The top of the crane marks the level of the top floor of the building that is under construction. Next time you are at Nats Park, look at the number and height of the cranes. I could see seven from the press box last week. And the total number is probably more like a dozen. The original conception of SE Development for the city is coming to pass. And it looks like getting the ASG has only helped. 

The Post's headline "Nationals believe Ian Desmond's slump will be over when it's over." I get it - but at what point do the Nationals decide that whatever is going on with Ian Desmond is not simply a slump but is hurting the team to the extent that changes must be made? I think everyone feels for him, but we are now 87 games in and neither the offense nor the defense seems to be leveling off to the mean.

Answer: Never.

Desmond has been told that he will play SS every day. Period. Hit or not hit. Make errors or not make errors. He is the Nats SS. IOW, no feelings -- "hard" or any other kind --about him not signing an extension (now ancient history) or not being back in '16. They appreciate his durability -- everybody else is injured, yet somehow Desmond never is. Could that he "toughness?" They think he'll snap out. They KNOW he is, along with about four others, one of the key leaders of the team and clubhouse glue.

I didn't realize the extent of their commitment to him until after I wrote. I knew it was very high. I didn't know it was that high. Will he take a day or two off -- maybe. Would the right trade create a change -- well, it always could in theory.

Desmond is the shortstop. It is the right decision, in my book. As I said, try not to smash any flat screen TVs.

My guess: His 40 days in the wilderness is almost over. I don't mean he'll go on a tear. I mean he'll be Ian Desmond again soon. We'll see. I mean we WILL see, because he WILL play.    

OK, I have to go there on All-Star Day in Cincy. What's your latest take on the Hall of Fame for Pete? Frankly, there are many worse people in the Hall of Fame - more evil people (racists, abusers) and more mediocre people (who should at best be in the Hall of Good, or Hall of Very Good). On the other hand, in listening to Pete, it's unclear whether he has ever truly perceived that he did anything wrong. His apologies seem to be half-sincere at best.

It's okay to play the All-Star game on Pete Rose Way as long as we remember that the Rose Way ain't the right way.

1) He should never be allowed back into baseball. Absolute unequivocal answer. See my column from earlier this year. For the record, he NEVER will be reinstated. The chances are 0%. No one at the top of baseball would seriously consider it. "Listen to Pete." Sure, you can do that. Then shake your head at how delusional he is as soon as he leaves the room.  

2) If it's proved that he bet on games while he was a player, he should never be in the HOF. Every profession has at least one sin that you can't commit and remain in your position. If you are in the military, you can have plenty of human frailty but you can't give information to the enemy. In MLB, there is only ONE FRIGGIN' THING in the whole sport that you are TOLD you cannot do because it threatens the existence of the sport -- not just it's "integrity" but it's existence (as the 1919 Black Sox scandal proved. You can't bet on your games. It's on  every clubhouse wall. If you do it, you can't be in the HOF. You can make money (until you're caught gambling on the game). You can be famous. But once you are nailed, you are OUT. And you should be.

Gambling on the sport as a player jeopardizes the WHOLE sport. It's far worse than one person cheating with PEDs which only directly impacts that one player.

3) What if he only gambled on his team to win when he was a manager? I've wavered over the years. No need to decide today. Let Pete have his 15 seconds tonight when they announce his name or whatever they do.

BTW, don't miss the wonderful story by Adam Kilgore about Rose signing autographs ($25 each) in a minor league town called Normal.

Most guess that Pete makes over $1M-a-year from signing. And everybody hugs him, tells him how great he was. He also gets a huge MLB pension. And all his records are celebrated in the Hall of Fame.

I have never seen ANYONE who was clearly the perpetrator of something really bad and really damaging to others, who has by decades of lying, misrepresenting and attacking people who did their jobs correctly, painted himself as the victim in the minds of millions.

The cheers you hear tonight will be a testimony to two things. 1) His great playing career. 2) And his 27-year-old demonstration that The Big Lie still works.

