Ask Boswell: Redskins, Nationals and Washington sports

Nov 25, 2019

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

Past Ask Boswell chats

Welcome to.....Victory Monday!!?!?!?!

After reviewing the tape this a.m., the jury (me) has returned from deliberations and reached its verdict on Dwayne Haskins' "selfie" with fans that caused Case Keenum to take the final kneel-down snap. 

Not Guilty! 

It was a total fluke set of circumstances. Nobody expected a Skins interception to set up an unexpected final meaningless play with 0:02 left. 

Would Payton Manning or any Skins QB of the last 50 years have been with teammates until 0:00? Yeah, probably. But so what? Haskins had just led two nice drives to set up field goals to tie the game, then win it. It was his first home win --and he's local, went to Bullis, so he was even MORE excited than your average rookie QB. 

I would be far more critical of his QB play so far --with a 55 QB rating in 108 passes, than of this tiny NFL-optics faux pas. He has a lot to work on as a QB --but may have the tools and determination to pull it off. 

But a really weird set of circumstances set him up to make him look bad. 

Let's look at the whole Skins game. 

Also, Baby Shark --Gerardo Parra-- leaves DC to play in Tokyo, where he'll play much more (at age 32), make more $$ ($2.5-million) and also probably find tie-ins with "Baby Shark" which is apparently a phenomenon among toddlers in Japan, too. 

Also, how can Nats get Strasburg to say, "Hello, I'm back." 

Hoya men show hoop promise with win over No. 22 Texas, followed by a competitive loss to No. 1 Duke. Terps men continue to look good, too. 

Give your thoughts also on NFL kid QBs. 

And the MLB off-season, which is heating up. 

Let's go! (But no selfies until the chat is OVER.)

Of course you can, it’s your rule to break!.....but last week you were saying to ignore the Washington football team, boycott the games, embarrass the franchise so he who must not be named feels pressure to sell and bring hope of a football rebirth to tortured fans. Last night, you drop an “attaboy” column instead of “The football team won today improving to 2-9 for the year. In other sports news of genuine interest...” Positive feedback only encourages Mr Snyder.

Yes, you are right.

But it was fun. Maybe I'm in the minority, but I got a kick out of seeing the Skins kids --with about 6 rookies, plus Darius Guice in significant roles-- decide not to quit and 'play for the best draft pick.' Their level of celebration was ridiculous --but also goofy fun-- and showed just hopw beaten down they have felt by this season. A lot of fans can't separate their feelings about the long-term football sins of Snyder and Allen from the actual performance --okay, often it's bad-- by the players. In my book, after 20 years, Snyder is guilty until proven innocent --the standard in the British system of justice, I believe. The players are innocent until proven guilty --the U.S. system.

BTW, we set up our Skins coverage of which columnists will cover which games way back in (probably) July. Back then the Skins were selling everybody on how good they were. "Close." And how Jay Gruden would be fired if he didn't make the playoffs --with Gruden, semi-jokingly, joining that chorus.Typical Skins cynical marketing or else football-dumb self-delusion.

I'm pretty sure I said in this chat that the Skins looked like a 6-10 team to me WITH Case Keenum and a 3 or 4 win team if they went with Haskins at any point --because a rookie with little college experience would often be over his head in the NFL. That was before it was certain that Trent Williams hated the team too much to play for it.

At any rate, if you agree to do an assignment, I think you should do it. Last, semi-soon after the World Series, a nice editor said I could skip the Skins, if I wanted. But I had THINGS TO SAY (ha). On Sunday, it was my turn and if the Skins had somehow been 6-4 instead of 1-9, I'd have been there --right?

