Ask Boswell: Redskins, Nationals and Washington sports (1 pm)

Feb 17, 2020

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

Past Ask Boswell chats

Barry Svrluga and Dave Sheinin's article about the Astros cheating scandal says “The whole industry knows they’ve been cheating their a---- off for three or four years.” How does Rob Manfred have a job now? Don't ignore this question. If the Astros cheat and get away with it for four years and everyone knows it, it seems that the commissioner wants the Astros to win. How is that okay?

MLB looks very lame on this. But sometimes it takes a whistleblower on the inside to lift the lid on serious problems. Mike Fiers did a GREAT service to baseball.

I find it ironic that some in politics act like whistleblowers are a problem or bad people when, in fact, it is usually the whistleblower who is taking all the risks in telling the truth. And, most of the time, should be praised.

No, I don't miss the irony -- bitter irony -- that the Ballpark of the Palm Beaches is only 10.2 miles from Mar-A-Lago.

In sports, citizens, regardless of their politics, ALWAYS have great respect for getting the facts correct. You don't get to change the final score of a game --and claim a loss was really a win -- or change the numbers on the back of your baseball card or claim that the attendance at your game was 40,000 when it was 10,000.

And in sports, everybody agrees -- or almost everybody -- that lying and cheating are a big deal and damage the integrity of the game. How about those who damage the integrity and the basic institutions of our country?

Why don't we, as a nation, set as high standards for those in public life as we do for pro athletes? That will be a stumper when historians look back in 100 years.

Hello from spring training in the center of the MLB world: the Ballpark of the Palm Beaches, home of the world champion Nationals and the Cheating Houston Astros! This has been quite a week! Lets chat about MLB, Astros, Nats and also Caps, Terps and whatever you want. The spring training interviewing schedule -- when clubhouses are open, when certain players may be available and when the manager will talk, that all changes constantly. So I'll start the chat now. Then leave for a Davey Martinez session at 1 p.m.

Hi Tom,

At the park in West Palm Beach, if I come with a trash can so that I can beat on it continuously during all Asterisks at-bats, will they let me in with it? (Asking for a friend.)


I doubt you'd get in. But you might smuggle in a coffee can -- they're pretty loud when you bang 'em. (Answering for a friend.)

The T-shirts and signs at Astros road games should be amazing this year. The Houston players think that this will pass. Zimmerman said this morning, because it is obvious, "This will be with them for the rest of their lives."

A little later, we were talking about whether pitchers would throw at Astros hitters and that, Sunday night, Manfred said MLB would not tolerate it -- in other words, they'd protect the Astros exactly as they would any other team.

ZIM: "Like (pitcher) Alex Wood said, so the pitchers who throw at them will be suspended, but none of the people who cheated will get suspended at all." Walked away shaking his head.

Several years ago, Al Jazeera America claimed that Zimmerman had taken performance enhancing substances. He sued for defamation -- a case that is always hard to win. Zimmerman fought the case for a long time -- including exhaustive "discovery" that opened every part of his life to examination (emails, you name it). But his reputation for integrity and his respect for the integrity of the game was so high that, long after MLB had cleared him, he pushed through to the end.

Today he said, "There's a big difference between being accused and being cleared (which he was) and being accused and found guilty (Astros)." 

Hi Boz!

It's a new day and Washington is still the World Series champion! On a separate note I was curious if you had thoughts on minor league contraction. Do you think it will go through? Is this just another shameless money grab by MLB or does it really make sense to have less teams?

It's mostly a shameless money grab. I haven't studied the economics of the low minors, but the salaries are a pittance and the overall costs are small. Baseball has part of a "feeder system" in college baseball. But they need more places for players to develop, including those who want to turn pro as soon as possible. The current system has worked well for many years. Minor league ball is truly important to many small and mid-sized towns. Also, everybody always moans about "growing the game at the grass roots" and "getting the next generation to love the game." There is nothing better for both those objectives than minor league baseball where prices are half-or-less than at a MLB game and lower than going to a movie. Also, kids can get up close and meet players. When you're in the minors and you get asked for an autograph or a photo, if you say, "No" too many times, then your manager is going to find out about it and so will "the front office." And the player will learn fast to be "fan friendly" or else...

