Ask Boswell: Redskins, Nationals and Washington sports

Aug 12, 2019

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

Past Ask Boswell chats

Over the summer,

The chat has gotten very few Skins questions --not surprising, out-of-season and with team stuck in 20 yrs of 7-9. 

But the first exhibition --a 30-10 loss at Cleveland-- had at least 3 interesting points. I did not expect to be impressed by rookie QB Dwayne Haskins --who had only 1 season at OSU-- in his first appearance behind a depleted O-line. 

His 2 interceptions were ugly --one on an overthrow over the middle may indicate a flaw that's part of his game and needs to be corrected. The other Int looked like "raw rookie." 

But he made a LOT of true NFL-quality throws. And when he did, he LOOKED like the good NFL QB. He has hundreds of miles to go. But my first impression was that the Skins have probably found a QB who, if they don't rush-and-ruin him (or get him hurt behind that O-line) will be decent-to-good in time. Of course, that evaluation will be revised 100 times by all of us. But it's fun to write down first impressions for reference 0--or an opportunity to laugh at yourself years later. 

Loved the play of little DB Jimmy Moreland. So did everybody else. But he had one of the best goal-line series you'll ever see a DB have. Sure, meaningless exhibition, etc. But you don't make three plays that good, one after the other, unless you have a nose for the ball and feel for the game. His later strip for a fumble was outstanding --even after the ball came out he was still clawing at it. If he hadn't gotten it the first time, he'd probably have gotten it out the second time. 

The NFL is a Turnover League. He has to tackle SOME. But if he's a ballhawk you can put up with his small size. Not a starter now, but I bet he's part of the future. Speaking of the Skins (immediate) future, without Trent Williams their O-line is NONEXISTENT. 

I've seldom seen a player with so much leverage against a team. The Skins should just give up and either give him a raise (if that's what he really wants) or trade him for some O-line help (if he really does hate them too much to come back). But you HAVE to get another tackle --fast. 

BTW, that 3-way QB competition is ridiculous. Keenum should start. McCoy is a nice career backup and Hawkins is a fine project. But stop screwing around with this ridiculous QB Competition. Pure Skins attention-grab nonsense. Keenum's pretty good. McCoy isn't. Haskins deserves better than to be rushed. Is this Dan-and-Bruce in a rush to look smart with Haskins starting? Or Jay in love with giving McCoy a fair chance? It's dumb. Keenum needs the reps. 

Lots more, of course, with Nats in a beauty of a wildcard race. And still a chance at the Braves, imo. I actually see their 16-13 record in more than a MONTH since the last Scherzer win as a good sign. That is IF Max is back in the next 7-to-10 days. They can't survive without him indefinitely. 

Lots more, including the departure of United star Wayne Rooney and some thoughts on the late sportswriter Joseph White who was everybody's friend everywhere he went and who, for many, made us think about what the word "individual" means. He WAS one --uniquely himself and not much concerned what anybody thought. Just "himself." And a very interesting himself too.

Let’s say the Nats end up winning the Wild Card and get in. With this team, as is, bullpen and all, if you had a choice, would you want Davey or Dusty at the helm?

Dusty always seemed tense in the playoffs to me. He wanted to win too much, in my book, because it meant so much to him to win a World Series and get in the HOF as the first African-American manager. 

Earl Weaver was tense in post-season, so was Tony LaRussa and it factored into some upset defeats of their teams in Oct. Both of them were worse than Dusty, imo. 

But the team wanted to "win for him" --same with Davey Johnson, who was also one WS trip away from a probable trip to Cooperstown. I hate it when teams --even as a small part of their baggage-- want to "win one for the (popular) skipper." It doesn't help.

We have no idea how Martinez would be in October. I think we'll get a chance to find out. I bet he'll be EXACTLY like he is in every other game. That is his ONE obvious strength as a manager --he keeps 'em loose and it doesn't seem like an act. I really think that's him.

The Nats now have enough pieces to build an average bullpen --not a top one. But if they'd had "average" all-season I bet they'd be on a 92-to-95 win pace. We'll see how Davey manages that pen in crunch time --which has not arrived yet. BUT IT'S COMIN'!

