Ask Boswell: Redskins, Nationals and Washington sports

Apr 06, 2020

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

Past Ask Boswell chats

Let's have a quick introduction this week then jump right into things.

The great HOFer Bobby Mitchell died at 84 on Sunday. RIP. I consider him one, if not THE most under-rated player in the NFL Hall of Fame. It's conceivable that, after Gayle Sayers, he was the most elusive mega-burner breakaway runner in NFL history, combining incredible moves, strength to rip away from tackles and, in his day, "the fastest man in the NFL." 

He was overshadowed by being in the same backfield with Jim Brown for the generally <.500 Skins for the next seven years. Yet, he is the ONLY player in NFL history who averaged more than 5.3 yards-per-carry AND over 15.0-yards-per-catch as a receiver (minimum 500 of each). 

The ONLY one. 

There may never have been a better kick and punt return man. In NFL history he returned 5 kickoffs for TDs in just 102 returns --the best percentage of returns for TDs EVER (1-per-20.4) of those with at least 3 KO returns for TDs. Also, only two punt returners (that I can find) in NFL history had a better ratio of TDs-to-punt-returns than Mitchell. Bobby returned 3-of-69 punts for scores. The only better ratios are Upchurch (8-for-119 !) and the amazing Devin Hester (14-for-315.) 

Also, let's talk about the Post's Sunday take on whether there will be NO MORE sports --anything that would be considered even close to a "major sport" with crowds of 10,00 or more, at any time in 2020. 

Also, this would have been Masters week. Thoughts on that? As well as NFL doings --or Skins non-doings. If this is destined to be a tough week in the U.S. and everywhere, let's try to give it a decent start. 

Questions? Fire away!

Hi Tom, it's a weird thing... it feels like the world doesn't know the Nats won the World Series and yet, I don't care. Because the Nats seemingly came out of nowhere to win it all, and then because the Astros sucked all the oxygen out of the world with their cheating scandal, it's like we're an afterthought. And yet, as a 63 year old Washingtonian, I don't need the recognition. Having a team to cheer for again has been awesome. I'm so happy that we won and I treasure this gem of a season so much that it's too bad for others if they don't get it. Red Sox and Yankee fans can live in their big headed world. I'm happy in mine.

I have to admit I've had some similar thoughts.

Not long after the Nats title parade, I thought of the quote, generally attributed to Nietzsche: "The melancholy of everything completed."

This is generally unavoidable. But in baseball, which has the shortest offf-season, with teams back in spring training just 3 1/2 months after the last pitch of the World Series and Opening Day just 5 months after the title is won, it often seems especially unfair that the sense of "moving on" from a championship arrives so quickly.

Of course, I would MUCH rather have the baseball season back on its normal course --which would mean the world was doing OK, too!-- than have this extra time to digest a World Series win. But I do NOT feel that sense of "melancholy" at a great goal being achieved --yet. If the Nats were 3-5 right now, we'd be forced to move along --at least to a degree. 

Instead, if we choose, we can still look back --like an NFL fan who has SEVEN months between a Super Bowl win and the next regular season game. Over the weekend, I re-watched the wildcard-clinching gamer on Trea Turner's home run --with the Nats standing on the field watching the last out of the Pirates 9-2 win over the Cubs. Even though there were still four more days left in the regular season, the joy was amazing. From May 23rd unward their REAL basic goal was "make the playoffs," then make noise. But the real symbol of a salvaged season, and of their sense of their own identity of a team that absolutely would not give up, was encapsulated in that clinching win --and their joy in it. They trailed 3-0 after the top of the first against Aaron Nola and it just felt like they would grind him down and win, no matter what it took. 

Hello Tom: Yesterday I was thinking about my favorite baseball movie, It Happens Every Spring (1949), starring Ray Milland as a college professor who accidentally develops a fluid that is repelled by wood. He uses it to become a star baseball pitcher. I love that movie and I was thinking, why do we root for him but hate the Astros? Both were cheating! Is it because he was a nobody? Because he was just one guy cheating, not a whole team cheating? Is it because he needed the help that his fluid gave him, but the Astros were a great team anyway and didn’t need any help? What do you think? Are there some circumstances in which we might actually root for a guy who is cheating?

