Ask Boswell: Redskins, Nationals and Washington sports

Apr 04, 2017

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

Past Ask Boswell chats

Looks like they couldn't find the will to move on from the John Thompson legacy.

First, welcome to the chat with perhaps the biggest, best set of chat topics I've ever seen. I'll try to get to all of them. Please ask on any subject because they're all so much fun, or enraging, that I've probably got views on all of them.

Patrick Ewing to GU. Lot of cosmetic danger in this -- it could end up looking ugly if it doesn't work well -- but I think it's a fine pick. Ewing wants to coach and has earned it with his work as an assistant. You let him, and GU and all of us, find out how good he is at it. Maybe he'll be very good. Isn't that possibility a much better story to follow --  and for GU to live out -- than "we'll never know." It's not like the Hoyas turned down great options. None of the bigger more established coaching names were, apparently, interested, especially those with DC-area connections. So, why the need for any fuss and bother? Give Ewing his shot. But it will be a tough job, especially since he has no in-depth recruiting connections, down to the grass roots, in the DC-Baltimore area or, from what I can tell, any other locale. He's going to have to sell what he IS -- someone who knows how the NBA plays NOW, and can adopt that style, so that recruits can follow that dream or, at the least, play in a modern style, not the 40-year-old Princeton offense which thinks the ultimate shot is a backdoor layup for two points rather than a wide-open three-pointer.

Also in line. 

Morgan William goes from The Shot to The Bench in one game!

Lexi Thompson got ROBBED. What is wrong with the meatheads who run golf? Get an in-house replay system of your own. Tell the public, all the couch-potato rules nerds, to get lost.

Wiz-GSW flap. Discount it to a degree because JaVale McGee, who lives on his own planet, one that is entirely made out of rocks, was at the center of it.

The Caps WIN over Columbus and (almost) insure that they avoid the First Round Playoff Series of Death -- and force that scheduling disaster on the Pens and Blue Jackets. Caps to Pittsburgh: Have fun, guys!

Nats home opener was perfect. BTW, few have noticed but its possible that the Nats will turn out to have one of the best bullpens that is UNDER CONTROL for the next four years at least in Treinen, Solis and Glover. Will one of them be the closer? That would be nice. But even if they aren't, and you have to trade for or sign a closer, those three can be the REST of an very good bullpen for a long time -- through '20 and in the case of Solis and Glover through '21 or '22.

Lets GO!

Over/under on number of steals for Turner?

55.

If he plays 150 games, obviously.

He stole third as an afterthought in the first inning yesterday. "No play" on the double steal, which the Marlins were expecting. He also had third stolen on a Harper foul ball. 

3 out of 4 so far, nice bounce back in Columbus, and ready to clinch the division and President's Trophy. Too bad a fantastic regular season is so quickly swallowed by the playoffs.

The 3-2 win in Columbus was HUGE, especially after an awful 6-3 loss to miserable Arizona (second-worst team in NHL) in their previous game. That pushed their lead for the President's Trophy to six points over both Pens and CBL at the time. Now, with only four games left for all off them, it's Caps 112 points, Pens 107 and Blue Jackets 106.

It should be over.

And Chicago leads the Western Conference with 107 points, for those looking very far in the future for possible home-ice edge in a competition the name of which I won't even mention.

The last minute of the Caps-CBJ game was wonderful insanity. The Blue Jackets played like their whole season was at stake -- because it probably was. I have no idea how Holtby (and luck) conspired to keep the tying goal out of the Caps net in the last five seconds as mayhem exploded in front of the net. The NHL, in part because of its element of "puck luck" and because you can always pull the goalie and create a power play for yourself in the last two minutes, has a lot of incredible terrifying finishes. 

If the Caps do make it to the Stanley Cup Finals, they are going to be a lot of shredded nerves in DC by June, including mine.

Last week really was a hockey "pennant race." And the Caps, by playing well, positioned themselves for a KO of the Pens and Blue Jackets. I think we'll look back next Monday and say they pulled that off. 

What are your thoughts on Pete Thamel's article re Georgetown's basketball coach search?

