Ask Boswell: Redskins, Nationals and Washington sports

Sep 30, 2019

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

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Today is simple. 

We'll talk about the Nationals wildcard game on Tuesday night. And also discuss their whole season and the decision to start Max Scherzer --4.81 ERA since the All-Star break-- over Strasburg (2.91 and even better his last 8 starts). 

Also, we will talk --though not much-- about the miserable stinking Skins. Fire Gruden any day you like --my prediction is that the Skins will fire Gruden, trade Trent Williams for a draft pick and name a new team doctor all in the 5th inning of the Nats game Tuesday night so --as usual-- they can try to steal attention from another team --any other-- in D.C. 

They can't stand having their ineptitude contrasted with the competence of others. So they cash in some of their Gibbs I Era chips by waving their arms and saying, "We just got Donovan McNabb. Please forget that we are one of the worst run franchises in NFL history." 

See, that is already too much about them. BTW, Haskins has done NOTHING that has impressed me at all in exhibitions and certainly not on Sunday. I once asked an NFL coach what the "worst mistake" that a QB could make in the NFL. 

He said, "Thrown an interception on FIRST DOWN. You've got two more downs. Don't throw into coverage." 

Then he added that the only thing worse was to "throw a pick-six on first down." Haskins threw a Pick Six on first down. 

After the only major positive offensive play all day --a 37-yard screen pass into Giants territory, he threw ANOTHER interception on first down. 

Sure, he's young. Every QB should and must improve, but he has a LONG way to go. He can scramble some. And he can throw the quick uncovered routes in the flat properly. 

I'll be looking for something else he does well. 

Anything, please. 

Okay, now that we've dealt with the abysmal Skins, let's talk about something more fun --like the Nats, or any other subject you like. 

Let's go!

Over the past seven games, Max ERA is 4.74, whereas Stras is 2.11. In the postseason, their ERAs are 3.77 v. 0.00. What in the world are Martinez and Rizzo thinking?

Actually, Strasburg's post-season ERA is 0.47. 

He also had a start in '14. In 19 innings he's allowed one earned run, 14 hits, 4 walks and struck out 24.

I have no idea what they are thinking.

But I think they are thinking wrong.

I just hope it doesn't cost them the season.

I've written that --logically-- it should be Strasburg with Corbin in the pen. I think it is a clear decision. "You can't go wrong" in the sense that Max is probably a HOF pitcher. And such prodigious players tend to perform well in big games. But is Max really THAT guy right now?

Scherzer had a good game in Atlanta, but his next start against them they drove up his pitch count and got to him. In his next to last start, he was cruising but suddenly lost it and game up 5 earned runs. 

In his last start, he gave up a 3-run homer in the 1st inning to Brad Miller (?) then another homer to Brad Miller (??) the next time up.

You hate to change the pecking order in a clubhouse, or rotation until you must. 

Max has been The Ace since he got here. 

Scherzer feeds off people doubting him. He loves to "prove 'em wrong." I hope somebody points out to him that I definitely doubt him --hey, Max, I don't even think you can put up a "quality start" (6 innings, 3 ER) against a Brewer lineup that doesn't have Christian Yelich and, on Sunday, was also without nicked up OFers Ryan Braun and Lorenzo Cain.

I still remember who lost G5 in '17.

That ought to put one more burr under his saddle. 

As far as I'm concerned this is the No. 1 start of Scherzer's career in D.C. This team can play the Dodgers dead even if they get past this wildcard game. 

The Astros, Dodgers and Nats --in that order-- have been the best teams in MLB since May 23rd. The Brewers have almost been outscored for the season and they are banged up. Their wildcard starter has been injured and his longest outing since he's returned is TWO innings. 

The most likely thing to screw up this picture is bad early innings by the Nats starter.

OK, I'm SORT of joking. I think Scherzer will pitch quite well. He has two days extra rest. He's gone full bore in at least his last 3 starts, probably his last 4. He has ALL of his great stuff. 