Well, that's a goofy, fun question about a goofy, fun movie. 

We like the "cheating" pitcher, instead of judging him, because he is us --everyone who doesn't have the talent to be a great athlete but would like to find some way to get around "talent" and have the EXPERIENCE if only briefly.

Of course, Ray Millard's character IS cheating. (The spitball and all other substance-on-the-ball pitches were banned after the 1920 season after Ray Chapman was killed by a wild spitball thrown by Carl Mays --the only death ever in an MLB game.)

But the tale hits a soft spot in us --our semi-eternal search (well, some of us) when we are young to find the game --ANY damn game that we are really good at. That's one reason we try to play so many of them. Different body types and different skills --hand-eye coordination, raw strength, speed, etc-- are needed, and in different proportions for every sport. It's almost like the human race, over eons, figured out a game or sport that would suit every single human who had an iota of ability to do anything out of the ordinary. Right down to horse shoes and shuffle board. I'm convinced that I am the only person who tried (hard) to play every sport or game in existence in my time --and was absolutely average at all of them. I was so fanatical (comical) about it that one day when I was a "copy aide" in the sports department on the 5:30 to 2 a.m. shift I spent ALL DAY bowling to see if I could roll a "600 series" --which was pretty decent back before the "reactive ball" made the game so much easier with the ball hooking more and "scattering" pins more. I kept just missing. Finally, in games 21-22-and-23 of the day --I must have been going broke--  I rolled a 621. Great! At dinner that night, I turned the page of a golf magazine --yeah, trying to be good at that, too-- and the tendon to my right thumb snapped. No pain. Just "ping" and I couldn't lift my thumb after I made a fist. I asked the doctor what did it. He said I had bone chips in my wrist, probably from playing so many sports. I should have said, "Oh, you mean because I NEVER broke the first tackle when I ran the option?" I did mention the bowling.

"Well, that probably didn't help," he said.

So, yes, I probably would have used that Happens Every Spring goo without giving it a second thought!

Correction: I should add, that like most of us, I DID find sports at which I was BELOW average. I kept beating my head against most of them, too.

People SEEM funny --odd. But they are not. One of the most profound drives in people is to find something --ANYTHING-- that they are good at, worthy of praise or appreciation. It almost doesn't matter what it is. It FEELS the same --well, sort of-- to be told you did a good job at whatever you do for a living and being told you just won some huge award. (I was goibng to say the Nobel Peace Prize --but I bet that DOES feel different!) However, a huge range of accomplishments, from rather small to pretty darn big, all fall into the same FAMILY of feelings. 

That is ANOTHER reason why the coronavirus is so damaging, feels like it is actively hurting even those of us --still more than 99 percent of us-- who do not have it. The inactivity imposed on an enormous number of people makes them (us) feel like they can't get the satisfaction of work, or the satisfaction of helping others, or whatever it is that they do to get somebody to say, "Thanks" or just "that was a good job."

Along these comic lines of "I WILL find something I'm good at," the first thing I ever bought in my life that cost more than $1,000 was not a car. Hell, a used car was good enough for me. It was a SLATE-BED pool table.

Of course, after years of practice, I was pretty decent --in other words, a bit above average for somebody who'd wasted that much time at it. But I wasn't even the best straight pool shooter in the Post sports department! (Ben Geiser was. He'd ride his motorcycle on his lunch hour out to Weenie-Beenie's pool hat in Arlington to round up a little money game. HOw do you carry a pool cue on a motorcyle? Come on, any good shooter has a two-piece cue. As I mentioned once long ago, Bill (Weenie Beenie) Staton was a nationally-known billiards player. So, here's a chance for you to learn about a local legend you probably never heard of.

Bill once put together a national-level tournament --best players in America-- at his place. The Post let me write a feature about it. (Yes, I posted this once before, years ago. It's an old favorite. Hey, times are slow! How you enjoy anyway.)