Stories that read like "let me see how many times I can kick 'em when they are down" often backfire.

If I went back and watched last year's Masters saved on my DVR and saw a tiny infraction committed by the eventual winner, Danny Willett, who do I email about this travesty so that he can be disqualified?

GREAT question!

As long as you report it before the actual Champions Dinner -- is that tonight? -- I think you can still get him DQed. And maybe they can send the Green Jacket TO YOU!

If you wonder why golf has fundamental problems with popularity, especially among the younger generations, and with those who are repelled by the rich old fuddy-duddy culture, then the case of Lexi Thompson is the perfect illustration of the issues. She was penalized FOUR strokes on the NEXT DAY -- for moving her ball about 1/100th of an inch by accident while marking her ball before a 20-inch putt. Barry Svrluga had a finefurious  column on its this morning.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/sports/golf/lexi-thompson-fiasco-shows-golf-honors-absolutism-over-players-and-common-sense/2017/04/03/44e147d0-1898-11e7-855e-4824bbb5d748_story.html?utm_term=.0576ba3befdb  

I'd only add that Thompson set a world record for classy reaction to Morons In Charge. In a level voice, she said, "That's just ridiculous." Which was exactly correct. I would, to this day, have shown no such restraint and poise. Unfortunately, I'd probably have tried to break the English language right there and then -- and my golf game would have disintegrated. Thompson, who led by three shots at the time after 12 holes of the final round, actually made a long birdie putt on (I think) the 13th hole, then almost made an eagle to putt to win on the 72nd hole. She lost in a playoff in an event she reserved to win by the margin of those four penalty shots.

My first thought was that her "penalty" and her "crime" where like getting a letter from the IRS saying, "You didn't dot the "i'" in your middle name on your tax return, so you owe us $1-million. We have a rule about that."

Afterwards, Thompson said, "I felt strong through the finish. I'm proud of the way I played coming in. I am a very emotional person...(but) I fought strong."

She did. And she made herself a LOT more fans. But she shouldn't have had to make them that way.

This is simple -- all the major golf tours need to Ignore Their Phones, computers and smart phones. Tell the public: "You are not golf officials. We do not need your help, thanks. We well handle our own sport. And we will figure out how to incorporate replay, and to what degree, ourselves. Your non-assistance in this matter is greatly appreciated."

When a sport gets this far off course it never happens quickly. It is part of a flawed culture. The golf world has been too full of itself, to inbred at the top and too anal as long as I've covered it -- 40 years. The Masters worships itself. The U.S. Open thinks every ruling is worthy of a Supreme Court decision.

What you end up with is a sport where Thompson gets a four-stroke penalty for nothing of consequence but Phil Mickelson -- wow, what a shock (NOT) -- shows up in court documents as having lost $2-million to a friend while gambling. But that, as well as Phil's role in an insider-trading case, will be "See no evil, hear no..." 

Just as Tiger Woods leaves the scene, and the 20 years of public interest that surrounded him, even after he could no longer win majors, dissolves, golf gets tangled up in ridiculous rules non-issues when it should be promoting its next generation of quasi-stars. 

The decision by the U.S.G.A. and the R&A last month to offer proposals to improve and SIMPLIFY the rules of golf was, as I wrote in a column then, a very good idea. Of course it took them 273 years -- yes, that's right -- for the first changes in the Rules of Golf since 1744.

Does that give a sense of the kinda-slow-to-react-to-change problems that dog golf?  

Scale of 1-10, how awful was that ruling? I found it appalling as I assume most fans did. Are Marlin fans going to call MLB today to get a 4th inning ball call changed to a strike and blah blah blah therefore we won the game? Ridiculous. As your recent column pointed out, golf already has too many dumb rules. That ruling and the TIMING of it was just ridiculous. Dropping that news on the back 9 of a major, are you kidding??

It was an "11" on the lets-make-fools-of-ourselves scale.

Some, many, will say that the rules were just applied as written. And that the doofus who called in the "crime" was within his/hers rights.