If Anthony Rendon leaves, how long will it take fans to forgive the Lerners and Rizzo?

This isn't about "forgiving." It's about business. Rendon's latest (radio interview) comments seem to indicate that he's headed/leaning toward testing the FA market. That's his business. But it surprises me a little. Maybe they'll get something worked out.

I think there may be one basic hangup. I hope both sides get past it --Nolan Arenado's $260M/8yr contract. Everybody should understand one thing --Arenado's deal from ages 30-through-35 is $199M/6yrs. Rendon will be 30 next year. THAT is the comparable --and it's only a 'comparable' IF you buy the ideas that Rendon is Arenado's equal. I don't think he is --close, but not equal, even when you account for Arenado's much lower offensive numbers outside Coors Field. Arenado has huge HR & RBI total, year after year, plus a (deserved) lock on the Gold Glove at 3rd.

Rendon may feel some responsibility to "set the market" for this FA class. That's noble --sort of. But you know where it got Ian Desmond --out of town.

My take is that Rendon deserves a deal that falls between Strasburg ($175M/7yrs) and Scherzer ($210M/7yrs). I'd guess 7 x $28M for ~$196M. Give him the extra year to get him close to Arenado's $199M total. Remember, Harper only got $25.4M/year for 13 yrs and he's a huge drawing card. Rendon is wonderful, but not many people go to Nats Park in a Rendon jersey to see Tony play. From age, 30-on Harper's deal is "only" for $203.2M for 8 years. 

If the Nats don't go to at least $175M, they're not playing fair in my book. If they go over $200M, they're over-paying, but if that's what they want to do to keep the current team intact that's their business and I'll just enjoy watching Rendon play.

I always thought Harper would leave because his dream of a coast-to-coast celebration tour was so strong. He did. I've always felt that Rendon would stay. However, the odds on that are changing. If he hasn't signed by the time the free-agent period begins in early November, I think we'll see a repeat of Harper last winter --the Nats will move on and spend their money on players who WILL sign. And Rendon will find that door to DC closed. That may not bother him.

Remember, "money is fungible." The $175M-to-$200M --or whatever the Nats best offer is to Rendon-- will be spent on SOMEBODY, either Anthony or another FA. And >$175M buys a lot of talent. And the Nats roster is flexible because Carter Kieboom WILL be the 2nd baseman or 3rd baseman next year. Soto can play LF, RF (his 'normal' position his whole young life) or learn 1st base. The Nats can go after ANY OF free agent (Osuna), or any 1st base FA or any 2nd or 3rd base free agent --or a combination by adding multiple players. Or they could make trades.

I've always wanted Rendon to stay. He's a "plus" in every box. Harper wasn't. Rendon fits perfectly in the current clubhouse. He sure looks happy to me. Let's hope he stays that way --in DC.

If not, don't just "subtract" him from the '20 and say "Disaster!" It might be. But also look at the players who would be added if he left.

Last year, the Nats subtracted Harper, Gio, Murphy, Wieters, Roark, Madson, Kintzler and others. Yet somehow they figured out how to add Corbin, ASanchez, Suzuki, Dozier, Gomes, bring up Robles (like CKieboom next year), then add Hudson, Strickland and Elias to the pen at the deadline.

Every time I think Rizzo is in a box he comes up with a Trea Turner to replace Desmond, or a Soto-Robles to mend his OF or an Eaton (years ahead) to slightly mute the damage of possibly losing Harper.

I just hope he won't have to figure out how to get out of a Rendon Box. If he does, he'll probably do a better job of it than most fans now think. But it would still be better to sign Rendon and not have to figure out what to do "after" him. 

I know the 3rd base coach is one of those positions where you never get credit when you do things right but you're only in the news when you make a mistake, but it seems like Bob Henley makes more significant gaffe's than most. He's probably cost the Nats a couple wins with glaringly bad sends and as far as I'm concerned is responsible for the Soto injury with his late change in sign on Sunday. What gives?

