Ask Boswell: Redskins, Nationals and Washington sports

Oct 23, 2017

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

Past Ask Boswell chats

Mike Rizzo, "Our goal is to win a World Championship." C'mon. Rizzo is smarter than that. So are we. What's the full story behind the decision not to bring Dusty back?

The short brutal version, I think, is that the Lerners want what they want when they want it. Not a good baseball point of view. The game's time table is seldom the same as the team's. Rizzo supported Dusty all season although he was miffed with the way he mishandled the "Who Will Pitch Four" interview when he got his Strasburg Throw Day chronology wrong. But that would never have gotten Rizzo to change his mind about Dusty. The Lerners have acted in a You Had Your Two Chances Manner. So they fired him, though technically they simply didn't give him a new contract.

This is a fundamental misreading of how you do baseball business. I looked back through all of MLB history to see if ANY manager had ever been fired after back-to-back 95-win seasons. It's happened at least once, but the manager was total nut case -- Billy Martin in the late-'70'.

McCarthy with the Red Sox stepped down in the late '40's because of age, health. Charlie Dressen, with the Boys of Summer Dodgers, asked for a three-year deal from the Dodgers, who had never given more than one year, so they had a fight and Dressen was replaced by Walter Alston. And a manager (Dierker) had a grand mal seizure in mid-season, but came back.

My point: To fire a manager after 95-97 wins when he wants the job, is healthy enough to do it, has no "Give me a ton of money" issues and is supported by his clubhouse is probably unprecedented in MLB history.

Too do it when you have no Ideal Candidate -- or even any obvious good candidate, is almost nuts.

As I said, good luck to 'em. A poor decision, badly handled and with  possibly damaging consequences.

I suppose it's defensible to make the move, but doesn't that simply put a *lot* of extra pressure on whoever comes in and the players. I get it's the last year of the window, but unless they insulted him with a ridiculously low 1 year offer for '18 (entirely possible), I'm having trouble seeing the upside...the odds of as much going right next year as went right this year can't be high, and how does a new guy win over a team that seems to be in as good a shape as it can be as is? Also, did Mike Maddox not do a job worthy of being retained? I'm not sure what more you want from a human can make Gio Gonzalez a playoff winner.

The move is (barely) defensible on the grounds that the loss fit the Dusty Narrative of not being able to win Close Out games in post-season. He's 0-for-his-last-10. Also, although I'd assuming it's a "organizational decision," he went with Gio in G5, not Roark and it blew up. The reasoning behind that decision did not impress me. They allowed one of Gio's weaknesses -- has never pitched out of the bullpen -- to give him the call rather than Roark who has started and relieved. All I can say to that is: ?????? I'd have started Roark, largely on his gutsy job for the U.S. in the title game in the high stress WBC in March. He was on about 10 days of rest. But he pitched four shutout innings. Then you've got Scherzer, Kintsler, Madson and Doolittle. Why do you need Gio in the game? Perhaps because he "wasn't too bad" in Game 3 giving up three runs in five innings. Again, I'd say, "?????"

It's a high risk move that makes the Nats look insensitive toward key personnel -- which is entirely true, been that way for 10 years -- and contributes to the Arrogant Nats narrative that many in the MLB media built up and still continue to retrofit to new plot developments.  

It's starting to look like the window is shutting on the Ovechkin era. Amazingly, Ovechkin might be the one person keeping the window open. The bottom two lines are non-existent. The defense is awful, relying on guys (Chorney, Ness, Bowey) who should be in the AHL or playing 10 minutes a night in the NHL (Orpik). Is this how it ends for the greatest player in Caps history?

A few weeks ago, I chatted over lunch with a bunch of Post folks. One asked, "What do you think of the Caps future?" I said, "What future? They're dead." Then, of course, I pulled back -- some. But, basically, last year was sports tragedy, even though that word doesn't apply to which team wins or loses. That G7 with the Pens was IT. They were going to win and go on to capture a Cup, or they were going to go back toward .500 with more trips to the 16-team playoffs, but little chance to be one of the true Cup contenders for years.

