Ask Boswell: Redskins, Nationals and Washington sports

Mar 14, 2016

Washington Post Sports Columnist Tom Boswell answered your questions about the Redskins, Capitals, Nationals, Wizards, the NFL and more.

Past Ask Boswell chats

...as a team that looked at times like it had Sweet Sixteen potential winds up in the NIT for the second straight year. Mike Lonergan put together a talented group but only rarely seemed to get full performance out of it.

Except for UVA this has been a generally disappointing local hoops season. Especially Maryland ending up with No. 5 seed. Wow.

I've seldom if ever seen a year when there is so little difference between the four No. 1 seeds and the four No. 2 seeds. That, to me, gives a psychological advantage to the No. 2 teams that feel they have been done wrong -- Michigan State and perhaps Villanova. They're just as good. They know it. But they have a slight bit of underdog "prove it" helping them. Also, I think Maryland will be a little insulted to be sent to the moon to play in Spokane. Same with Kentucky in Des Moines. 

I like to do a "flash" pick of the whole 68-team bracket -- no paralysis from analysis and see what my Subconscious Fan has to say.

So I did it this a.m. To my surprise, I ended up with the four No. 2s in the Final Four! The Final was MSU over Villanova. Of course I'd rather listen to Tom Izzo talk after a game than anybody, so I'm biased. Just think he's wonderfully wise about people and insightful about the game.

I have Maryland (5), Kentucky (4) and Purdue (5) in the Elite Eight -- all upset teams. Otherwise, the No. 1s and No. 2. 

Everywhere I look IO see people picking the chalk. What's the fun of that?

Early upsets: Baylor over Duke (hate 'em). Texas over Texas A&M. I have no history of being good or bad in my m any brackets. Just mediocre. So don't waste your time considering this expert college hoop information! Like millions, I enjoy it, but I'm not a freak about it -- until March.

Svrluga's column on Rizzo mentioned 3 scenarios (Lerners pick up the option; Lerners extend the option; Lerners walk away from Rizzo). Isn't there a 4th option: Rizzo does a "Jordan Zimmermann" and walks away from Nats. If Nats pick up current option, could Rizzo legally reject it? And, why is the Rizzo contract still hanging out there? Has this brinkmanship the Lerners seem to like ever worked out well for the Nats?

It's a team option. They can pick it up for two more years.

If it were me, I'd have picked it up before now -- whether it's "necessary" or not. Rizzo's made ONE bad move in eight years -- Matt Williams. It was bad -- a major factor in two lost "window" season. But Matt was MOY with 96 wins, too. So if that is your WORST decision...

Otherwise, Rizzo is the MVP of the operation, especially since they lost Kasten. As I mentioned last week, there'd be a line around the block if he were free. The only question is when do you pick up the option -- now or after you see how the season goes. (Now.) And do you try to extend it now -- when Rizzo might appreciate it. (Yes.)

What is the most important in franchise construction? Organizational stability and brains. Look at the piece we ran on the 19-year success of the San Antonio Spurs -- stability and Pop are the core. The Nats aren't in that league, but they are one of the truly well-run operations. Keep it that way. This is simple. That doesn't mean it'll work out that way.

Boz, As you've discussed several times, the Nats were about seven wins "unlucky" last year - BaseRuns had them and the Mets basically equal, and the Mets exactly beat their projections while the Nats fell short. This confirms the feeling that everything went right for the Mets - the trade for Carlos Gomez (.242/.288/.383 in only 41 games for the Astros) fell through, leading to the Cespedes acquisition (.287/.337/.604 in 57 games for the Mets) and keeping Wilmer Flores (.292/.326/.460 from August 1 onward - from a .253/.287/.386 lifetime hitter - basically, Gomez' .277/.336/.483 production from 2012-14), while David Wright came back from spinal stenosis to hit .289/.379/.434 down the stretch and rookie Michael Conforto blistered at .270/.335/.506 . They got them all back this year, but - now starting shortstop (!!!!) Asdrubal Cabrera is out, Flores is taking additional reps at third, and Wright is saying there's "no plan" for his playing time, and Cespedes as good as he is, seems more likely to do something like his career-average line (.271/.319/.486 - good, not great; the four main projection systems average out almost exactly there, at .267/.310/.485), Conforto will need to be platooned to not play against lefties (.214/.267/.214 - plus for RHP, there's now a "book" on him). The Nats obviously need to stay healthy and produce BUT the Mets' run last year was a classic "everything, but EVERYTHING goes right" - while the Nats had everything go wrong. I don't undersell the Mets at all, but it's just not possible to keep getting all the breaks,