No, Henley had nothing to do with Soto's injury. I watched the slow-mo. He had the "hold" sign up when Soto was still 20 feet from 3rd. His "hold" was early (if anything) not "late." Sometimes humans just sprain an ankle when running/cutting around a corner and --amazingly-- it's nobody's fault.

(And I've been on Henley's case recently.)

It seems we were wrong about the Mets’ being delusional to think they were buyers when they acquired Stroman. How much do you think psychology played in their post-acquisition winning streak? It has to be a big boost to players when they see their team is betting on them to win not lose, particularly when everyone assumed they were sellers. At the same time it must be demoralizing to players of teams that decide their season isn’t worth salvaging. How much of the buyers/sellers game is really a case of self-fulfilling prophecies? Do you think more teams that appear to be sellers might go for it like the Mets did? It seems to have paid off for them.

A team's bias should always be toward "buying" not selling." When in doubt, don't sell out your current players (and fans) just because your base case is only "pretty good," rather than Wonderful-Wonderful!

Almost every team with talent gets hot --really hot-- at least once a season and has (as I have said many times) a +10-or-more streak when they go 13-2, 15-3 or some such. 

The Mets went 15-1. The Nats ripped off a 36-15 when "everybody" thought they were dead!

What's often overlooked is: What Happens Next? As I mentioned when the Nats were hot --a lot of it against poor teams-- would they "flip" into a losing streak --a -10 like 2-12, when they stopped winning constantly or when they had a key injury or two (like Scherzer). I've seen that flip from red hot to ice cold a million times. It's an open manhole. 

The Nats avoided it. I've been really impressed by that. They cooled off without getting cold. And they did it when the pen was still blowing important games and without Mad Max.

Look at the Nats last TEN road trips and homestands. They don't have a single losing one. Since May 23rd, they've gone 3-1 (h), 4-1 (a), 2-0, 3-3, 6-4, 5-1, 5-, 5-4, 5-5 and the just-completed 5-4 road trip. 

The Nats season has had several "tipping points" already. We're at another one. This team could be very good --and stay that way-- very quickly. Or the injuries to Scherzer and Soto might linger, the pen might not get its roles sorted out quickly enough, the recent help from Fedde and Ross might disappear and by Labor Day we'd be right back at Woe Is Them. 

But the "best (sane) case" is currently at its best level all-season --though it depends, as with most contenders, on health.

Let's go back to May 23rd (19-31). It's an arbitrary date and puts the Nats in their best light. So, discount it a little bit. But lets still LOOK at it.

Since then, the best teams in the NL have been very clear. The Dodgers are a monster --47-23 and a knockout +130 runs in run differential. The only team in the NL that seems to match up (at all) with them in a 5 or 7-game series, because of the Nats four top starters, is Washington.

The 2nd-best NL team in this time --ALSO by a significant margin-- is the Nats at 43-24 with a whopping +87 in run differential, even with that recent 28-7 loss with Parra and Dozier giving up seven runs as "pitchers." Atlanta has almost as good a record --42-27-- and their run-diff is very good (+46). But with Nick Markakis & Austin Riley out for weeks, they'll have to compensate. Having LFer Adam Duvall stashed in the minors was a big plus for them --for six games, when he hit 5 homers. Since then, he's 5-for-38 (.105) with 15 strikeouts. 

The Dodgers are wonderful. The Braves are very good. But right now, the Nats are just as good. They're 6 1/2 games behind which is probably too much to win the NL East. But it's not DEFINITELY too much. It can happen. 

What seems clear to me is that there is a gap between the Dodgers and anybody else, but there is also a gap between the Nats of the last 2 1/2 months and the REST of the NL. 

The Phils have fallen apart (31-37, -61 negative run differential) and are not going to get up. Sure, maybe for a good week. But not for 44 more games. Arrieta is going on fumes. The bullpen is injured. Elfin hit the wall. They have had to put Harper at leadoff to get the most out of his walks --that's their smartest available option, but it is certainly not the option they preferred!