Hope I'm wrong, but so far they look like a team that went all in -- which was great, after so many failures. Now they are paying the inevitable price. Though Ovi makes them watchable. When Ovi scored those eight goals the first two games, I  was happy for him. But I will be amazed if this Caps teams finds some perfect chemistry and makes a mark. The last 30 years of the Caps is the saddest on-going story I have ever covered in any sports, including teams in other towns.

And one of the things that makes it sad is that the Caps didn't do much wrong -- as people or performers -- except lose or choke an incredible number of times in a row over parts of four decades.

After Anthony Rizzo's "RESPECT ME!" outburst against the Nats in game 3 of the NLDS, he went on to go 1 for 25 with 1 RBI during the remainder of the Cubs' playoff run. Not sure if he was taking any of those "hate to lose" pills you talked about, but if so, the Nats may be just as well off without them.

Got to admit I enjoyed seeing him have a big slump. If he'd hit a rocket somewhere, MAYBE you mouth off like that where the cameras are sure to capture it and MAYBE you don't back off it in a post-game TV interview.

But this guy lucked out with a gork, a duck-snort for a bloop hit, THEN he acts like a hero. He makes Puig, who's now pimping his singles and doubles, look classy and restrained by comparison. Oliver Perez is the one who deserved respect -- he BEAT Rizzo, sawed him off.  

So, when Rizzo yelled, "Respect me," I thought "for what?" I think the baseball gods were watching and his 1-for-25, if that's correct, was their response.

The bloop off Perez, along with bringing in Solis twice (to give up hits to the first batter), are among the few -- perhaps half-dozen -- debatable Baker moves. BUT let me underline that Dusty did not make one BLUNDER, not one OMG-terrible move in the whole Cubs series. He made a few 60-40 decisions, where I thought he took the 40 end of the proposition. I'd have, as I said here, have used Lind over Werth in LFby mid-series. But even there, Lind and Kendrick did not have ANY good match-up numbers against ANY Cubs starter, except Kendricks 5-for-10 vs Quintana. (And, more irony,) Werth actually did have a single, double and two walks in G5, in addition to The Whiff for a free Cubs run on the liner to LF.  

Liz Clarke's story about Pryor's heart and determination etc etc is nice and certainly gives us insight into the guy but it reads like the Redskins' PR machine dictated it. The fact is he is missing balls he should catch and disappointing his teammates and his fans. And he is really making us wonder why Snyder didn't come up with the scratch to pay the proven good ones who left for better (and deserved) money, unless it was because he knew Kirk's stats would be better with guys who actually catch the ball and that would be unacceptable to the Danny.

First, no need for snark re Liz. When you cover a beat you look for good stories and good people, as well as the defeats and the not-so-hot people, regardless of the team's W-L record.

I assume the Skins will throw more to Pryor, even if they have to force it, to a degree, because they hate to have egg on their faces. But, unfortunately, I suspect Pryor will continue a bad trend. Several years ago I did an analysis of the record of the NFC East teams at drafting or acquiring 1,000-yard receivers in the previous 20 years. The Skins were last by MILES. We in DC moan about all the lost years w/out a quality QB, but the overall quality of the receivers since the Gibbs I era was as bad or worse. So, I guess that streak is headed toward 25 years. Having Jackson and Garcon was a "blip" and now we're back to Michael Westbrook? 

REALLY, looking forward to tonight's Eagle game. The whole league has gone crazy. The Rams No. 1 in points with McVay! As soon as you say anybody is any good (Chiefs) they immediately throw in a couple of stinkers.

By accident I've seen four Eagles games. They really have impressed me as a 10-6, 11-5 type team. But the Skins were right with them in the opener and were one last drive from a comeback win. The Skins are banged up (no Josh Norman and a gimpy Trent Williams along with everything else), so they are well-deserved underdog. But the Skins have this really first-rate QB who is rankled just behind Smith (KC) and Brady in almost every stat actegory and is now scrambling more to create plays in big 3rd-down spots. That guy have win a game for you almost by himself. We know that because HE HAS NO RECEIVERS (except a 340-yard RB in Thompson) but he's still putting up classy numbers.

What is that guy's name? Sure would be great if the Skins had him on a long-term contract because he KEEPS GETTING BETTER and (knock on wood) never gets hurt.

I'll pick the Eagles, 31-27, because of their tough front seven and Wentz. But it could be a beauty IF the Skins don't fall behind too far too fast. As long as they get INTO the game, I think they'll stat IN the game.

NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!! Who in the world do they think could do a better job managing this clubhouse? The way management disrespects managers, no one is going to be willing to come here. This is a damn shame.

Our Jorge Castillo reports that the Nats will interview Dave Martinez, the Cubs bench coach in recent years. Rizzo was been high on him in previous searches.

Any rookie manager is a big gamble. Can a rookie handle a big-ego clubhouse, ownership with astronomical demands and a GM on the last year of his contract?

But Dave has been mentioned for years as a good "future manager." Maybe he'll be the answer. But Matt Williams was a very hot candidate. And, yes, so was Manny Acta.

You couldn't have a better GM running your search, after you already rejected that GM's advice, than Rizzo.

Going back to Stan Kasten, anybody who is a major decision-maker for the Nats is constantly trying to manage the Lerners, do the best for the franchise, take the flack (instead of the owners) when things go wrong and build a winning team for Washington despite ownership which is fragmented in its opinions, yet also (FAR TOO) sure of its opinions!

This World Series is, in part about the Nats. Kasten was shocked, and very disappointed at how the Lerners did their baseball business, and he knew he was in for lots of headaches and beat-my-head-on-the-wall frustration within six months of taking the team Prez job. But he bit his tongue, even though it made him look two-faced in public at times,  made some great hires (Rizzo andthe scouting operation) om the owners. But the day he could out of town, he did. He is one of the two or three most successful sports executives, and in three different pro sports at one time in Atlanta, in his generation.

The day Kasten left, I said the Nats would probably regret it because Stan would end up running another club, maybe the Cubs, and that team would become so good that it might become a hurdle for the Nats in the future. But I didn't think he'd end up putting together the ownership group to buy and revive the Dodgers! Well, who got to the World Series first, Kasten, whom the Lerners always treated as a smart nobody-special, or the Lerners? And what franchise is going to be in the Nats way for YEARS. Yes, the Dodgers. Kasten has always been the most underappreciated part of the Nats long-term success. (But he doesn't care.) He hired Rizzo, taught Rizzo and left a structure, on the baseball side, at least, that could win. And it has. 

Hope Martinez, or whomever they hire, surprises everybody and proves they COULD replace or even improve upon Dusty. 

Still, to wait until Baker, after a week in D.C., went back home to California, to tell him of their decision (by phone), was no class, when dealing with the classiest of managers.

Rizzo said that both he and Baker ended their conversation with "a good taste in both our mouths."

I thought, "That must mean that both their mouths were filled with little bits of chewed up Lerners."

Boz, You're more dialed into the inner workings of the Nats front office than most of us readers. It has been reported that Rizzo fought hard to keep Dusty Baker on board but was overruled by the Lerners. As I understand, that is not the first time a Rizzo move has been blocked by ownership. How much longer do you see him putting up with this? Like Bryce, Rizzo is entering his last contract year with the Nats. Is a deal in the works to extend Rizzo or do you see him possibly leaving after this season?

Rizzo wants to see the team that he's had so much impact in building win it all. When you're so close -- 95 wins four times in six years close -- you really want to get to the finish line. And almost every exec in every sport what's to scream at ownership periodically. BUT it's much harder working for the Lerners -- and I mean EVERY executive since '06 -- than most teams. Good ownership intentions only go so far. They just don't think that baseball is all that hard. They don't understand that it is Other People that have done the work and made the moves that has made it SEEM like it's not so hard to them. They've made the mistake of believing that the 95-win seasons belong to them, but the NLDS loses belong to somebody else -- whom they can fire.

I've said it before: You can lose Harper after '18 and use the hundreds of millions you "save" to buy other starts. But if you lose Rizzo, and over time lose plenty of his key people, too, I don't know what you do or how you fix. 

The Lerners do not appreciate their excellent baseball people because they do not understand the game well enough to know what they do or how well they do it. A former Nats exec once said to me, "You know the Lerners. Unless it's a big contract to a great player -- where they can understand that he's unique -- they wouldn't give God a three-year contract. They think everybody else is easily replaceable."