Thanks. Nice analysis. (Which is probably another way of saying, as we all often tend to, "It kinda agrees with my analysis, so it must be good.")

I'd change a couple of things. The Nats were unlucky in run distribution -- very unlucky, actually. But the "eyeball test" also said that the Nats choked badly in head-to-head games against the Mets and other playoff-bound teams for much of last year. Sometimes that "six wins unlucky" thing really is JUST luck. But sometimes it can reflect a lack of Baseball Character in close games against tough foes. That's not measurable -- but I believe it. (And players themselves believe it.)

First, the Nats have to be a tougher, better-led team. We'll see if that happens. Baker is an upgrade.

BUT they'll feel the leadership loss of Desmond. Some players lead in the clubhouse with the right word or encouragement or tone-setting behavior at the right moment. Some in the dugout with fire (or ice) as needed. Some on the field (with defensive cohesion, composure). Some serve as links between different types of people -- economic backgrounds, races, religions, temperaments, languages -- the way Tony Perez, Joe Morgan and (yes) Pete Rose were leaders and uniters on the Big Red Machine but Johnny Bench had no leadership role. Some lead on the airplane (behavior, team message). Some link the players to those above them -- manager, GM, ownership. Some help bring along young players. Some deal maturely with the press when others don't. 

On a scale of 1-to-10, I'd say that Desmond was an 8-9-or-10 in every one of those areas. That's pretty amazing. If leadership, team cohesion, etc., has ANY value, then Desmond had plenty. He did NOT lead in one area. Ian felt pressure -- always -- and he showed it  -- often. His hands could turn to stone at SS for a week at a time. He could chase sliders in the other batter's box for a week at a time, too. He just wanted to help the team TOO much. He'd have great hot streaks, too. But the Nats will, perhaps, GAIN by subtracting some of his periods of nervous calamity.

To give the Mets proper credit, everything did NOT go right for them. Nothing went BAD. Their run differential merely reflected the same number of wins that they "should" have had. They could have had, for example, five "lucky wins too many." In fact, they "0" too many.

The Mets are plenty good, especially with Cespedes back. Should be a helluva NL East race. The Nats have too many "unprovens" to pick 'em -- new manager, "zany" bullpen that could be good or quite bad and a number of key hitters with a serious history of getting hurt. Plus several new young stars who may, or may not develop as hoped. Because of their rotation and established identity from last year, I'd lean toward the Mets as a pick. But the Nats could be helped a lot by just NOT being the favorite in a sport where being that favorite means you have a >67 percent chance not to win the pennant and a >80 percent not to win the World Series.

Could the Caps swoon vs. the west last week suggest they might make the Stanley Cup, but there's little hope of them prevailing against one of the swarming west teams? It reminders me a little of the 90s Bills: They could steamroll through the AFC, but melted when they faced the type of teams in the NFC

I doubted that the Caps could have a "perfect" regular season in which nothing ever went wrong; close games almost always became wins while deficits turned into wins, too; nobody important got a major injury and the level of play never showed any lack of intensity or focus. Yet it almost seemed that way for nearly 60 games!

(I started to make short lists of teams in all sports, like the '84 Tigers -- the first such team I ever covered at all -- who started hot, ran away, then crushed everybody ion post-season -- leaving the impression that there hadn't even really BEEN a season, just the formality of a coronation with parade.)