Let's revisit the Mets in two weeks. Stroman was a fine add. But they have defensive problems, little speed and key rookies in Alonso and JD Davis who are excellent pieces for the future --but can they stay THIS hot? Davis hit .194 in his first two times up with Houston in '17-'18. He's not going to stay at a .893 OPS. Alonso is amazin' --sure looks like this won't be his last 38-homer season. But he's got 38 in 117 games! That's ridiculous. He's got power everywhere --but he's still a clear LOW BALL hitter. He cranked an ankle-high Strasburg curveball out of the park (with ease) on Friday! I'd have said that was almost impossible. So, pitch him up or in. He'll still be a good slugger. You're not going to stop him. But he won't be on a 50+ homer pace! 

Also of note (to me anyway), the Cubs since May 23rd are 35-35 with a +16 run margin. Milwaukee is 33-35 with -33 runs. The Cards are 36-31 but with -5 runs. SF is 38-32 but with -5 runs.

I doubt that any of those teams will suddenly look very formidable. Maybe the Cubs. 

But if the Nats get Max back to 100%, they may have a lot of fun. If they don't....well, the Nats count on their half-dozen stars a LOT. 

They can't lose any of their Big Three or Soto, Rendon or Turner for long periods and still play well. Losing Turner for 39 games, then a slump after he returned, was THE main thing, along with the awful bullpen, which made this season such a steep uphill climb.

But they HAVE climbed. Right now, I'm impressed. How long does that last? Tough sport --you just have to keep playing and playing and playing. Very hard to do. Very fun to watch. 

While I was happy to put away my "Fire the Manager" drums in June, I am having a very hard time believing in this team. Every time they get close and can show they've made it over the hump, they end up losing a series to a good team. See most recently at home against the Dodgers and Braves, then on the road at Arizona and most recently, at the Mets. Being in a five team race for the Wild Card will make August and September entertaining, but golly, would you put money on this team in a division series against the Dodgers? Sorry, but if I want "entertainment" in August and September, I can go to the movies. Actually, winning playoff series and getting to the World Series IS what it's all about. Please convince me that I am wrong.

We COMPLETELY disagree!

Why would I bother to "convince you?"

If "winning playoff series and getting to the World Series IS what it's all about," then why do you follow baseball? The Red Sox went from 1918 until 1975 without winning ANY "post-season series." Yet they have great fans --maybe that's part of why they ARE great fans. 

Last weekend, Mets fans showed up, filled their park and roared for their team --which has frequently been a clown car with flat tires in recent years. They knew when it was time to stop being cynical and sarcastic --even as most of them remained New Yorkers!-- and SHOW UP for their team. 

Over the next seven weeks, I'll be curious to see if Washington's fans --some of whom are in the "Entertain Me, 'Cause I Deserve It, Then MAYBE I'll Cheer" category-- show up in numbers and in volume the way Mets fans have. 

Granted, New York is a great baseball town.

My job is to be analytical --it suits my temperament. But I would hope that lots of fans --not all, everybody gets to act however they want to act-- would recognize this as a team with excellent morale and effort that deserves some noise on its behalf. 

Capitals fans never/seldom have that problem when it comes time to Rock the Red. Skins fans, when they deserved cheering, got massive HTTR support. In the playoffs, Nats crowds are as loud as ANYBODY. But at other times, they aren't.

Perhaps that's because they are many (too many?) like this chatter who wants to front-run and show up in Octobers --when it "matters"-- but for the other six months of the season, he'll let the team carry the load while he decides whether they merit even a little bit of his enthusiasm.

Sorry, my response is too strong. I apologize.

But I "flash" when a team has gone 43-24 and still has a chance to come from WAY behind to win it's division, despite lots of adversity, and someone responds to the team's desire to fight it out in a pennant race with "if I want 'entertainment' in August and September, I can go to the movies."

My two cents: There aren't going to be many movies coming to town in the next two months that will be more entertaining than the rest of this baseball season --probably right into October.

