Ask Boswell: Redskins, Nationals and Washington sports

Apr 27, 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! 

After waiting weeks for the Skins draft, I’m left a bit perplexed. It’s great to get Chase Young. We all had fun, or at least I did, trying to find a fabulous trade-back possibility, but the best idea was to have no idea at all and just look back at history for confirmation that Chase was the proper pick –edge rushers taken No. 2 overall are almost always monsters that you are satisfied-to-ecstatic that you picked. 

However, what about all the REST of the Skins obvious needs? TE? They didn’t draft one. DB? They didn’t draft one, but took a late-round safety instead. But the biggest question was why they took a WR/RB combo player –when they already have adequate Chris Thompson—in the 3rd round when their big obvious need was to get an OT to at least try to replace Trent Williams, whom they knew they were going to trade.

The Skins had the 66th overall pick in the draft when SIX OTs had gone off the board in the first 57 picks. That is a LOT of talent already gone when you are talking about OTs. They are prime targets and are scouted to within an inch of their life. Also, history shows, that over the last 20 years if you don’t get one of the Top 10 OTs in the draft, you have almost no chance of getting a standout player –only four of 48 OTs who were NOT in the Top 10 off the board have ever made even one Pro Bowl-- and only about 20% have even managed to become starters for 3-or-more years. 

The Skins did not trade UP TO TRY TO GET AN OT. They waited at No. 66 overall. And instead of an OT, they took WR/RB Antonio Gibson of Memphis. I hope he’s good. He has break-away talents as an open-field runner. But right now the Skins have a big deficiency at QB while they are trying to develop Dwayne Haskins. His health should be a huge prior. As the Skins waited for the 108th pick to come around, OT Josh Jones was taken (72nd overall was taken by Arizona), Lucas Niang (96th) by the Chiefs and Matt Pearl (99th by the Giants who have an exceptional long-term history of picking outstanding OL with any pick. The Skins got Saahdiq Charles of LSU in the 4th rd (108th) –he was the eleventh OT picked. 

Maybe he will be Josh Sitton –the 11th OT off the board in ’08 who made four Pro Bowls. But he’s the only OT taken near the Charles spot who had much of a career. And out of 264 OTs taken since ’00 who were NOT in those Top 10 OT, only FIVE even made one Pro Bowl. Trent Williams has made seven. I offer this analysis as an intro so you can disagree with it! 

Also, let's talk about the “punishment” if you can call it that, of the Red Sox by MLB last week for Boston’s cheating in ’18. 

Also, the PGA Tour wants to begin playing TV-only events in mid-June. What are their chances? Is it wise? What are the hurdles? But golf WILL be the first sport back. 

Finally, Steve Dalkowski, who almost certainly threw fastballs at 110 mph in the late ’50s and early ‘60’s –probably the fastest pitcher ever—died of Covid-19 at age 80. He never made the majors and his legendary wildness was the basis of the character Nuke LaLoosh in Bull Durham. But Earl Weaver, who managed him in the minors, Cal Ripken Sr, who caught him in the minors and Davey Johnson who faced him in the minors, all said –to me, when I was a kid reporter-- that he was “faster than Nolan Ryan, faster than Sandy Koufax, faster than anybody.” Some said he was “much faster.” 

Davey once bet him $5 that he couldn’t throw a fastball through a wooden fence –so he did. He had life long problems with alcoholism and, generally, a very sad life. But he’s a legend –and was generally liked by those who knew him. Only 5-11, lefty. No one, to this day, knows how he did it. And, yes, he hit the mascot. 

Ready, set, go…

NFL draft is over. We can discuss the Packers' draft choice for maybe two more day. Next topic? How about college football and basketball recruiting for 2021?

Gee, I already have a list of topics!

I'll let you guess what they are. One of the best things about being a newspaper columnist --essentially a DAILY job-- is that you are tied to topical subjects, the event or controversy or personality of the moment. That gives you lots of things to write about.

