Ask Boswell: Redskins, Nationals and Washington sports

Apr 13, 2020

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

Past Ask Boswell chats

Good morning chatters!

I hope you're all staying safe and are ready to chat. The Skins draft is finally arriving. As I've said here in the chat for a month, I favor trading down with the No. 2-overall, rather than taking Chase Young. Using the Draft Value Chart, there are lots of theoretical possibilities. Miami is loaded with picks. Young is "worth" 2600 points. That would exactly match the value of the Dolphins two first-round picks --the 5tth (1700 points) and 18th overall (900 points). 

But is two-for-one enough?

To see the other path, Ron Rivera's old team (Carolina) has the 7th, 38th, 69th, 113th and 153rd picks in the draft in the 1-2-3-4-5th rounds --yet ALL of those picks are only worth about 2400 points. That Panthers example shows the enormous flexibility that is possible when you have 2600 draft points to peddle. 

You can go for two 1st rounders or plenty of picks in the 1st, 2nd and 3rd rounds combined. But do the often-burned Skins trust their own drafting ability enough to deal the No. 2-overall pick? I don't think they do. And all Rivera's comments so far point to the easy pick --Young-- which will probably produce a Pro Bowl rusher and at least two more seasons of 3-4-5-6 wins --because this is an awful roster and totally ill-suited to Rivera's preferences. 

For example, he says he likes to build around 1, 2 or THREE tight ends. Right now he has ZERO TEs that would qualify as a "good TE." 

Also, let's chat about Tiger's all-afternoon commenting on his own Masters win in '19. I thought he did a very good job and gave an extended glimpse at the person he is now --and that has been a dozen-year project for him. 

Also, memories of Bobby Mitchell, Al Kaline and any other subjects you choose!

Boz - shouldn't they trade down for more pics? They need help on offense more than defense (C. Young) and this is a good draft for tackles and receivers. For the right picks they could potentially help themselves in both areas at least.

Almost everything Ron Rivera has said has worried me in one way or another. He's been quoted as saying, "(Winning has) got to happen soon."

No, it doesn't. That's ridiculous. If that is just placate-Dan talk, theny OK. If he really means it, then he hasn't done a good job of realized that this is a very badly broken roster that needs major improvement on at least five units.

Rivera has said that he believes in the philosophy of "Make your strengths stronger." That's a tip that he's leaning, or has already decided to pick Chase Young.

He's also said that you'd only trade down with the No. 2-overall pick if you tholught that the st-round pick you got as part of the (package) in return was going to be roughly as great a monster as the player you'd have gotten at No. 2-overall.

This also makes no sense. You can get three or four players for that one pick. Just to illustrate, the Young pick is worth more than the Chargers picks in the first FOUR rounds combined --6th, 37th, 71st and 112th overall.

Rivera's personality is very easy to like. But as far as the draft goes, I think he's in a box: Young is from OSU, the same Haskins and WR Terry McLaurin. They'd love to play togethr. But the Skins have no 2d-round pick and, I expect, will NOT get Trent Williams back in '20 --come on, he hates them. There's no "Welcome home." They're probably going to have to accept a poor-value trade for him. Unless they are so stubborn that they just play stand-off with each other for another year. Skins need help at WR, TE, Pass Rush, OL and LB. And, I think, at DB, too. 

There IS one positive way to look at ll this. ACCEPT that this is a three-year rebuild. Draft Young (if you think he is great), go 3-13 or 4-12 again next year and hope to get another Top 5 pick in '21. And continue to be pretty lousy in '21 while gathering more pieces to go with Haskins, McL and Young, etc.

Here's the problem: The Skins are trying to put together a 3,000-piece jigsaw puzzle but they don't seem to realize that they only have 2,000 pieces in their box. IOW, what they have is An Incomplete Picture of Nothing.

Until you understand clearly where youbreally are, you just can't ever get to where you want to go.