I say, sometimes, you have to say, "Common sense counts." What happened was absolutely worst case. I guess, if I'd received The Call, I might have said, "We have a bad connection. Is your cell signal weak? Try to call us back later, please -- sometime NEXT WEEK."

Many years ago, John Madden said that he thought the NFL should do a better job on its opening weekend of the season and make it more like Opening Day in baseball. They clearly have. Meanwhile, MLB decided to officially open the season with the Yankees against...the Rays in that mausoleum in St. Petersburg. Huh? Has MLB destroyed Opening Day? (Hint: my answer is Yes.) If you think so, how would you fix it?

Opening Day wasn't broken.

MLB shattered it.

I hope they are happy. I hope the tid-bit of extra money, since that's always what it's about, will please them.

Nonetheless, Opening Day itself, in each individual park, still feels great. However, I make a point to ignore what MLB now calls opening day and not watch any highlights or read any accounts until 48 hours later -- after the REAL opening day.

So, I saw MadBum's two homers by a pitcher this morning as well as Melancon blowing his first save for the Giants.

Most symbolic, to me, was the Cubs-Cards game. The Cubs scored three in the ninth to tie the game 3-3. Last year, the Cuibs would have gone on to win -- it was their year. But margin of error is tiny in baseball. Is this year also going to be "their year." I doubt it a great deal, just as I always doubt that any team will repeat as champ. Talk about an easy way to make yourself too smart. True to normal MLB form, the Cubs ended up losing on a walk-off Cards hit.

...

Thought you chatters might want to read our story by Geno on Destiny Slocum transferring from Maryland.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/terrapins-insider/wp/2017/04/04/destiny-slocum-to-transfer-from-maryland-womens-basketball-team/?utm_term=.c72dfd3c84dd

...in fake classes, not educating their athletes, paper courses, and the like. Let's please remember what these institutions have done for money and how they have sold out their students. Thanks.

Okay, everybody gets to take their snarky shot at UNC. I've taken a few here in this chat.

But let me look at UNC's win from a different angle. Watching the game live last night, I was, like almost everybody else, overwhelmed by how ugly the thing was, especially the first ~13 minutes of the second half when I've never seen so many air balls and bricks, bad stage-fright passes and fouls by the gross. I even tweeted "March Badness." (Yes, I know it was in April.)

However, to get ready for this chat and be fair, I watched the last 10 minutes again. And I was amazed. If you had turned on the game with 7:00 left -- and hadn't had your mood jaundiced by everything that went before -- you (or at least I) might have thought it was close to a well-played clutch classic!

It was seesaw. UNC led, 62-61. Gonzaga led 65-63 with 2:00 left after two clutch buckets -- a shot shot after a drive and a 12-foot banker -- by Nigel Williams-Goss. UNC's sweet, smooth future NBA star Justin Jackson answered with -- in three straight possessions -- a three-point play on a layup, a driving, pumping 8-footer and a clinching break away dunk for a 70-65 lead with 11 seconds left. Great clutch stuff.

Also, UNC's 6-foot-10, 265-pound Kennedy Meeks made a wonderful block in the lane on Williams-Goss with 25 seconds left (and UNC only up three points) then a steal to ice it.

For me, the key match-up in the game was Meeks ability to completely throw 7-foot-1, 304-pound Gonzaga post man Przemek Karnowski out of his usual excellent low-post game. It shows how stats can lie -- Meeks 7 points, 10 rebounds, Karnowski 9 pts, 9 rebounds. You'd think the two big guys just "neutralized" each other. Karnowski missed at least five shots within three feet of the rim, all because he was thrown off his game by facing someone who was only three inches and 39 pounds smaller. Talk about coming up small, big beard or not. Karnowski is also a wonderful passer. The Gonzaga offense needs to run through him a lot of the time. He looked so flummoxed by Meeks, and by the mind games he seemed to be playing on himself after things started going wrong, that his teammates sensed he'd be no factor and had to play "without him."

If you taped the game, you might have a nice 20 minutes looking at the end of it with fresh eyes -- especially if you are a Tar Heels fan. Besides, it'll be fun seeing if UNC, and three-time champion coach Roy Williams, who said recently that the POTUS' tweets were "bull***" will get an invite to DC.    

