Ask Boswell: Redskins, Nationals and Washington sports

Jun 08, 2020

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

Past Ask Boswell chats

Sometimes, sports seem insignificant, irrelevant, important and symbolic all at the same time. 

This is one of them. 

Since last week, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, apparently largely on his own, although after consultation with several NFL owners, said of the NFL, “We condemn racism and the systematic oppression of black people. We…admit we were wrong for not listening to NFL players earlier and encouraging all to speak out and peacefully protest. We, the National Football League, believe Black Lives Matter.” 

This came a day after many of the best players in the NFL, including KC QB Patrick Mahomes, made a video to share their views on social issues, racism and the murder of George Floyd by police. 

Green Bay star QB Aaron Rodgers publicly rebuked New Orleans star QB Drew Brees for his comments misunderstanding, and conflating the one-knee protest of Kaepernick (and others) with disrespect for the flag. Brees reversed his position and now wants to be one of those who is making it clear that these protests “were never about the flag.” 

President Trump criticized Brees for apologizing. 

Joey Votto of the Reds put out a thoughtful piece in the Cincinnati Enquirer: “My awakening.” 

Very few people can explain what they feel (and believe) and why they feel it and believe it as well as Spurs coach Gregg Popovich. And he helps explain a key point again today –this time why the Floyd murder by police hit so many people –and lots of white people—so much harder than so many previous examples of similar things. “It was the casualness (of the cop),” said Popovich, pointing out that the cop had his HAND IN HIS POCKET when he was kneeing Floyd to death –like it was just another day on the police brutality beat. 

Most of these are examples of white people in sports, especially white men, discussing, or realizing, the profound depth of these issues. But that is because it is white people –including me—who need to understand more, always understand more. 

The Caps goalie Braden Holtby also released a long eloquent statement. So, this morning, much of what we talk about will be about the connections between sports, racism and Black Lives Matters.

It’s not only unavoidable, it’s also proper.

His praise for Donald Trump is looking worse and worse.

Public decisions are just that --public. They have a long life. Even relatively small, but symbolic ones --like playing golf with a POTUS who has deliberately been a polarizing figure and who makes everything about himself. Are you with me or against me? (And then lets scream about it.)

Colin Kaepernick will be remembered for taking a stand, and a knee, for Black Lives Matter  --and he took it virtually alone within the world of the NFL-- faced with enormous opposition, including the President. As a result, he was blackballed --as I've written before-- by the NFL and lost one of the prized professions in America --pro QB.

Now, millions of people around the world are doing exactly what Kaepernick did --protest peacefully for Black Lives Matter.

Zimmerman's decision is trivial in comparison. But this is a point in American history --they don't come around often, but in the course of a lifetime they do arrive a few times-- when you have to take a side. And it's remembered.

 

Who loses most if there is no baseball? Jeez, these guys can't agree on much of anything can they? I understand both sides, and it seems to me, Joe Average Baseball Fan - that there is plenty of room to find a solution - and in my opinion, anything under say 81 game (1/2 season - naturally) is not, well, yea, it'd work, but it just seems wrong. So, they do a 50 game season - how does MLB next year (and in years to come) then decide that 162 is the right number again - we just crowned a WS champion after a 50 game season - so now let's make seasons 100 games or 75 or heck 50 and then everyone gets into the playoffs - ugh. I could go on and on forever. Sorry for the rambling!

Here are the key points that I see clearly in the MLB arm-wrestling --as opposed to the aspects of it that I don't see clearly yet.

1) MLB, by saying that it is willing to have a 50-game season, plus playoffs, has virtually guanteed --imo-- that we will see at least that much baseball this year (virus willing, of course).

It certainly appears that the players have agreed --in March-- to accept the idea of a partial season with pay on a pro-rata scale. IOW, play 81 games, get /2 of your season's pay.

MLB owners, apparently, believe that their break-even point --with no fans in the stands-- is at somewhere around the 50-game mark. IOW, they may take a loss on each game but will make it back with their TV money in the playoffs and the ADDITIONAL playoff games that they will be able to see with a (one-year only) 14-team format.