But that "topicality" is also one of the worst things about being a "daily" columnist. You don't have the luxury --or perhaps it would be more honest to say that you don't "allow" yourself the time-- to write thoughtful (or funny or WHATEVER) columns on more general subjects. What are often considered essays or "think-pieces." IOW, quite few of the types of things that appear in this chat! Or thiongs which I've never taken the time to compose.

For example: Who is my favorite interview subject ever?

Who are the most horrible people I have ever had to cover?

No, those aren't even on the list. You'll see 'em. They're coming.  

I bought EXPENSIVE tickets for the Nats-LAD series scheduled last week. Stubhub will not provide me with tickets (the team never issued them), and refuses to issue a refund because MLB says the games are "postponed." I see no way that MLB will ever make up April games (and probably not May games) - when will they officially cancel part of the season so that I can get my ticket money back?

MLB, and other sports which have lost --it seems-- regular season games, like the NHL and NBA-- all need to address this basic question. It makes it look like they are chiseling their customers.

First, it's not easy to work out the logistics of these refunds until you know when, or if you'll have a season. The teams have a real problem.

Second, the teams, if they put your money in a US bond --or some similar investment as a "holding place" until they return it-- would make ALMOST NOTHING. The interest rate on a 1-year treasure is about .0025 or .25%. IOW, on $100, a team would earn 25 CENTS in terest in a YEAR or about TWO CENTS A MONTH.

So, please remove the idea from your minds that the teams are "making a  buck off me." They aren't. They probably wish they could get the money back to you yestyerday so people would stop yelling at them to "give me my money back."

Here is the REAL problem --and sports need to understand that it is a HUGE problem to many of their customers. MANY fans, with unemployment rocketing up and under-employment or reduced incomes-- REALLY NEED every dollar they can get their hands on and they need it as soon as possible.

Teams, like the Nats, need to understand that some of their fans are rich, or can afford to wait. BUT many fans LOVE their sports so much that buying tickets is a significant part of what they do with their "disposable income."

Well, for plenty of people, that "disposable" income just became "indispensable cash" that they need to pay bills or even to buy food RIGHT NOW.


It's not enough to say, "We won't charge your account for any more future games." Any cash that is already in team's hands for games that have not been played --and clearly won't be paid-- needs to be refunded now or SOON.

To a rich owner it is easy to think, "Why do they need their money back? They can't make any money INVESTING it?"

Who is INVESTING it THESE days!??? Plenty of people need it to spend now on necessities now.

Any athletes banned for PED that will benefit from the delay to 2021 - meaning their suspensions will be over and they can compete in 2021 but would have missed the 2020 games? Chinese swimmer? Russians?

I don't know the answer. But that IS interesting.

If any chatters know the answer --either in general terms or names of specific prominent Olympic athletes-- I'd appreciate it if you "send 'em in" and I'll try to get them posted. 

Boz, you're a thoughtful guy. I realize that people aren't going back to live sports events again in any real numbers until there is at least a vaccine, but how do you think Covid-19 has permanently altered the sports landscape? Will we ever pack stadiums again? How much will it impact the sports economy -- ticket prices, team value, player contracts, etc. How much will it change the games, particularly for contact sports? Do you think many folks have determined that they can live without sports?

In the past, as far as I understand it --no, I'm not an MD and am glad to be corrected-- no past disease has EVER been a long-term problem for mankind to the degree that it impacted people's desire to congregate for a thousand different reasons.

Some diseases, like flu and the common cold, become things that we just live with as part of normal life. Past viruses like SARS which had a terrifying mortality rate were erased.

"When this is all over" --and every other disease and pandemic (like the much worse Influenze of 1918 which killed 675,000 in the U.S. and probably 50 million around the world) has reached a point where it was OVER-- I am 100 percent certain that the desire to attend games, concerts, crowded theaters and restauranmts, as well as churches, temples and every other common meeting place will go ENTIRELY back to normal. 

If I'm wrong, I just bet some of you will let me know!!

Just think about it --MLB attendance in 1919 SET AN ALL-TIME RECORD. Don't you think that, in a nation with a population of 104 million in 1919, meaning that one-out-of-every-154 people had JUST DIED OF INFLUENZA in the previous 15 months, would be as traumatized as any population in the U.S. is ever likely to be? Of course they were. But when it was over, it was OVER --in their minds.