The concern is command, one or two "mistake" pitches to a lineup full of power. 

I think the chances of an exceptional first 6 innings were better with Strasburg. Not a lot better, but better. And those early innings are vital because if the Brewers get ahead, their bullpen can shut you down flat.

The Nats have so many factors in their favor that perhaps a little worry about Max will help motivate them to a fast start.

Since the All-Star Game, here are the ERAs of the Nats starters: Strasburg (8-2, 2.91), Corbin 3.15 (7-2), Ross (4-3, 3.83), Sanchez (6-2, 4.04). Scherzer: 2-2, 4.81.

The first hour on Tuesday night will be very nervous for those watching. 

And very important.

Any sense if the Nats will go young if Rendon leaves (as we have to assume he will #BecauseScottBoras)? If so, do they hang onto Ryan Zimmerman as a familiar face for a few years until the next window opens?

Their window isn't closing whether Rendon comes back or not. Carter Kieboom will become their 3rd or 2nd baseman --that will cost them 3-4-5 games of WAR. In other words, the difference between Rendon and Replacement (Kieboom) might be 27-to-45 extra runs. That is a TON. 

But the Nats will get about that much back --and maybe more-- by rebuilding the bullpen so that it gives up 50-to-75 fewer runs in '20. They'd only have to go from 30th (last), even behind the O's, to mediocre (15th in MLB).

Of course, their window would be WIDE open if Rendon comes back because they would STILL have the money to rebuild the bullpen. But the Lerners will have to go over $200M --probably about $225M-- to get him and not have any significant amount of that money deferred. 

The Nats pattern is that they will not spend an off-season waiting until February for a free agent to make a decision. Marcel Ozuna is out there for half of Rendon money and he's a .280-30-100 bat who can play LF or perhaps move to 1st base.

There's nothing I'd rather see than Rendon re-signing with the Nats. I wrote a whole column about it recently --GOT to go after him HARD. But just because you want him, that doesn't mean you GET him. Anthony gets to choose his own best baseball life. 

He's earned it. 

Maybe he wants a town with bigger and more rabid crowds. 

Maybe, even though he doesn't seem like that kind of guy, he wants something very close to the last dollar. 

He's so private that it's hard to know for sure. But I will tell you this: he completely understands that his No. 1 comparable contract is the $199M that Nolan Arenado got this spring for his age 30-through-35 seasons. 

This year, Arenado was almost a (fabulous) stat dupe of Rendon. But Arenado does that EVERY year with 110-to-130 RBI. Anthony's done it once --but he picked a great year to do it! 

His walk year! 

Rendon deserves to get whatever he can get wherever he wants to get it. I think he really likes and appreciates Washington. But that doesn't mean he might not think that he would like someplace else better --"grass is always greener."

My two cents to him would be: Don't Mess With Happy. And in the Nats dugout, with this team, he sure looks happy. 

How happy does Manny Machado look playing in Nowhereville in San Diego, putting up blah numbers --32 homers, 85 RBI, .256 avg and mundane .796 OPS for a 70-92 team? 

How happy does Harper look with 81-81 Philly that also added catcher Realmuto, CF McCutchen, All-Star SS Jean Segura and closer Dave Robertson --plus others. Fans love big bat 3-4-5 hitters who put up 35 homers and 100 RBI.

I learned my lesson on that type of player --and the teams that think a few Boppers are the answer-- when I was a kid. The Washington Senators had HR champions Roy Sievers, Harmon Killebrew and Frank Howard, as well as a few other sluggers who batted around them like Jim Lemon and Bob Allison.

They were awful EVERY year. The difference between a big slugger like Harper, or even a wonderful all-around player like Rendon, and a GOOD player --or a good platoon-- that can be gotten MUCH more cheaply is just not the answer to team building. 

Starting pitching is the answer --or one answer-- to team building. You can't replicate a Scherzer, Strasburg or Corbin by saying "we'll just get a couple of GOOD starters and that'll be enough." That's wrong. Baseball doesn't work that way. There are no "platoon starting pitchers."