I'm down for two more home games in December, too. Will that be a "waste of my precious time?" At this point, I can't resist laughing to myself. By that standard, I have been wasting my time EVERY TIME I have written about the Wizards in the last 40 years. And I have wasted my time the majority of the times I've written about the Skins in the last 27 years --in that period they have the THIRD worst record in the entire NFL, "ahead" of only Cleveland and the lousy Lions (who ahve won six fewer games than the Skins). Of course, it's not a waste because IT'S MY JOB. We expect the pro athletes to show up and do their best --even if, year after year, things don't work out. Obviously that applies to writers, too. We'd prefer INTERESTING teams --not necessarily big winners, but teams that didn't just recycle the same soap operas decade after decade. But I've always believed that a good writer can find WAY MORE THAN ENOUGH good subjects for stories, regardless of the team/sport/level of play. The subject matter is never the problem. YOU are the problem if you are not producing good work. 

See, already I'm talking myself into thinking of those two Skins games in December as an opportunity --not a complete waste of two days of my life.

But this could be a tough job! Especially since the Caps, Mystics and Nats have shown us that Endless Suffering is not out lot in life --or at least no longer our lot.   

Boz, While the start of the Terps' season was enjoyable, I really didn't expect MD to be a Top 25 team. But I thought they would be respectable and competitive. They've been neither. I don't yet know what this says about Locksley and his staff, but my biggest take-away is this--Matt Canada must have done a hell of a coaching job last year. With less talent than this year's team, and in the immediate aftermath of the Jordan McNair tragedy and the chaos around Durkin's status, Canada and his staff had the team well-prepared and competitive in most of the games.

I feel sorry for Maryland fans. My wife and I went to see "A Beautiful Day" --the Mr Rogers bio-pic with Tom Hanks-- on Saturday night with another couple. They've been devoted Terps fans for decades and we went to the show at a time that suited their Maryland football schedule. When we met, I said, "How did Maryland do? (I hadn't checked.)"

"Same as usual this season," said one of our friends. "Down 35-0 (at half) and we left."

But at least they had plenty of time to get to the movie early. Yes, it was very good. Completely different kind of movie, but just as good --maybe better-- was "Ford v Ferrari" which my wife wanted to see more than I did. (She loves cars and speed. Talked me into a bus man's holiday to go for almost a WEEK to the Indy 500 when I wasn't even covering.) Well, I was wrong about 'Ford v Ferrari.'. It's outstanding --and much more than "Christian Bale turns left for 2 hours." OK, it's about the 24 hours of LaMans in the '60's --so they do a lot more than turn left!

Yes, now you are getting free movie reviews. I'm not TOO ghard to please --enjoyed Downtown Abbey-- as long as 1) there are fewer than 10 major explosions 2) there are no angels, alternate universes, spouses who return from the dead, philosophical vampires, mythological kingdoms or super heroes with roman numerals after their names. I'm good to go with every Iron Man or even Darkman --but not once they come back for a second helping. The Avengers, the Fantastic Four, Captain America, Wonder Woman and all the rest, are worth one movie --maybe-- if it is well done. (Come on, I grew up on all that stuff. As summer camp counselors, in high school and college, my friends and I would read all the Marvel Comics that parents sent to their 9-10-11-12 year olds.

But never forget, no matter how much you enjoy Stan Lee, those comics really are aimed at 9-10-11-12 year olds and TOP OUT THERE. All claims for them as allegories, archetypes, social commentary and the rest is mostly just bunk.

Don't get me going on Swords and Dragons, Hobbits, schools with students flying on brooms and all the rest of the special-effects-driven brain rot that turns "B material" --at best-- into endless "A+ profits." Take away their magic gizmos, look at the stories (and dreadful dialogue) on the merits and its almost enough to make you wish for more mediocre sports movies.

But then given the goofball range of movies that I watch over and over --because I think they are perfect, or unique, in their own ways-- probably disqualifies me from "movie comment." Who is far more likely to re-re-re-watch Grosse Pointe Blank, the Big Lebowski, Reservoir Dogs, Encino Man, North-by-Northwest, Black Rain, Iron Man, the Third Man or Now Voyager than watch Citizen Kane a second time. Once you get rid of all the things I arbitrarily dislike, thi seems like a fine century for movies. On to Jojo Rabbit and maybe Parasite.        

If the Nationals can’t get Rendon nor Strasburg back next season, how do you think they’ll be able to compete next year?