So, I'm kind of glad that the Caps are having this frustrating introspective "rough patch" in which they have fallen behind early in 13 of their last 15 games. It drives 'em nuts. I talked to Trotz about it. It's pretty hard for a coach to go to the Capt Bligh bullwhip when you're winning -- no matter how -- at such a rate.

The Caps have PLENTY of time -- just about the right amount of time -- to get things figured out, refocus at the right time and hit the playoffs performing very well. WILL they? Don't know. But they got their "warning shot" at exactly the right time.

Also, as many DC fans now know even more clearly, the teams in the west are physical and tough. Getting to the Stanley Cup Final is certainly a sensible goal. But cheap talk about "winning the Cup" is just that -- cheap talk. Whatever team they meet there (if they get there), and no matter what the Caps regular-season record or personal accolades, Washington will be life and death to beat the Kings, Ducks, Red Wings, Stars, Sharks, whomever. They have a tough time will all of them in one way or the other.

But the Caps can also beat any ONE of them in a series. Maybe Caps fans should look at it this was -- would they rather face three rounds of playoffs in the Eastern Conference to reach the Cup round or would they prefer to face some of the tough sequences of foes that they'd get in the other conference! It'll be hard enough for the Caps right where they are with the Rangers, etc., ahead of them. But I'd sure take that over some of thee tough-roads-to-hoe in the west.

Is Tyler Moore there because the Nats aren't sure if RZimm can be the regular first baseman? Roster-wise, can the Nats carry 3 guys (Robinson, Zimmerman and Moore) to essentially play 1st? And (not to pile on too many questions) has the time come to consider Werth at 1st ?

I want to start a T-shirt campaign that says, "Free T-Mo."

Please, release this nice guy. See if some other team wants him. Or a team with a DH. Maybe it's too late for him to have a late-blooming career. Maybe it just never worked out for him or he wasn't quite good enough. But nobody ever looked more like Josh Willingham to me, except Josh himself, than Moore. 

Josh finally "got a job" at 27, hit 26 homers and ended his career with 195 homers, 7 good seasons in a row, 35 homers at age 33 and $35M in salary.

T-Mo STILL has never had a full-year chance. He's 29 -- a horrible age to "ignite" a career, though Ibanez and Werth waited forever. He has 24 homers and $1.5M salary.

Free agency in '76 was a great boon to players -- but not all of them. You can still have your whole career trapped and stunted by being the "human property" of one team. In sports, which is supposed to have the most-level possible play field, what could be more unfair?

Just as an illustration, when will Tyler be "free" -- a free agent? Not in '16. Not in '17. And not in '18. He won't be free until the '19 season, when he'll be 32. In his career, in spotty chances, he's had 601 at bats (about a full season) with 24 homers, 91 RBI and a low .228 average.

Yet in his career in AAA, when Moore played everyday, he also had 600 at bats (594) with 30 homers, 1119 RBI, a .288 average and a big .893 OPS.

Baseball is supposed to be slightly less unfair than life. But not always. With T-Mo, we may never know.

Any idea why Ted bought an Arena Football franchise for the area? Does the Phone Booth need more dates or does this league have that much upside? Really surprised to see this addition to the sports landscape here

It should warm Jay Gruden's heart. He had more wins coaching in the Arena League than Vince Lombardi did coaching in the NFL. And you can look it up. (I did once. I hope I remembered that correctly!)

Uh oh: Danny Espinosa is 0 for 14. Given his longtime problems at the plate -- we hoped he'd turned it around in 2015, but maybe that was the exception year -- is it time to start thinking about life without him? Would there be a scenario where the Nats went with Turner at short and used Drew as as the super-utility?

Yesterday's lineup looked like it would be No Problem no matter what Espi hit at No. 8. Revere, Werth, Harper, Z'man, Murphy, Rendon, Ramos, Espinosa, pitcher. With Taylor a strong fourth OFer, Clint Robinson a nice LHed bat and insurance policy for Z'man injury, Lobaton an OK backup catcher and Drew for infield depth. 