Now that they're 2-0 and arguably better than the Redskins, will The Post be covering them?

YES! We are covering them! Here are two game stories by our Defenders writer -- Jake Russell -- who is also our chat producer today. Multi-skilled!

DC Defenders remain unbeaten by shutting down the New York Guardians, 27-0

DC Defenders top Seattle Dragons as XFL relaunches in D.C.

He also broke the the news of their big trade on Friday.

You can read more of our Defenders and XFL coverage provided at the bottom of the game stories.

BTW: No Skins questions today, please. It's mid-February. I've suffered enough -- we all have -- just thinking about them from August through December for the last 25+ years. I left out "January" since they seldom get there. When the NFL draft approaches, we'll return to them.

A friend of mine thinks that baseball fans will quickly forget about the cheating scandal, except for Dodgers and Yankees fans who will forget more slowly, and indeed most fans probably don't even know about the scandal. I thought that was a foolish claim, based on my own outrage, but then I realized I don't have actual data. Do you have any better data than I do on fan reaction and fan memory?

Every fan"will know about it and remember it for a long time. But, mostly, it will impact the Astros and maybe the Red Sox, depending on what the final results are on the Boston investigation. Could there be other teams that MLB includes in its final report? Players seem to be winking like they're hearing that there is "more to come."

But I think that, once the season starts, it will be pretty much "baseball as usual" except in the parks were the Astros are getting booed and roasted. (Maybe to a lesser degree the Red Sox, too. We'll see.)

Suppose that Kieboom is hitting reasonably well but has problems at 3B. Would it be possible to put him back at 2B and decide between (or platoon) Castro and Cabrera at 3B?

I've never seen a competent minor league shortstop who was so bad after being moved to third base that, while hitting well,  he was too big a liability to stay at the hot corner.

If Kieboom hits, he'll play third regularly and learn the position. If he doesn't hit, he'll probably play third in the minors in '20 and learn the position there. You also might see him come up in May -- I don't know his "service time" situation exactly, or September because they want to get 6 3/4 MLB seasons out of him (like Rendon and Harper) rather than just six.

Given your most recent column, how would you respond to the NYT opinion piece from 2/11 stating that Pete Rose’s HOF eligibility be reinstated under the argument that “all rules of the sport should be applied equally to everyone?” 

I haven't seen that piece, but it's idiotic.

What Rose did -- betting on the game, and on your own team, especially when you are the manager and control strategy/pitching -- is THE WORST thing you can do to violate the integrity of the game. What Rose did deserves THE harshest of all penalties. What Rose did is WORSE than what the Astros did. Pete is just too obtuse, or self-centered, to understand.

I was talking to Ryan Zimmerman about the "levels" of sinning in MLB. Gambling is No. 1 -- with signage in every clubhouse about how bad it is and that you will be banned from the game if you do it. Gambling by players, in any sport, tends to lead to "fixing" and throwing games, like the 1919 Black Sox. A gambling addiction is also, by far, the hardest of the integrity-of-the-game sins to detect -- if nobody knows with whom to place your bets it can stay a secret forever.

The Astros take second place in this discussion because an entire team cheated for (at least) two years. They cheated the game, other players, their fans and the sport. But they didn't go down the potentially sport-crushing path of gambling-toward-game-fixing. 

Individuals cheating with PEDs probably ranks third. But it's still extremely bad and those who've been caught have just forgotten what they deserve. And it's not much -- just the loss of a plaque in Cooperstown. They kept EVERYTHING else.

It makes me worry about the era we live in when people try to "bargain" between serious vices and say that someone should be punished much less severely because they don't rank as high on the Awfulness Meter.

We teach our children "Don't lie, cheat or steal." Then we do NOT say, "Now we'll set up a punishment scale and we really won't discipline you very much just for stealing."