As baseball struggles to find a path forward for some sort of hybrid season, it seems likely that any games in these mixed leagues and divisions will be played using a DH. As I was texting with friends on the pros/cons/likelihood of any of these scenarios, a thought struck me: there is a good chance that those of us at Game 5 of the World Series may have witnessed the last MLB game ever to be played without a DH. The DH is probably inevitable in the next CBA, but still it is sad if traditional nine man baseball ends up going out that way.

I've spend decades taking the annoying position --both to me and readers-- that of the three options --all DH, no DH or DH in one league but not in the other-- I found Door No. 3 the most interesting.

But I'm sick of the way it distorts the World Series. The NL team almost NEVER has an "extra hitter" on its bench who is so good, and versatile, that you can plug him into the lineup in the World Series and get as much production as the AL team does from ITS DH.

The Nats were SO lucky that Asdrubal Cabrera --a switch-hitter who has slashed .270-.336-.453 over the last four seasons-- became available FOR FREE with a couple of months left in the season. By putting him at second base in the four games in Houston, the Nats were able to get seven hits from him in six starts, keep Howie Kendrick fresh (as a DH in the WS) and put together a lineup that --after May 23rd-- was every bit as good as the Astros if you play under AL (DH) rules.

But the NL team should not NEED to have such luck every year in the WS. It's time to go all-DH, I'm afraid. MLB needs offense. The union, of course, wants to create 15 new good-paying-jobs in the NL for the 15 new DHs, so that gives MLB a trade chip to help the next CBA get worked out. 

So, yes, you may have seen the last WS game with no DH in G5 last fall.

BTW, one of the few beneficial, accidental side-effects of a pandemic --man, is this reaching to Mars for a tiny silver lining-- is that MLB and the Union seem to understand that WE ARE ALL IN BIOG TROUBLE and they better work together. Any work stoppage after 2021 is now beyond unthinkable. Hundreds of millions of people in the US, and billions of people around the world, have been through hell with this pandemic --deaths, serious terrifying illness, lost jobs, bankrupt business, lasting economic damage, etc. NOBODY is going to tolerate millionaire players and billionaire owners screwing up baseball. The same will go for every other sport --you'll see the best cooperation you have ever seen at reaching sensible compromises.  .  

The Capitals won the Stanley Cup, the Nationals / Strasburg beat the Astros in game 2 of the World Series, and Tiger won the Masters again! Oh, wait a minute . . . maybe I'm trapped in the Sportsworld section of Westworld?


Great!!! I noticed that, too! I taped all those games again --watched the Masters rewind. I'm saving the Caps --I messed up and didn't tape Game Two in '18, although I still have Game 5. Also, that Game 2 of the WS was like a gigantic "GONG" going off in everyone's head. They had just beaten Cole AND Verlander on the road in Houston and they turned Game Two into a head-thumping laughter. If the Nats had lost Game Two, then the Atros turned the tide in DC, then it's likely the Nats would never had gotten back to THEIR ace --Strasburg-- to win the crucial Game Six. We'd all have said, "Great job, Nats. You got to the World Series and even won a game. But, of course, losing to the Astros in 5 games is just what many sensible people would predict."

But the Game Two win changed everything --and sent a message to the Astros that the Nats --the post May 23rd Nats who went 86-43 with a HUGE run differential-- were just as good as the Astros were. And that the Nats truly thought they could win in a long tough Series.

Thanks to the '18 Caps, the Tiger Masters and the '19 Nats --which are three of th best things I've covered in my life-- I think that, to a degree, Washington fans have so many good things to look back on within the last 22 months, including the Mystics and UVA titles in basketrball, that we are suffering a little less, maybe even a lot less, than the average major city as far as sports withdrawal. Of course, "normal" would be a million times better. But, as you point out, there has never been a re-wind weekend with so much that clicked with Washington fans. Of course, Tiger held his invitational in DC for several years, too. He's not local, but there's some connection.