How important to you is the view from inside a baseball stadium looking out beyond the outfield? This occurred to me yesterday when I realized that my view of the Capitol dome from Section 312 has now been blocked by yet another nondescript high-rise building. Some of my favorite ball parks feature wonderful views of the city--Camden Yards, Fenway, AT&T Park. My wife and I are going to Pittsburgh in late May for a couple of games just to see the city skyline from that park. Does the view from the press box enhance your enjoyment of the game?

You are right. The last view of the Capitol dome is just a sliver if you are in the upper deck behind home plate -- in the Gallery Section or the press box (by accident, because, trust me, nobody cares what we can see from six stories above the field). Can't be helped. Those big boxes were always scheduled to be built. At least we had nine years of C+ Capitol views from several thousand upper-deck seats.

The great new view that exists now, and which will get even better, is from the upper deck concourse behind first base where you can see for miles up the SE riverfront toward the Navy Yards. My whole life, including biking all over the city as kids, this area was the armpit of D.C. Now, it is gorgeous with a boardwalk right beside the Anacostia that is about 25 feet wide and stretches as far as you can see. Everything in sight is immaculate and pretty, including at least a dozen restaurants. IOf you look in the opposite direction, toward the SW waterfront where the new 20,000-seat stadium for D.C. United will be built, you can imagine the future. Sure, it's the same-old, same-old jumble of ugly now. But someday, in 18-to-36 months probably, when it is finished, you will be able to look in both directions and think, "This is an unbelievable transformation." It will rival any MLB park on a waterfront anywhere, and may be No. 1 because it is so close to the water -- you could hit a nine-iron from the home plate entrance into the river. Almost nobody uses the home plate entrance now. But, architecturally at least, the park was built to maximize those views and show the similarities to I.M. Pei's East Wing. That day will come.

So, this park has one negative that everybody claims couldn't have been avoided and still align the ballpark with the sun in the proper place -- never in hitter's eyes: Negligible Capitol views. (I'm not absolutely sure I believe this, but whatever, ancient history now.) And it has one huge positive that fans hardly ever use -- the SE Waterfront walk. Fans arrive by subway, watch the game and leave never seeing what is visually and architecturally BEST about the ballpark.  

But there is one problem that should be solved and can be solved. The stupid ugly views of those garages in leftfield and centerfield. When the park was built, and I'd finished screaming after seeing the eye-sore impact of the garages, I decided to think up a solution as my (self-serving) lifetime gift to fans. And maybe I did.

Put what are called "LED Water Displays" or "Water LED Art" in front of the garages so that when you look out, especially at night, you would see vast thin walls of falling water which could be illuminated (or have DC movies of monuments shown behind them) between innings. Or, yes, you could show glamorous ads behind/through the water between innings. You've all seen these kinds of falling-water displays in Malls everywhere. 

So, I asked Stan Kasten back then if it was feasible and on that physical scale. He actually thought he knew the answer from all the sports facility building projects he ran for Ted Turner's three pro teams in Atlanta: Yes. He talked about the mechanics of it, how it had been done in buildings he was familiar with (not sports) and even who owned what out in the garage area -- could the Nats actually have the legal/ownership rights to do it? He thought they did, as long as the water display wall was a foot or two away from the garage itself and didn't touch it. Something about necessary air circulation in the garages, maybe. Gotta say, Stan knows more about more crazy stuff in more areas than anybody I've met in sports. So, what do you think of the idea, I asked. Would it put Kansas City's waterfalls -- the only water display inside a park in MLB -- to shame or just look silly. He said he thought it would probably be "attractive," maybe even more than attractive. (It would beat the heck out of looking at two garages.) Then he said the crucial cryptic words in those days,  "But it would cost money." A lot? "No. But (a few) millions."

I don't know if the idea ever had a chance. Probably not. But I still think it might work, is worth exploring and would probably pay for itself many times over in beauty, ballpark prestige, and the attendance, over time, that a reputation for beauty attracts. If it's not possible for some reason that Kasten didn't know, then, what the heck, I just wasted a few hundred words deep in a chat that didn't cost anybody anything, except 60 seconds of your time. (My apologies.)