Espinosa just has to play excellent ddefense and not drive himself crazy worrying about...anything. Baker favors vets over kids. Always has. If you're a vet and are too nervous about your job to play for him, then it is YOUR problem. Turner is coming. He's the future. But SS should not be a problem for this team. A zillion teams have won with SS's who fielder very will and couldn't .230 with no power or speed. Danny should be able to hit .230 with 15 homers and 12+ steals. Just play. Have patience with him at the plate. And we'll all wait for Trea.

The trainwreck of a road trip this past week seems likely to put the kibosh on the Wiz playoff hopes this season and Kevin Durant isn't coming to DC. So what do the Wiz do in the offseason? Sign a couple of mid-level free agents and just continue to be average or is it time to blow up the team, even trade Wall, and start over?

It's hard to believe that a team which was so much FUN to watch 365 days ago -- which played so properly, often with inspiration -- can fall so much while keeping many of the same core pieces. Kinda depressing. They are so "off," so lost in a basic team sense of "what are we supposed to do again, I forget?" that I find them hard to watch for more than a few minutes. I watch. I think, "Still hopeless." I watch something/anything else. Last year, I couldn't take my eyes off them. Team defense, wonderful passing and interior passing, a sense of team identity, fairly clutch in the late game. Now...

John Wall really brings an inspired effort night after night. But he is a fascinatingly difficult player to measure fairly, imo. The fairly-new NBA advanced stats have him all over the place. In Efficiency (Player Efficiency Rating) he's 16th best in the league. That may be roughly correct. In something called Game Score he's 12th! But in Win Score -- a decent stat but which probably undervalues assists -- he's 50th!

Here's what interested me: his exceptional defense which deserves credit. In defensive-plays-per-foul he ranks fifth best in the league. In steals-per-foul he's also fifth best.

OTOH, John Wall still can't shoot. He just can't. He's better than he was his first two years in the league, but he's still the EIGHTH-WORST shooter in the entire NBA (among players with 700 points this year) in True-Shooting Percentage (.511). There are 100 players with 700-or-more points this year. Wall ranks 93rd in TS% which takes your Total Points and divides them by your Maximum Possible Points if you had made every shot of every kind -- 3-point, 2-point or free throw. Wall's Effective Shooting Percentage (.468) is just as poor -- that stat combines your 3-point and 2-point shooting.

What's dazzling to me is how valuable he is, and what a fine leader, too, when he still has such an obvious hole in his ability. Shooting is partly practice, but it's also partly a gift. I think he's come very close to maximizing his various abilities -- including a mediocre shooting touch.   

What do you do with the Wiz? Well, I've never thought KD was coming. And Nene always had an expiration date. And Beal looks injury prone. And Otto Porter is decent but limited. And Gorat has nights when he doesn't show up or gets in foul trouble. And Randy is OK, but not inspiring. I have a headache. The same one this team has given me since the late-'70's. NEXT QUESTION!

Never once did he say it's OK to show up the other team/pitcher/etc. In the right situation, it's OK to celebrate, he said. Goose extrapolated from some small quote and made a mountain out of a molehill. Play on and get off Goose's lawn.

Goose was once asked about the contrast in personalities between himself (old-school, grouchy/funny, private) and Reggie Jackson. He said that the game was lucky it had Reggie because if everybody resembled Goose himself "this would be a dull game." So, Goose got it! But now he's going to dump on Bryce??? I'd love to get Goose, Sparky Lyle, Graig Nettles and a few others together in the same room so we could just rag on Goose and get him laughing at himself.