Woods' commentary on Sunday with Jim Nance was interesting to me because Nance is so ingratiating, deferential  and unthreatening as an interviewer that it would be easy for the subject of the interview to get full of himself and use the "soft" flattering nature of th interchange to lull him into revealing that some of the least appealing features of Old Tiger were still around. Instead, it really does feel --to me-- like Woods has "changed his life" to a meaningful degree. It's been said by serious lit critics that the central theme of the novel, especially the great 19th-century novels, is "change your life." What causes it? How do the protagonists use their experience --often painful, revealing or humiliating experiences-- to remake themselves in some fundamental way.

I think that "change your life" story has been going on with Woods for a dozen years --first with his personal issues, but then with an entirely different, but also humbling experience as his body and golf game totally fell apart.

Now, it's clear that he understands the value of "others" --and that he needs to let them in, at least to some degree, scary as that has always been for him.

I'd be curious as to your thoughts, chatters. Lots of us have gone through fundamentals changes in our lives, our attitudes, our habits, at least once in our lives, if not two or three times. It's important to allow yourself, and others to change --sometimes in major ways. I wouldn't have understood that, or would only have understood it theoretically, when I was half my current age.

This is just free association, not pertinent to what I was just saying. But I always loved the James Brown lyric, "Money won't change you. But time will take you on."

Ever notice how almost no one ever has the guts to "cover" JB?

My favorite Stones anecdote EVER is Mick and Keith talking about how utterly inadequate they felt when, early on, they had to follow Brown after "Please, Please, Please." Keef: "When he finished, WE DIDN'T WANT TO GO ON (stage)." 

On another music note, here are the National Cathedral organists playing "Baby Shark" on last October 22nd. The first game of the World Series was that night.

When my wife --not a big sports fan-- gets in a pandemic funk I sometimes play this --loudly--  because its so unusual, moving and totally goofy.

Thanks for keeping up the chats even when there aren't any sports! I'm assuming that MLB's leaked plans for playing games in a huge quarantine environment in Arizona (or Arizona and Florida, which I like a little better) was a trial balloon to see how the world will respond. Do you think the response was positive enough for MLB to move forward with it? If not, I just don't see any games happening. I can't imagine my wife and me doing any discretionary events in crowded spaces until there's a vaccine. The risk that we would transmit the virus to our ~80 year old parents is just too great. I imagine that enough people feel the same way - at least in some hot spot cities - that playing games in front of live fans just won't work out. And, no sports league wants to be responsible for a "game zero" like the Italian soccer match. What do you think? Am I right that it's the league-in-quarantine plan or nothing for MLB in 2020?

We all want to know the answers to ALL these kinds of questions. But it is just too soon --too soon to say anything sensible. It's OK to blow up trail balloons. But I'd say that it's going to be at least a month before anybody --whose scientific/medical opinion you would value-- will feel that there is enough data (and curve flattening, etc) to start any discussion at all about mass-attentdance sports events --and even then you would be looking out a couple of months further than that --like July/August-- to image games in empty parks.

There is ENORMOUS impatience with this pandemic. That is just human nature --we abhor being cooped up. There is enormous financial impatience --because money of people have lost jobs and trillions have been lost in world markets. And there is enormous political impatience because Trump thinks that the longer the restrictions on mobility last, and the more the damage to markets and employment, then the worse his chances of re-election. I'd disagree with that premise.  I think Trump's biggest problem would be re-opening too soon and have the virus get a second life in September-October --like 1918-- just before the election. If the return to normal is slow, then he can do what he does well --blame something or somebody else for whatever goes wrong, in this case Blame the Virus. However, if we get this thing under control, but let it out of the box, who is he going to blame then --as the case-and-death numbers get ugly again heading into the election? Trump has incredible survival instincts. My two cents: he'll push for "back to normal soon" so he can say, "Well, I WANTED to get back to normal fast," but then he'll go with the science, go pretty slow, make sure the virus is no longer a monster, try to survive the stock market damage, then blame the virus for everything bad while claiming great credit for not letting it be much worse.

 Sometimes I think that politics is no longer "the art of compromise," but rather, in this century, the art of saying grandiose things that sound good (to your 'side'), are hard to debunk in six words but are built on almost nothing that's real. I sure hope I get to change my mind about this --someday. 