But I will not be cheering. Frank Robinson just despises what Pete has done to the game for the last 30 years. I'll be interested to see whether he applauds if he's in a visible position on the field or in the stands where NOT cheering would be noted.


Here's a link to response to the new improved Home Run Derby.

Mr B Joe Torre was on Mike & Mike yesterday and when asked what wins the second "half " of the season and playoffs, his response was "pitching ", with particular attention to the bull pen now that most starters go about 6 innings. Does that suggest that Rizzo needs to make a significant play for a solid set up guy or 'holder' if the Nats are to have a chance to go deep this year ?

Yes. Thanks. Interesting to know that's what Joe thinks.

Thanks for the chat, as always! The Nats *keep* getting more injuries, and yet they manage to stay on top of the NL East, with lineups that look like they're from split-squad days at spring training. Seems like we're destined to be missing a couple of key starting players when the playoffs hit. Do you think it is realistic to assume that we'll get all the wounded back and up to speed by the time the playoffs begin?

I'll write about that soon. The cheery scenario is plausible. Rizzo and everybody else is selling it -- to themselves as much as to anyone. Self-confidence and optimism matter in a long MLB season. Werth talked to me last week about ending up "on a float" with Desmond as the last image of '15. It never happens unless you believe it can happen.

BUT the gloomy scenario -- Z'man's foot never really gets right this year; Strasburg's mechanics and injuries produce a mostly Lost Season; Fister and Gio, neither impressive for more than three starts in a row at any point this year, are never as sharp as they were in past years; Werth gets back but with less power; the "Bridge to Storen" never gets repaired; and the "B" (or B-) level of execution of fundamentals doesn't improve -- is a very real possibility.

If you asked me who'd win the '15 WS, as of this moment, "the Nats" would not bee the first or second name out of my mouth. Until stars get back and play like stars again -- especially Rendon -- they wouldn't be in the top five. "Returning stars" -- when you don't know whether they will return and play at their star level -- is maybe the ultimate example of "everything changes everything" in baseball.

When Stanton and Miggy get back from the DL, will they come back at Stanton and Miggy? Yes. Can you say it with the same confidence about Rendon being Rendon? Almost certainly, if he doesn't get '15 injury No. 4. Werth? I'd go with "probably."Strasburg? Probably. I think he looked really good his last two outtings. Span? Man, his back sure seems connected to his two "core surgeries." Is he really going to be intact in late October? Hope so. Zimmerman? He's got me worried. Saw him hit a couple of tape-measure blasts in BP last Friday. But he doesn't have the old Eddie Murray knack of knowing how to play the game (very well) at 80 percent or 90 percent health. Zim still thinks he is that young guy throwing himself around at third base and being acrobatic. Now he tries to make all the tough plays at first base and run the bases hard. Cut It Out, Ryan. If he wants to be of any use in September/October, he better learn to run the bases like Wilson Ramos and play first base at 85 percent effort, as Eddie would do for weeks at a time when he was "playing hurt."

It's impressive that the Nats are so resilient and +9 over .500 after a ton of injuries. That's good. It's changed the careers of, or improved the development of Espinosa, Taylor, Robinson, Ross, Difo and others. That's VERY good for '16 and '17. It's also created more room to move up fast in the minors for Turner and Gioilito. Some of that may help the Nats in '19, '20 and beyond.

But when a season has news on injuries to major players that is "bad, bad, bad, bad, bad, bad" -- and even that is not enough "bads" to capture '15 so far -- then I tend to think that all of '15 could end up less than wonderful.

BUT in recent years, Cards and Giants teams have been just as injured and even looked worse at the AS break and ended up winning the WS.

Does Stras have a breakout season ahead like Harper this year or have we seen what he is/can be?

Strasburg's breakout season will be next year.