MLB has ALWAYS had high-profile stars who loved attention -- from Babe Ruth on. And it is always wonderful for the game when they arrive. You can't have too many because THEY ARE RARE. Back in the Bronx Zoo days, Reggie Jackson was more outlandish, outspoken and vain than Harper has ever been -- and started more quote-storms-per-season by far. "I'm the straw the stirs the drink. Thurman can only stir it bad." Darold Knowles said, "There isn't enough mustard in the world to cover Reggie Jackson." Don Sutton: "Reggie is a charlatan, but a charlatan with credentials."

I loved Reggie. We got along wonderfully (still would if I ran into him today). I got a "running start" because I was on the beat for the one year he was an Oriole before he signed with the Yanks. The NYC MLB press, and its tabloid component, amused him, annoyed him, but more than that kind of bored him with its predictability and lack of depth. He couldn't wait to talk -- about everything -- with out of town writers who didn't have an ax to grind or weren't George's guys or Billy's people. Reggie was so smart, loved the game so much, so clutch, ate up failure under the bright lights and just spit it out and, all around, knew how to have fun with being A Star. But Bryce is a MUCH happier person, better adjusted, gets along with others better -- just luckier than Reggie in that respect. Reggie actually mellowed nicely in his 30's.

Anyway, Bryce is in the Grand Tradition of such players. But he just had a season better than any year Reggie ever had. When people ask me where Harper will eventually rank, I now sometimes say, "If everything goes wrong, he'll still have a better career than Reggie Jackson." And Reggie's a total Hall of Famer.

This is another reason I wonder why the Lerners keep asking themselves, "Should we REALLY make our biggest best offer to Harper as soon as possible? Shouldn't we, you know, just 'wait and see' and find out if there is a way to screw this up without EVER having even ONE decent shot at actually signing him to a 10-plus year deal." 

They have Reggie Jackson (or better), but at 23, and he really likes the town. Yet they just can't make up their minds if it would be a good idea to have such a person/player at the center of their team for 10+ more years because...

Because why? Sure, Harper and Boras probably want $600M in '19. They probably won't sign anything. But take your best shot. And keep banging away on it. And don't TAKE IT BACK off the table. Someday, when Harper is in a slump and hitting .238 on June 4th, maybe Scott picks up the phone and says, 'Bryce says, 'Yes.'" Probably not. But you have to put yourself in a good position to allow a good break to happen to you.  

Glad he and Harper made up, but he is still the longtime jerk who is infamous for his bad attitude and head hunting opponents. Those of us who remember his history will still "choke" on cheering for him. Do you see him really changing or still a temper tantrum away from another disaster?

James Wagner has an excellent and balanced piece on Papelbon, based on a long interview, in the Post this a.m.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/sports/nationals/jonathan-papelbons-intensity-has-helped-him-as-much-as-it-as-hurt-him/2016/03/13/10ff1062-e79f-11e5-a6f3-21ccdbc5f74e_story.html

Pap (calmly) didn't like a couple of things in the first piece I wrote about him this year and so we had a sensible talk and got clear. He's certainly an interesting fully-dimensional character and not some cartoon figure -- although I suspect that he's come to understand that he's had a few episodes that pushed people, who don't know him, top THINK of him as a cartoon character and not a real person. You can do that to yourself in public life.

Pap is going to say, over and over, that he is the same person as always and people just have to learn who he is to appreciate the different sides of him -- the good and the sometimes not so good. But I think that is only partially accurate -- I think he IS trying to become more self-aware. As he mentioned to James, he saw a professional to try to learn more about himself  -- "a lifelong process." Let me put it this way, if you choke the N.L. MVP in the dugout of your new team -- for WHATEVER reason or mistake in judgment/temper -- but you DO NOT decide that there might be somebody somewhere that you could talk to about Your Little Issues, then you're just asking for more self-inflicted trouble.