Last year the Nats acted quickly because they either knew, or thought it very likely, that they would not or could not bring back Bryce Harper. Why wait for somebody until February (or March) that you think will end up being overpaid or may not pick you in a close-finish beauty contest anyway?

This year, I think they are waiting --and may wait a long time, until they see what the last-best offer from a competitor is-- because they REALLY want to bring back both Rendon and Strasburg and--to a point-- are probably willing to overpay out of gratitude for the World Series win, optimism about the team's chances in '20-'21 and a savvy business desire to keep the Fan Love Momentum that is sweeping toward them in motion.

Last year, the longer it went, the more you assumed they only wanted Harper if he fell to them, and maybe not much at all after they got Corbin --and paid $140M for him. This year, the LONGER they go without a major investment, the more I read that as dead serious interest in both Rendon and Strasburg.

As I wrote in a column last week on Gerardo Parra leaving, I think tht Strasburg is the player you absolutely have to keep because the team is BUILT on starting pitching. You know what you have in Strasburg-Scherzer-Corbin-Sanchez. Yes, there are alternatives in th4e free agent market for SPs --Cole (at a huge rpice), MadBum, Ryu, Keuchel, Teheran. But I think they LOVE Strasburg and he (probably) loves them. I will be shocked, and sad, if that somehow doesn't get worked out. I assume, but don't know, that Strasburg saw the Lesson in Bryce --one which Trout saw when he stayed put with th Angels. The Lesson was: Sometimes if you stick around for the last 5-to-10% of a huge deal, you end up with only one realistic landing spot --and it may not be the town you really want. Maybe Harper likes Philly. Maybe it's an act. But the Lesson is -- by the end, he had no other real set-my-price-tag-record choice. That doesn't sound like Strasburg to me.

If Rendon comes back, there should be a seperate parade for that because it means the Nats will be a ton of fun next year. And with Rendon, Soto, Robles and Carter Kieboom in place for the next five-to-six years --plus Trea Turner through '21-- that is as packed a lineup as Rendon will be able to project for ANY other team that might come after him.

As I think I pointed out last week, if Turner had played in 160 game and produced at the rate he did for his 122 healthy games last year, he'd have had 126 runs, 203 hits, 48 doubles, seven triples, 25 homers, 48 steals, a ,298 average and .495 slugging percentage. That is ALSO a heart-of-the-order hitter --with the heart of the order now understood as anywhere from No. 1-through-No. 5. If Rendon leaves --I hate even saying it because that is more "market talk" --based on rumors, self-interested agent leaks and desire for New Stories than it is on actual negotiating reality --Turner may be a No. 3 hitter next year with Robles up to No. 1 ahead of Eaton.

To answer your question, if the Nats lose Strasburg, Rendon, Parra, Kendrick (to an AL DH team) and others, but sign Josh Donaldson or Mike Moustakas to play 3rd, then I think this free agent class is so deep --especially in SP-- that they can build a 90-win team again in '20. But THAT should not be the goal. Strasburg and Rendon should be the goals.

Remember, off-seasons always unfold in a larger MLB-wide context. The HUGE trend of the last two years has been that EVERY free agent gets less than they expect --Harper got only $25.7-million-a-year, he just got it for a lot of myears-- and they get those bids from fewer teams than they expected. Also, the  trend --I'm not saying colussion but...-- is that top FA who come with a compensation pick cost seem to get nudged by the market BACK to their original teams. And there seems to be a desire not to go significantly above the (public-knowledge) contracts offered by the original teams. The Nats $300M to Harper had strings attached (deferred money) but what did he and Machado finally sign for? Essentially $300M for 10 years or, in Harper's case, he sold three potentially valuable seasons at 36-37-38 for almost nothing to get to $330M guaranteed. The Nats are out there at $215M/7yrs for Rendon --but who knows with what strings on it. But that leads me to think he may not see more than $225-230M from anybody else. I'm not saying owners are always sneaky --but I'm definitely not saying that they AREN'T.    