Short version: I don't think we're going to see another event in front of 10,000 people --much less 30,000 or 60,000 or more, until there is a vaccine in which the public has confidence and a treatment that is fairly effective for those who DO get the virus.

That could be a LONG time --like a year or even more from today. We could be going to restaurants, students back in schools and living fairly normal lives in many ways LONG before "big-time sports" gets back to normal.

As you say, the single most dangerous thing that anybody can imagine during a pandemic is a huge crowd jammed together for hours yelling in each other's faces after a score and high-fiving --like the damage done in Italy by "Game Zero" which I mentioned in a previous chat.

I hate to say that because my BUSINESS is sports. Even more than fans, I have an interest --and a passion-- for things NOT to work out that way. But, in basic economic terms, ALL of sports at all levels is a SMALL industry, measured against the entire U.S. economy. It has 100 times the emotional weight that it has in financial terms.

For example, right now, Apple, Microsoft, Berkshire Hathaway and Alphabet (Google) EACH have more than $100 BILLION in CASH --they can't even find useful ways to spend it. As of a year ago, the average NFL franchise was worth $2.57 Billion, the average NBA team $2.1B and the average MLB team was worth $1.79 billion (Forbes).

That means (hypothetically)that  you could buy the ENTIRE NFL for $82.2B, the NBA for $63B and buy ALL of MLB for $53.4B. IOW, truly big U.S. companies could buy two or three entire leagues OUT OF SPARE CASH. And you could throw in the NHL for peanuts ($15.5B).

Sports has big "mind share," but strictly in a business sense, big-time sports is small. It's not going to wag the dog in a pandemic.  It's not going to be a national priority, no matter how much we might --in the abstract, in a world without consequences-- wish it to be an "essential" part of our lives. 

Unless in the future I have caught, and recovered from the coronavirus (and become immune), or until I've been vaccinated, there's no way I'm going back to the seats my wife and I have with friends for a few games a year at Nats Park. I have a few simplistic, almost comical Rules to Live By. One of them is "How Stupid Would I feel If..."

For example, if I went back to ballgames just for fun and ended up on a ventilator, "How stupid would I feel?" I would feel like THE STUPIDEST PERSON EARTH. So, you have your answer --don't do it. In contrast, if another driver ran into me on the highway, I would simply feel "lucky." You can't control that. But I would not feel stupid. (You'd be surprised hopw many everyday decisions can become clearer with this rule --well, for me anyway.)   

So, ROOT for the research scientists to find treatments and then vaccines. THAT is how, and WHEN, we get sports --with crowds-- back in our lives. .

Which major sport requires the least amount of preseason training before starting real games? In other words, if it's time to play, who gets ready the fastest?

Baseball can get ready in a couple of weeks --three max, imo. I wish I could tell you when.

Were you nearby when 4 of the final 6 players dunked their tee shots in the water? Why didn't they learn from what they saw?

Sometimes, especially at the 1th and 15th holes, it gets contagious. Splash begets splash. You see it year after year and wonder, why don't they play safe. BUT the pin positions on Sunday make it tricky to play safe. If you are long and left at the 12th, you're dry, but facing a good chance at bogey --and you'll be chipping/pitching back TOWARD the water. So "safe" isn't really THAT safe.

At the 15th, though TV doesn't make it obvious, that is a False Front --if you land on the bank, just like the bank on the right front at the 12th, you ALWAYS roll back in the water --except for Fred Couples in '92 and a FEW dozen players over the yars who somehow "stayed up." Also, if you go overthe back at the 15th, you are chipping toward that false front and the water. It's not that you'd really go back across the whole green and into the water. It's that you are timid, leave your 3rd shot too short and then fail to make you birdie putt.

The top row of bleachers looking down at the 15th green and over the entire 16th hole is my favorite viewing spot on the course --and it is one of the few places where there is any "press" area. (At the Masters, we've never been allowed "inside the ropes" as the golf press is allowed at every other golf tournament in the history of the world --so we can actually see and hear, up close, what we are writing about.)