 

 

I saw lots of articles over the last week lamenting the fact that if there isn't baseball in 2020, Hinch and Luhnow will be able to return in 2021, even without missing a game. Given that the Commissioner's report states that their suspension ends "the day after the conclusion of the 2020 World Series", couldn't another interpretation be that if the 2020 World Series is not played, they can never return? They remain in purgatory forever, or at least a little longer? (Let's not forget that Dante's guide for Canto III of Purgatorio is the nobleman Manfred....)

Thanks!! Your parenthetical comment is now part of Chat History. "(Let's not forget that Dante's guide for Canto III of Purgatorio is the nobleman Manfred....)"

As to Hinch and Luhnow, neither will ever get a significant job in MLB again. And they will probably never get any job at any level in baseball. JMHO, but it's a strongly held opinion.

Remind me, did Chick Gandil ever get another position in MLB? It was in Gandil's hotel room at the Ansonia Hotel in NYC that the other White Sox players (Black Sox) met to discuss getting paid by gamblers to throw the '1919 World Series. 

More and more bad stuff just keeps coming out --the "devil in the details" and the increasing (awakening) sense of shame in the '17 Astors themselves.

Over the weekend an excellent story/interview came with Evan Gattis. In the piece, Gattis, 33, now retired, is looking back and, more than any '17 Astro so far, really expressing how bad it was, how clearly they knew they were cheating, but how they went ahead and did it anyway. From what Gattis says, it seems that there are still some current Astros who, as they weigh what they have done to themselves, are very angry at other current Astros whom they see as team leaders who led them down a disastrous path in '17. Reading between the lines, makes it sound like Dusty Baker has one tough clubhouse on his hands.

 

 

Bos, In your chat last week, you talked about who might have been the hardest thrower across baseball history, prompted by a question about Walter Johnson. These questions and more are the subject of the wonderful documentary Fastball, which should be added to everyone's list of short-term palliatives for baseball longing. No spoilers here, but it was The Big Train (not Christy Mathewson) who in 1912 tossed a ball (wearing shirt and tie) through an Army device in the first test of fastball speed. Among the film's gems is Hank Aaron responding to scientists' explanations that the law of gravity refutes the myth of a "rising" fastball: "They never played baseball." Another: Nolan Ryan's last pitch, at age 46, clocked in at 98 mph. Questions: (1) Did you ever see Steve Dalkowski pitch? (2) The old war horses (and some not so long ago) routinely pitched over 250, even 300 inning per season. Sandy Koufax pitched over 300 in his 1965-1966 Cy Young years; Nolan Ryan averaged 232 IP over 27 years. Excluding strike years and relief pitchers, from 1967-1995, both NL and AL Cy Young winners averaged nearly 280 IP; since then, no NL or AL winner has reached that number, and the trend is definitely downward, with the norm now pitching every 5th day instead of 4th. One would guess players' focus on nutrition and conditioning now far surpasses prior eras. Do you have thoughts on why so the current generation of pitchers seem so injury prone, aim for "quality starts" instead of complete games, and generally don't have the strength and stamina of the earlier fireballers? Thanks for helping us through the wilderness of the delayed season!

Good stuff. I'll have to investigate "Fastball."

On stamina, Juan Marichal once locked up in a 0-0 game with Warren Spahn that went 14 innings. Marichal refused to come out because he was in his 20's and Spahn was in his 40's. I think a chatter cited this game last week --Marichal threw about 240 pitrches and Spahn just over 200.

There were many "old timer's games" in MLB parks in the '70's and '80's. Some were at RFK Stadium when DC was trying to get a team back. If possible, I tried never to miss them. Those guys --including Spahn-- told great stories. Several great pitchers from those times --when 300+ innings was not unusual-- told me that "back in the day" there were usually only 2-3-or-4 hitters in a lineup with real home run power., so you could often rely on command, rather than reach-back-and-BRING-IT stuff to get some hitters out.

The only modern pitcher that I'm sure did that was Greg Maddux. He didn't wear himself out with nobody on base and concentrated on putting pitches in good spots where he believed --to THAT hitter-- he would only give up a single at most. Once there were men on base, he went to his A stuff. 