And, after their is a treatament --which prevents death from Covid-19 in almost all cases-- and a vaccine, too, then OF COURSE we will ALL go back to normal activities.

I heard an interview last week with a top reseacher at Pfizer (drug company) who had worked on the successful treatment for SARS. He said they'd cut the mortality rate from 50% to 6%. The current mortality rate from Covid-19 is still being figured out --but I haven't seen anybody who thinks its more than 3% or 4%, and most think lower than that. Of, if SARS went from 50% mortality to 6% mortality, that is like Covid mortality going from (hypothetically) 3% to 1/3 of one percent --not much worse than normal flu.

I'm just doing this "thought exercise" to give a sense of scale. Onec you get a treatment for those who are sick with Covid-19 so that only 1/20th as many die as die currently, AND you get a vaccine, too, which greatly reducing the percentage of the popualtion that ever gets it, then OF COURSE we are going to go back to games or whatever.

Unless we are already people in such damaged or worrisome health that we wouldn't have gone to those places six months ago because we were worried about "catching something" in our fragile condition.

To answer you other points, it will have no impact --long-term-- on any contact sports. Or any sport whatsoever. Unless Covid-a9 is DIFFERENT THAN ANYTHING EVER SEEN, it's going to become an ugly piece of history --but that is all, just a piece of medical history.

Some, right now, don't take the coronavirus as seriously as they should --like the idiots on the Florida beaches. 

But the rest of us, who have good sense, shouldn't think "nothing will ever be the same again." That's nonsense --everything will be the same. In 6 months, no. In a year, I have no idea. In two years, I won't play doctor, but I bet in less than two years there will be no impact on our daily lives from Covid-19 EXCEPT all the technilogies, or "life improvements" that we discover BECAUSE of this pandemic --like ZOOM! Nobody is going to "un-learn" how to use ZOOM. And businesses, if they can save money, and keep their information secure, are going to adopt ZOOM, or similar technologies (Microsoft has one, I forget its name).

Similarly, millions of people are signing up for Netflix. We already had it. But I doubt that too many of those people will "unsubscribe." Some, but not too many.

You most interesting question is what this one-time-only massive-shrinkage to revenue --assuming the loss of all sports, or "most of revenue" for '20, whichever it turns out to be-- will have on ther salary and ticket structure of sports.

That will vary by sport and team. But, with MLB as an example, there are some small-market teams that are having a hard time now. Will they be even less competitive, with smaller payrolls, when MLB returns? Will two or three teams switch to more populous or prosperous cities? Will a couple of ownerships, which aren't THAT rich, try to sell etams?

No answers yet. Just a "we'll see." When we get a sense of when various sports will return --and with or without fans, and at what level of TV revenue-- we can start to guesstimate.

Looks as though with Rivera and Del Rio in charge, there might be hope after all. Your thoughts?

They both have a history of maximizing the ability of great edge rushers, especially Del Rio who has worked with Julius Peppers and Von Miller --both No. 2-overall picks-- and also Khalil Mack. He sure didn't CREATE them, but they flourished under him. And Peppers played for Rivera for years.

Jerry Brewer has an excellent column on this.

Also, the new regime seems to understand how much the NFL game has trended toward become a 7-on-7 form of football with emphasis on the passing game --those who throw, catch or defend passes. Adam Kilgore nailed that one for us.

HOWEVER, my first impression of the Skins ORDER OF SELECTIONS seemed very out of whack with their order of NEEDS.

It's one thing to draft a huge talent like Chase Young even though the defensive line is already your area of LEAST NEED. You can do that once. But it is, imo, a LUXURY. And when you have no 2d round pick --and are not able to trade Trent Williams in time to get one-- then you REALLY have to try to fill a need with your only 3rd round pick.

Instead, with several quality OTs available, not to mention a TON of gifted WRs, they took a combo WR/RB --which usually means a slot back and third-down back.

That means, historically speaking, your chances of getting a real quality OT when you've lost Trent Williams, go down considerably.

There IS anotgher side to the coin --maybe an important one. 