The 15th-16th corner has huge risk-reward. Tiger owns both holes. So did Jack.

The only time I played Augusta was in '78 since; back then, they often let first-time writers play on Monday (once and once only) so you had some appreciation of the difficulty of the shots. I think I played in a foursome with Ron Rapoport and Bill Tanton (Baltimore) but it's a vague memory. I remember that I was the first to putt on No. 1 --I was on the back of the green. One of the guys said, "Remember, Boz, it's REALLY fast downhill." I said something like, I KNOW. Hey, I've been here all WEEK." Ah, youth. My putt was still gaining speed when it left the front of the green and ran back on down the fairway.

I shot 92 with a pair of 9's-- including five balls in the water-- at the 12th and 15th. That's the Masters for you --it feels pretty normal, and with no rough, most of the time --like me being 10-over-par on the other 16 holes (about my norm back then). Then you go 10-over-par on TWO holes. I remember I had a wedge into the 15h --maybe 100 yards-- thinking maybe a chance at "birdie" and I made that 9. Typical of the way that place lulls you to sleep then eats you alive.

(I birdied the 16th from 18-inches --that hit-away-from-the-hole then let-it-roll-back-down-the-hill-to-the-hole shot. Except, my first year there, I had no idea there was such a way to play that hole. Just an accident that worked out perfectly. I reached the 13th in two --thanks, I think, to a lucky rock in the creek-- but of course I three-putted.)

When we get back to playing games, how will the older players feel? The Nats roster is full of them. Does the extra time off work in their favor or did they just see the last vestiges of youth slip them by?

If they play perhaps an 81-game season with some late-Oct-to-Thanksgiving post-season in warm-weather sites or retractable dome parks, then the short season ought to HELP the Nats as much as any team and mor than most. It gives  the Big Three and Anibal Sanchez a huge r4est after the tough '19 and, probably, lets you ride them hard through what might, at most be 100 games. The over-30 players would love an 80-to-100-game season plus playoffs. It's the long GRIND that gets them, especially August when they have already played 100 games. If there were quite a few doubleheaders, then you'd probably see 27 or even 28-man rosters. The vets wouldn't be expected to "play two." The Nats strong bench would help them --two good catchers and six good infielders for four spots.

All this is a gigantic "if." But, man, does MLB want to jam in a season if it possibly can --even in empty parks, which costs them ~40% of their revenue. There's a big difference between perhaps getting 35% of your expected annual revenue (or player salary) for an 81-game season, plus (probably) some expanded four-round post-season to sell to TV, and 0% for an entire year!

It's going to be a different financial world in MLB on the other side of this. Teams with (i9n hindsight) too many huge long-term contracts and smallish title windows are going to have tough decisions. The Nats may be glad that they didn't go the huge-contract way with Harper and Rendon and even that Max's last $30M year is in '21. Their only two big remaining contracts are for outstanding pitchers who'll be 31 (Strasburg and Corbin). Assuming Nats attendance spikes after a title year, Washington may be one of the teams that's well positioned for the next couple of free-agent off-seasons --whenever they are.

The Nats paid for Stras at what now look like top-of-the-market prices. But if anybody deserves it, he does after his 5-0 October. That title has his name all over it and that'll buy the franchise a ton of goodwill for a decade, or many much more. I never thought I'd think that NOT getting Rendon --at that $265M price-- might be a decent break. Not getting Harper, but using the money to rebuild the rest of the roster, I always said that might be the better way to go --because you could not afford to pay Bryce AND fix all the other problems after '18. Goes to show you never can tell.

I got to rewatch Game 5. As soon as Rendon hit the home run, you could see Kershaw thinking, "Oh God, not again." I actually felt sad for him seeing him sitting on the bench after Soto's home run, which look like it actually broke him. But, if he doesn't have the Astros cheating against him, is the narrative about him completely different?