Just felt like saying it. He's very introverted, slow to mature as a performer, considering his talent. But I see signs. He works. He listens (sometimes). Maybe I'm too optimistic. But he's 26 and his arm is sounder than it's been in years. He's throwing a fluid 96-97 and touching 98 (okay, until the LATEST non-arm injury). It's possible that the cheap-answer consensus -- his arm/shoulder will blow at a young age -- may not be right. Baseball confounds us constantly. Strasburg is going to reach 27 with lost of experience but not really a lot of mileage on his arm. He may last well into his 30's. Not predicting, just saying. At some point, it's more likely that it "clicks" for him, that the "light goes on" than that it never does "click" and he's always a good pitcher when healthy but frustrating-and-frustrated much of the time.

So does he have a chance? Does he have any experience with links golf? Or will he be Mickelson and miss the cut for many years while he figures it out and then finally wins at Muirfield?

Spieth just won the U.S. Opeen on a course that was designed by Robert Trent Jones, Jr., to be the St. Andrews of America. I stood beside the 18th fairway and talked wirh him alone for a long time. Everything about that course was modeled on the playing style needed at St. Andrews. (Okay, even more like Kingsbarns 15 miles from St. Andrews.) Spieth brought only his "B+" game and his "A+" head -- and that was enough to win.

Spieth was fabulous is grinding out the win at the John Deer Classic. But he DID have to grind -- AGAIN. That takes its toll. It builds confidence and intimidation aura, but it wears your golf brain out. Jet lag is real, too. That's why you almost NEVER see serious Open contenders playing in the U.SD. the previous week.

The current odds are about right. Spieth the favorite at 5-to-1 or 6-to-1. But that's ONLY 20 percent So he's also a big underdog to the FIELD. Dustin Johnson, 12-to-1, is a certified choker, doesn't have half of Spieth's head for the game but is also a great power player and St. Andrews is PERFECT for him. There are FOUR driveable par fours for him (not for Spieth) and two reachable par fives. It's wide open. He can fly it over a LOT of the bunkers where are half of the Old Course's defense.

The other half of that defense, however, is the huge undulating mind-blowing greens. They are exactly what Johnsoin is usually NOT good at. So that'll make him fascinating to watch. Driver-wedge-birdie, or driver, chip-three-putt?

Fowler, Scott and Rose are the next three picks. This may bee the ONLY Open ever played where the performances at the previous U.S. Open are actually fairly predictive. The difference: No wind in Tacoma, Washington. There is NEVER "no wind" off the Firth of Fourth.

Spieth has never played a competitive round at St. Andrews. A negative. It's a huge local-knowledge course. A negative. It's a great putter's course. Big positive. And he is Speith -- a phrase that suddenly means a great deal: Big positive.

Almost everybody will be rooting for him -- because he deserves it. But remember those Brit bookies are smart. It's 6-to-1, not 2-to-1 for a lot of good reasons.

Golf is NOT a game like tennis where if you are just plan better -- the best in the field by a margin -- you WILL win. Like Serena. The result is "over-determined." There is so much data -- so many shots head-to-head against the player that you must bea --_ that the likelihood of a "correct" outcome is very, very high. Of all the important individual sports, golf is the most "under-determined." 72 holes is simply not a big enough sample to weed out the field; so you have countless one-time major winners in golf who are not truly great players. Also, nothing is truly head-to-head, not even when you are playing in the same group. It's man-vs-course and man-vs-himself. It is not, except in some vague psychological way, man-vs-man.

The TV ratings should be over the moon.


Re ratings, an SBJ story on Nats TV ratings. Haven't read it yet.

How much better would Harper be with a healthy, mid-summer Ryan Zimmerman hitting behind him? Hard to imagine what "better" is, but am happy to try...

Protection helps. But not nearly as much as "plate discipline." And plate discipline is within your own control.

At age 41, Ted Williams had 29 homers and 72 RBI in only 310 at bats (digest that) with a 1.096 OPS (.451/.645). No other Red Sox player had 20 homers. He had no "protection." He was too old to beat out a ground ball. Everybody used the Williams Shift -- which looks almost exactly like it does today and robbed him constantly. He defied it and hit into it every time. (I was 12, but don't you think I watched every Ted at bat? The Senators played Boston 22 times a year back then.) Ted hit the strikes and took the balls. That's the game. It's a "system" that works in all times and all places on all teams, good or awful. At 38, Williams hit 38 homers, slugged .731, hit .388. He kid memory is that he hit the crap out of the ball in roughly 75 percent of his at bats. He had almost as many homers (38) as strikeouts (43.) 