If you want to feel good about the Antonio Gibson pick, here is a 5-minute clip on him: "The Most Under-rated Athlete in America."Remember, he has size (226 poubnds) and speed (4.39 in the 40) and makes some fairly acrobatic catches. That's a lot. But in a league that loves these multi-purpose style players, why was he still there at No. 66 and why didn't Memphis get him the ball more often when his TD-per-touch was so astronomical.

Short version: Here is where the Skins get to show that they are BRILLIANT and "drafting for need" is the wrong move if the entire NFL has made a huge mistake in leaving Future Star X there for you in the 3rd round.

The REST of hte Skins draft was also low on "drafting for need." They're added two nondesxcript TEs in the off-season before the draft. But they added no TEs in the draft. And Rivera says that his offgense is BUILT around having two or THREE TE in important roles.

At least it will definitely be interesting to see how it works out. When you are 3-13, maybe you can rationalize the Gibson pick by saying, "We need everythibng. We aren't going to get it all right now, or even next year. But we REALLY think Gibson is a star and we're grabbing him NOW."

See how optimistic I can be after the draft!?

This is a common place affliction nof those who have been over-exposed to a 3-13 team. You just don't want to believe how bad things are --and how hard itr is to live with the possibility that they didn't get much better, even WITH Chase Young.

I still can't get over the END of the Trent Williams saga --another COMPLETE DISASTER. Here's Ex-GM Scot McCloughan on how great Williams STILL is, what a fabulous teammate and what he thought the Skins shou;ld/could have gotten for him.

Some HTTR types keep saying that Williams just wanted More Money while some of us, remember Kirk Cousins and others, thought it FAR more likely that he mostly WANTED OUT!

Right now, there is he-said-she-said about the Skins trade with Minny that fell through during the draft. But it's now a fact that Williams accepted the trade to SF --and to coach Kyle Shanahan (isn't he the son of someone who is in a hate-hate relationship with Dan Snyder-- in which he did NOT get a new contract and agreed to "work it out" after becoming a 49er. That means he gave up leverage to get out of Dodge. When it comes to the NFL, there is an abbreviation for "Dodge." It's "D.C."


Will he be extended and why has it taken do long? Is there any ill will after delaying it ll winter?

On Friday, in a conference call, Rizzo was praising the Lerners for continuing to pay everybody in the organization according to their current contract.

It would be pretty tough, at least in public, to say that the Lerners are wonderful for continuing to pay all their employees, but I want an extension.

Of course, everybody in the Nats front office is working their butts off with the amateur draft coming up in June, and a hundred other Corona-problem-scenarios to figure out. This would be a PERFECT time to work out an extension. Can I repeat --"perfect." Everybody can nuse some good news. This would make the wholeorganization feel better --and more secure about its future-- at a time when everybody tends to feel insecure about everything.

For the first time in my life I watched the entire NFL Draft. In what passes for “sports” in this worrisome time, it was actually quite entertaining. And the league did a good job, under trying circumstances, of pulling it off. Kudos for that. It was heartening to see a lot of people smiling. But, not to rain on the parade, as I watched I couldn’t help but wonder if all these smiling young men had given any thought or consideration to the proven devastating effects of CTE on many who play in their chosen profession. Do you think there is any awareness among these young men of the future problems that may lie ahead? Or is it completely the folly of youth of “I made it! That other stuff is a worry for old men?”

We've reached a point, and probably reached it a few years ago, where everybody is "aware" of the problem.

When Will Smith plays the lead role in a major motion picture about a problem (CTE), then it is general knowledge. (Yes, I know the doctor who was the hero of the movie has had some negative things come out about him lately. Different subject. CTE is still a major problem. And is still general knowledge among future players.)

The CTE issue is longer term. What do the next wave of great future atheletes --and their parents-- do when their prodigies start showing talent at 8-10-12 years old. Which sport do they chose? Which do they chose against? And which are they GUIDED away from by parents and other adults? 

The NFL WILL lose talent in the next athletic generation. They question will be: How much?

I think "quite a bit" and the sports which may be helped are the NBA and MLB. The NFL is currently FULL of players who are a classic size for MLBers --5-8-to-6-4 and all-around athletes. Lots of current NFL players were college hoops prospects.