Put it this way, we didn't get the Capitol Dome, but we deserve SOMETHING better than those damn garages for eternity.

It seems pretty clear that Dusty was for Glover and Rizzo for Treinen. Is such disagreement perfectly healthy, as Dusty suggested? Does the GM always win? Does Treinen know and maybe understand, but take motivation from it? Does it affect Dusty and Rizzo's working relationship? Yeah, baseball!

Rizzo talked to me the other day about some "spirited" dinners that he and Dusty (and I think so other Nats people) had recently in Florida for full-scale no-holds-barred baseball talk about Nats decisions which (my assumption) would be about final roster, how the bullpen would be used and the lineup built. Some of that, like the batting order, is absolutely 100% the manager's call and is with Dusty. But that doesn't mean every smart brain in the organization can't  get together, raise their voices, laugh, cuss a little and make their case for their point of view. Rizzo loves that creative give-and-take and had it with Davey Johnson. Now he's happy that the Nats clearly have it with Dusty, himself and the rest of the crew.

For example, could Trea Turner bat second without sacrificing 20-or-30 stolen bases a year -- from perhaps 50-or-60+ down to 30ish? Somebody pointed out that Eaton, who could bat leadoff if Turner batted No. 2, was the second-best player in baseball at going first-to-third (percentage of singles on which he advanced those two bases) and also the second-best in MLB at going first-to-home on doubles. That implied that, more than almost any other player, Eaton would end up on third on a Turner single and NOT clog up second base, thus preventing Turner from stealing it. Also, Eaton could/would score on Turner doubles that, of course, Trea would turn into triples.

That's probably Rizzo's preference. Not a violent one. Just baseball debate. It's Dusty's lineup. Eaton's probably going to hit 6th a lot. Werth would probably hit No.2 against a lot of lefties, when he's not in a slump against everybody. Rendon is a good No. 2 hitter, also. Dusty hates the idea of LH-LH-LH at No. 2-3-4 because lefty relief specialists are lefty relief specialists FOR A REASON. They eat up lefty hiottres in the late innings INCLUDING THE GOOD ONES. They aren't like typical left-handed starting pitchers versus lefthanders where there is an advantage, but maybe not a huge one. But lots of lefty relief specialist have funky deliveries, sidearm sweeping breaking balls and other pitches, that seldom work against RHers, but shut down even the good LHers.

Clearly, Dusty's working that one out his way. On the closer, Baker certainly loves Glover. Seems like the organization really wants to find out what it has in Treinen as a closer because, if he is successful, that's the best Total Outcome for the franchise. And they think his stuff fits the role. Matt Wieters worked with Zach Britton in Baltimore, helping him turn (somewhat) similar super-sinker, slider stuff into a great reliever.

Here's what I think many, including me until yesterday, are missing. Sammy Solis has arrived. As long as he's healthy (and he's often been hurt), his stuff players as a top lefty reliever. Yesterday he had command of 95 MPH fastball, 81 mph curve and 88 mph change-up. It took him a while to mature in mound presence. But he's 28 and has it now. The playoffs didn't bother him last year. He ate up the Marlins 1-2-3 hitters in the 8th inning. So, how many teams in MLB have a closer like Treinen who's under team control for four years and set-up men for even more years into the future in Glover and Solis? 

Remember how many years of playoff service the Giants got out of Javier Lopez, Jeremy Affeldt and Sergio Romo and Santiago Casilla until they finally fell apart last year at ages 38, 37, 33 and 35. Treinen, Solis and Glover are in their age 29, 28 and 24 seasons.

The Nats bullpen could certainly end up a weakness, startimg with problems at closer. But if it is NOT a problem, if it turns out to be a strength, it could suddenly be part of the team's identity for years. Yes, Nats new lefty Enny Romero, 26, hit 100 mph in Florida. Lets not get too greedy all at once.   