2) The players have made a concession: deferral of $100M of '20 salaries if the POST-SEASON (where the owners "get whole" for the year) is canceled or shortened by a sec ond wave of the virus.

3) How do you get to more than 50 games? I don't know. But "you can negotiate anything," as long as you don't set a precedent that may haunt you in the future. In theory (I hope), players could negotiate for a prorated portion of their salaries in games beyond Game 50 (or Game 55 or whatever they agree onm).

This is truly JMHO, but there is no way on earth that players are going to refuse to play a 50-game season which would get them about 30.8% of their annual salary. hy? Because 30.8% is a lot better than 0%. Owners fear "no season." But they also fear "lots of lost money." The union has to balance those two realities and not push TOO hard.

I also think that there is "no way on earth" that the owners are going to throw away a chance to get TV money for the playoffs, especially when there seems to be no issue with a 14-team format. That money is just sitting there to be grabbed. Sane owners are not going to say, "It's a 50-game season --not one game more-- because we say so and, in our reading of our March agreement, you already signed on for it."

Owners are gong to look at each other and think, "What is our REAL break-even point, including post-season TV? How can we distribute our revenues from this disaster season among ourselves so that the game stays reasonably economically healthy and we don't have 'folding franchises.' And, for the COMMON SENSE 'good long-term health of the game,' how much of a loss are we willing to take in '20 so that our sport has "continuity,' even if it is 'goofy continuity.'" 

Remember, MLB is already a sport that has the Astros Cheating Scvandal hanging over its head as well as being the sport --out of the NFL, NBA, NHL and MLB-- which will lose the highest percentage of its revenue for the '20 season. The NBA and NHL got to play 3/4 of their seasons. The NFL may get to play all of its --even if there are no fans for some or all games. It's only MLB that is gambling and arguing about an ENTIRE lost season.

There will be MLB this year, virus willing. But if both sides suspect that something like 60-to-75 games is the real final total --not 80, 81 or 82 (which is cosmetically MUCH less awful)-- then both sides may ALSO not be in such a big hurry. That sets up the possibility (grrrrr) of more gamesmanship as the possibilities of 82, 80, 75, 70, etc., games slip away. 

BOTH sides know that they REALLY NEED to get a season cobbled together. That's why it will get done.

Exactly how? I have to admit, in the current state of the world, I'm going to leave that to them. We all have bigger things to worry about --our health, our friends and relatives health, our jobs, our finances our mental health and all the problems that everybody has all the time even when things are "normal." As a tiny example, I went for my annual (delayed) eye exam and said, "I've been having some problems with my left eye --I don't think it's anything much." Then I couldn't read the second line of the eye chart! So, I'll need (routine) surgery in a couple of weeks. NBD, he said, knocking on wood. Though expecting 20-25 or 20-30 vision in one eye and hearing "20-70" will get your attention. But we ALL have stuff. If it's not Covid, our a job (or 'no job') worry or concerns about the state of the world, then it's all the usual personal stuff that annoys or worries you --and none of it goes easier in a not-fully-open-yet period.        

I am very involved with news and politics. I like it when athletes have and express opinions, regardless of whether they mirror my own. I like it when teams are involved in causes in their communities. But I also look to sports - i.e., the actual games - as an escape. I'm not talking about things like kneeling during the national anthem or participating in political activities off the field/court/ice, but rather the actual games. For 2-3 hours, I like that the only thing that matters is the game itself. I really missed that over the past few weeks.

I agree 100%.

I watch the same things most of you probably watch --documentaries, old games, sports movies, etc. But, just for the experience of "getting into" a game, I have been reduced to watching pitch sequences in the ultra-important games of the Nats season. Even though you know who won and how, I still find it VERY interesting to see the pivotal pitches and plays within games which could have made the outcome --of the game, the series or the season-- different.