How did the Nats end up SECOND in the N.L. in runs this year AFTER losing Harper? How did they end up SECOND in runs in MLB, behind only the Yankees, for the last 110 games of the season? 

They did it the same way it's been done for generations --with platoons or quasi platoons with players rotation between multiple positions.

This year, the Nats platooned Suzuki and Gomes at catcher: the position (just the players who were actually catching, not ABs when Suzuki or Gomes pinch-hit) produced 28 homers and 100 RBI.

The Nats platooned everybody on earth at 1st base --Adams, Zimmerman, Kendrick, Cabrera, Parra and others. I bet NOBODY on this chat will guess what the Nats first basemen generated when they were playing first base this season: 37 homers and 128 RBI.

Nats second basemen --not such a special group, right? Wrong. They had 30 homers and 96 RBI.

At 3rd, with Rendon, they got 35 homers and 135 RBI! But if they lose him, they will probably find a way to get 25 homers and 90 RBI from the spot while using that >$200M for relievers and others.

IOW, pull for Rendon to return, nag the Lerners to wise up and Pay The Man because that is the BEST Plan A. 

But don't jump off the roof if he leaves. Life and baseball will go on --and the Nats window will probably stay nicely open. 

Just not quite as wide as WITH Tony Two Bags.

Braves over Nats in NLCS, Astros over Yankees in ALCS and Astros win WS is my predictation. What’s your guess?

If Nats win the wild card game, I smell an upset of the Dodgers. LA is overconfident --with good reasons. Manager Dave Roberts made a comment last week that he was using a certain pitcher in a certain way because he wanted him to be at his best "for the next month." Oh, is another month guaranteed to the Dodgers. 

I wasn't aware of that. 

The Nats have wanted to play the Dodgers in the post-season all year. It's one thing to want to have a chance to win --hey, you know, let's take a shot 'cause what have we got to lose? 

It's another to lust after the opportunity to play the defending back-to-back pennant winner because you really think you match-up well and can win --that's the Nats, and has been for months ever since they got it turned around.

The Braves are tough and have played the Nats well this year, including going 5-2 head-to-head down the stretch. But I still think that's a toss-up in an NLCS --IF the Nats bullpen shows any improvement with both Doolittle and Hudson now at the back end and some help for an inning or two in pivotal games from Corbin and/or Scherzer. (I don't see Strasburg as a reliever --but maybe I'm wrong.) 

The Nats pen has been awful, but has shown signs (not a lot, but some) of improving in the last 10 days. Also, those 11-or-more off days in October for the eventual WS winner makes it a lot easier to ONLY use your best 3 or 4 relievers, not all 7 or 8 of them. BTW, Tanner Rainey eats up right-handed hitters. Not left-handers. But he's a good matchup for a tough RH bat to get out of an inning as Corbin tires in a start.

To stay with the Nats you have to score with the Nats. Since 5/24, the top-scoring teams are Yanks (682), Nats (646), Twins (646), Houston (642), Boston (629), Dodgers (620), A's (600) and Braves (597). 

They can cope.

But, in theory, the Brewers (516 runs since 5/24) and Cards (506) should not be able to handle the Nats firepower.

That's why it becomes so clear that a wildcard game is a PUNISHMENT for not winning your division. And I think it is a fair punishment. 

The Brewers full-season hasn't been that impressive. But, like the Nats, they are resilient and their 18-2 September hot streak that just ended was a really special short-handed charge to the wire. Neither the Nats, who finished four games behind Atlanta, nor the Brewers, two games behind the Cards, quite got it done.

Their punishment is that they have to play each other. 

If you have any fingernails left by midnight on Tuesday, you have better nerves than most. 

I won't pick. I'll just say that the Astros and Dodgers are the obvious choices and the best all-around teams. I also love the 97-win A's --wish they could pull off a title. Don't think they can, but would love it. Anything can happen in Oct (duh). But after the Astros and Dodgers, the next two teams I'd want to have would be the Nats and Yankees. 