I was at the first sporting event held at DC Stadium in 1961, a football game between George Washington U. and Virginia Military Institute. Here is the blurb found on the internet about that: "The official dedication of the stadium is held six days later when George Washington University hosted the Virginia Military Institute, the first football game in Colonials history. Offensive end Paul Munley scores the first two touchdowns on passes from quarterback Bill Hardy and GW wins the game 30-6." I remember the day very clearly (I was 10). It was about 95 degrees at game time. The Corp of Cadets from VMI ringed the field in their dress blues throughout the game, standing at attention. Several of the cadets did a face plant, literally passing out while at attention. I asked my father why they fell like that. He said it was a military thing to remain at attention when ordered to. I think that was the moment I began to reconsider a life as a member of the Navy. I was also at the game in when Frank Howard hit the home run to centerfield that remains the hardest ball I've ever seen hit in baseball. I also attended the game where Theisman got his leg broken - the highlight of that game was a fight between two drunk Giants fans in front of my friend and my seats - 50 yard line seats we got for $20. The question I would want to know the answer to is will the City ever tear the stadium down and be able to entice the 'skins back to the City.

Well, as a native Washingtonian, I certainly hope that the District never gets in bed with Dan Snyder. In fact, I hope they don't even get into the same building where there might be a bed where they might both end up in it at once.

We've had some really fine memories-of-RFK pieces in the last few days.

From Dan Steinberg.

Steve Goff really got the feeling of the long soccer era in RFK, and amazingly enthusiastic crowds.

And Dan found an RFK farewell from years ago when Skins left in 1996.

Mr. Boswell, I appreciate the manner in which you've detailed the Nationals previous difficulty in finding a "top tier" manager. Specifically, I think your documentation of the Lerners' unwillingness accept the market price for the best managers (as well as their general negotiating style) as a reason for some of their previous hires. Can you shed any light into whether Mike Rizzo tends to exert more or less control over decisions typically within the purview of the manager compared to other GMs? And if so, could this also be a hurdle to the Nationals hiring a top tier manager? Thanks.

Rizzo works well with his managers. I've known Davey and Dusty for 30+ years. I'm sure eif Riz was driving them nuts with meddling I'd have heard about it multiple times. I never heard one word along those lines.

Dusty and Mike had exception over-dinner debates before this season about lots of things. Batting order, where Trea Turner should hit. But they were baseball discussion between lifelong baseball people. Dusty got to make the call. Mike certainly made his case. Baker was the one who couldn't wait to get Zimmerman back in the line-up from No. 6 to No. 5 or, he actually believed, to No. 4. "Zim is my pick to click" this year, he told me. Now that's a manager who really knows hitting and can sense the future -- short and long-term -- of his hitters. I doubt Riz ever imagined Zim back at No. 4. He might have dreamed for it, but Dusty -- from what he SAW in Florida -- actually believed it was about to happen. So, 36-108-.304. Pretty smart manager.

Rizzo is demonstrative, blunt, honest, out-going, extremely confident in his opinions, willing to admit mistakes (though it's nbot his favorite thing) and quick to forget small problems or disagreements. And he likes people who are the same way. And he LOVED Davey and Dusty as lifelong baseball legends, and just as really good people. Riz respected, and at younger ages had probably seen them almost as heroes, that he could have wonderful disagreements with them and have it all be a net plus for the organization.

Tom what's more important for a team like the Nats, consistency after so many managers in the span of a few years (meaning stick with Dusty), or searching for the guy who will make the moves necessary to win big games (which could be no one who is available)? And, extra bonus question, did the Lerners do this with or without Rizzo?

Some excellent work has been done by serious math people, and stock market students, on the impact of managers in baseball. Nassim Taleb, who wrote The Black Swan, about outlier events in the stock market, did a study -- I'm pretty sure -- on this subject. (He's a baseball fan.) His conclusion was that managers DID have an impact on the 162-game regular season but that they had almost NO IMPACT on short post-season series. Taleb is a little bit "out there" in his market views -- yes, I enjoy studying the markets and theories about markets. But I think he's on the money about MLB post-season. That's the time for the players to show up and the managers to sit back and not screw it up with anything crazy. Dusty (finally) had how whole team healthy and ready. What did he do vs the Cubs. HE SENT 'EM OUT AND LET 'EM PLAY. He went with his regulars and he went with his rotation (including Gio). Except for calling Max in G5, which almost any manager would have done, he used his pitchers as he had all season.