For example, in the fist inning in Game Six of the WS, Justin Verlander got Juan Soto to fly out routinely on a fastball up and in that wasn't nearly as good a pitch as Verlander wanted --neither really up nor really in. Soto was annoyed that he missed it. But you could imagine Verlander thinking, "If he missed my 'mistake' pitch on a fastball up and in, then if I can just EXECUTE that pitch in a key spot later in the game, I'll blow it right by him. He barely hit the 'bad' one. He won't touch the 'good' one."

To show Soto's maturity as a hitter, I think he was thinking right along with the futrure Hall of Famer. In the top of the 5th, Adam Eaton homered to tie the game 2-2. With one out, Verlander fell behind Soto 3-1. Justin doesn't want to walk him, but he doesn't want to "give in" and throw a strike that can give up a HR. So, what would be perfect from JV's view? A fastball up-and-in but a perfectly-placed one or one that, if it misses, misses under Soto's chin.

Verlander, on pitch-track, hit the EXACTLY molecule of the up-and-in corner with a high-90's fastball. 

Soto hit it into the upper deck.  Nats lead, 3-2. Strasburg is rolling. Then Soto carried the bat to 1st base --almost-- and dropped it just before reaching the 1st base coach Tim Bogar, thus perfectly one-upping Alex Bregman's hot-dog bat-carrying homer trot in the 1st inning.

It wasn't the most important play of the Nats post-season. But in real time --in the park-- it may be my FAVORITE moment of the whole October run (although that doesn't do justice to like a DOZEN other amazing 'peak' moment). 

As for sports-like moments, but in politics, there are times in games when you say, 'Holy Bleeep!" because somebody perfectly "posterized" or got even with their foe in a way that is unforgettable and, like Soto-Bregman, has never been done exactly like that before.

When I first saw the tweet on my feed that showed Mayor Muriel Bowser's 50-foot-wide letters, painted in bright yellow on 16th Street in front of the White House spelling out "Black Lives Matter" --right in Trump's breakfast cereal after he'd been taunting her and trying to intimidate her with calls for federal troops in D.C.-- my reaction was worthy of a sports event. I don't remember what I yelled, but it was a yell.

It was the biggest world-wide "In Your Face" that I've ever seen. And, of course, the morning after Trump had done the authoritarian tromp across 16th St to St. John's Church after violently clearing his kingly path through peaceful protesters. 

Lots of serious people had their serious say last week about how opposed Trump's actions were to basic American value and The Constitution. Here's one of the best.

And there were others the morning after that pathetic catastrophe of a Photo-Op Perp Walk.

But Mayor Bowser topped them all. Not only can/will the President see her signage beside Black Lives Matter Plaza every time his helicopter takes off, but Romulans and Klingons can also see it FROM SPACE and are trying to figure out what it means. But, until they do decode it, they've both decided not to invade D.C. because they don't want to mess with that mayor --she's a tougher foe than Capt. James T. Kirk. 

(Sorry, been a long time since I had even a little chuckle out of "Life: The 2020 Edition.")

If so, what are your thoughts on all these events today?

I gave an answer to that last week in the chat --which is pretty easy to find. But don't want/need to rehash it since it's about me and, in just one week since then, so much has happened that I don't think 'personal memories' seem very appropriate. We're all in "learn more" mode now, not "look back and remember" mode.

 

Hi Tom, I sent your article on Wes Unseld to a friend who grew up in New York and was a good college basketball player. Here's what he wrote back to me: "Back when I actually rooted for the Knicks a bit, I loved the Knicks-Bullets rivalry. Unseld, Monroe, Hayes, and Gus Johnson (my personal favorite) along with Kevin Loughery and Chenier up against Reed, Frazier, DeBusschere, Bradley, Cazzie Russel, Barnett, and Jerry Lucas. Might have been the rivalry with the highest average basketball IQ ever." I think he's right about the high basketball IQ. Do you have any memories of the Bullets/Knicks rivalry to share?

I agree completely. And I got a bunch of interesting smart e-mails about how much fans on both sides of that rivalry loved the match-up and, in retrospect, respected the "other side" with particular praise and admiration for Unseld as person, player, leader and just "force."