All of that said, I always have to slap myself in the face and say, "It is NOT POSSIBLE for the team with the fourth-worst bullpen ERA in the last 50 years (5.65) to win the World Series or even, probably get to the World Series. 

But such a team might get into a first-class NLCS battle.

So, jeez, I guess that means we kind of agree! Except I think the NL is thin enough that, if you get past the Dodgers, you can win the NLCS with enough good stuff falling into place. But for the Nats to go all the way --hey, they may not get past Tuesday night!-- I just don't think its in the natural order of things for that to happen to a team with a historically bad bullpen. 

I DO think that D.C. would go absolutely nuts over a trip to the NLCS --and getting that CLOSE to the WS. 

And, I'll be honest, I'd love to see it. 

It's been a helluva long time since '33.

Tom, I know that Nats attendance has been a topic of discussion recently. I was surprised to see so many empty seats on the final weekend to watch a playoff team in pleasant weather. To their credit, I think the fans in attendance are smart and know how/when to cheer, but it also seems like the players have taken notice and are stumped they don't get more support. Rendon seemingly brings it up with every interview, as he gave out another plea after they clinched. What gives?

 

The crowds for the Phils series were blah. But Saturday and Sunday had huge excited enthusiastic crowds of 38,435 and 36,764.

"We're ready. We're in as good a position as you could possibly be coming into this game. We're scoring all kinds of ways," said Sean Doolittle late Sunday. I said, "And healthy." He immediately found wood to knock on.

"Last couple of days, seems like the fans are ready, too. The playoff crowds here in '17 were awesome. Just fabulous --so loud, so into it," said Doolittle. "Less than 200 (tickets) left, I heard."

I hope you enjoy my column that just went up an hour or so ago on The Washington Internationals.

 

 

To me Playoff baseball is so different from the game I love that I almost find it hard to enjoy. Baseball is a grind and one game is almost never make or break whereas playoff baseball is the most stressful of all sports playoffs imo. Do you find yourself taking in the game a different way during the playoffs?

It's a completely different sports. I've returned to this subject over and over through the years. For generations MLB had an almost perfect set-up --long season, then a 7-game World Series. Nobody pretended that winning the Series PROVED that you were really the better baseball team. But you sure got bragging rights! And Winning The Pennant carried huge weight.

But the country grew, population exploded and the old 16-team MLB was doomed. More teams had to be included with most post-season series. You can't have two 15-team leagues with only two teams advancing and some cities finishing 13th, 11th, 15th in their league every year. Attendance and interest would die. MLB has held its post-season to 10 teams --the fewest of any major sport. But it is still just a thrilling bastardization of the classic game.

After covering every post-season since '75, I do think that teams which have been inoculated to pressure games --by being forced to play them constantly all season-- do better in October. Sunday's game was the FIRST game all season in which the Nats could stop pushing. They didn't clinch a playoff spot until last Tuesday and didn't clinch home field for the WC game until Saturday. They have had disastrous series --like the one in NYC against the Mets in May-- and head-to-head disappointments against teams they really wanted to beat --like the final seven with the Braves. 

Turns out, in theory, if the Nats had gone 5-2 in those games instead of 2-5, they'd have won the NL East by two games. Maybe wouldn't really have worked out that way, but it underlines how massive those 19 head-to-head games are each season. The difference between 12-7 and 7-12 is huge.

I'll be very interested to see how this team copes with pressure on Tuesday --because win-or-go-home games have unique tension. There are lots of good things to say about the '19 Nats, butr I can't say that, with the exception of a couple of series (Cubs in Wrigley) that they have come up big, or played their best baseball when the pressure was highest against other contenders.

However, to be fair, I wrote a column a month ago saying that 24 of the Nats last 27 games would be against .500-or-better teams and that would help show us their true level. They went 16-11. True, the Phils and Indians were hanging by a thread the last week as the Nats went 8-0. But the Nats also KOed them.