Am I missing something here? It seems perfectly okay, and even part of the game, for a runner on second to steal signs—or is it not okay? Granted the Astros’ electronic system presumably gave them an advantage when there were no runners on second. But isn’t sign stealing by a runner on second considered an acceptable part of the game? And how is that different or more acceptable, albeit on a smaller scale, than sign stealing by a runner on second?

Well. I don't mean to be critical -- it's not your job to know the difference -- but it is ENTIRELY different. It has always been totally okay to figure out the signs if you are a runner on second base because YOU ARE NOT STEALING THEM. They are in plain sight. It is a misnomer to call it sign stealing -- it is simply sign decoding for something that is in plain view. The defensive team has to figure out more complicated signals to make sure the runner won't figure them out.

What the Astros are doing is ENTIRELY different. They have a camera on every signal the catcher gives in the whole game -- so they have several times as much data to help them with the decoding process. There's only a man on second base less than 20 percent of the time. Also, the Astros aren't just decoding those signs by using their brains -- like a runner on second. They worked out a computer algorithm so that they have enormous computing power working on the decoding. So they can "break the code" much more quickly than any runner could.

That's why the Nats went to five sets of signals -- different for each pitcher -- plus ways to disguise which of those five sets they are using. For example, the catcher might indicate to the pitcher that they are on Sign Set One -- but before the inning they may have decided that they will go with "Outs Plus Two" so that the signal for Sign Set One really means they are on Set Three (one plus two). Yeah, I know it's crazy. And I may not have the last part perfectly right. The Nats don't see any advantage in telling everybody exactly what they were doing to confuse the Astros.

Finally, the Astros had real-time monitors in their dugout -- or next to it -- to help them. The trash can banging also made it easier for the hitter to get the stolen sign -- all he has to do is listen. He does not have to divide his attention between focusing on the pitcher and also cutting his eyes toward the man on second to get the decoded sign from him.

IOW, trying to decode signs from second base by using your wits is baseball at its BEST and everybody respects the players who are good enough to do it. It is a baseball SKILL. STEALING signs with a camera, dugout monitors, computers with sign-steal algorithms and trash can bang or whistles (or maybe body buzzers) is baseball at its WORST. It is TOTALLY and completely cheating.

I realize >95% of the chatters here realize this -- but, just once, I thought I'd run through it.

Do you see any sign that the Astros players feel like their World Series win is not worth so much? What perspective do they have that makes the victory seem so important? I can't even cheat at Solitaire or a video game without feeling a little bad, like my victory doesn't have much value.

I feel bad for MOST of the Astros from the '17 team because they did not have the clout to call a team meeting or speak to a bunch of other players and start an anti-cheating "revolt, that would have resulted in a team-wide showdown -- in other words, WE'VE GOT TO STOP THIS NOW.

Somebody like Will Harris -- a very good reliever but not a major star or team leader -- what can he possibly do in the real world? Probably nothing. That's why his new Nats teammates don't hold anything against him for being part of the scandal.

Someone with the Nats compared the Astros mess to a fairly recent cheating scandal at a high-class prep school when there was widespread cheating on, I think, an SAT test. The parents got together and made the case that it was the fault of the test PROCTORS for not paying more attention to the kids taking the test! Hey, there's nothing wrong with my kid -- who cheated on his SAT -- it was the proctor's fault for not keeping a closer eye on him.


Boz, Really appreciated your column on the bullpen. And it's worth noting that for all of their historic badness by ERA, advanced stats had the Nats' pen last year as merely "bad" not "historically awful." They were 20th in baseball by reliever WAR (just behind the Braves and just ahead of the Phillies and Mets), and their 4.94 FIP/5.03 xFIP, while not *good*, say that they were also more than a bit unlucky. You can see what the projection systems see, pretty easily, as well as upside. But even beyond that, and beyond getting rid of the absolute worst performers, what seems to me the most hopeful area for improvement is in the outings their best pitchers *won't* have to take - Doolittle getting worn into the ground, Suero pitching three straight days and four of five - which is when they always got most lit up.