Other than 0-fers from Werth and Drew, everyone chipped in. Homers from Harp and Lind (shame Clint couldn't stick, but Rizzo sure looks smart today), good pitching all around. Really couldn't ask for much more. Looking forward to a 162-0 season!

I hate predictions. "Everything changes everything." When you're right, on a specific level of wins, it's largely luck. When you're wrong, you deserve it. Beyond the broad picture, like "This is one of the very good teams," you're crystal-ball gazing. But, of course, like everybody, I have pre-season systems for evaluating teams. I like to use an average of the previous three seasons (WAR) for veterans. With young players, use common sense and aim low -- for example, Turner's WAR was 3.3 in 73 games last year. I put him at 4.0 this year, not 5 or 6 or 7. Anyway, I was surprised that I came out with the Nats at 95-96 wins -- as the middle of the range. That's a heckuva high range. I must be missing something.

But Strasburg looked really good yesterday pitching from the stretch. He walked no one, threw only 85 pitches in 7 innings and touched 98 mph. Looking at it again, he had very good command, kept his mechanics together and seemed to be enjoying himself on the mound. Is that possible? I hope so. He deserves it. After Werth caught a Stanton blast inches above the LF fence, Strasburg grinned to an infield teammate like, "Man, I was lucky there." For years he'd have felt like nobody should ever make solid contact of him and been annoyed with himself that a $325M player actually hit the ball off him. Perfectionism dies hard. But when/if it matures into normal intense pursuit of excellence, it's a fine thing to watch.

Interesting dichotomy of managers and starting pitchers yesterday. Volquez seemed fairly unhittable and Mattingly pulls him after 5. Strasburg struggled in the 4th and Dusty kept him in through 7. Also can't believe Marlins bullpen includes zero lefthanders.

Baker joked that he figured they might have a lefthander "by Wednesday."

Would you agree most under reported thing about yesterday's game, was that Donnie Baseball let Phelps bat for himself in the 7th (and we know what happen in the bottom of the inning). It's very rare for a RP to bat for himself, maybe will a worn out pen when a few guy who are basicly unavailable. But this was Game 1 of the season, with an off day to boot the following day. Was this a manager's gaff and why is nobody talking about it?

The Wizards have lost three in a row, but more concerning is the recent attitude of the team --- John Wall complaining about the refs and then Brandon Jennings whining about lack of respect from the Warriors. Are they starting to feel the pressure of heightened expectations?

When you're ahead 135-115 with two seconds to play and somebody jacks up a three-pointer to pad his stats, or just because he's a dope, you are instantly in "unwritten rules" territory and treading into "disrespecting the game and your opponent" areas. It's interesting that MLB is often mentioned for "old-fashioned" unwritten rules that show it is somehow out of touch and insufficiently cool. Come on, loosen up. BUT all sports have that. "You can beat me. Everybody has to lose sometimes. But don't 'show me up' when you do it, because that gives me permission to show you just how ticked off I really am."

What JaVale McGee did was JUST like somebody stealing a base in the eighth inning of a 10-1 game. Somebody is going to get drilled.

However, I thought the Wiz enjoyed getting mad a little too much Kerr apologized in the post-game presser. They, maybe, should have been a little more concerned with the butt-kicking they took and how much better the peaking Warriors appear to be.

But I did enjoy Brandon Jennings little soliloquy on toughness. "I'm old-school...(McGee) better be glad (he) shot that three and didn't go to the rack," said Jennings, who has a history of dust-ups and might have put him in the photogs under the basket if he'd driven. "We need to be...more meaner...That's what I'm here for. Any drama, I'm with it."

I'm not pro-fighting. But I love a new expression that captures something perfectly. And "any drama, I'm with it" is a nice fresh one. 

.....

Just so I don't forget it, the service at Nats Park was so bad on Monday that the team apologized for it. Here's our story, just up.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/dc-sports-bog/wp/2017/04/03/technical-problems-lead-to-long-lines-frustration-at-nats-park-on-opening-day/?utm_term=.5fa449647b4d

But this isn't new, just a different twist. Here's an e-mail I got this a.m. Just because somebody has a version of what Nats' service is like doesn't make it true. Maybe this person is grouchy. But, as a paying fan myself several times a year who stands in concession lines with my family and friends, I think some of this e-mail has the ring of truth. Here it is: 

...