I love watching the approach of the current Nats. Tuesday may give us the first really significant window into how their half-studious, half-fun, half-focus, half dance-party approch plays in October. It certainly worked for the Astros in '17!

To answer your question, October is for thrills. It's not about "fairness." That's why it's important to build an organization that stays competitive, that wins 90-or-more games in more than half its seasons, so that in the season when things fall your way, you get a chance to make your run.

FWIW, if things aren't "falling in place" for the Nats the last couple of weeks, I don't know what "falling in place" would look like. Could Scherzer and Doolittle, back from the IL, get back to 100% form? Looks like >90% for both and still improving. Could Suzuki (elbow) be able to get back to catch Scherzer? Yes. Would he get is RBI stroke back? Yes --two-run double recently and a two-run homer Sunday. Would Rendon and Soto, both in really ugly slumps recently, get their timing back by Tuesday? We'll see. It's going to be a narrow thing. The Nats put a good face on it. Rendon had a 2-run double on Saturday, rested Sunday and looks like he's close. But that's not the same as "locked in." Soto has gone from "lost" to semi-decent toward the end of last week to a 110-mph double off the RF scoreboard on Sunday off star RHer Mike Clevinger of Cleveland. Afterward, Soto said, "I'm really excited. I think I feel really good (at the plate) today...We are playing amazing (10-of-11 wins)...I can tell you we are ready for the playoffs...You have to be proficient, aggressive...Don't try to do too much...I like to play with a really big crowd," he concluded with a big smile. He wants this stage. How he'll do on it may have something to do with mundsane old swing mechanics. He's been working in the last week with "bands" that are attached to his waist and pulled in different directions as he swings to help him get back his balance at the plate so that he isn't pulling out. The more he uses LF and CF, and the less he gets the upper deck in RF out of his mind, the more chance that he'll actually hit one there.

As Martinez told Soto this week, "The more balls you swing at, the fewer strikes you will see." IOW, the only way to get good pitches to hit is never to swing at the bad ones --or else bad ones is all they'll throw you.

The idea of watching a winner-advances game as an opportunity to have "fun" may be outside the bounds of normal human brain function. WATCHING is much harder than actually PLAYING. I've been writing post-season game columns on deadline all my life --that's my skill set, thank heavens I don't have to hit curveballs for a living or I'd be holding up one of those "Homeless" signs on Half Street; sometimes friends ask if that's nerve-wracking. I tell them its certainly hard work, but I enjoy it so much, and I've prepared so much to do a good job, that I seldom feel tired until after its all over. Usually, I feel like I'm "flying" at the end. That's because "playing" is easier. I get what they are talking about. It's wonderful to see a team that's consumed in the game, living it, not worrying or thinking about it --just playing the way their talent and preparation should entitle them to play. 

THIS team has a chance to be one of THOSE teams. We'll see --soon. Yes, filling your abode with floor-to-ceiling good luck charms is definitely allowed. Also, it would be nice if the home plate ump under stands that the ball is dead, and runners cannot advance, when the batter strikes out and conks the catcher on the head with the bat with his back swing, thus interfering with his ability to catch or chase the pitch that produced the third strike. Yeah, little stuff like that.

I often watch regular-season games and think, "This is a really good game. But if the same game was played in the post-season, everybody would be losing their minds because every play would be magnified 100 times." Just imagine if the Nats 5-14 14-inning loss to the Brewers, or their 11-10 comeback win in the 9th over the Mets was in a decisive game of a post-season series!!! 

Actually, the Nats have already played three Game Fives that lived up to that (agonizing) standard. It's about time to win one of them.    

Every so often the Nats lose confidence in a player. That seems to have happened to Michael A Taylor this year. His average is lower than Robles but he's better, albeit incrementally, than Robles in most other aspects of the game. They banish him to the minors. All but forgotten, he gets called up in September and plays outstanding. I must be missing something. I hope his September performance increases his trade value. He needs a new home. Your thoughts?