I agree. No bullpen is injury proof. But the Nats have three relievers for the closer and set up roles -- one more than they need. That means Doolittle, Hudson and Harris can stay well rested, get good matchups, etc. The Nats also may have four middle-inning relievers for what usually takes about three arms -- so the same thing applies to Suero, Rainey, Strickland (who has looked good so far) and perhaps Elias. Finally, I assume Joe Ross, who had an impressive bullpen session the other day, will probably be the fifth starter with Austin Voth (out of options) as a long man with Erick Fedde (one option left) probably waiting in the minors -- break glass when needed.

Compared to previous Nats pens, this one has good depth. Javy Guerra is doing some mentoring and was useful last year.

My guess is that the Nats will not miss Rendon very much in the regular season because their improved bullpen will compensate for his absence. I could be wrong. But even if the Nats lose 50 runs in value from Anthony's bat and glove, they'll pick up that much and more from the better bullpen, plus upgrades at second (Starlin Castro instead of Brian Dozier) and platoon first baseman Eric Thames (instead of Matt Adams).

Where they'll miss Rendon most will be in October, assuming they get there, when they must face elite pitching. Last year, the Nats kept saying that they were "Made for October" if they could just get to October. This year, they look like a 90-to-95-win reglar season team but not so perfectly made for October because foes may pitch around Soto. The Rendon-Soto combo was dynamite.

BTW, Soto arrived in camp today and "Wow." He looks like a man now. At 21, he's still filling out and keeps lifting weights. He doesn't look muscle-bound, as they used to say. Just like he had one last period of "filling out." Don't know if that will impact his bat-to-ball skill level but when the bat DOES hit the ball that poor ball is going to go even further. This may be the first year when we get a sense of his mature  power level -- is he already there in the 30's or is he going to have 40-homer years? As long as that .400 on-base percentage is there, don't worry about anything.

Soto's career OPS+ is now 140 --or 40 percent better than league average during his years. That ranks him in a tie for 59th place among all players since 1900. Who else is at 140 OPS+ for their career? Alex Rodriguez, Gary Sheffield and Duke Snider. But what if Soto gets even a little better?

Hi Mr. Boswell.

I’ve been a WaPo subscriber for most of my adult life, and I’m 60 years old next week. Thanks for all those years of exceptional reading. And, by the way, exceptional access in the form of these live chats. Am I being out of line in wishing that I’d see something in any article that emphasizes NOT banging on a trash can was still a stolen sign being transmitted to a batter? My second thought is about the doubt planted in opposing players’ heads. From Kurt Suzuki’s recent quotes, there was a burden mentally just from the doubt! That compound effect of their dastardly scheming continued through the 2019 World Series. Any comments?

One of the Nats, I forget which, pointed out yesterday that "no sound is also a sign" in the Astros scheme.

The Nats certainly ASSUMED that the Astros were cheating in the World Series. One Nat told me the other day, "So they say they stopped (cheating) in the middle of '18. Why? 'For no reason' is what they say. After they won the World Series cheating. There's NO WAY that is right. That's the biggest lie of all time."


Manfred says it’ll be unacceptable. Since he’s screwed up this cheating already by missing the early warnings from a dozen teams, granting immunity to the cheaters, and bending over for the union, oughtn’t he stay out of this and for once let the players themselves deliberate justice on the field? And tell the umps the same?

It's fun to get enraged. I enjoy it, too, at times. But I've also been dealing with commissioners, unions and the players since 1975. I know the limits of their powers, and influence, in theory but also in practice. I have a sense of what you can actually get done and what is just easy conversation at the bar. 

If you are the commissioner, you can't bust a team-wide cheating scandal just by saying "12 teams suspect you -- and they suspect you A LOT." What Manfred could have done, and probably should have done, is get all the tech equipment, monitors AWAY from the dugout -- which they are going to do now with a new set of rules. MLB could have simply said, two or three years ago, "having all this tech this close to the field, with everything in real time, is NOT an essential element of the game. We're going to act BEFORE we have a problem."