I was fortunate enough to watch Sunny Jurgensen play but only later in his career (post 1972 season). I remember one memorable game during the 1974 season at RFK Stadium in which Jurgensen led the Skins to a comeback win over the Miami Dolphins, the team he did not have a chance to play against in Super Bowl VII because of injuries. I moved to Atlanta in 2017 and have had a chance to watch Matt Ryan play and I do see similarities with Jurgensen with respect to having a great and accurate arm, being loved by his teammates, being a great leader, and being revered in the community. As someone who had the pleasure ot watching Mr. Jurgensen in his prime, what current quarterback would you compare him to?

Jurgy was good enough to be above comparisons. He just gets to be Jurgy --because he was unique.

First, even though he played with a tummy for a lot of his career he was a wonderful all-around athlete --excellent basketball player and could throw a pass behind his back for 40-to-50 yards. To this day, nobody --who also has a "big arm" for perfect deep balls-- threw a prettier, or easier-to-catch ball mid-range ball than Sonny. 

It was beautiful in the air. 

But what I remember most --and I watched his whole career in DC growing up, and then in early years at the Post-- is that as soon as he released the ball with confidence --meaning that he saw someone open-- you KNEW it would ALWAYS hit the receiver in the hands. It was like the sniper in a movie who, once the "X" was on the target, was NOT going to miss. He MUST have overthrown or underthrown balls --of course. It just didn't seem like it. When he had Taylor, Mitchell and Jerry Smith as targets, I can remember watching with my father on TV. When the ball was in the air it was like "OMG, which of them is he going to hit in stride and what amazing thing will they do after the catch."

"Beloved," yes. Great leader? Not until Lombardi coached him. Then Sonny saw the light of "team" and always revered Vince because of it. 

In Jurgy's day, the only thing defensive players were NOT allowed to do what bring a 2-by-4 on the field with them. The goal on every snap was to maim Sonny. They would clothesline him, grab him by that single-bar face mask and sling him down or leg whip him. The NFL was like TAGWAR --"The Amazing Game Without Any Rules." If you could unscrew somebody's leg in a pile up, or hit late, it seemed like nobody cared. You just "paid 'em back" in kind.

Athletes get better in every era. But, I promise, they don't make pure passers better than Jurgensen in his prime. And it was a long prime. And, God, did he endure some lousy teams. I don't know how many times, after he was sacked, I wondered, "Is Sonny going to get up? He CAN'T get up."

He always got up.

Hey, Sonny, I hope you enjoy every great thing that everybody says about you --because you DESERVE EVERY WORD OF IT.

(And you were a damn good hometown announcer, too. LOVED listening to you and Sam --the world's oldest pair of adolescent smart asses.) 

It’s not a stretch to say that the Nationals’ bullpen has cost the team at least 10 wins this season. When nearly everyone with an ounce of baseball knowledge knew the bullpen was their Achilles heel, why did the Nationals not address this in the offseason? It still has the potential to ruin an otherwise wonderful season.

Try "five wins."Don't assume that a "pretty good" pen wins 10 more games. That's an incredibly large number. That "pretty good" pen blows plenty of games. Just not nearly as many as THIS bunch. 

Everybody blows some --especially THIS year when EVERYBODY blows games. Did you see the Braves get torched for four runs in the 9th to get walked off by the Marlins over the weekend?

If Trevor Rosenthal had a 3.00 ERA and 12K-per-9-innings --and there were PLENTY of MLB people who assumed that he would-- then, with Doolittle and Rosenthal at the back, it would be HARD to have a BAD bullpen, because the others could have fallen into less stressful roles. Rizzo got that one wrong --but not because it was a stupid decision, just because it was a decision that didn't work. 

The Phils have been paying the price all season for David Robertson's injury that's plagued their bullpen. That, ALSO, was NOT a stupid decision. It was just a sensible decision that blew up. 

Rosenthal was riskier because he was coming back from TJ surgery. But it seems like 1/3 of the pitchers have had TJ. You couldn't field a full 12-man staff without TJ guys.