Almost nothing seems to be happening in the large MLB Free Agent market. Just a little action around the edges - Will Smith, Yasmani Grandal, Jose Abreu. And little likely to happen during Thanksgiving week. Even the “rumors” seem forced and flat. Are we going to see an explosion of signings in December? Or, once again, despite predictions, will this drag on like last year, well into January and February? Seems like Mike Rizzo can’t get anything done on the periphery until the Rendon and Strasburg situations are settled.

You're right. Smith is good but not long-term great. Grandal got four years, which surprised me. Catchers disintegrate fast. Besides, who cares what the White Sox do until they have a year when they prove something --or prove anything. They've had money to spend for over a year and finally found somebody who would take it. So they overpaid by a year --like the Nats did for Jayson Werth when nobody else would take their 'confederate money." Abreu is the most commonly available type of player in the market --a one-dimensional free-swinging slugger. Yet he STAYED with his old team --the White Sox. Will that be the pattern with others? The Nats and their fans can hope so.  

Haskins action at the end of yesterday's game is a sober truth to how much further the Redskins have to go just to reach respectability much less vie for a SB title. I really do not fault Haskins all that much. I blame the owner Dan Snyder. I think most if not all the other teams felt that Haskins wouldn't be picked until probably the early to middle 2nd round if that early. This was a Dan Snyder pick. Cut & dried. The Redskins will never be relevant until Snyder is gone. The only way that is going to happen is if the powers to be in the DMV refuse to pay for a new stadium. Final comment. I would love to be a fly on the wall to listen to the conversation between Snyder and his dad about what he has done to 'his' beloved team.

I understand why you feel this way, but "no fair" dragging in hypotheticals with parents.

The Skins have had so many bad drafts that we may be missing a good one. Leave OUT the first and second-round picks --Haskins and OLB Montez Sweat (who had a sack and forced fumble Sunday). The verdict is far from decided on either of them. And their final grades will define the class. After 108 pass attempts, Haskins ranks 47th out of 48 NFL passers with 50 atyempts  in QB rating (55). Sweat has not been the consistent force that was expected from his combo of size (6-6, 262) and elite LB speed.

BUT Terry McLaurin is the best WR they have drafted in 25 years --and not just because he is THE ONLY really good WR they have chosen in 25 years. He's a beast judging the ball and fighting for it in the air. He's got the sped, hands, smarts and work ethic. He can take a hit --hope he doesn't take too many. The 91-yard TD return on a kickoff on Sunday was really THE difference in the game --and that was rookie, Steven Sims, Jr. from Kansas. He's shifty at high spped and also had a 44-yard KO return. Too bad there is so little use for return men on KOs these days. 

Derrius Guice --yes, I'll get the spelling right eventually, I can't spell Bradshaw if you spotted me the B-R-A-D-S-H-A-- is gtting his shot now. He looks useful. The 45-yard TD on a screen pass last week was opportunistic when Jets defenders go in eachother's way and gave him the sideline --but he TOOK it.

Rookie LB Cole Holcomb, UNC, had a big game Sunday with 13 tackles, a sack, two QB hits and one 'tackled-for-loss."

With Josh Norman (finally) benched rookie CB got to play more, on slot receivers. And third-year CB Fabian Moreau got to play his favored position --on a WR, not as a nickel back-- with Norman now, apparently out of the pitcure. Moreau's TWO interceptions, and one by excellent CB Quinton Dunbar on the other side, will probably keep Josh invisible. And perhaps even unheard.

Rookie WR Kelvin Harmon, with the 6-foot-2, 210 size that they have been hunting in a wide out for years, was on the field for the last two drives. (Anything that gets Paul Richardson --another dud WR acquisition-- OFF the field is a bonus.)

If you toss Guice, who didn't play a down as a rookie, in this bunch, there's a chance for a remarkable class. And even if Haskins is some kind of a "B" quarterback, it would still be good.

Is mediocrity close? By next year with another draft and growth from Haskins? That's not the way to bet because new coaching regimes tend to blow up rosters, bring their own ideas and, usually, burn up at least a year in the transition.

But if you want to see a "good draft class" as the key takeaway from the win over the Lions, I'll agree with you.