THEY lost. HE got fired.

I've seen that movie a few times before. 

Remember, the '12 team was very young when it blew G5. The '14 team was a big favorite over the Giants and blew it. That is NOT the same as winning '95 in '16, then going into the playoffs without Strasburg and Ramos, then taking it to the last out of a G5 with the Dodgers having to use Kershaw in RELIEF of an exhausted Jansen. Then, in '17, winning 97 despite a huge number of injuries, then taking the Cubs, the champs, to the last out of the G5 in what was predicted to be a toss-up series in a year when NOBODY in Vegas had the Nats as better than the No. 4 pick to win the World Series.

How dumb does it make a team look when they say they fired their manager because they didn't win it all and will only be satisfied with "a parade" when three or four other teams are, in the view of professional gamblers, a better bet to have that parade?

Boz - be honest - this team which could barely manage a victory against the pathetic 49ers at home, will struggle to win 5 games this year, given the remaining brutal schedule and injuries. Right or Wrong?

When healthy, they look pretty rugged to me -- like 9-7 tough against a hard schedule. But they are far from healthy and keep losing people. 

So, my answer is "No," they don't look like a team finding a way to get to 5-11. They look a couple of games better than I thought they would. But "the injuries" are an even bigger asterisk above their season than for most teams.

The SF win was about as ugly/scary a win as you'll see, but it was also a "typical NFL game" in this era and a typical 'look-past-a-weak-foe" game by the Skins.

Like many people, I thought they'd be 3-2 at this point, but not exactly the way they did it. Now it gets tougher.

And now we find out more.

Looks like the Boys will have Ezekiel Elliott for the showdown in a few weeks. That makes pokes tough. Even Giants don't look (quite) as awful as their record).

Here's a link you might like to Marine Corps Marathon recap.

Boz - I would have brought Dusty back, but can't understand the over-the-top and hyper negative reaction from the national media to the Nats’ decision, which was based on sound logic and a desire for postseason success. It's not hard to imagine the opposite decision being criticized for accepting the status quo. I found much of the coverage of Strasburg's sickness in Chicago equally biased. No one gave any consideration to the potential inverse scenario, where Stras hides his illness to take the ball and proceeds to put his team in an insurmountable hole. The communication was botched, but Stras did the right thing: told the Nats he’d give them what he had, but acknowledged he wasn’t 100%. Just me, or does the national media seem spring loaded to hammer the Nats' every move?

You're right that some in the national media , since the Shutdown, have sold themselves a narrative of Nats Arrogance. Few outside D.C. grasped how long-term-smart and ethical it was and, even now, with all the Mets pitching disasters because they did the OPPOSITE of what the Nats did, it still hasn't sunk in that, maybe, they shoudl change their minds.

OTOH, the Nats have fed into, and enjoyed that cocky attitude with "Natitude" and "WS or Bust" and "Where's My Ring." As New Kid on the Block they wanted to play with an edge.

But they have lost in the first round four straight times. So there WILL be blowback. Especially when Baker is one of the most popular people in the game.

I did find it odd that few seemed able to make the distinction between the ham-handed way the Nats have HANDLED their managerial changes and the separate issue of whether those managers were justifiably fired or not rehired. It's the approach of They Did It AGAIN! Oh, really? Frank Robinson, Acta, Riggleman, Johnson, Williams and Baker.

They could have handled Frank better and more generously at the end, but Frank's a proud, cranky guy. So that parting was never going to be easy, even after a 71-91 year. Manny got a fair chance. Riggleman was one of 9 managers who didn't have a contract for the following season on the day that he wouldn't get on the team bus with the team heading to Chicago when he tried to hold up Rizzo for a new deal. The Nats were one game over .500. He overplayed his hand and put himself in position to be the manager who quit on his team. Davey has health problems by the end of '13. Matt had to go after Pap-Harp and his Lost Clubhouse issue. 

So, we have ONE example of the Nats horrible treatment of their managers -- IF, big if -- you leave aside that they were all hired cheaply and never given the extension, even the one-year extension for "services rendered" that is customary in MLB. I'd say that Davey and Dusty just never got properly paid for what they did for the franchise in '12 -- get it to 98 wins when it had never been above 81 before -- and Dusty -- raising the wreck of the '15 season and going right back to 95 or more instantly.