What made that match-up so great was that EVERY match-up was elegant --with players of high talent, but different styles and strengths, facing off. 

One of my best friends, a Knicks name, used to give me grief about the Bullets not QUITE matching up with the Knciks. He always called Kevin Loughery "Kevin Lock-knee" for the way he got faked out no matter what Knick guard he tried to defend. He wasn't kind to Ray Scott as a starter, or key bench guy, facing teams with Cazzie Russell, Mike Riordan (yes) and Dave Stallworth coming off the bench.

The Knicks were perfectly balanced. The Bullets never quite were. For example, in the '70 series that went seven games, here is the Knicks scoring: Reed 21.3, Frazier, 19.0, DeBusschere 15.9, Barnett 14.7, Bradley 12.0, Riordan 8.7, Russell 7.0, Stallworth 6.4.

The Bullets got 28.4 from Earl the Pearl. They needed all his points. But it made them too dependent on one scorer in the 4th quarter. Gus Johnson, one of my all-time favorites, average 18.4, Jack Marin 17.9, Fred Carter 14.1 and Unseld his usual 10.4. Loughery averaged 9.6 and Scott 4.6 but the Bullets weren't quite as deep.

It was so much fun nto watch Unseld ignite the break to Earl and Gus. The Pearl was going to make a spin move you'd never seen, maybe with a little Gus might go up and never land.

I've told the story before and I hope it's true because, wherever I heard it long ago in my early years at the Post I certainly believed it. (This is called "inadequate sourcing.") Wilt Chamberlain said he was the only player in the NBA who could touch the top of the BACKBOARD. Gus Johnson said he could, too. Wilt put a $100 bill on top of the backboard, held down with a silver dollar. I guess that meant the bill hung down a few inches. Honeycomb, of courser, went up and snatched the bill. But, they said, you left the silver dollar up there.

"I left the change for Wilt," said Gus.

Or so they say.

Tom, it's obvious that not having fans will reduce all teams' revenue to at least some extent, and no owner wants to play lots of games when they're losing money each game, but how do the differing revenue streams for different categories of teams affect the negotiations? Unless MLB owners pool their money for 2020 (fat chance), each team will have different financial motivations. For example, big-city teams with huge regional TV deals vs small-market teams that get a higher percentage of their revenue from attendance? "Tanking" teams that have few fans attending anyway (hello, Miami) vs "Contending" teams with full stadiums? I'd be interested in your insights into the competing drivers for such owners, and your guesstimate of a numbers breakdown on how many teams would probably lose lots of money per game under the player's proposal, how many would have enough TV revenue to make up for no fans, and whether that breakdown gives you any insight into the most likely outcome?

Good question. I wondered, too.

Then I realized that, to a pretty significant extent, the difference in wealth and revenue between franchises is already "baked into the cake."

Assume that all 30 teams have built their rosters, and their whole financial structure, based on the assumption of a 162-game season, plus TV revenues and reve nue sharing, but not including the hope of post-season revenue.

This is, at least for purposes of this question, pretty close to true --very few teams are run to make a LOT of money on a year-to-year basis.

The big money comes --as in the case of the Lerners and the Nats-- in the appreciation of the value of the franchise --huge in the case of the Nats who've turned out to be a fabulous investment for the Lerners. In the early years, they tried to play at 'break even' --but by 'break even' the Nats meant $0.00 AFTER they had paid the interest on the percentage of their original purchase price that was borrowed money --just like Joe Fan's mortgage. In other words, they were 'paying down the mortgage on the home and increasing equity in the house' every year. So, the value of the Nats franchise not only sky-rocketed but the percentage of the Nats that was Lerner equity increased as the loan was paid down. So, that one-two punch really increases your return on invested capital.

Rich teams want to win it all every chance they get --in part because world titles tend to increase fan bases and franchise value-- and they'll spend $200M-year in payroll to do it. Teams with smaller resources may pay $100M or much less.