MLB - can't be too far away now can it? If so what is the Boswell plan to reintroduce MLB? I can't watch too many more highlight and other old games without going bonkers, and I want to see the Nats take the field as champions - and for that matter, I want to see the ring - what does it look like as well as the ceremony and pennant raising.

In all seriousness, unfortunately, I think spectator sports --with fans in the stands-- should be right there at the bottom of the list (next to big concerts) as the LAST to reopen.

If leagues can answer the hundreds of logistical/health questions of playing without fans --and that includes "buy in" from unions and the MANY TV technicians and personnel at those events-- then those games STILL have to answer the question of "Where Do We Get Millions of Test Kits?"

Just in golf, there are 600+ people needed to put on an event. They current plan (dream of) a 36-event schedule. For the constant testing of all those people --in hotels, on and off planes, every day before play, etc-- you would need more than half-a-million test kits. Some have estimated A MILLION would be needed for a full schedule with that many people.

Do you know how many Americans TOTAL hav been tested right up to today>

5.57 million.

That's all. And, with tests needed just about everywhere, does anybody think the PGA Tour is going to get 1/10th that many --or more-- for GOLF without a huge public stink.

In the end, the factor which will probably delay the return of sports most --or permit it to return ASAP if the issue is solved-- is the federal government's denial that there is an enormous shortage --and always has been a huge lack-- of testing capacity for coronavirus.

I wrote about this last week. I singled out President Trump, and his denial of the country's obvious, dismal lack of suppling adequate testing, as the No. 1 reason --right after the pandemic itself-- for why the return of sports in the U.S. may be delayed FAR longer than would have been necessary with a competent response in the beginning --or even with an acknowledgement of the continuing problem now.

I got a nice note from a leading epidemiologist, who has been working 12 hour days for more than 2 months, saying that my evaluation of the problem --in general and as it regards a return of sports-- was "right on the money."  


Is it even credible that most of the players and not a single member of the coaching staff were aware of the cheating going on? How can anyone think that Alex Cora, who was actually the organizer of the cheating in Houston in 2017, and won a World Series by doing it, was unaware of this? I have to think we are not getting the full story here. If this was all the commissioner could come up, why in he world did he announce this was coming down the pike when he announced the Houston scandal?

I'm skeptical. Probably even more skeptical the longer I have thought about the issue.

This was my first-take analysis last week. 

Here is my problem with the logic --just the basic common sense-- of the MLB report.

MLB says that a replay technician --in real time, during games-- was looking at a monitor (CF) to decode the other team's signals from the catcher to the pitcher.

Then what did the Red Sox do? According to MLB, all they did was let Red Sox hitters know, ahead of time, of their latest intel on what those signs were JUST IN CASE THEY GOT ON SECOND BASE and could use it to help relay (steal) pitches for hitters once they got there.

Think about this. It's almost nonsensical. You're cheated and gotten the other teams signs. You have a replay technician who is already willing and able to cheat and is DOING IT. You have a manager in Alex Cora who was a key part of the Astros system of taking just such stolen signs (by CF camera) and then relaying the info to hitters by banging on a trash can to tell them what pitch is coming.

So, we're supposed to believe that AT THE SAME TIME --in the first big chunk of the '18 season-- that MLB has already concluded that Houston was STILL USING its steal-and-relay system to get pitch info to hitters at the plate that the Red Sox, with the same kind of stolen info in their hands, DID NOT send that information up to hitters at the plate! And they did not do it even though their manager was Alex Cora?

Maybe we'll discover that there was some logistical difficulty --or difference-- between how and what the Astros stole and what the Red Sox pilfered. Maybe the Red Sox, as an organization, let it be known that --after their previous "Apple Watch" slap on the wrist-- did not ant to be caught in any more skullduggery.

It is POSSIBLE that, similar as the Houston set-up in '18 and the Red Sox set-up in '18 seem, that there were differences. Difficultieis in Boston in EXECUTING "better" cheating. Or a concern in Boston --amid players, coaches and/or Cora-- that they should take too many risks. Or, maybe, it really was just this obscure replay technician giving info-updates to some players, some of the time.