Dear Bos, Two boxers have died in the last two weeks from their bouts, and according to your Post colleague Gene Wang, this would make 17 boxers who have died from boxing just in the last three years. Yet, I have no heard no one calling for boxing to require more safety equipment, such as headgear that all boxers practice with, never mind calling for boxing to be banned. So, why is it still a spectator sport? Are we as a species just so bored that we are willing to watch people being killed for entertainment? You used to cover this sport, so please help me understand. What am I missing?

You're not missing anything. You're seeing it clearly, imo.

One reason I got out of covering boxing was just the problem you mention. I watched a fighter (on the under-card of a Sugar Ray Leonard title fight) get killed in the ring. I was maybe 30 feet away. 

Just to let people know how sickening it was, I always use the same phrase --"he flopped around like a fish on a dock." (He died a few days later.) People act like I've said something that's in bad taste. 

Well, that visual may help people understand how dangerous and ugly boxing is at its core. (And how little I'm bothered by watching it dwindle in popularity.)

Don't ask me to get on board with this mixed-martial-arts crap. "ARTS????" It's just a brawl in the parking lot behind a bar without the broken bottles. 

I ask this as one of the people who was praying the Nats would sign one or both, but... it looks like they might have dodged a bullet? Keuchel, in 10 starts (a significant enough sample size?) is pitching to a 4.83 ERA, 1.36 WHIP, his FIP is 5.23, averaging just under 6 innings a start. Kimbrel has a 5.68 ERA, 6.77 FIP, 1.66 WHIP, walking 5 1/2 per 9 innings. And is on the IL with a knee injury. Luck on Rizzo/Nats part, or do you think they had enough suspicions to back their lack of serious interest?

Plenty of people respected Keuchel, but had doubts about a big long contract for a gutty 30-year-old soft-tosser. I'm surprised he isn't doing better THIS year.

We'll have to wait and see on Kimbrel. After his first three games back, when he was bad, he was very good. Now he's hurt. The Nats front office wanted him, dreamed about him. The Lerners didn't go after him. Maybe they'll be proved right --or lucky (which is almost as good). But lets wait on that judgment. 

Under Snyder, any player related disputes end poorly (Champ, LaVar, Kirk, etc) for the team. Trent Williams doesn't trust the team, the executives and doesn't need the money. So he isn't going to end his holdout. Instead of holding out hope that he will report, they need to trade him for a few second round picks, or even try and get a first. While he is the best player of the team, he doesn't want to be here, and even with him, this team is not going to win more than 6 games. So trade him for a few picks and plan for the future, What am I missing?

You (also) are not missing anything, imo.

Yes, I'd trade him. If you only get back picks (which would be the likely result), the Skins could have a truly awful O-line this year. That has to scare 'em. That's why they are waiting, I assume. (Maybe he doesn't really hate us, maybe, maybe....)

When it seems like a Skins player hates the team, doesn't it always turn out that he DID hate 'em?

They're going to have to change Murphy's Law into Snyder's Law --any personal relationship that can get screwed up beyond repair will get screwed up beyond repair. 

Hi Bos, The crowd in NY for this weekend's series against the Nats was pretty impressive, especially on Friday when the noise meter was off the charts. How do the Nats encourage/develop a similar atmosphere for the division rivalry games down the stretch?

I don't know. But current Nats players, in interviews, are pratically BEGGING their fans to get the message. Even (mild-mannered) Strasburg has talked about it --in a gentlemanly but firm way.

After 14 years, Nat's fans finally have a playoff race to focus on. The next seven weeks will be gut wrenching and this weekend was a great primer. Friday night's loss was a bad a loss since the Summer of 2015 when Storen broke his hand after giving up a home run to Cespedes. However even with the loss on Saturday, Sunday's game was a positive. Going 5-4 on the three city road trip and still leading the WC race, is fine. The next several weeks will include lots of scoreboard watching, but it beats last year when they were never really in it.


(You don't get to 95 every year and run away. It was very unusual to see it done four times in just six seasons. Sometimes you have to win 86-to-90 and see what happens.) 