The narrative might be SOMEWHAT different. He's now failed --by his standards-- in five different post-seasons. But if they had won it all in '17, that changes the legacy, the image a lot.

I felt sorry for him, too. But I also told Barry when the Nats were down by two runs late that --paraphrase-- the only way the Nats win this game is if the Dodgers are dumb enough to bring in Kershaw. I never dream about baseball. But I dreamed last night that Eaton hit a three-run homer off Kershaw in relief.

Kershaw came in to pitch to Eaton with two on and fanned him to end the 7th. I laughed --my one-millionth incorrect prediction. When they sent him back out to face Rendon and Soto, I said, well, I don't remember exactly what I said, but I bet it was a variation on "this is nuts." But I never expected HR-HR. I just felt what plenty of people considered obvious --Kershaw has been trending down hill for three years, he has a black cloud over him in October, he's not a reliever by trade and his stuff (except for his curveball, when he can get to it with two strikes) is  not over-powering anymore. His cutters to Rendon and Soto were both 89 mph in a sport where most of the guys who come out of top bullpens are throwing 97-98 or more and with a second pitch. Kershaw carries some blame because he talked about how much he wanted to pitch in relief ever since he got pushed back to the Game Two start, meaning that Buehler was now the Game One and Game Five ace. Kershaw clung to that star role --self-image-- and almost muscled Roberts into using him in a hero spot and then not getting him out fast when he had the chance. "Sentimental managing," it'll kill you every time. 

Note: Dave Martinez DID stick with Strasburg and Corbin for three-inning shuout relief outting to get the wins against Milwaukee and in G7 of the World Series. Roberts was, presumably, trying to get four outs from Kershaw --in part because he didn't trust his pen, especially late in the season. But, in LA, they are NEVER going to forget that Kenta Maeda reliever Kershaw and struck out all three Nats he faced after the Rendon-Soto homers --and he blew 'em all away.

Mr. B, you have had a number (it seems) of articles that draw from your past memories and experiences covering sporting events - makes sense given there is not much to talk about on the current events plate. So, what if anything can you tell us about the last Senators team? Where are they now, did you ever cover them, how did they like the last World Series? I seem to recall you telling us a bit about Frank Howard, but the team - at least in my memory (of course, I was very young), had a number of quality players - as well as, ahem, few less than quality. Other than the obvious why did they leave - was it really about the attendance, or did Short just get such a great deal that he said screw it - was that team's leaving a reason that Abe Pollen was able to get the Caps to stay - he used that a warning/threat? Any chance the football team could depart for greener (as in cash deal) pastures - we can all hope right? On that note, if they did leave (they won't) how long before another team was in DC (with certainly better leadership - coaches notwithstanding). Thanks for the Masters Article, it like so many others, brought back some great memories for me as well.

That is a LOT of questions! Let me give you ONE answer. Or at least Shirley Povich's answer. He called Bob Short (who owned the expansion Senators) a "carpetbagger" and always maintained that Short bought the expansion team on a shoestring, with almost none of his own money, and was always looking at the team as a "flip" --like a real estate transaction. Run the team on the cheap (the much-mocked Panty Hose Night), then move the team to a fat market and make a killing on a high;y-leveraged investment.

After the Nats left D.C. after '71, Shirley wrote a piece about just how little of Short's own capital ever went into the team. His initial investment was shockingly low --like less than $10,000.

 To this day, the Rangers are the only team that I truly hope i NEVER see win a World Series. It truly is a kind of justice that Washington waited 33 years without a team, then had to wait 15 more year to get to a World Series, and STILL won a title before the Texas Rangers --now 0-for-48 seasons. 

On that happy note --no, I never carry grudges (not much)-- that's it for this week. Still lots of good questions to answer. Like the song says (sort of), "If you've got the questions, I've got the time!" 