I've heard a LOT of Steve Dalkowski stories --from the first Oriole teams I covered in '76-to-'79. Dalkowski, a lefty, retired in '65 after never making the majors. I'm pretty sure that Jim Palmer said he was the fastest he ever saw. Wish I could remember Earl Weaver's thoughts on him since they almost had to cross paths. I never saw him. But his minor league stat line is amazing.

In 956 innings, he hit as many batters as he allowed home runs --37 or both. He fanned 12.49 men per nine innings. But he walked almost as many men (1,236) and he fanned in his career (1324). Can you imagine 1,236 walks in 956 innings? He gave up 666 runs. Somehow, he pitched 12 shutouts!

He was very hard to hit --another unbelievable stat-- he allowed more runs (666) than he gave up hits (664). Pretty sure nobody else evr did that.

Obviously, with the stuff he had, all he was trying to do was throw strikes. He couldn't even do that in the LOW minors. One yer in Class D, he pitched 62 innings with...hold on...129 walks and 124 strikeouts. He retired after his age 26 season.   

I am wondering how much time you spend mentoring/tutoring or otherwise assisting the younger sports writers at the Post. On more then one occasion when reading articles written by others on the staff, I’ve found myself thinking “wow - that sounds like Boswell.” In particular, I often thought that when reading Chelsea Janes’ articles when she was the Nats beat writer.

I've always enjoyed talking to our writers. I don't "mentor." We just talk --anything, everything. The better the writer, like Chelsea, the less likely I had anything at all to do with the quality of writing. But there's lots to discuss on how to find good story ideas, how to "gather string" for weeks or even months for a long profile or take-out. I do often mention one thing: Don't settle for a "story idea' or an "angle." Look for the original insight --not necessarily an insight into sports-- that is INSIDE the assigned topic. You won't find it often --original insights are rare. But if you aren't looking, if you don't even realize they can be found --and that they are the GOLD-- then you won't ever find ANY.

There are tricks of the trade. When dealing with a commissioner or owner or powerful agent who has a tendency to be dishonest, interview everybody else involved in the story first and save that person for last. Don't let them know how much you know. Let them talk. Don't play dumb but definitely don't "play smart." See if they will tell you a straight out lie --for example, that's sometimes the JOB of commissioners --lie to the press on behalf of the owners.

Don't say, "You're lying," but make it clear that you know they are lying AND that you know the truth on this subject in considerable detail. They get rattled. This doesn't happen to them often. Their instinct is to get you back --either back to neutral or, they hope, back to seeing things their way, despite the lie. What can they give you to make up for the lie, to balance an interview that has suddenly gone wrong? You'd be amazed --it must be human nature-- they suddenly start telling you the truth about subjects on which you haven't even asked questions. They think, "If he knows THAT (which is supposed to be a big secret), how much MORE does he know?" It takes a lot of leg work, but it's a great feeling to flip the ground rules of a big interview from "How can I get anything out of this person?" to "he's going to open the vault and show me what's inside just so I won't remember that he just lied."      

Hi, Tom. Just when I was wondering about yet another Boz chat without benefit of live sports, the very sad news of Bobby Mitchell's passing arrives. Like you, I grew up following the pitiful Senators and Redskins from the 1950s and early 1960s. Still remember the shock and joy of learning that Bobby was coming to DC via trade with the Browns. My HS athletic director was an Illinois alum who somehow convinced Mitchell to speak at our fall sports banquet in 1968, when he was still a very active player. An inspiring evening I will always remember. Of course, since those days 50+ years ago Mitchell continued to be a very strong presence with the team's front office and a DC community icon and philanthropist, perhaps even more widely known in DC than in his playing days. Other than wanting to hear your own personal comments about Bobby M, I guess my question is why his passing is not even mentioned on the main page of the WAPO website this morning. This news is genuinely important in the greater DC area.

Bobby Mitchell deserves all the praise and appreciation that he gets now --and probably much more. He is one of the most under-praised Hall of Famers in any sports.