As a measure of his respect within his generation, my father-in-law Irving (Shiek) Karelis, who is in the University of New Hampshire HOF, played up to AAA in the Red Sox chain. He faced, and played with many MLBers in WWII on a Navy team. I once mentioned, in his presence, that he had struck out Ted Williams in one of those games. He said, "No, I never struck out Ted. I struck out Bobby Doerr (also HOF)."

Do you think he'll get called up in September?

Absolutely. He isn't fast. He's Marvel fast. They say he had a double and a triple in the Future's Game here. But there were few witnesses to the triple. Most fans blinked and missed it.

No doubt that these two tennis players are great and that their winning Wimbledon this past weekend was amazing. But why was it that when Serena won her sixth Wimbledon Title, 21st Major Title, 2nd Serena Slam Title, going for her firs calendar year title since Steffi Graf, was that not big front page news on Sunday's Sports page, and not this little article in the left bottom corner? Today's, Monday's Sports page, front and center was Novak's win, beautiful picture and big. What's up with that, Serena doesn't get the press and credit that she deserves for being the best women's athlete, it's amazing to me how we are not celebrating our women athlete's more in print and TV. I am very disappointed in the way the Post handled her victory.

Sorry, but you get the Rosanne Rosannadanna Award. We had a BIG "Serena wins" story not only on the front of the sports section but another even bigger Serena story on the front of the whole paper on A1 by Sally Jenkins.

We covered Serena like 10 blankets for all of Wimbledon, as we obviously should have.

As I wrote in my chat last week Serena is....


Not going to write it again.

(This is example 1,000th of my law: If you want to write a good story on a big topic, but then only have 1/2 the normal number of readers find it, then let it go out on A1. You're proud to be out there. But...well, it's weird. You also want your best stuff to get read by the most people. It's been this way for generations.)

It seems like several Nats - including, I'm sorry to say, Ryan Zimmerman and Stephen Strasburg - are showing worrying signs of the Nick Johnson syndrome of great talent but never quite 100% healthy. What is it - a lack of stretching? Not enough veggies in the diet? Bad doctors/trainers on the payroll? Or just plain bad luck?

If I were the Nats I'd be taking a fresh total at the entire health/training/injury/diagnosis/treatment/rehab chain after this season. On general principles. But then I'd have been doing that a couple of years ago. I don't know what's up. Maybe nothing. Once again, I seem to have misplaced my medical degree. But I'm not impressed with much of the record the last several years.

My son at about age 4, displeased with his parents, once said, "I want the old people out and I want some new people in."

I realize that 4-year-olds are given to irrational tantrums. But they also say: "Out of the mouths of babes..."

What do you make of Billy Hamilton? What is his value to a baseball team? Should he be an everyday player with his hitting statistics? Can you improve your hitting that dramatically over the course of a career? I suppose Ozzie Smith did.

Hello, advanced metrics!

FanGraphs says you want Billy Hamilton on your team -- a lot. Fabulous defensive range in CF -- he's robbed the Nats enough. His WAR in '14 was 3.7 (worth $27.9M salary, though FanGraphs is mighty generous with other people's money, imo). This year, 1.6 WAR.

FWIW, don't worry about extending Fister or Span. What about Espinosa. Come on, make a decision. Play GM. It's aa dangerous game. FanGraphs has his WAR at 2.2 ($17.7M) for the first HALF of '15. He was 3.3 and 3.5 in '11 and '12 because his defense is fabulous. He's No. 1 in MLB in fielding percentage for second basemen (.997 w one error) and fourth in range factor per nine innings. He's also seventh in OPS among all second basemen and third in homers (10) despite only being 20th in at bats at the position.

So, is it real? He's 28. He rarely gets hurt. He can play 17 positions. He's a switch-hitter. If you guess right -- he's real -- while he still won't be a free agent until '18, maybe you can get a key middle infielder for the next five years at a civilized price. What is his comparable? There IS no comp. In '13-'14 combined his WAR was 0.1 -- worthless.