I read about the poll showing that the Nationals have surpassed the Redskins as the area’s favorite team. Well, no kidding. If you conduct such a poll while the Redskins are 1-9 and the Nationals have just won a World Series, how could the results be anything else? Many Redskins fans have tapped out in this abysmal season. They’ve stopped going to games/renewing season tickets. They’ve stopped buying merchandise or watching the games on TV. But that’s only while the team is in the doldrums. Once the team starts winning again the vast majority of fans will come right back. But why throw good money after bad in the mean time? Some of those fans can say that they’re going to root for another team, but their hearts will still be with the Redskins and they’ll be back as soon as the ‘Skins are back. Take me, for example. I’ve been a diehard fan for 43 years. There is no way I could just switch teams and have the same kind of emotional investment in my new team. The only real question is what will it take to turn this franchise around? It cannot happen while Daniel Snyder and Bruce Allen wield the most power. They’re the ones who got us into this mess. Snyder must either sell the team or replace Bruce Allen with someone more effective and competent. Several fans I spoke to say that’s the only way they’ll be back. But they’ll be back. You’ll see.

I agreed with you for a long, long time.

I don't anymore. You may prove to be right. But I really doubt it.

The contrast between the way the Capitals --most wins in the last 37 years in the NHL!!!-- and Nationals --second most wins in MLB in the last 8 years-- are run, as well as the enthusiasm around D.C. United's new Audi Field and the feel-good surrounding the Mystics WNBA title, has truly shifted the whole D.C. area into a new place.

Snyder and the Skins just stand for too many ugly things to be embraced as soon as they win a few games. Their culture is as toxic, top to bottom, as the Nats and Caps are generally productive.

Things took a long time changing. As long as Snyder --and people he picks and is "comfortable" working with-- are at the top, it will take a long time to change back. A 10-6 season? Sure. Happens all the time in the NFL. A five years period with even 40 wins (.500) --that has not happened to the Skins since '88-to-'92 (50-30).

I don't want to make you cry, but the Skins were 58-22 from '83 through '87 and outscored the league by 476 points!!

Even now, few want to look at the Skins objectively in this area. And you, I suspect, are another example of "love eyes," even if they are disillusioned love eyes. 

It's not just that the Skins lose --40-66 in the last seven years-- it is how badly they lose, just getting dominated, revealing over and over how far their talent level is from what they think. In the last seven years, the Skins have been outscored by 476 points! That is how bedrock lousy this team's talent, attitude and coaching has been --and that's even with the help of three 4,000-yard seasons by Kirk Cousins, who, whatever his flaws, does have a 21-3 TD-to-Interception ratio this year in Minny and also --talk about "stats can lie"-- has the No. 1 QB rating in the entire NFL at 114.8.

Over Snyder's entire 20 year tenure --remember, he inherited a solid roster-- the Skins have been outscored by -877 points.

It's a new world. Lots of people, including people in the media, are going to have to adjust to it. For example, there is no way that I'll say "give me six Skins games to cover next season and we'll see if I need to do more of 'em. Hey, people can't get enough of the Skins." Well, that's not true anymore. If our "click" numbers, and other metrics, mean anything --and they do-- interest in the Skins has been trending down steadily and seriously  for YEARS, even when Gruden was propping them up by going 31-32-1 --doesn't that seem wonderful now!?-- in '15-through-'18. People are not nearly as sick of the W-L record as they are sick of everything ELSE about the team's culture, values, dishonesty, horrid gameday experience for fans (the suckers) and treatment of people within the organization who deserve respect and decent treatment --but don't get it. Until THAT changes, then you will see more fans trend away from the Skins and toward teams of which they can either be proud or at least not be ashamed. And I say that in the full knowledge of how FEW devoted Skins fans are left.

Sometimes, things go very slowly. Until they suddenly go very fast --like going through the rapids slowly, before crashing over the waterfall. 