In baseball, there are five tools. Hit, hit for power, run, field and throw. But the most important tool is usually tghe first one --hit. Square the ball up on the bat. Ted Williams famously said it was the hardest thing to do in sports. You can have all the other tools, but if you can't hit the ball flush when you swing at it, if you hit .220, then you're basically doomed.

Michael A. Taylor has never had that fifth tool, except for brief hot spells. He's been treated fairly, or maybe more than fairly because the organization likes him so much personally and sees how good he could be if he ever improved --not "perfected," just improved-- the "hit tool." Some just have the gift --like Rendon. They can "deliver the barrel" to the exact spot at the exact instant.

Taylor, who's in his 9th year as a pro, has tried everything. This year, he's gone to the absolute extreme of having no stride at all, barely even lifting his front heel, shortening his swing radically and "just trying to play pepper with the ball." Just HIT the damn thing squarely no matter how tiny your swing feels to you. So, what are the results? With this mini-swing he hit a homer to rightcenter field the other night and has been ripping doubles into the LF corner. He's one of the few players who hit the ball 10-to-15 YARDS further than is necessary to be a 30-homer. The best thing that could ever happen to MAT is if he never hit another ball more than 415 feet in his life and we never again get to see one of his blasts that go 430-plus, or the 475-foot one in Colorado.    

Has he "found something" finally? I've touted him for years, and rooted for him. I'm over that. I'll just watch. I hope that by "just playing pepper" he can be sa good 4th OFer.

BTW, Robles HAS the "hit tool." He's a first-rate breaking ball hitter at 22. He can run, field and throw every bit as well as Taylor --though both are "plus" in all those areas. And Robles power --17 homers-- is already ahead of schedule.

To be blunt, the Nats have never ,lost confidence in Taylor. Except for '17, he's never justified confidence. As he showed in the '17 post-season, he copes weith pressure perfectly well. But that "hit tool" just comes and goes --and when it goes it looks like it may never come back. Just hoping that the new method, which looks encouraging, is the right method for him.

Any thoughts on the Nats' boozy celebrations after clinching a playoffs spot? At that point, they still had home field to play for. But even if they didn't, what does it say about a team that they celebrated that hard when all they'd done is guarantee themselves a coin flip of a game to reach the divisional series?

The Nats celebrate almost that hard after EVERY win. For them NOT to have a big celebration after clinching would have been totally out of character for THIS team. There is no "right way" to be happy. It varies.

However, I did mention to one of my editors that the magnitude of the challenge in front of them is that their goal this year is to have FIVE celebrations like that one. Shows how tough it is to win a WS coming from the WC spot. But it's been done. 

MLB-TV this morning reported that Davey Martinez asked Stephen Strasburg about working out of the pen on Tuesday and Strasburg reminded him that he had been the closer at San Diego State his freshman year. And they said Davey's eyes lit up ...

Stras wants the ball. At 31, he's a full-grown bad-ass man.  That doesn't guarantee success. You can still hang a couple. But it's not a bad starting point.

Right now, he's the pitcher we all hoped he could be someday. And, remember, he is doing it with his SECOND arm. That 100-to-102 mph that he showed at San Diego State, in the minors and in his first few starts, never came back after his TJ surgery. The Mythological Strasburg got exactly nine starts in the majors. Then he was never seen again --not the 100% article. THIS Strasburg had to remake himself. When you cheer him at Nats Park, maybe add a couple of extra claps because of that. Also, it ought to count for something that he's the One Who Stayed.    

The Brewers have been shaky the last few games to the bottom-of-their-division Rockies. In what universe does it make sense to go to extra innings in Game 162 that doesn't matter when you have a looming Game 163 with everything on the line? Why not just walk the winning run in at the bottom of the 9th so you can focus on 163?

I saw they went extra innings after the Cards had clinched the Central and just thought, "What the hell?"