I’ve been a Nats fan since they came to Washington. I’m been a season ticket holder right from the beginning. 

I ask the following question every single year on Opening Day: “Why do we have the worst food concessions operation in baseball?”  This year the lines were twice as long because the e-cash line wasn’t up and running yet.  It’s not like they didn’t know we were coming.  The stadium has been sold out for months so they even knew how many of us are coming. After perusing the upper and lower levels I decided to go with pizza because they had the shortest line.  Guess what....they were out of pizza.  All they could sell were drinks and cracker jacks.  One beer, one coke, two waters and a bag of cracker jacks cost me $35.00.  Imagine what I could have spent if I could have gotten a hot dog, or a hamburger or an expensive crab cake.  Imagine the money the team could have made.  With prices like that the team might be able to keep Bryce Harper.

 

I stood at the front of the pizza line for several minutes trying to figure out which one of the six people behind the counter could wait on me.  Only two of them were trained to use the computer cash register.  Insufficient amount of food available and insufficient staff training will lead to disaster every time.  When it takes 3 innings or more to get a hot dog something is wrong.

 

Twice last year when I was in attendance there was no fountain diet coke in the entire stadium.  Plenty of coke and sprite though.   I’ve worked in the restaurant industry and this indicates poor planning and poor management. 

 

I’ve written this letter every year and sent it to the Nationals every year.  I’ve never gotten a response.  That’s why I’m sending this letter to Tom Boswell, Petula Dvorak and John Kelly in the hopes that it will make its way into the pages of the Post.  Maybe I can get Amazon.com to deliver my food.

Thanks a lot, Boz, just, just thanks. With that kiss of death, I can now focus on other interests, without having to watch the Capitals. Do your jinxes work for a 1st round series loss in a 4-0 sweep or a heartbreaking game 7 at home when some goalie we have never heard of "stands on his head." Again, thanks a lot.

Maybe YOU jinx them.

But I don't. Starting with "if" is the standard anti-jinx formula. Catch up with the Advanced Fan Class on this one.

Very much not a UNC fan here, but do you want to revisit your view on Roy Williams now that he has more national championships than Dean Smith? Hey, you said there would be some enraging questions!

Congratulations, Roy. Three titles is an awful lot. And as bad as your guys played for 33 minutes -- no, no, I didn't say that -- Carolina was crisp and clutch when it mattered most. 

Nice to see Zimm get a couple of nice base hits -- but he pulled hard on this hits and didn't go the opposite direction, which is how I usually think of his bread-and-butter approach. Part of a spring training adjustment or just a coincidence?

He went to rightfield for his hit off submarine-sidearmed Brad Ziegler -- textbook. As you say, he had two hits and missed a two-RBI double foul by a foot or so. On opening day, we give 'em credit for loud foul balls. But not the other 161 games.

Everyone knows why Scherzer and Strasburg are successful --they've officially got "great stuff." But why does Tanner Roark win and win consistently?

Only about three or four pitchers in any year grade out at FansGraphs with "above-average" on FOUR different pitches. IOW, "plus pitches" for effectiveness. Johnny Cueto is often one. Last year, Roark had four "plus pitches." He also has excellent command, ESPECIALLY in one area -- when he misses, he misses off the plate. He has such a good sense of his own mechanics that he doesn't miss back "over the middle" which is the primary problem that led Max Scherzer to give up far more home runs than he should last year (in his opinion). You see this in other sports, too. The first player who ever told me how important it was to understand where you were "going to miss" was Lee Trevino. He aimed every drive up the left side of the fairway and played a power fade. He said, "Sometimes I fade it too much. But I NEVER miss left." So, he had eliminated the entire left-side rough off the tee. 

The result of all this is that Roark, in '14 and '16, and for his whiole career, is in the top five in inducing the fewest hard-hit balls AND the most weakly-hit balls. Part of that is his willingness, and ability, to pound both left and right-handed hitters on their fists. It's pretty tough to hit a ball very hard with a bat that is, in effect, 12-to-18 inches long after Roark has "sawed it off" in your hands.