We KNOW that Manfred, and MLB, was aware of the problem because in September of '17 the commissioners office sent a memo to EVERY team saying, in effect, "If you are doing this, then CUT IT OUT NOW. Because if we catch you, there'll be hell to pay." What's amazing is that the Astros completely ignored this.

In a sense, MLB acted fairly quickly -- if 9/17 is the date when they are screaming "We're gonna get ya! Stop now!" It "only" took them perhaps a year-and-a-half to say, "We have a problem." What is BAD is that there was no follow through when the Astros continued cheating and, perhaps, the Red Sox brought some of the Astros ideas to their team when they hired Houston cheating-coordinator Alex Cora as manager.

Where was Manfred and his staff in ALL of '18 and ALL of '19 before Mike Fiers blew the whistle after the '19 World Series? A commissioner can HIRE staff to investigate a specific problem. Without Fiers, how much longer would it have gone on?

However, once Fiers blew the whistle, MLB was in a box. They had a PR disaster. The only way they could get swift results was to offer the players immunity to tell the truth. So, immediately, that meant no suspensions and no lost salary for any of the players. The only people MLB could nail were people who were part of management -- GMs and managers.

So, that's what they did. I see cynical comments that now players know they can cheat in future -- perhaps in new ways -- and never be punished because a precedent has been set. That is BACKWARDS. There is NO precedent. This is literally unprecedented territory. Soon MLB will make up rules and penalties for teams AND PLAYERS about any cheating in the future. If this happens again, and it won't, at least not in this way with a team-wide system of cheating, players know they will be suspended (probably with a system similar to those who are caught using PEDs now).

I'm sorry MLB didn't vacate the Astros title. I think they just chickened out -- no guts. They're hiding behind the straw man that perhaps there'd be cries for some other teams from the steroid era to be stripped of titles because of PEDs users on their teams. That's nonsense. MLB should have taken a stand on the '17 Astos. It's a unique situation, unless the '18 Red Sox did a lot more things wrong than it seems like right now.

I'm glad to hear that vacating the title was seriously considered. But MLB already has so many black eyes -- the all-time Hit King banned, the all-time Home Run King not in the Hall of Fame, the only 7-time Cy Young Winner not in the HOF either and no World Series played in '94 -- that they just could face another "void" in their record book.

IOW, it's a lot easier to criticize MLB than to figure out what you would have done if you'd been in their shoes in real time and in the real world. In my book, they were TWO YEARS LATE -- from 9/17 until 10/19 -- in facing a crisis that they wished would somehow go away or never become public. That's just institutional lack of character. And it will be an ugly part of Manfred's legacy. He will say, I suspect, that "Nobody would spill the beans. So what could we do?"

The only answer is: do more. That's your job. Figure it out. Because whatever you might have tried to do could not possibly have worked out worse than what you have on your hands now.

Second, I'd have voided the title.

But nail the players? There's no way that was going to happen. But if there is ever a 'next time," they'll get crushed. And they know it.   

Manfred says taking away the Astros trophy would be too complicated. But it would be a precedent. And he says he wants to be a precedent guy. And if there’s a possibility that cheaters would know that if they’re caught, no trophy, no rings and, I assume, no WS or playoff checks, wouldn't that be a great deterrent?

It would, IMO, be better than the situation we have now.

When MLB screws up big time, it always hopes that, with time, "It'll just go away." This time, they should have said, "This is NOT going away as long as the Astros name is in the list of champions. Take 'em down. Then SOMEDAY what they did will be talked about less. Leaving their name in the books, with an invisible asterisk beside it, is not a solution to anything."

It looks like Rivera is draining the swamp a bit, making a nice pioneering hire, and otherwise nudging the Redskins toward respectability. Is it possible Snyder will stay on his USS Taj Ma-Haul and stay out of the way at draft time too? Or will he demand a presence?

I like USS Taj Ma-Haul -- a LOT. Thanks.

Getting rid of Josh Norman, THAT was a good day.

Culture change takes a long time. And when the person at the top is the center of the problem it can only change for a little while -- and even that requires a lot of good luck -- until the source of the problem finally disappears.