But, man, my been-around-MLB-a-long-time nose sure is twitching. 

As I have said, my operating assumption is that MLB got it right because they have so much to lose if they got it wrong --and are eventually seen to have either botched the investigation or covered up something.

The '51 New York Giants managed to keep their cheating sceme a secret for 50 years --from 1951 to 2001.

It'll be interesting to see, in 5 to 10 years, when so many '18 Red Sox have retired or changed teams, whether this account still holds water. As I've said, I'll buy it. But with "hard eyes." 

Until each league can answer the question of what happens if a player/coach/ref tests positive for the coronavirus then is there any point in even talking about sports coming back?

Yes, that sure is a big problem, isn;t it.

I think a lot of people ar whistling in the dark about "we'll be back" in '20. My most optimistic scenario --yeah, based on my vast medical knowledge-- is that we get a treatment discovered, tested and mass manufactured by someone in September. THEN sports leagues can realistically start talking about what they can do and when. But even then I don't know aht those "talks" would produce.

But before you have a treatment that reduces the chance of death if you get Covid-19 by a LOT --until the danger is similar to other medical dangers that we accept as just "part of living," then I don't think it's going to be easy to get players, unions, TV personnel, ballpark and game-ready personnel to take risks.

I will add one point: We constantly say that we shouldn't take many.any risks because "it is just a game."

In this context, sports is a game AND a business. Plenty of people are impacted financially who are not "billionaire owners or millionaire players."

Usually I see the NFL as a drug dealer giving us small fixes throughout the off-season, but this year is different. They gave us one bit of sports normalcy when everything else stopped. Never mind that they might not play a normal season or at all. Still didn't stop them from wrapping themselves in the flag though.

Correct on all points

How many TV cameras do you think each sport needs to realistically have a game and how many actually needs someone operating it? If you put a lot of the MLB cameras in fixed positions then that significantly reduces the amount of people you would need in a stadium during a game. Yes, you'd need a technician there in case things break down but you wouldn't need all the operators, technicians, etc that you normally do.

Very good point.

I watched and enjoyed a lot of games of all sorts on TV back when dinosaurs roamed trhe earth and there were only a fraction of the cameras, and "camera angles" that we have now.

Obviously, that is one place to cut personnel.

Just a thought: It'd be OK with me if Sir Nick Faldo just sat at home, watched the TV feed on his screen in his den, then commented on every shot on every hole and analyzed every player. Nobody else needed. Just Nicky --knowledge, wit, sarcasm. Jim Nance can take a vacation.

OK, I know, Faldo only does a limited (CBS/BBC/majors) schedule. Just dreamin' I guess. 

I'm not a golf guy. It could be the last thing on TV and I wouldn't watch, unless it was Tiger. I know that every golf course is different. So I'm just curious here: But if PGA is serious about doing a serious golf season, given all the logistical/testing problems you described, why not just have them all "hole up" (no pun intended) in South Florida for a few months and play events at the different courses there? Why do they NEED to travel to the different events if there's no fans allowed?

Except for the 3 majors that are still scheduled, I think the PGA golf tour would be tempted to do ANYTHING --including stay in one general area, one state, whatever-- if that's the only way they could get an abbreviated season on the air.

As I've said, getting sports back --even if only on TV-- is NOT one of the world's great priorities right now. Even if it often feels like it to me because of my job and my preferences (okay, sometimes "passions.")

Here is, imo, an excellent column by the Post's Pulitzer winning economics writer Steve Pearlstein on a common sense, practical approach to balancing public health and economic health. IOW, this column, because it is so smart, informed and non-partisan, ought to annoy the maximum number of people --which, these days, is often a badge of honor.

Why do you think there have only been two Heisman-winning QBs that have gone on to win a Super Bowl, and zero in the last 40 years? Is it too hard to predict how good a QB will be, or does it have to with the fact that they’re drafted by the worst teams in the league? Or are there other factors?

Interesting fact (I'd forgotten). And the two reasons you site and good ones.