But in the end, Rich Team A is playing each individual game for relatively little profit --they've scaled all their spending in every area of the team to get to that outcome-- and Poor Team B is playing every game, even in a bad year, at very little loss --because they ALSO scaled all their lesser expenses to get to that roughly-breakeven outcome.

There are countless differences between teams and exceptions to the rule. But I suspect that, while there are differences, most teams are in pretty much the same boat --a 50-game season either works for them or isn't too bad, but 81 puts too many of them into the red for them to agree to that plan.

There's a LOT we don't know. It'll be fascinating to (try to) find out what went on behind the scenes in this one. 

NBA, NHL, and MLS are all focused on starting as quickly as they (safely) can. MLB seems to be the only outlier, with the owners actually advocating for *fewer* games on a purely financial basis. How short is their time horizon in thinking, here? You can't complain about losing growth among younger fans when you actively depress the number of games you make available when the country is in crisis to make a profit. MLB, you don't get to be "the national pastime" anymore. Or maybe it's clear that "the national pastime" is just greed. (I'll note, as well, that the Nationals had no problem processing full payment for kids summer camps, this week, after sending a note the week before that they would pause running those invoices until more certainty would be possible for camps to actually run...)

If MLB can't get its act together, while the NBA and NHL, with MUCH greater inherent problems in their games --there's no "social distancing" in back checking or fighting for a rebound-- then baseball is going to look like a sport full of greedy, short-sighted dopes who don't value their fans and are not good "stewards of the game."

I assume they know it. Now, will they act like it?

 

Hi, I'd like to know your response: NFL Typology Birds: Eagles Falcons Seahawks Cardinals Cats: Panthers Lions Bengals Jaguars Horses: Broncos Colts On The Farm: Rams In The Woods: Bears Pet Detective: Dolphins First Nations: Chiefs Technology: Jets Chargers Cult of Personality: Browns Just Working: Packers Steelers Cowboys Historical: 49ers Buccaneers Vikings Bills Lyrical: Saints Ravens Mythical: Giants Raiders Titans Texans Patriots Racial Slurs: Redskins

Yeah, pretty interesting.

As I've mentioned, my parents told me when I was a kid that it was a "bad nickname," and explained the reasons, but that people would see things more clearly with time and it would disappear, so don't worry about it. There are a lot of bigger problems to fix first. A nickname like that will just disappear as part of progress.  

Now, 60-plus years later, it's still around. It's like Snyder never imagined that --ever-- there would be a day of reckoning, or an era of reckoning, for people like him who think "I know what I'm doing, and whose buttons I'm pushing but I can keep getting away with it."

Lets put it this way: When people use the phrase "systemic racism," they use the word "systemic" to indicate that racism gets into everything, in some form or other --sometimes obvious, sometimes hidden in the corners. And people who are comfortable with that world don't like ANYTHING to change --they've got things the way they want them. Don't give an inch or, you never know, you might end up someday having to give people "justice." That's why someone can take such an intransigent position on what seems like such a small, easily fixed issue. The reason is because it is part of something much larger --a small part, but a part of that word "systemic."

 

 

I was watching the replay of the Caps' Stanley Cup championship on Sunday and during the postgame celebration, Pierre McGuire noted that the Caps tied an NHL record by winning 10 away playoff games en route to the title. It immediately made me think of the Nats, which of course made North American sports history by winning 4 road games in a 7-game championship (as well as two in NLCS and in NLDS). Small sample size and completely different dynamics for the two teams/sports, but are there any conclusions to be drawn? Do D.C. teams have inordinate pressure on them in home playoff games?

Great point! I forgot the Caps record-tying 10 road wins in their Cup.

The Nats 8-1 road record has GOT to be the MLB post-season record --doesn't it? Chatters, has anybody else won 8 road games? (I'll try to double-check after the chat. I SHOULD already know.) 

I prefer to think that this i just an illustration of "Road Champs," and not a problem at home.

But if there HAS been a problem at home --okay, okay, it HAS felt like both teams had post-season pressure problems at home at times-- then that problem should either disappear or become VERY, VERY small once a championship has been one! Just one more benefit of a ring!