Yes, I agree with you -- it's much better that Rizzo is the GM, not us. Seriously, how would you like to have that job? Would you find Clint Robinson? Believe in Yunel Escobar enough to trade Clippard for him? Get Turner and Joe Ross for Souza? Be pro-Scherzer (though any $210M deal is an owner deal, not a GM deal), then watch him go from really, really good to (for 18 starts) Pedro Martinez in his prime? 

Now you only have to worry about how quickly to develop Ross, Giolito, Fedde, Turner, Difo, Taylor and about six others while overseeing the returns of Renson, Werth, Strasburg, Z'amn, Span. And that's about 10 percent of his job. "Oh, Mike, a Mr. Scott Boras on the line for you."

There isn't enough money in the world. I'm going to take a wild guess that very few GMs are paid enough. Which in Rizzo's case would mean what?  

Aroldis Chapman. Aroldis Chapman! AROLDIS CHAPMAN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I bet you can have him -- well, through '16 when he's a FA --for Lucas Giolito and Trea Turner. Hey, they're not even on the Nats team now, are they. Look what a great chance you'd have to go to the '15 World Series (maybe).

"Price is what you pay, value is what you get." Easy to say, hard to measure -- in advance. The Nats OBVIOUSLY have way more than enough chips to get Chapman. How much do they want him? How much do they need him? How much is ~20 years of team control of Giolitoi, Ross and Turner worth?

Any of us could land Chapman with one phone call and not take anybody off the Nats who'll play in '15 or who might even play in '16. But I bet very few of us would give the Reds any two-out-of-three of Giolito, Ross and Turner for 225 games of Chapman. It isn't easy, especially when three of those four names are pitchers who could get hurt tomorrow an d never quite be the same. 

I'd offer Ross, Treinan and Difo.

No, I wouldn't.

What would Tyler Clippard (2.43 ERA, 17 saves) cost?

That's it for this week. Got an All-Star game to go watch!

Harper's 1st inning AB vs (RH) Keuchel could be his best shot, and NL knows it, that's why they hit him third so he'dd get an at bat in the 1st. Harper has hit l;lefties wonderfully this year. The the AL lefties aren't just any lefties: Sale, Price, Britton, etc.

No one can pick a golf tournament. So I'll take Rose (and not jinx Spieth). Tiger, when he was Tiger, shot -19 and -13 at St. Andrews. If he can't get on the leaderboard there, I don't know where he can. Top 24, but not a serious shot to win.

Cheers. See you next week on Monday at 11 a.m. Thanks for all the great questions. Sorry about the technical slowdown today.

What's your take? My roomates and I were on the edge of our seats all night.

Jerry Crasnick said that unicorns would have to walk across the outfield tonight for the All-Star game to top the HR Derby. You have lots of company. Harper and his dad in '18.

When will baseball end this ridiculous practice of determining home field for the World Series based on who wins tonight's exhibition? Are they going to go to "Rock-Paper-Scissors" next?

Got to admit it keeps me interested. And it means that starting players now bat two or three times and managers don't apologize for it. You see the biggest offensive stars longer. It's not "fair." But it's not going away.

Average tickets to the game are selling for about $685 after the (usual) drop in prices in the 48 hours before the first pitch. They'll drop more. But those are typical on-line prices. $100 more than last year in Minny, similar to Mets in '13. Behind HP: >$3000. Cheapest OF >$400. Standing room almost $300. So, somebody must think its not a bad show.

The SRO tickets of this ASG are still higher than any ticket price to any Cincinnati event of any kind in the last 5 years.

Congrats to Serena. Question about the Kastles -- The stars play a few matches in our backyard. We get to see them up-close for cheap. Seems too good to be true. What am I missing or misunderstanding?

Are you at the hotel with the revolving restaurant on the top? My parents used to take us there when we were kids for special occasions. Good times.

No, mine is the one that looks at the parking lot, the Waffle House and the Burger King. I'll never starve.