As I told him, I've gone from 90-10 anti-Pap to somewhere around 50-50 with a full appreciation of his excellent career, the good chances that he still has 1-2-3 more good years and the reality that plenty of his former teammates consider him a big net-plus on a contending team. I'd say, "Give him a chance." But we all bring our baggage with us. He's going to be on a shortish rope -- because he should be. But he's good enough, tough enough (mentally) and still fit enough at 35 to overcome it all -- maybe. But I will say one thing: it sure seems like there's karma in baseball. I have a very hard time imagining Papelbon closing out a World Series win for any team this year -- after last year. Or maybe even clinching a pennant for anybody. Baseball isn't just scouting, teaching, trading, signing, studying stats, proprietary measuring tools for performance and then, "Bingo," you add it all up and win 95 and end up in the Series. There are "X Factors," too. Having Papelbon as your closer on a contending team sure feels like an "X." 

Can't we just enjoy Ryan Zimmerman's stoicism and Bryce Harper's exuberance?

Nice.

Sometimes perfect only takes 11 words.

Why is UVA No. 1 in the Midwest while Kansas is No. 1 in the South?

Why is UVA a No. 1? Why isn't Michigan State?

Where is Monmouth? That is INSANE. The stupid committee left Monmouth out for ONE reason, imo: They didn't want to take the heat for being accused of picking the Bench-Cheerleader Team -- that everybody loves (for good reason) -- over Some Crappy Team Nobody Cares About. The committee didn't want to be accused of weakening, having a little fun and giving the people want they wanted -- instead of adhering in their sacred pretend-we-can-measure-everything (to the .00001 of a point) selection system.  

You know: Don't set a bad example of letting a team use "tricks" -- like happiness/creativity/humor/spirit -- to sneak into March Madness by the back door.

We can talk RPI, "good wins," "bad loses" and "take the risk to play a tough out-of-conference schedule versus having a better W-L record" until we're blue in the face. You CAN make a case for Monmouth. Is it a feather's weight heavier or lighter than any of the other 68 teams? Well, that's about the level of difference -- a feather. So, let 'em in. The next great Cheerleading Bench -- on a real good obscure team that beat GU and UCLA -- will not be as spontaneous or authentic. So it won 't be noticed nearly much.

I'm gonna call Goose to give me lessons in grouching.

I think they key to the Nats success this year is #6 hitting at his 2014 level. If he's on base and scoring 100+ runs it will make all the difference. Too simple?

Probably the best single answer. Not "sufficient." But there are very few young players who have been fifth for MVP then fallen as far and played as little as Anthony in '15. I like the idea of him hitting sixth sometimes. Take some pressure off. But have a lot of people on base after Harper-Zim-Murphy. 

How far can the Terps go? (and WHY is Michigan State a 2 seed?)

The Terps loss to MSU showed them at their best -- tons of effort, tough defense, talent everywhere, no apparent bad actors and a good coach.

And it showed them at their worst -- can't run their offense vs a quality defense. Won't pound the ball inside to big men, then work inside-out. Fundamental brain cramps and bad shots at the worst moments. Trimble in a horrid pre-NBA brain-freeze slump. And Turgeon just hasn't gotten through to this team yet at a point in the season when countless coaches in many years HAVE integrated comparable young talent and new players by tournament time.

MSU knew it. Valentine said afterward: "We were supposed to lose that game...We almost threw that game away." Then he gave credit to Maryland, too. BUT it is really bad when you are offered a big win that you desperately need and you just won't take it -- and you don't score a field goal from 10: 30 to 0:30. 

Izzo got it, too: "We had some dumb plays down the stretch. When you play three-game and six-game tournaments at the end of the season, there's going to be a game or two you don't deserve to win (but that you find a way to win)."

I'm going to see the glass half-full and pick the Terps to upset Kansas and get to the Elite Eight. Do I really believe it? Here's what I don't believe: That Trimble can stay THIS (2-for-15, one assist) bad. It's been going on for weeks. This is Turgeon's Job 1. He has a star -- a big one, a potential pre-season All-America. His star is floundering. Badly. He's got to figure out: How do I fix my star so that he can then meld with the rest of the team and fix the lack of "team-ness" of the whole group? Does he need to run more isolation plays for Melo on the side (like the last minute vs MSU). Does he need to hug him? Or tell him to take 1,000 jump shots.Now's the time to prove you can coach the game, but also coach the people. (I think he can.)