It was weird. Braun and Cain (minor injuries) didn't play. Neither did Yelich, of course. After two at bats they took out Grisham, Grandall, Moustakas and Thames. In a sense, they TRIED to lose. They used  couple of pitchers, I assume up from AAA, that I've never heard of. But professional ballplayers just don't like to lose. It's their nature to keep competing. But I bet Craig C wanted to bop a couple of guys whose heroic efforts enabled them to play 13 innings in 4:02 for no reason.

If the Mystics win their first WNBA championship, where should the parade be held?

Well, they've got me watching their games--though sometimes I have to get to them on tape. However, I'm definitely not ready to pose as a WNBA expect yet --even on parades!

I've always agreed with keeping Bonds, Clemens, and the rest of the PED crowd out of the HOF for juicing. But I'm starting to waver. If MLB is juicing the balls themselves now, where do they get off being high and mighty, especially towards Clemens and Bonds who were shoo-ins without the juicing? Or are we supposed to believe Alonso's "Rookie Record" is more legit than Bonds' all-time mark? Do your views on this shift at all? Why is it different?

It's different because one is CHEATING while the other is just playing with the ball they give you to play with. And there have been suspicious balls before --like '77 when MLB needed more offense and suddenly George Foster had 52 homers and 149 RBI. He was good. But that ball sure helped. Everybody in the game knew it was a "rabbit ball," because, if you squeezed that ball real tight, you could feel the rabbit's heart beating. Not much is new.

So let me see - the Nats are in the wild card game, the Caps (who've missed the playoffs, if I recall, once in the last decade-plus) start their season Wednesday, the Mystics are looking to go 2-0 up in the WNBA Finals, DC United has home field advantage in the first round of the playoffs on the line on Sunday...and meanwhile, the 'Skins appear destined to fail as long as Snyder is the owner. Is it time to move on from the idea of DC as a football town? HAS it and I just missed it?

The Snyder Skins time has come and gone. (You missed that memo, I guess.) They are now, at best, the No. 3 team in town. And there is a BIG gap between them and the Caps and Nats. I keep covering about half their games because I have a morbid sense of humor. Also, wasting chunks of your life on teams that are run by dopes is just part of the job. Can you imagine --no, don't image, it's bad enough that I can imagine-- how many hours, days, weeks and (OMG) months I've wasted on the Wiz in the last 40 years? So an NFL team that's basically been a loser for the last 28 years, and an outright embarrassment to the whole DC area for most of the last 20 years, is just business as usual. There is ALWAYS something interesting to write about --the W/L record doesn't make or break the writer. That's up to you.

As a Howard University graduate living in Maryland, was I wrong to be cheering for Penn State to run up the score against the Terrapins on Friday night? 59-0 never looked so good to someone who had to watch Howard get beat 79-0 earlier in the season by UMD.

Wow, NICE point.

That's a karma sandwich without the PB&J.

Thanks for another great season of Nats analysis. The Post sports writers are still the best in the business. Looking ahead to tomorrow, there's a lot of talk of using Corbin as a 2nd lefty arm in the bullpen. Do starters actually make for good relievers? Maybe it's just lingering nightmares of Scherzer blowing it in game 5 two years ago, but it's hard to feel confident in that plan.

It depends.

How's THAT for an answer!

We have to realize that the Nats are a unique case. There has NEVER, in history, been a team in post-season with a 5.66 ERA --or anything CLOSE to that bad.

So,a decision to use a starter in relief --for this team-- pretty much defines "It's all relative." 

That's it for today. See you all next Monday at 11 a.m. after the Skins have lost to the Belichicks 56-3 and the Nats have already swept the Dodgers out of the NLDS on Sunday at Nats Park, or else, maybe,the Nats have already been on winter vacation for five days. This will REALLY be an example of "What a difference a week makes."

Cheers!!

Which Houston pitcher should win the Cy Young?

Let Verlander flip Altuve in the air and Cole can call heads or tails.

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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