Maybe Rivera will be Dan's Buck Showalter for a few years. That's very optimistic. But it's possible. The current story line is incredibly boring, so I'm hoping for it to change. But, big-big picture, as long as Dan is Dan, the problems are very likely to keep coming back in different forms.

Good morning Mr. Boswell,

I enjoy the chats so thank you. My question concerns baseball’s rule changes for this year. I just read The Post’s article on this and it seems so overdone to save a couple of minutes per game. What are your thoughts?

I think fans hate seeing four pitchers in one inning. I do. I've seen five in an inning -- I think. It's not the minutes as much as the bastardization of the game. It's strategy and analytics -- looking for TINY advantages -- run amok.

I like it. I may change my mind. But if a pitcher isn't good enough to survive facing THREE hitters, then why is he in the major leagues? This rule will, in turn, further strategies. If you bring in a lefty to face L-R-L do you give an intentional walk to the hitter in the middle?

Ask me again in a year! After we see it in action it may be the worst rule ever. But I think it has a chance to be a good one. This is one time that I say, "What the hell, give it a chance."


While the Astros sign-stealing scandal has made everyone terrified of technology, wouldn't technology actually provide us with the best solution? If instead of flashing signs which someone might spy from centerfield or second base, why not let the catcher and pitcher either speak into microphones on their wrists or have the catcher tap a signal on a wrist band to suggest pitch and location to the pitcher who can accept it or shake it off? I realize we'll get encryption issues and problems when the technology goes on the fritz, but wouldn't it make sign-stealing a non-issue?

Well, the seven other fielders would also have to get the info by whatever method you used.

But, yes, I've said this to several people. Why the heck are we still putting down fingers when we have robots doing brain surgery?

And why do we have home plate umpires -- who can NEVER see all of home plate because, no matter where they stand the catcher blocks part of their view, calling ball and strikes when we have the technology to define the strike zone in whatever way produces the most aesthetically pleasing game and then have those machines make 100 percent correct calls?

But, hey, it took baseball 150 years to figure out that it might be a good idea to hit the ball in the air OVER the infielders into that huge outfield pasture that is only protected by three players. Note: Ted Williams, in his hitting videos ~50 years ago taught a slight uppercut swing -- to keep the bat on the same plane as the pitch and to get the ball over the infield to do more damage. Teddy Ballgame got it. Everybody said that he was a genius about hitting and knew everything -- then they didn't do what he said. It's like the way everybody says that Warren Buffett is a genius and knows more about investing than anybody -- but then they never buy his stock, even when he comes out and says it is cheap. People are strange.

Has Manfred snatched the championship belt for the Worst Sports Commissioner in America from Goodell? The guy couldn't get the sad-sack O's to pony up the TV money they owe the Nats. There's no way he could resolve the Astros cheating scandal satisfactorily.

One of the veteran Nats, who has a sense of all parts of the game, said today that "Rob gets nervous." That's not a good trait in people who have to make big, tough decisions. I wish him luck because MLB really NEEDS a good commissioner right now. And a new one isn't suddenly going to appear in a puff of smoke. FWIW, Manfred is a decent, smart person who's lived MLB 24/7/365 for MANY years -- decades.

As I wrote a week ago, baseball has an integrity issue that goes back at least 40 years to bad-faith labor negotiating by owners, to PED cheating and including Pete Rose, the current "tanking" stink and now the Asterisks. Somebody was going to be the commissioner when all those ethical bills came due. Manfred probably isn't the best choice imaginable since I can imagine Bart Giamatti and Peter Ueberroth (in very different ways) stepping up forcefully. But Manfred isn't the worst man for the job either. I think he'll do okay. But it's been a bad few months.

FIFA just banned Manchester City from competing in the Champions League and the Europa Cups for two years. They were found guilty of economic malfeasance involving skewing the value of their sponsorship values. Could/would this type of penalty be used against Houston? It would involve the loss of any postseason income for the owners and players.

Interesting. I'll include your question so that others who are interested can hit the "Manchester City ban" link.