Chris Heisey mentioned this spring how many pitchers claim they will be aggressive inside, but few actually are. Roark wants hitters to understand that it's legal, and smart to throw as hard as you can at the inside corner and, if you miss, miss inside. If that happens to hit a batter in the hand, or wrist or elbow, and hurt a great deal, that bothers a lot of pitchers. It does not appear to bother Tanner. It's part of the gamed and if they don't like it, they can come to the mound to discuss it with all 235 pounds of him. But that seems not to happen because Roark isn't a head hunter, opponents respect him and, hey, if you're going to stand on top of the plate, or dive into it, then you have half-way hit yourself.

It seems like the Orioles are always picked to finish 4th or 5th in the division and yet they've been doing well, making the playoffs multiple times under Buck Showalter and Dan Duquette. Do you think the pundits, yourself and a couple others excluded, are ever going to wake-up to the fact that the Orioles are now a halfway decent team? It's still early, and their starting pitching is questionable as always, but they seem to always make do.

I follow the Orioles closely (after covering them for 29 years) though our Washington Post audience, in our studies, doesn't care much about them or dislikes them, probably in part because Angelos acts like a jerk -- either in general or over MASN. Showwalter and Duquette have done an amazing job to lead the A.L. in wins over the last five years!

However, this is the year when I think the starting pitching will drive them down into the 80-to-85-win range and keep them out of the playoffs. But whatever can be done will be done over there because smart people are in charge of the clubhouse and the front office and the clubhouse is a model, led by Jones and Hardy. In that regard (leadership), they may miss Wiketers more than many think. He's special.

That's it for today. Hope nothing too big got missed. Thanks for all the outstanding questions. And lets chat next Monday at 11 a.m. -- after the Masters! 

I ask this question question knowing your dislike for answering football questions in April; however, I will ask it because there was a column about it today in WaPo. Do you think Romo is bound for the Hall of Fame? For some reason, it just doesn't seem like he's done quite enough.

He's done.

And, and with that back of his, I'll be glad if he really does get out while he can still, I assume, walk for a few more decades.

The Wizards have 46 wins and 5 games left. Do they get to 50? Also, who gets farther in the playoffs, Caps or Wizards?

I hope the Wiz get 50, but I would bet on it. My two cents, Wiz will be fun in the playoffs. Caps will go deeper. Much deeper. 

The game was great, but the experience at the ballpark was horrendous. It's one thing to have big crowd, but the service staff were a) overwhelmed; and b) couldn't care less for the most part. I understand the game should be the focal point, but my wife missed two full innings so she could get a pretzel and a bottle of water from the stand at the top of our section. It was the most miserable experience I have had at Nats Park, and I fear it is becoming the norm. The staff, even in mid-season, has an air of complete non-chalance. I hope I am wrong, that this was just a blip, but I feel that the experience is rolling downhill at increasing speed.

Give it to 'em.

People get a good laugh out of Dusty mangling names. Do you worry even the tiniest bit about this? Is this just occasional, natural forgetting that comes at 66 and has no effect on his managing, or nothing now but a prelude to something more? And do you think it has any bearing on a possible extension? Thanks.

He's had about three blips on names in two years. (I'd have had 103.) As the students of memory have learned, "The nouns go first."

If the Wizards and Caps both win championships do we have two parades or combine then into one? I think combine.

Do you know how nice it is that we can even make stupid jokes about this!?

If the Wizards or the Caps are playing at the same time that a Nats game is on, Nats fans should wear Wizards or Caps caps (say that quickly 3 times) to Nats Park.

Not a bad idea.

Smooth, great hands, and plenty of arm strength. Between his glove work and Treinen's pitching, we had two big question marks answered (at least for now). And while we're talking about it... Adam Eaton is REALLY fast too. Who cares about not being able to buy a hot dog when the baseball is this good and Bruce is delivering the beer.

Trea looked good. Everybody looked good.

Hotdogs matter, too.

(Was that Bruce delivering the beer? How did I miss that.)

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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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