Is it too little-too late? I have no respect for him.

We have an excellent piece this a.m. on "what is motivating Goodell."

On "too little too late," this quote probably has it right.

From our story: "Sociologist Harry Edwards, a consultant for the 49ers who has advised Goodell on social issues and views him as a friend, did not counsel Goodell on his speech. Edwards said he would have told Goodell not to make it as crafted. He felt the sentiment came two years late and that not mentioning Kaepernick by name or taking blame was wrong.

“It doesn’t mean anything,” Edwards said. “If you’re sitting on top of an organization which has three black coaches, two black GMs and Colin Kaepernick hanging over the entire NFL organization like a shroud, you can’t stand up and say, ‘Oh, okay, we get it.’ It’s too late for that. You got to say, ‘Here’s what we’re going to do.’ And this includes letting it be known Kaepernick will be on a roster at the beginning of the season — period.”

It's worth adding this quote from Edwards, because Goodell gets beaten up as regularly as almost anybody in sports --I've called him "just a suit." when I was in a complimentary mood.

“Roger’s an eminently decent man,” Edwards said. “He’s a good guy. He has a good heart. He has a fairly valid perspective on most things. But in most instances … he’s caught between the reality that he knows and understands and the perspectives and desires and agendas of the owners at whose sufferance he serves."

Because of this --decent man, but unable or unwilling to act UNTIL NOW-- Edwards sees Goodell has very symbolic. Potentially, so do I. Goodell is quite a larfe fellow to be a "canary" --in a coal mine or otherwise-- but he's certainly a bird who can always sense which way the wind is blowing. For him to do what he did --knowing how crazy it will make everybody from Jerry Jones to Trump to XX% of his fans-- he must think the wind has shifted considerably and is blowing a gale. 

From our Post story by Mark Maske and Adam Kilgore this a.m.: "Pointing to recent admonishments of Trump by former military officials and other public figures, Edwards saw Trump in a weaker position compared with 2017. Many institutions, Edwards theorized, may be less fearful of pushing back and potentially angering his voter base.

“The NFL and other interests who have been at least pliable in terms of trying to meet Trump’s expectations are going to get to the place where they’ll simply say: ‘You know what? We don’t have to do this anymore,’ ” Edwards said.

Along this lines, leaders with authoritarian tendencies --and I'm glad to line up with all the distinguished four-star generals and admirals and top CIA analysts who see this pattern in Trump and are VERY alarmed by it-- tend to deal in symbols and slogans, not complexities or subtleties. And when they lose the Symbolism War they are in big trouble.

The new Wall that Trump has built around the White House --prompting critics to say, 'See, he DID finally FINISH building a wall, but it was around himself"-- has been turned into a gigantic piece of 15-foot tall, multi-block-long street art by Black Lives Matter demonstrator and protesters who've used the massive Free Prime Advertising Space to mock or criticize the man who built it so conveniently for them.

 

We loved your honest, wonderful tale of parents who ignored white flight of the era to raise you in NE D.C. A friend just loaned me Clay Travis's book, “Republicans Buy Sneakers, Too: How the Left Is Ruining Sports with Politics.” He writes that sports once constituted our “national connective tissue, the place we all went to escape the serious things in life," and that "sports pairs well with politically conservative outlooks." Why is this? It's disappointing and confusing.

I'd be interested to know if, going back to say 1885 when pro sports like baseball and other big-time sports like horse racing and boxing were growing, whether there was a political "slant" to sports themselves. I don't think so. For example, I think baseball was The National Pastime --no matter who was President.

Seems to me that around the time Ronald Reagan ran for president, and a new wave of conservatives were arriving, that there was an attempt to appropriate as many symbols of America as possible to their political view --the military, most important, religion whenever possible, and whatever sports they could claim had some inherent "conservative" tilt.