The Skins just won a battle between the second-worst and third-worst teams in the NFL over the last 27 years --by three points because a kid back-up quarterback for Detroit threw two of the worst back-to-back please-intercept-me passes you will ever see in a situation --in the final minute of a tie game-- when taking risks was the LAST thing Jeff Driskell should have been doing. Jimmy Moreland dropped the first one --a goofy needless heave as Driskell was being hit-- but Moreau accepted the second one --a ball thrown over the middle, directly into cover4age and directly to Moreau, whom he should have, but never did see.

The Skins will require more gifts like that during this holiday season. But I doubt that this team is going to jump back to the top of many fans Xmas card list anytime soon.

What is your opinion of his coaching abilities?

I've always thought that he coached a level worse than his players played. Please, don't tell JJ.

Tom, now that the Nats have broken through in the postseason and won their first world series, what will it take for them to get to the next level of sustained excellence necessary to put together a string of championship seasons like the New England Patriots in the NFL? If you consider the Patriots a model professional sports franchise, how do the Nats measure up to them? In what areas are they already comparable or close to the Pats and in what areas do they need to improve?

You mean well, but that is a silly comparison. Nobody is the Patriots. And nobody should set that as a goal, much less some minimum requirement.

The Nats have been exactly where they should be for the last 8 years. Now, with clearer hindsight after a great post-season, I think that is clear. Their goal should be to stay there.

Since '12, the Nats now have a 19-17 record in the playoffs, which is about what you'd expect when you're facing the best competition. They've been outscored 102-107. And they have now won four post-season series and lost four post-season series. Their streak of incredibly bad luck --and their own mistakes-- which led to nine straight loses in post-season one-run games has now normalized.

Maybe Nats fans should say "thanks" to the baseball gods. There are so many ways that the Nats could have had these same decade-long results --19-17 in October-- and never even have GOTTEN to a World Series much less won a world title and had a parade.

For example, assume the Nats lost Game Five of the Division Series in three of their five visits to the NLDS, but in the other two seasons they swept the NLDS and got to the NLCS round. Everybody would have said they did OK --hey, they advanced a couple of times.

But assume that they lost in Game Seven of those two NLCS and never got to the World Series. They'd still be 19-17 in post-season now. But DC would still not have hosted a WS since '33 or won one since '24.

Would we rather have that? (But we'd still have those two exciting Game Seven loses in the NLCS to talk about!)

No, I didn't think so.

On Thanksgiving, one of those "thanks" --maybe a little one-- might be that the Nats post-seasons went 2-3, 2-3, 1-3, 2-3 and 12-5.

I ESPECIALLY think that the '16 and '17 post-season should be seen in this light. I assume I'll always think that the Nats were too young in '12 and choked on their first huge dose of pressure against the Cards --who outscored them 32-16 in '12. Head-to-head, the Cards were the MUCH better team.

And the Nats folded and wilted in '14 against a vet two-time champion Giant team that did some serious, and effective trash talking --then won games started by Hudson (9-13), Vogelsong (8-13) and Peavy (7-13), even though the Nats beat Bumgarner (18-10). That's the one that got away --with a Giants-Cards-Royals path to a title against teams that won only 88, 90 and 89 games. 

THIS year, the Nats beat teams with 89, 106, 91 and 107 wins. That is THE most wins --in four rounds or in the last three rounds-- that ANY team has ever surmounted. 

The Nats' final three foes won 304 games. The most wins by three foes in the same post-season for any other World Series winner was 298 by the '04 Red Sox. 

As for '16 and '17, I just think those were fabulous, close, thrilling five-game series that could have gone either way, but the Cubs and Dodgers --using extreme pitching-staff-handling measures (Kershaw to close and Andrew Miller for more outs than he'd ever gotten in his life) won. 

This year was exactly the same --fabulous, close and thrilling with the Nats using the extreme measures with star starters as relievers to advance --FOUR TIMES.

Of course I've gone back and watched almost all the Oct games. The looks on the other teams faces are just stunned shock. When you look at the dugout shots near the end of games --especially the last games-- it seems like the Dodgers and Astros STILL don't BELIEVE that they lost.