Shouldn’t the nationals have acquired Justin Verlander and used him in the division series instead of Gio González? While Gio had a low ERA, advanced stats suggested that he was very lucky. His poor performance was a significant factor in the series lost.

"Wanting" and "getting" are two different things. I don't even remember if the Nats were a team that Verlander had agreed (in his contract) that he COULD be traded to.

Nats had a lot of their plate getting the bullpen fixed, plus adding Kendrick. BUT it would be interesting to see the list of teams that reached the round of 8 this year that maybe/shoulda/coulda been in the WS now if they had a crystal ball, saw what Verlander was going to do and "did whatever it takes" to get a trade done.

You’ve emphasized the randomness of the playoffs and that any of the teams can get hot at the right time to win it all, but this year don’t the Dodgers genuinely look like the dominant team? Won’t rub it in on your predictions about their projected losses to both the D’Backs and Cubs.

Had dinner last night with John Schulian, one of the best sports writers ever in the '70's and '80's, and an excellent Hollywood script writer for 20+ years on everything from "Miami Vice" to "Midnight Caller" to creating/writing the character Xena and the first episode of Xena Warrior Princess. Oh, and a real good catcher at Utah and lifelong Dodger fan. He's my "inside info" on the Dodgers.  He thinks the 1-16 was an anomaly, that they are a really special team that's playing extremely well again. Hot at the right time.

You all know how big an edge I think that home-field gives in the Series since '86 when rules were changed so the home team gets to use home league rules regarding DH. Since '86, team with home field edge in WS has a winning percentage in all WS games of OVER-.600.

Also, The Hot Team tends to roll through October. Look for the team that can end up with a post-season record of about 11-4. If you see an candidate for 11-3, 11-4, 11-5, that's a good pick.

Of course randomness and heroism are huge WS factors. But I'll take the Dodgers in either four game or seven games. You say, ???? Look it up. When you start 2-0 at home, you're off and running and it's over a "shock" Series that ends fast in four or five games. But if you struggle, but manage to get back home, you have a very good chance of winning. It takes an amazing individual performance, like Bumgarner versus K.C. or the Cubs historic win last year to buck the pattern. 

I tend to believe in patterns until they are broken.

In a previous chat, you noted that World Series winners typically didn't play deep series. Instead they rampaged their way through October. If that is our guide, LA should be a heavy favorite, right?

See! We're on the same page!

Could we get Scott Boras to represent a competent big-league manager? That strikes me as the only way we could have a manager last for more than two years, given the Lerners' disdain for managers and their seeming hypnosis by Boras....

There's a thought.

Microfracture surgery is not something simple, and not something minor. Actually, it's something some guys in the NFL and NBA never come back from. I haven't heard too many MLBers having it, but was he ailing all season? Does this foreclose any possibility of Nats resigning him, since it would probably be best for him not to play the field?

Murph was always tagged as a perfect A.L. player. His chances of extending with the Nats were just like Wilson Ramos: close to zero percent. But this injury will ensure that he goes to the A.L.

I'm more concerned about how soon and how well Murphy can come back. He's one of my favorite players to watch because he is so good AND so pure-baseball goofy.

What do you think of the possibility of Jayson Werth as a player manager for the Washington Nationals? Bryce Harper loves him and would maybe stay to play for him. The Players love him and he clearly understands the game.

Maybe some day, some where. But not any day soon. He wants to keep playing. Managing is misery. He knows it. I've asked him if he'd ever do it. I suspect he will. But he's -- he hopes -- not finished with the fun part of baseball.

That's it for this week. On the the World Series with a lot of fun tonight watching Skins-Eagles.

I will add that, even though all the Nats managerial changes do have a disturbingly Snyderish feeling to them, that firing a manager with Baker's abilities, but also his limits, is not an outrage. He's been fired three times before. After his Giants won 95 games but lost the World Series, he was fired; the Giants won 100 the next year. After the Cubs fired him, when the team had fallen below .500 with Baker managing, the Cubs improved by 19 wins the next season and went back to the playoffs. However, the Reds fired Dusty after a 90-win year and the next season they collapsed by 14 fewer wins.  

See you 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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