How would you compare the Astros scandal vs. the various controversies surrounding the New England Patriots? Aside from the number of players involved and the length of time of cheating, do you feel that sign stealing is worse than, say, deflating the ball? I guess Spygate would seem a little more similar? I really don't follow baseball and don't quite know how to compare these two. Thanks.

The Pats are pikers compared to the Astros.

Bellichick might jingle change in his pocket while you are putting. The Astros would kick your ball away from the hole if it looked like it might go in -- then swear that they didn't do it.

Hi Tom,

My husband and I are currently out hiking in Red Rock Canyon in Nevada and wearing our Nats caps. We are longtime season ticket holders. Some Astros fans happened to hike by us this morning in the remote desert. Thinking they all had passed, I commented "cheaters" to my husband. A late straggler shot back with "Are you kidding? Everybody does it. We just got caught because of stupid Beltran." Is this the party line or just a way for Astros fans to sleep at night?

"Everybody does it" might be the three ugliest words in the language. People who say it are usually so profoundly cynical or bitter that they live next door to some form of exhausted nihilism. When you hear anyone, in business or politics, use this line of defense, you've probably identified a pretty bad or potentially dangerous person.

I know I am getting way ahead of things, but I suspect all members of the 2017 Astros, even Verlander, will have problems getting into the Hall of Fame. I would keep them all out. You?

Verlander should be ashamed of himself. And he may be.

As for HOF, I'm nowhere close to having an opinion on that.

I apologize that so many questions have been about the Astros -- but we have a HUGE number (and percentage) of questions today about the Astros. Which is natural. But also shows what a nerve it has struck with the public.

It's probably a good time in American life to discuss whether "character" and "integrity" are actually good things. Or, you know, kind of out of date and optional, maybe even for "losers."

Man, I never thought I'd type those words, even with an arched eyebrow.


Everyone talks about replacing his bat (which I am concerned about), but Rendon made some amazing plays at third base during the Series that kept the Nats in the game so that they could rally in the late innings. Are the Nats really going to be okay without Rendon at third?

They'll miss him everywhere. They'll have to compensate the best they can with a better bullpen and a few other (apparent) upgrades. But don't go around expecting a "repeat" by the Nats or anybody who wins a World Series.

The Nats offered him $210M for seven years but had a deferral structure similar to Scherzer's $210M deal -- paid in 14 annual installments of $15M each.

If you offered a player (in theory) $210-million for seven years but gave him the entire $210M check on the day he signed the contract, that deal would have a "net present value" of $210M. All the long-term deals we see in MLB are actually worth a lot less in NPV terms because they are paid out over many years.

If you paid that $210M over seven years, the NPV (using 5 percent as a discount rate) would be $173.6M.

If you paid Rendon that $210M deal in equal installments of $15M-a-year for 14 years, the NPV would be $148.5M which was the Nats' opening offer (or close).

Now consider what the Angels offered Rendon: $245M/7-years with no deferrals. The NPV of THAT deal is $202.5M!

So the Angels offer topped the Nats by 36.4 percent! That is huge. There is no way the Nats were going to go 36 percent above what they thought he was worth. They may be wrong. Maybe he is WORTH the whole Angel deal. But you can see why Rendon is in Disneyland. The Angels view of his value and the Nats view is enormously different.

And it sure looks like Anthony WANTED to play in Anaheim, too.

With what we know now, can we look back on Bregman's WS Game 6 bat carry in an even harsher light? I keep going back to that. I don't know if the Astros were cheating in 2019 at all, but even if they weren't, that moment seems to encapsulate the demeanor of that team, both then and now (with their canned apologies and denials that their cheating potentially impacted the 2017 WS). At least it did seem to ignite the Nationals after they got swept in D.C. Maybe Bregman's bat carry was even more egregious to the Nats due to even the possibility of Astros cheating.

All very good points. I wish I'd made them.

Of course, I guess I could steal them and use them in a future column. Would that be cheating?

That's it for today. Next Monday, I promise a more "various" chat. I really want to get a feeling for what ails the Caps (besides sloppy defense) and what's got the Terps clicking (besides a high-ceiling big man and a high-quality senior point guard).

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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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