You know, I think I had the SAME parking lot and Waffle House outside my window in Tacoma for the Open!

But I can SEE your hotel. It looks very nice. I suspect you can even see the Mississippi River from there. I wouldn't know. I'm at a hotel with "Riverfront" in its name from which it is impossible to know that there even is a river.

(Seriously, it's perfectly fine hotel and has Mrs. Freshley's (chocolate, cream filled) cupcakes in its vending machine. This, plus air conditioning that works and Internet connectivity that almost works, automatically puts it in the top half of Sportswriter Hotels I've Known.)


What do you think of Pete Rose participating at the All Star Game?

I prefer him at the Mandalay in Vegas signing autographs a zillion days a year where, if he chooses, he can give admiring youngsters tips on all the money-making opportunities that surround them -- just a few steps away.

He got the all-star shaft, man. My theory is that Bochy did this intentionally to try to get into Drew's head in case the Giants and Nats face each other in October. Given the unfounded (I believe) notion of Drew's fragile ego, Boch wants Drew to know he left him off the all-star team and let that get into his head a little bit if/when they play again. I know - perhaps far-fetched but you never know.

Drew got the shaft. There's always a "good reason." Come on, the team with the second most wins since the start of '12 has TWO All-Stars on a 34-man roster?

My favorite ASG press conference moment: AL manager Yost, in explaining why he had to leave somebody off: "Well, I HAD to pick a Red Sox."

The levels of irony overwhelm me. 

Was at the game Saturday night. My first time at Camden Yards. What a beautiful park. Had a great time. Almost everyone was really nice and welcoming to us Nat's fans. The Orioles fans sure enjoyed booing Bryce and the Nat's fan sure appreciated him shutting them down with the homerun but then Danny really shut them down with the three run homer. What a great night in Baltimore. It was a beautiful night for baseball!

If you are a baseball fan in the DC-Balto area, you should be in something like heaven these days. 

Tom, a report just came out that the Nats TV ratings have increased 41% this season, 5th most among MLB teams. So what's up with the MASN deal?

The longer Peter drags it out -- delays paying what he already owes, plus everything that will be added to the tab because of whatever "rest" is finally determined -- the higher the ultimate price. And the worse his alternatives for paying what's owed. You can run, but you can't hide -- forever. The one thing nobody contests -- and Peter would contest the sunrise, then appeal to a higher court  that it hadn't really risen at all -- is that there WILL be a reset of rates (already delayed for years). His case is that: MLB didn't play fair (conflict of interest) with the reset price their internal committee decided on.

The '15 season, and Nats TV ratings have not been kind to Peter's strategy. For the Nats, those ratings aren't going lower and may go higher; watching THIS Bryce Harper every day on TV through '18 (at least) and Max Scherzer every fifth day through 2021 are NOT going to hurt local TV ratings! The last thing Peter needed was for the Nats to have an Appointment Viewing Superstar Hitter and a pitcher who might strike out 16, pitch a perfect game or both in any start. 

Ironically, the Nats at 48-39 but with Harper and Scherzer are probably better for TV viewing than the Nats at 52-36 with a bigger division lead, more healthy players, but not two of the half-dozen biggest mega-stars in the game.

BTW, Dan Snyder probably isn't too elated about the sudden star power of both Harper and Scherzer. His team's last comparable players -- for MVP-candidate status within their sport and charisma/quirks/flamboyance -- would probably be John Riggins and Jurgy, well, if they still played.


Hey Boz--Any reax to Major Garrett's piece in your newspaper over the weekend? He says the HR derby is "an elephantine affront to the grace, agility and precision of the game." Do you agree? Is there a better way to showcase MLBers' skills, something akin to NBA's 3 point contest? NHL-like skills competition? Curious to hear your thoughts. Thank you.

We all write perfectly reasonable columns that, 48 hours later, make us want to say, "Never mind."

He made a lot of good points. With which I agreed. And which now all seem ridiculous because a meaningless pre-game event that is incredible fun -- and has a packed house cheering, and often standing, for hours -- doesn't really need to be replaced by, well, a "skills competition" on the best way to turn the DP pivot.