First, let me give a bit of insights into the joys of writing a chat. Once in a while, for no reason, you finish an answer and hit the "publish" button and the answer disappears --forever-- into thin air. You can't get it back. That just happened with a column-length answer on Mitchell. Some would say --including many editors (who would be correct)-- if you didn't write such long dambn answers that wouldn't happen. But Mitchell more than deserves a "re-do" on my part.

First, to give a sense of what he was like to watch as a fan back then, I got a vivid e-mail this a.m. from a former high school teacher and coach (I hope I have that right) who described a memory of his from a game in '61. I'm not using his name because I didn't ask permission.

But it gives a sense of the "magic" of Bobby Mitchell.

...

The e-mailer writes: "The Browns' backfield was Jim Brown (FB) and Bobby Mitchell (HB), QB was Milt Plum. The Browns scored 14 points in the 1st period; the Bears scored 17 in the 4th period. With just a few seconds left in the game, the Browns were near mid-field and desperate to score. Jim Brown had bulled and plowed and dashed, but the Browns were at 4th down and had to reach the end zone. Plum faded back to pass, evaded tacklers, and threw to Bobby Mitchell. Mitchell, a 7th-round draft pick, scampered and skittled in a most amazing effort, weaving and dodging Bears tacklers as the standing crowd's frenzy swelled louder with every vanishing second. Mitchell's running was magical, as if he could vanish just as a tackler tried to snag him. It was one man against eleven frustrated, panting pursuers, back and forth across the field, each time closer to the goal line.  Finally, sheer numbers won and Mitchell was tackled before he could score. The clock was at zero. The game was over. But we all had seen the most marvelous running ever."

Here's a clip from that time period of Mitchell. Note the punt return TD where he fakes out three defenders on one play, escapes a five-defender box and outruns the last man with a burst that makes it look like he's stuck in cement. That play feels like TYPICAL Bobby Mitchell, except that sometimes somebody actually tripped him up. But until he was actually don, it always felt like he might break ANY play all the way --whether it was a run, a reception, a kickoff return or a punt return. WITHOUT QUESTION, no NFL player was ever so good, and so highly ranked statistically in all FOUR of these areas. (Gayle Sayers --and almost nobody else-- was better than Mitchell, even more breath-taking, but he didn't do it from all four job descriptions.)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j5Si0LjDRRY

My dad and I got to watch every Skins game on TV when Bobby Mitchell waas at his very best in '62-'63 when Norm Snead was throwing him bombs --2,820-yard worth in those two seasons at 20.1-yard-pr-catch. My father loved great running backs --part of the tradition of the '20's through '40's when QBs were, relatively speaking, not so much THE dominant performer. Great broken field runners, and especially ones who combined that with speed, were legends --like Red Grange (I'm told).

First, a couple of stats: Mitchell is the FIFTH best running back in NFL history by yards-per-carry (for those with >500 carries). The list i 1) massive Marion Motley, long ago, whom no one could bring down, at 5.70-yds-per-carry, 2) Bo Jackson at 5.40. This AMAZED me. Bo is quite over-rated as a baseball player --just a good one on his best day, not a very good or great one. But in the few (515 carries) he got in the NFL, he was dazzling with a 5.40 average. Mitchell rank No. 5 at 5.33 yards-per-carry. That puts him ahead of Jim Brown who's No. 6 at 5.22! Brown is quite open about saying trhat he thinks Mitchell is the most under-rated of all the great ball carriers. Brown may feel a little guilty for over-shadowing Mitchell in their four years together in Cleveland.

Mitchell averaged 15.27 yds-per-catch as a receiver --in the Top 25 in that category. He'd be in the Top 12 if you only looked as his averag gain per catch as a WR with the Skins --16.5.

As I mentioned, nobody else in history has averaged more than 5.0 yards as run and more than 15.0 yards a catch --with more than 500 of both. 

But Mitchell also ranks 13th in NFL history in average yards per KO return --26.8-yds. More remarkable, he averaged one TD return per 20.4 KO returns --THE best ever. The great Ollie Matson --he once fetched 10 (TEN) players in trade-- is second.

Sayrs (30.56 yds per return) is the greatest KO retruner ever --but Mitchell is up there.