IMO, they were THAT sure they were as good as their records, that their flaws (like no LH Astro relievers and the Dodgers lack of faith in Jansen and Baez)) were almost invisible and that the Nats full-season record and awful bullpen were the true measure of the team.

Everybody in sports is constantly saying, "Let's move on and put this behind us."

Lets NOT put this October behind us --until absolutely necessary.  

That's it for this week folks. Next week, I promise more on the Hoyas and Terps --m,en's hoop versions. And some long over-due catch up on the Caps. To a degree, I'm sorry. But a World Series win for the Nats and the plummet of the Skins --with tickets online for Sunday's game available for $4-- are two of the biggest DC stories in years. 


Is it simply impossible for punt return teams to avoid blocking the other team in the back? Why is it so difficult?

I suspect this falls into the category of "try it some time."

The blockers are generally back-pedaling or moving sideways while the defenders are FLYING down field at track-man speed and, often, rocketing right past the blockers to blow up their friend and teammate (the kick returner). You can nail 'em from the side, but not from behind --it's a narrow line to walk at high speed. 

This has been my favorite slogan for some years now. Meaning, I'd rather be a consistent post-season threat and in the hunt for a championship every year than have a period of domination followed by a period of complete suckiness. Cards have been to the postseason more than any other team for the last 20 years and don't have a single huge contract on their books. Phils were dominant for 4-5 years then sucked with several huge albatrosses on the books. Since I love them both and am still giddy from our WS win, help me think through this relative to the risk-reward for the Stras and Rendon contracts.

You have given shape to the problem.

But every fan probably has their own answer, their own sense of how to balance out priorities.

I forgot to include my Parra column --with discussion of potential Strasburg and Rendon contracts-- even though I mentioned the column. Here it is.

Have a GREAT Thanksgiving, everybody. See you next Monday at 11 a.m.


What do you think the balance is between celebrating 2019 and worrying about 2020?

Who is worrying?

I still remember a great deal about the '83 Orioles season --the players, the high points-- when I covered the last Baltimore team that won the World Series. And, for 36 years, I've talked about '83 when I run into those players. Everybody just starts grinning and remembering.

I don't even remember if there WAS a '84 Orioles season --even though I covered it.

That's how 2019 will be in Washington --only bigger, probably MUCH bigger and more vivid-- because Washington had not had a World Series winner in 95 years. (The O's had been to the WS six times in '66-''83). And the '19 Nats are one of the most remarkable teams, and stories, in baseball history --far higher than the '83 O's and right up there with almost any team ever.

They CAME-FROM-BEHIND in FIVE ELIMINATION games. Never done before. In three of those games, their chances of winning got as low at 11%, 12% and 14%.  

They beat two teams in the same post-season with 105-or-more wins. Never done before.

In the World Series alone, they were the second-biggest underdog to score an upset win in the last 40 years (at least) --behind only the '90 Reds who were +260 in Caesar's book. Nats were +195. 

The Nats came from 12 games under .500 to win the World Series. Only done ONCE before --105 years ago. And the Nats had to win four post-series rounds, while the Miracle Braves only had to win the World Series to finish as champs.

The more you weigh it, the heavier it gets --not lighter. A topic I'll probably revisit this week.

To finish up the LPGA season with a bang, the check for the winner was $1.5 million while second place was "only" $480,000, more than a million dollars less. As part of the last group, Sei Young Kim made an amazing putt to birdie the 18th hole and edge out Charley Hull by one shot. As you have spent many years "inside the ropes," would most professional golfers you know really want to know how much was on the line with a final putt? Or would that amount of money get into the heads of most pros that even they would succumb to the pressure? Thanks.

A putt to win (or lose) a major means a lot more than $1M to the players involved.

It also LITERALLY means more in the difference in prize money, PLUS the huge proceeds from endorsements in golf for major winners.

There may be no way to measure the value, and pressure, of a putt to win or lose the Ryder Cup. Every player I've ever asked about it has said that the putt for your country/continent is much more stressful. Even though, in a sense, it's for $0.00. 

The value of things, not just putts, is all in your head. And your heart.

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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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