I just hope I don't write one of those can-I-have-it-back columns between now and next Monday. Seriously, you think that almost every time you file a column. It's just unfair the way a constantly changing reality simply refuses to cooperate with you.

The Nats already have an A+ radio team, and I'm not one to give away a current guy's job, but if the TV pbp job were ever to open up, what are the odds the team could get Dave Flemming to come back home and be the guy here for 30+ years? He'd become one of those iconic baseball voices associated with one team for decades and he'd be on the east coast and have a lot more options for ESPN when he calls other sports. He's a star and he's from the area and it would be great to one day bring him home before Jon Miller retires in San Francisco.

You picked the one guy in the entire industry on whom I'd probably recuse myself. Dave graduated from my old high school in Alexandria (SSSAS) in '94 and I consider him a friend though we've only spoken a few times.

Perhaps you have notice that very few people ever leave SF for any reason. Especially if they are already successful there.

Boz, Did Matt Williams essentially ruin Drew Storen's chance to be an All Star when he put him in with something like a six-run lead and, without the pressure, Drew gave up a multi-run HR to wreck his ERA?

The score was 16-1. He (conceivably) "needed work." He gave up three earned runs. Don't remind me. (Don't remind Drew.) It changes his record from a 1.10 ERA with 27 saves and the most one-run saves in MLB,to a 1.89 ERA now. How could you have denied him after his 1.12 ERA in 65 games last year?

That, and nothing else, definitely cost him his first All-Star spot -- 100 percent. Not a case of "he done him wrong." Just a case of incredibly bad luck. Kinda tough to get super-pumped at 16-1.

I saw that you mentioned earlier that gambling "the one friggin thing" players were told they couldn't do. What are your thoughts on MLB's relationship with Draft Kings, which is essentially just modern-day gambling? The NFL has fully embraced fantasy football, which again, is just gambling. I know there's a difference between that and what Rose did, but don't those lines get pretty blurry at some point?

Draft Kings is a despicable development. MLB should be shamed to be associated with it. Oh, sorry, I bet there is a buck in it for them. And, yeah, somebody else would grab that buck if they didn't -- so that means they should!!!??? 

I want to punch my car radio every time I hear the thing advertised -- especially when the shills get all pumped up with their sleazy pitch.

Hey, kids and youngsters, just pick a team and win a million dollars -- by tomorrow! Of course, the odds are a trillion-billion to one. It's just the damn lottery -- a regressive income tax on the gullible. But we won't tell you that. And the state doesn't get the whole action -- you know, to maybe build a road -- the way it does in a lottery.

The "hook" is that there is "skill" in picking "your" team. Give me a break.

From low-dollar Fantasy Teams with your friends (I was in them) to 24/7 multi-media pitches to do daily gambling on your personal credit line with zero chance of winning but perfectly normal odds of becoming an addict -- and the whole progression in less than 25 years with the stamp of approval of America's former national pastime right on it. Kinda makes you wanna chant, "USA! USA!"

You'd need really good eyesight to see the Mississippi River from Cinci (or Covington, KY). It's the Ohio River you keep going across into Cinci. (The chiding is affectionate, from someone who is amazed by your depth of understanding of sports. Not quite as exciting being one who knows major American waterways.)

Sorry, Ohio River. Hey, if I could see it maybe I'd know what it was. That's my story and...

Four hours to, sorta, game time, so, outta here.

I have to agree with the earlier writer. I have home delivery of the paper, and I didn't see a big spash about Serena's win on the front of the Sports section. I just checked the e-replica and see that Sunday's Sports has a giant cartoon of Scherzer and a tiny picture of Williams in the lower left corner. Did another edition have actual coverage of her Wimbledon win?

A1, A1, A1!!!!

Oh, well, I tried.

If you wonder why I am not in a furious hurry to get to the Great American Ballpark, it may have something to do with the end-of-time thunder and torrential sideways rain outside my window. Oh, no, there goes the Waffle House!

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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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