Almost nobody, except Bobby Mitchell (and Brian Mitchell) has ever been an elite kick off AND punt returner. Mitchell broke three long TD returns on punts on only 69 career retuns --the third best in that stat behind only Upchurch and Devin Hester who may be the best two punt returners ever.    

In Mitchell's era ball carrier and receivers seldom had long career --a lot of violence and poor equipment. When Mitchell retired in '67, he was third in NFL history in all-purpose yards (over 14K) and fifth in TDs (92). For Skin fans, Charley Taylor ended with 90. Mitchell "only" played 11 seasons --and 14-game seasons at that. That was a long career then --like 13-to-15 years now, I'd say.

My point is that Mitchell's running style --amazing speed, raw strength from a compact explosive frame and his amazing disappearing-act moves worked in EVERY part of the sport where you were allowed to have a football in your hands --rushing, receiving and both kinds of kick returns.

You remember him for EVERYTHING --the way he could get open deep beating the mug-a-receiver rules of that era, his ability to slash across the field against the grains fearlessly. But for me the simple "hitch" pattern was the most exciting. When Snead or Sonny threw a hitch to Mitchell on one sideline you just held your breath until the play was over. Nobody, for me, could make the first man miss so effortlessly. It was like, the instant he touched the ball, he was already figuring out how to make the SECOND man miss. 

The hitch to Mitchell just made you hold your breath. It was a play designed for 5-to-10 yards that Mitchell viewed as a "touchdown for me." He'd leave the DB on his face, grasping at air, then beat the safety --who had an angle on him-- in a dash up the sideline. If he had to cut back, then it was even more fun because, with his background as a running back, he could give it out as good as he could take it.

OK, before THIS answer gets posted, I'll hit "publish" again.

...

 

In addition to his on-field achievements, Bobby was admired as Asst. GM by the Skins black players. I knew a few ex-players through business and sports. They all thought Bobby would have made a great GM. Any thoughts? Of course the franchise has never had a black GM or permanent head coach who was black.

I found Mitchell to be smart, dignified and deeply respected by players. Two things bothered him. In our story on him this morning, we used his old quotes on both subjects. 

It bothered him that, by the ACCIDENT of him being the "first black player on the Redskins" --he always got identified by that easy "tag," rather than, as I've tried to do today, being identified as perhaps the greatest FOUR-WAY electrifying runner in NFL history and, more broadly, as one of the half-dozen most exciting, multi-facited, game-breaking players ever to touch the ball. 

Because he played for four years with the bgreatest ball carrier ever --Brown-- he didn't get as many touches as he would have on almost any other team. He spent much of his seven years in Washington, he was sharing the ball --and not complaining about it-- with one of the great multi-threat offenses of that time with Sonny Jurgensen throwing to Charley Taylor, Mitchell and Jerry Smith.

But in the 1205 times he DID tough the ball --not much more than 100 times a season-- he averaged 11.7 yards every time it was in his hands. Think about that. And he scored on 92 of those 1205 touches --which is ridiculous. That era had great all-purpose runners, including the great Lenny Moore with the Colts. But Mitchell could hang with any of them. Just remember, he had more yards-per-carry than Jim Brown, the same number of yards-per-catch as Randy Moss, broke a higher percentage of kick offs for touchdowns than Gayle Sayers and was just as likely to break a punt return for a touchdown as Devon Hester. All in one package.

Would he have made a wonderful GM, too? Mitchell was always polite and dignified. That may not have helped him. You can't criticize Edward Bennett Williams for picking HOF Bobby Beathard as GM (two Skins Super Bowl wins) over Mitchell. And Ed was man enough to tell Micthell to his face and do it the right way. Jack Kent Cooke also hired a future Super Bowl GM in Charlie Casserly over Mitchell. Not a problem. Cooke, who was an SOB in several ways and not high on my list AS A PERSON at all, didn't even have the courtesy to consider Mitchell, an assistant GM with the Skins, or ever tell Mitchell. Just disrespectful silence from a jerk who always acted like he was everybody's overlord. 