This fair game, and typical political battling. You use any and all available tools (weapons). But, in the case of baseball, I resented it. Two of my baseball friends --George Will and the late Charles Krauthammer-- loved to imply that there was something which made baseball-and-their-brand-of-conservatism natural bedfellows. I've told them both plenty of times, good humoredly, "You WISH that there was some connection between baseball and conservatism. But there isn't --none. And there is no connection between baseball and liberal or progressive politics, either --none. Why don't you guys gets your paws off it."

But their love of the game is genuine --everybody is allowed into the ballpark. God, there's got to be SOME place where we can all go and just talk to each other. Over the decades, I just tried to remind them that baseball is much more important than politics --so they should show some respect. They've both laughed. And, I think, got the point. (No, I don't think it is more important --what I think is that it is enormously important that decent people understand that is foul --outside the lines-- to try to politicize EVERYTHING and leave no common spaces for us to share our humanity away from politics. The same goes for religion --throughout history there has been a tendency for religions --all of 'em-- to want to get their hands into everything on the grounds that their ONE interpretation is correct. In their case the deified interpretation. I'm always surpsied that it isn't obvious to people that "the will to power" --and GETTING power-- is at the center of a good deal of both the political and religious impulse. Politicians are, at least, forced to admit --sometimes-- that they are just "being political." Some religious leaders throughout history --what portion I have no idea-- don't operate under any such restraint. "Wrapping yourself in the flag" has often been a useful tactic. But when you can get away with "wrapping yourself in the vestments or the sacred cloth or whatever" when you try to impose your views on others --well, you shouldn't get away with it. That's why "separation of church and state" was so absolutely central to the American founders. They'd seen the centuries of disaster that LACK of that separation had brought to the European countries they fled.

Yes, there will be a day when we can chat about sports, sports and more sports. Many of them, I hope.

But, I think most people would agree, this just wasn't going to be one of them. And, imo, shouldn't be.

Loved him, but it was a turn-off.

I assume it was just a put-on --part of Anthony's act with the media. 

Anthony was easy to talk to "about nothing." Unfortunately (for me), I usually wanted to talk to him "about something" --and that held no interest for him. I actually understand and completely respect that position. Long ago, I told a slugging Oriole 1st baaseman named Lee May, who never talked to the media except to say, "I hit a mistake," that all his teammates told me he was a wonderful guy and very funny. I said, "Lee, that's OK by me. But AFTER you retire I'd like to meet that guy IN THERE." He barely smiled. But after he retired, we did have some good talks. And he was a good guy, and sly funny.   

Good morning Boz, Watching game 7 of the 2019 WS, there was a shot that looked up at the executive sky box. In the sky box I didn't see any minorities. Do you think that MLB needs to do a better job of hiring qualified candidates that represent the players and ethnicities that are on the field?

Yes. MLB has a bad record. So does the NFL. "Systemic" --that is why this is always a long process that requires endless follow-up. I always knew it took decades. The last new years I started to worry "but does progress toward basic decency, justice and equality take GENERATIONS?"

In the last week, which has included lots of scenes and sermonds that brought tears, but also introspection and learning --we all have a lot of that to do, or at least I do-- my spirits have lightened, a little. One of America's big enemies, jmo, has been a tendency to fall back into apathy and miss-place its best self. The last week hasn't been apathetic. Different things make each of us happy --when apathy is having a hard time of it, I usually feel better.  

RIP Mr Unseld, you brought a lot of smiles to this town and this family. My dad had to explain where the term cagers came from - can you explain how we got from there to here? As to Wes, I met, or should I say, crossed paths with him shopping at the outlets in Delaware, we were visiting family. He was not mobbed but there were maybe a dozen or so kids following him around, I immediately recognized him but over the years I have learned (as an old guy now) to leave things alone. Our eyes met, I smiled and nodded, and he did the same. That was it. I so wanted to thank him for all those years. I used (I think) his coaching style to explain to my kids see this team - they may stink, but they go out on the court and try their best from beginning to end - because their coach gets them to play hard. Ironically, my kids were too young to understand it all - as they were both under 10 at the time, but years later, when my oldest was playing goalie for her (not very good college) soccer team and they were again losing 8 to 1 or 7 to 0, she said the lightbulb went off, and from then on, she gave her very best - the next season, they were one of the best teams in their league - and they had mostly the same players. Maybe it was because Wes got the best of his players - hope so.