Also, the Heisman winner, like Burrow this year, often plays on a dominant college team --even a national champion like LSU-- which put more talent around that QB RELATIVE to the level of talent on its opponnents, than that QB will ever be lucky enough to duplicate in his NFL career.

IOW, in terms of pass protection, wide-open receivers, a running game for balance and everything else, he'll never have things tilted in his favor so much again.

Regarding various MLB scemes like playing 7 inning games, using spring training facilities, realigning leagues, etc. Why? Whatever team emerges from that mess will never be recognized as a true champion. So, you end up with an illegitimate champ, individual records no one will recognize and games few will watch or sponsor. If MLB did pursue any of these schemes, do you think it would compromise the game's integrity?

It wouldn't compromise anything. They would still be major league games played 100% by MLB players who have every reason to mtry very hard. That's enough.

Just one incidental point: What about players, like Max Scherzer, who are in their prime in a career that may --or may not-- end up in thr Hall of Fame. Don't you think he'd like to ring up a 12-2 record with a 2.20 ERA and 150 more striekouts to go on his career record?

Some of these HOF decisions are close calls. Historically, not much weight has been given to Lost Seasons That Were Not Your Fault. For example, seasons lost to wars.

Johnny Mize had to wait for the Veterans Committee to vote him into the HOF in '81, 28 yars after he retired. Mize missed 3 1/3 seasons due to World War II. He won the RBI title (110) his last year before entering the servicve and won th RBI title (138) in his first full year after he came back. 

Mize retired with , a .959 and was a part of five pennant winners. WWII may have cost him 115 homers and 400 RBI --and that's just a sensible mid-range. If he'd gotten the 450-to-475 homers he "deserved" and the 1700+ RBI, he'd have WALTZED into Cooperstown.

But he "never did it," so how can you give him credit for it? That was the reasoning, anyway.

So, if you pay --somehow (and I doubt it)-- half a season this year, you can be sure that several of the best players in the game, especially those in their primes or especially those LATE in their primes-- will DEFINITELY want to play every game that they can.

I think that's about it for today. Lets not KO ALL the good questions. I look for some to push ahead into next week --without telling you, we'll just pretend I had some smart ideas!

That's for all your enthusiasm for these chats. Don't know about you, they help keep ME going.

Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote: "The purpose of life is not to be happy. It is to be useful, to be..."

I'll just leave it at "useful" for today.

Until next Monday at 11 a.m., cheers and stay well.

Why doesn't MLB (other than they can't get out of their own way) adopt electronic headsets similar to football to relay signs rather than the slow and tedious approach they use now? Catchers and pitchers could have an in ear device with the bench calling the pitches. Would be much faster and up-to-date.

I favor mental telepathy.

But until we perfect that....I'd prefer ANY electronic method of one team communicating signals that the other team would have one helluva hard time intercepting. 

Come on, we can track the path of every grasshopper on earth every time it jumps --but we can't figure out a way for an MLB team to give signs to its pitcher and defenders without the catcher putting down his fingers --and sometimes painting his nails yellow so the pitcher can see them?

Do you think, or know if there are sports journalists, particularly baseball writers, chiming into these chats? The baseball knowledge among many of the people who comment on your chats is way above my sports IQ. It makes me wonder if some of the people commenting here are other sports journalists.

I don't think so. I know a couple of former sports editors --aka friends-- who read it but have seldom asked a question. 

After all these years --16 I think-- any group like this is sort of self-selecting. Mening they enjoy the subject matter, they can put up with me and they probably know a lot about sports and enjoy using that knowledge in discussions.

I'll say one thing FOR the chat. The first couple of years, after there had been no baseball in DC in 33 years, some of the questions were just above the level of "How many players are there on in an MLB lineup. I've forgotten." 

And I'd have to say, "It depends --9 or 10. Which league?"