Washington doesn't have a second-round pick, either. Of course they should trade the 2. They should trade it, and then keep trading it down; if they get the Dolphins' 5 and 18, trade the 5 to the Vikings for 22, 25, and 71, and trade the 18 to the Bears for 43 and 50. They have so many needs that a single transformative player doesn't matter. They need volume. Of course, their "brain" trust won't find any diamonds in the rough, but this many squirrels will bring back at least a few nuts. (Okay, that's enough mixed metaphors for now.)

Thinks! I do enjoy all the Trade Down permutations!

The Patriots have lived off this method --go for quantity because there is so little difference between prospects. If I remember correctly, the Pats LOVE second-round picks and think that's often where the value is.

Of course, that's easier to say when you have Tom Brady at QB, making everybody look better.

Tom, I'm reading a lot in favor of trading down from the no. 2 pick. But I find one argument in favor of drafting Young to be compelling - he has the potential to have a transformative catalytic effect on the D-line and thus the entire defense. The comparison is with the 49ers, who drafted Nick Bosa last year, unlocking a line that had other young talent, and with the help of destructive pass rush their defense jumped from 23rd in DVOA to 2nd. WSH has already invested much into developing a potent line, why not complete it with a talent that most evaluators see as can't-miss? Having that type of D-line can also cover for holes in the secondary. It also calls to mind those NY Giant Super Bowl teams that invested heavily in a disruptive pass rush and used it to slay those great Pats teams.

Bosa is ALWAYS the first word/name that comes up when Chase Young to the Skins is mentioned. That IS the best analysis of why he may be a fine choice. I think he'll be a pro bowler.  But I was very unimpressed with his performance against Clemson --a total no-show. And he was seldom double teams in that game. This is a good sports debate. I just think Trade Down is the way to go --if you believe in your rebuilt front office and it's ability to judge talent. If you don't trust it, then Young is a perfect way to avoid disaster. You don't have another pick until the 3rd round so you've covered your behind --well, we didn't have a second-round pick but at last we got Chase Young, and he'll be a star."

Not a bad opion to have. But a No.2-overall pick has SO much trade value. Didn't a team once give up quite a bit for a No. 2 overall pick named RGIII?

Boz - thanks so much for your long Masters article in yesterday's paper (yes, I still read the Post on paper - I am old). And Barry's as well. It was a nice change to have a Sports section in the paper that I didn't rip through in 5 minutes. Prompted me to watch a little bit of the 2019 Masters that CBS broadcast yesterday afternoon with a fresh eye.

We thank you. We're all tryin', I can promise you that.

Don't miss Sally's column on watching through her windows at neighborhood children at play. 

Inventing games --our own games, unsupervised-- was absolutely one of the best parts of my growing up. Losing that childhood freedom --of movement and of imagination-- is a real loss. 

I think the one part of Ron Rivera's style that most concerns me is his aversion to analytics. It's part of the reason he was fired from Carolina from what I've read. Assuming no trades, drafting Young would be great, but do you think Rivera even considers some of the new data demonstrating that pass coverage is more important than pass rush? How willing is he to accept paradigm changes? The Ringer has a good story about it out today:

Thank for the link. I'll read it.

The Skin are generally regarded as near the bottom in all of pro sports at using --or even trying to use-- analytics.

Does this surprise you?

Was Kaline under-rated since he came from a small-market team? Orioles's Brooks Robinson said of Kaline, "There have been a lot of great defensive players. The fella who could do everything is Al Kaline. He was just the epitome of what a great outfielder is all about – great speed, catches the ball and throws the ball well." Billy Martin once said, "I have always referred to Al Kaline as 'Mister Perfection'. He does it all – hitting, fielding, running, throwing. Kaline fits in anywhere, at any position in the lineup and any spot in the batting order.


Kaline didn't retire until I was 14, so I saw him play a million times on TV vs Senators, O's, etc. I thought he was one of the most graceful "beautiful" players to watch that I ever saw. But I also thought, in my youthful ignorance, that he was a little over-rated because he was often a .300 hitter, walked more than he fanned (so he seldom "looked bad") and looked so cool, handsome and smooth. BUT he only drove in 100 runs ONCE (101) and only scored 100 runs once.