Does Trimble need to stop thinking about the NBA -- yes or no -- and (for his own good) just say "No." Because right now he needs to be back in college next year as much as ANY highly-touted DC-area player I can ever remember. Completely lost, team losing and stinking it up is no way to "jump" to the highest league.

It's very hard to just suddenly "snap awake" after the kind of season the Terps have had. But getting 3,000 miles from home, then playing Cal -- another NBA-talent but 10-loss team -- in the second round might be a good formula.   

This is potentially the 3rd year in a row where UVA and MSU could play. Is this just how things work out or is the Committee having a little fun with this? And will it be 3rd times the charm for UVA or will UVA take Strike 3?

I doubt it's an accident. I think the winner of that game -- if it happens -- goes to the finals.

One reason I think that is because I'm not a believer in UNC or Roy Williams going a long way in Madness right at this moment. Maybe they'll get a "D" in Karma 101.

What do you think of the the preliminary designs for the Redskins' new stadium? It looks a bit like RFK. I remember reading somewhere that Snyder wanted the seats to bounce just like RFK. I'm hoping they come through with that.

Only another 12, 15 20 years or so to wait. Yes, an RFK look will always get a nod from me.

Every stadium rendering and every stock prospectus looks fabulous.

That's it for today. The next five weeks, through March Madness, MLB opening day, The Masters and the beginning of the NBA and NHL playoffs is always one of the best times of year -- with "spring" mixed in there, too! But this year has a chance to be even more special. Cheers.

Do you think Arsenal will win Premier League?

Right now I'm much more absorbed in whether 18-time world Go-playing champion Lee See-dol can defend the honor of the human race and win Give Five against AI (Artificial Intelligence) AlphaGo in the DeepMind Challenge series.

AlphaGo won the first three games. Lee seemed to feel the pressure. But Lee came back with a more intuitive strategy to win Game Four. Since (I assume) the Google-Created machine doesn't know that it's already clinched the best-of-five series, another win for Lee would make him (and humans) feel slightly better.

But the day when we are ruled by our AI robots is just around the corner.

"Rise of the Planet of the Vacuum Cleaners."

Um, no, no he is not. In fact, much of the criticism you lob at John Wall is a direct result of the absurd offense that Randy Wittman has designed for this team.

The whole organization has responsibility for switching offensive systems. And they wanted to go with the Pace and Space trend which would also appeal to Durant. So far, a disaster.

Tom -- What did you think of Alberta's surgical win over Newfoundland & Labrador in last night's Brier? Do you think Brad Gushue will ever win the Brier?

Curling may be the only beat I've never covered for the Post. I've certainly covered pro soccer, NASCAR, Indy 500, horse racing, boomerang contests, golf-at-night, duckpin bowling (for years) and luge. My failure to grasp the best of curling will always leave a sense of a void inside me.

http://bleacherreport.com/articles/2624456-tim-hortons-brier-2016-gold-medal-match-newfoundland-vs-alberta-score-reaction

Really appreciate that you take the time in these chats for extended thoughtful answers on topics that maybe won't make a column, but deserve some attention.

Thanks. That's one of the reasons why I love the chats. When the late Post sports columnist Ken Denlinger and I played golf hundreds of times, we'd talk "column ideas." But most of the time, one of us would say, "What is the 8th graph?" We'd shrug and realize "good idea, but not a column."

There are a lot of ideas that are worth some thought and some comment __but not a column. And, without the chat or a blog (which my chat probably is for me) those ideas just disappear. They are "wasted" for a columnist. Like today's brief analysis of how John Wall can be so 1) wonderful, 2) have such an undervalued strength (defense) but also 3) have such a huge hole in the middle of his game __one of the worst shooters in the sport. And all three of those points __overall value, defense and shooting__ can be measured better these days than in past decades.

See you all next week.

In This Chat
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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