"Quality Starts" is not my favorite stat, but I find this fact interesting: All except 3 MLB teams have more wins than QS. Exceptions, Miami, KC and of course the Nats. NL contenders have about 20% more wins than QS; the Nats have 64 QS; even a 10% increase in wins over that puts them in first place. Another measure (albeit a crude one) of the Nats bullpen

Nice stat. Never seen it before.

Did you see your colleague John Kelly's column about a prank pulled by Gonzaga students in 1969? They projected the school colors on the Washington Monument. I assume this was after you were in those high schools. Do you have any recollection of this?

Thanks. I was gone before then. I'll be sure to read it.

I really enjoyed the six years that I covered HS sports. (One team had its assistant coach spy on another team's practice by hiding in a bread truck parked beside the field. Yes, he got caught.) 

Donated blood with my wife and daughters on Saturday, and they offered us a tour of the park. One of the spots was the Shirley Povich Reporters section. Very interesting and sad that so many of the items on display seem unseen by most. But it was interesting to me - from the stands it seems to be really high up there and you all could not view a game well - BUT! once in the center, it seemed really nice as if one could really seem much more from up there - and for what it's worth - it did not seem to be that high over the stadium. So, were/are you one of the complaining media members or is it a decent spot to watch and report a game? Moving on - if Soto is hurt or comes back too soon - how do you think that affects the Nats chances. And finally, do you see them signing Rendon or not? and, if not, how might that damage the team's credibility going forward?

It's horrible.

It's fine for viewing as a fan --panoramic. It's the same as a $17 seat.

But for doing our jobs, it's ridiculous. But press boxes used to be situated in places that are now very expensive suites.

Something had to give when the newer parks were built.

It was us. I understand it. I don't have to like it.


Dear Mr Boswell, I read with disappointment -but not surprise- the news that Wayne Rooney is leaving DC United after this season. The family situation as reason for leaving is legitimate, and we were lucky to have him in DC for a little while. But I am more concerned with the Spirit's chances or retaining Rose Lavelle -and Mallory Pugh, maybe even Andi Sullivan. Clearly, Lavelle could cut it in Europe, but it would be nice if she could hang on for a while. Maybe more games for the Spirit at Audi Field could help?

I was really glad that DC got to see a player as accomplished, and spectacular, as Rooney --a REAL star who could still play. It's easy to see why he's leaving. No flies on anybody.

I hope the Spirit do well. Audi Field is such a fine addition to the city, I hope soccer prospers there.


I wanted to add a brief thought on the passing of well-liked, actually more like "beloved" local sportswriter Joseph White.

Dan Steinberg has done excellent work on this, including his newsletter today (sign up). I think everyone who knew Joe agrees with this portrait.

One central point, which strikes everyone who talks about Joe is that he was "an individual." By which they mean that he did everything in his own individual way. He was kind, generous, friendly and dedicated to his job in Washington for 22 years --including all the aggravations of covering Skins teams in that period. 

Many of us, in many professions, sense that the modern world --or maybe it's just "the world" in any age-- wants us to conform, work too hard, gaze at the stars too little, undervalue the ability to make cookies or arrange goofy ways to make other people feel good. Joe managed not to neglect his work while also not taking it TOO seriously so that it damaged his ability to pay proper attention, and affection, to his life and to others. 

W.B. Yeats has a wonderful poem on that which I've quoted before: "The Choice" about the inherent conflict between perfectly your life (including friendships, family) and your work. (You can Google it.)

Among the many reasons that Joe was respected and liked so much was that he seemed to be doing a better job than many, many people -- and an entirely authentic job-- of not only figuring out who he was, but always being faithful to that person, even when people scratched their heads, called him quirky, when perhaps a better word would simply have been "individual." 

See you next week. Thanks again.   

Bos, thanks for the response. As a life long baseball fan and Nats season-ticket holder since 2005 I think this is what separates DC right now from New York, Boston, Chicago, etc. Too many "fans" who need to be given a winner before they will commit, rather than enjoying the ride where ever it ends up - hopefully, in the playoffs. Given your analysis of the contenders, what would you say the probability of Nats being a WC team is?

A lot better than a quick glance at the standing would indicate.

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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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