Tom - the Chicago Trib's Paul Sullivan put the idea below into a column recently. Makes sense to me. What do you think? For a year, forget about existing leagues and divisions. Create 4 divisions, based on geography. The Northeast division would run from Fenway to Nats Park, and would be stacked. Two divisions would only have 7 teams, so those teams would pick up games by playing an opponent in the other 7 team division. No games on Mondays. Here's the schedule format, using an example: When the Phillies come to DC, they come for a week and play 8 games (2 doubleheaders). The next week, the Phils play at home, and the Nats are in another city. More normal home/away routine for players, less travel, fewer virus complications than changing locations every 3 days. Playoffs are 4 division winners plus 4 wild cards.

I'm open to anything.

Interest --for anything-- would be high or off-the0-charts.

The interest in anything novel --like this, including a "stacked NE"-- would be even higher.

Tom, have you watched any of the Jordan doc on ESPN? Putting aside specifics from the first couple episodes aired, it's just fascinating to be reminded (in my case) or for the first time expose to younger generations the on-court greatness of MJ. Also fascinating is recalling the almost universal acknowledgment that he was the greatest of all time while he was still playing.

I watched the first two and LOVED seeing all the acrobatics of the young version of MJ --just beyond belief, much more acrobatic and dazzling that anything James, for all his steam-roller greatness, can do.

But 2 hours of MJ's personality is enough for me. I like him. But I can get enough because he's not exactly a "complex character study." I also feel like I've learned quite a bit, or had forgotten quite a bit, about Pippen, Rodman, Phil Jackson. But I've reached the point where I don't need to learn/remember any more. And I already know how that season came out!

What strikes me is how long MJ kept his production incredibly high even though, compared to his early days, his style of play and range of "UNBELIEVABLE!" plays dropped greatly. Of course, you could pay the same compliment to the age LeBron James.

Why did it take so long to go to the 4-3 defense? Did knowing that Chase Young would probably end up in DC influence the switch at all?

I think they went together. Rivera knew who had the No. 2 pick --and who it would be. So it made his choice, and the Skins choice of him and Del Rio, and the switch to 4-3, a more natural pairing.

Any impressions on the first 4 episodes? If nothing else, they're very well done.

Maybe I should keep watching. Our choices are gettin' kind of limited for high-energy viewing. "Electric" players stand up well in a pandemic. Three-hour replays of "great games" --which are usually just "very good" don't do the job nearly as well. 

Bos: Always love the chats, now more than ever, and particularly enjoyed your focus on how extraordinary the 4 hour Nat zoom session was in terms of giving fans a peek at what its really like inside the clubhouse, or after a game. In a post "Ball Four" world, scenes like that rarely happen in the public eye. Maybe the only benefit of coronavirus times? For anyone who ever played a team sport, at any age or at any level, there was an instant recognition of what was great about those times--whether you were the star or last guy on the bench. The joking, mocking, woofing, deconstructing plays and players (teammates and opponents), all brought back memories for a lot of us no-talents who nevertheless still spent time on the field. Subtract out the money and skill level---and the drinking, if your memories go back to Little League (though INCLUDE the drinking if your team sports memory is from college or beyond)--and that was one reason so many of us non-sports-writers who are not privy to seeing ball players let their hair down in the course of the season, enjoyed the zoom-session. In a corona-weird way, it brought back memories for many of us about the fun of participating on a sports team; more similarities between bowling leagues, beer-can softball, D-III sports, and major league baseball, than people might recognize. As always, looking forward to Monday morning. Eric Brenner

All excellent points.

But you left out one big one which many sports writers, certainly me, recognize after just a year or two on the beat.

They are JUST LIKE US --they just play a lot better.

They are just like us as people --range of types, backgrounds, intelligence, character or lack of it, temptations, weaknesses, generosity, everything. They interact just like we do --but after years in a sports world they do tend to rely on humor and story telling A LOT --which is very easy to enjoy!

Once you realize that they are "just people" --no better, no worse and just as fascinating-- then it becomes MUCH easier and MUCH more interesting to interview them.

Then you get the next-level surprise --THEY know it, too!

And when they realize that you know they are normal (except for talent and eventually money) and that you are going to treat them, interact with them as normal people, as equals, as worthy of respect for their hard work and accomplishments, but not awe since so much of what they can do is "god given," then they appreciate it --often a lot. Because so few people that they meet in everyday life can get past the mask.


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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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