Thanks for your memories of Wes.

I can't tll you how many PERSONAL stories people sent me about their interactions with Unself. And they were all variations on the same thing --how huge and forbidding he looked, but how warm and friendly he was --and all it took was a word from him for pople to msense it. It was like an instant understanding of "Really good person" as soon as he spoke to you. So kind to everyone. Well, unless your name was Wilt or Kareem. Then, scary tough guy. Abdul-Jabbar has said that Unseld was the only player who ever scared him. Not being dirty or anything. Just such a ferocious, physical, but clean player.

It is not the responsibility of your black teammates to educate you about race. Do your own homework. P.S. This applies to all white folks.

In the last couple of weeks I realized that, for somebody who likes to look at facts and study stats --when they are available-- I had never done a lick of homework on police brutality, especially toward African-Americans in this country. Problem, yes. Big problem, yes. Well, that's not exactly "studying the subject."

It didn't take much digging to find these basic facts.

Police in the U.S., on average, kill about 1,100 people a year. In '19, a typical year, 24% of those who were killed in police shootings were African-American versus 13% of the population.

Just focus on the deaths in police shootings. (Source: A recent CNBC story.) In the last four years, there have been an average of about 835 deaths by police shooting each year.

How does that compare to other countries. The Guardian did a study of deaths by police shooting in England and Wales (combined) from 1990-through-2014, a period of 25 years.

How many total fatal police shootings in England and Wales combined in 25 years: 55.

So, about TWO a year.

In Germany in '10 and '11 combined, there were only 15 people shot fatally by the police. FIFTEEN.

You can adjust for population and the comparison is just as insane. (US is six times Eng + Wales. US is about 4 X Germany.)

Also, different police forces have radically different records in police killings per one million per year (2013-2019). New York City is the BEST at 1.3.

The worst cities are St. Louis 17.9. Oklahoma City 13.1. Phoenix 11.0. Orlando 10.8.

Finally, my area of biggest ignorance --well, that I've discovered so far-- is that the police almost never get charged with any crime. From '13 through '19, 99% of police involved in fatal shooting were not charged with a crime. And 99.75% were not CONVICTED of a crime.

There are factors like "qualified immunity" for police under the law and the strength of police unions for this 99% figure. That's gotten a lot of discussion on TV. I don't know any more about that than anybody else who's been following all this the last two weeks.

But the numbers are the numbers and, as is often the case in sports, they speak clearly, imo. 

I've seen a number of statements from Capitals and Wizards players in response to the death of George Floyd but have not seen many from Nationals players. Have I missed them or are they not saying anything?

GM Mike Rizzo made a statement on Thursday, speaking for himself. Mike said:

“I am horrified by the murder of George Floyd. My heart goes out to his family and friends. I strongly believe that silence is unacceptable and words are meaningless without action.

“Washington, D.C., is my home. The people of D.C. are my people. I am listening. I stand with you, and I am committed to being part of systemic change so every citizen here can say we are D.C. and D.C. is us.”

I imagine you get a fair number of comments from people telling you to shut up about politics and to stay in your lane and only talk about sports. But I just want to say that I like it. Discussing matters that affect us all is never irrelevant, regardless of what your "beat" is.

Thanks.

I have spent the last 50+ years studying various sports, and all sports as a beat. That makes me (some sort of) expert. So, take my views on those topics --including the ones where I'm dead wrong-- in that context.

When it comes to politics and social issues, I'm just another person. I have my experiences as an (imperfect) frame of reference. And I've paid attention to many of these issues all my life (like plenty of other people on this chat).

We've been talking to each other in this "chat" forum every Monday for 16 years. This is just a continuation  of those chats or conversations. But, some days, HISTORY --writ large, and in this case right in our backyards-- is the obvious and appropriate subject to talk about. So I did.

Thanks for all your questions. And I'll see you next Monday at 11 a.m.

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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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