I was wrong. His career WAR was 92.8 --the average HOF outfielder is FAR behind at 71.9. Kaline could do some of everything, hit .297 career with a .376 OB% and was as good a RFer --he and Clemente-- as that era produced.

And "everybody" didn't just like him, everybody loved him. I crossed paths with him a few times, never really had a reason to talk much. Just seemed like he was totally comfortable in his own skin, genuinely liked other people and, in a naturally dignified way, improved the tone of any room he was in. Elegant player. Pretty elegant man, too.

"Small market" and only one World Series visit (and win) will lower an athlete's profile. But Kaline was a BIG star in his time. He had that Joe DiMaggio fluid grace/style and some Hollywood good looks working for him --but he never seemed at all vain about any of it. Just EASY-going. And a pleasure to watch on every part of the field --including running the bases even though he wasn't asked to steal bases.

You might also note that Astros DH Yordan Alvarez (1.067 OPS) was reduced to pinch-hitting duties in games 3 and 4. And AL pitchers aren't used to bunting/hitting. There are advantages/disadvantages on both sides, and the balance doesn't always favor the AL.

Good points. Thanks.

Boz - hope you're over your Augusta withdrawal, how do you anticipate the course setup being possibly different when played, hopefully later this year?

The Masters from Nov. 12-15 would certainly be interesting. I wonder how much "local knowledge" will be nuetralised by the different season. We all know that our own favorite courses play differently, feel different, between failing early spring and fairly late autumn.

However, in mid-November, if we do have sports again, you might be watching, on the same week, the NFL, college football, MLB deep in its playoffs, the Masters and --is this possible-- even the NBA and NHL trying to jam in their '20 playoffs in November, too.

With lots of luck on the public health front, November could be the busiest sports month in history --by a lot!

Wondering if you agree with the Allen/Greenberg piece on Gio Gonzales?

Yes, I do.

The Nats had the Gio deal all set up. I talked to someone in  another organization's front office. He told me that there was buzz all over that the Nats had a big deal all lined up --minor leaguers for a star-- but that ownership was blocking it, didn't want to give up prospects, and that Rizzo was so hot that he was threatning to quit if the deal didn't get done. (After all, it was his front office, scouts, minor-league coahces, who had found, drafted, signed and taught all those prospects --which means that those same people loved 'em because they were THEIR kids, their discoveries/creations. But if you can get an elite lefty, which Gio was, for PROSPECTS, who have never done anything in the bigs, then you have to do it because there is another name in baseball for "prospects." They are called "inventory!" Ownership didn't quite understand. Rizzo has said since that he put it all on the line to push that deal through --so, you can view that as "hr threatened to quit" if you want. The day before the Gonzalez trade was made, I still could not find out who the damn star player was that the Nats were after. So I wrote a column about the general issue with the Nats that ownership didn't understand that, while it was their business to sign $100M free agents or extensions, it was long-held baseball tradition that when "the organization" --GM, asst GMs, scouts, analytics people, minor league instructors--  took some unknown kid with the 300th pick and turned him into something that could net a star in trade, then that is not an ownership decisions. The people who made that trade possible --Gio for a bunch of semi-nobodies that the Nats identified and "coached up" into almost-somebodies who had trade value-- were also the people who had a right to make the call on whether to DO that deal.  The next day, the Nats made the trade. And when the deal was announced I STILL didn't know it was Gio they had on the line. And I should have been able to figure it out or report it out. But, anyway, there's some of the back-story.

It wasn't just a great trade. The Nats then signed Gio to a long-term contract with TEAM options. In seven years, Gio had 213 starts --almost NO missed starts-- with a 86-65 record, 3.62 ERA and a WAR of 21.0.

That much WAR, on the free agent market, would supposedly have been worth more than $150M in salary in those years.

Gio made a lot of money as a Nat --$65-million. But it turned out he was probably worth almost $100M MORE than that. It was as smart a contract --from the Nats side-- as it was a trade. And Gio got a lot of security at an early (pitching) age.   

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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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