I'd say the "racism" problem with Mitchell never getting a shot as a GM was with the institutional racism of ALL THE OTHER NFL teams duruing that long time frame who never tried to get him out of DC after seeing his fine reputation in Washington.

Anyway, hope we cleared up a little of that "Just How Great WAS Bobby Mitchell" issue today.

I worked for Ed Weinberg. Ed was the Solicitor General at the Department of the Interior in 1961. He wrote and issued the Opinion that the Redskins could not sign a lease with the Stadium Armory Board for the new stadium because they were a segregated company and by law could not be allowed to sign a lease. He was probably the person most directly responsible for Bobby Mitchell coming to the Redskins. Bobby Mitchell was a class act. Reading about what he had to endure at Cleveland before he came to DC was heartbreaking. Shouldn't his number have been retired right off the bat?

THANKS for the info. That was way before my time. So I appreciate it.

His number should have been retired the day he took it off.

Not a good day for Steve Spurrier when he obliviously gave No. 49 to some unknown --until folks screamed about it.

With all that is happening in the world and how it is affecting sports, I am constantly amazed and reminded of the Herculean efforts that the medical community, custodians, grocery workers, etc. This brings me to reflect on the over done (IMO) adulation/deification of the military during sports events (Hockey, Baseball). Being recently retired military, I often thought these moments were a bit phony and fleeting to the point of where I became embarrassed when I was at a game. I think that in these times, this would be the best moment to stop these faux-patriotism moments or at least acknowledge the doctors, nurses, maintenance workers, EMTs, firefighters, grocery store workers, etc.

I'll STRONGLY agree with the second part of your statement. Health care workers are patriots, heroes and heroines and, in the sense of endurance and grace under pressure, they are also a kind of athlete right now, too. I have a doctor friend who is working about 20 hours a day right now and has been for quite a while. His Covid-19 related specialty means that his hospital could use him, needs him 24 hour a day if would need him 24 hours a day if it could make him bionic.

Let's finish by thanking them and cheering them. And hoping that as few of us as possible will need them.

See you next Monday at 11 a.m. Stay well.

Whenever we get on the other side of this pandemic, I just do not see people starting to flock back to arenas and stadiums to see sporting events, concerts, etc. First, the financial impact of a possible Unemployment Rate of 30+% is going to sting alot of people. (Even though the IRS filing deadline is pushed to 7.15, like many I owe them ALOT and there's that factor). Furthermore, I do not see people wanting to sit shoulder-to-shoulder in arenas and stadiums, even when the pandemic is done and gone. Do you believe that 1/2 empty at best arenas are on the horizon when this is all done, and is all of this going to influence how owners of teams in all of the major sports plan on spending on salaries ? Should we expect to see NFL teams making draft and free agent decisions (i.e. -- trading away 1st round picks) as a result of the potential economic climate ?

To me, the most pertinent point is that getting 10,000 to 50,000+ people together in own play to scream --all over eachother-- at a sports event or concert is exactly the LAST THING than a country should be when returning to normal after a pandemic. It's obviously just about the perfect (awful) pass to start up a "second weay" and fight the same battle at  over. THose of us you love loves, or earn our living in the team (or both) WANT it back. That does NOT mean it should be a priority. Sports can be psychologically valuable to many of us. But it is not ESSENTIAL to anyone. 

Sports LEAGUES, in particular, are going to have a hard time --and perhaps remain untenable until after there is a vaccine sometime in '21-- because as sooon as ONE player on ONE team tests positive for Covid-19, then that whole team has to go into quarantine for 14 days and well as players on other teams who were exposed to that infected player. 

Getting back to normal in sports --safely-- is probably going to be a nightmare. For all reasons (including sports) root for an effective treatment for those who are infected and then a vaccine in '21 --ASAP.

We're all going to have to get our minds right. What is "right?" Well, it takes many forms. Maybe just a warm laugh sometimes. I realized last night that one of my all-time favorite sports movies --and all time final victory scenes and cheers in a stadium-- is in "Babe."

I realize many have seen it. If you haven't, then definitely "Pig out."

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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