Ask Boswell: Bubba Wallace, Golf, Coronavirus and Washington Sports

Jun 22, 2020

Washington Post Sports Columnist Tom Boswell answered your questions about Bubba Wallace, Golf, Coronavirus, the return of Major League Baseball and more.

Past Ask Boswell chats

Driver Bubba Wallace is interviewed before a NASCAR Cup Series race Wednesday in Martinsville, Va. (Steve Helber/AP)

Beautiful day outside! 

Had my first Father’s Day at home EVER (because I’m always away at the U.S. Open) –and it was really nice. Let's see, our 18-year-old rescue mutt Mac, the sweetest beast who ever lived, is still wagging his tail in circles as soon as he sees us in the a.m. and ignores being deaf and pretty gimpy/lame –so he’s always a good wake-up example to me to get my attitude up to “Good Dog” Level. Also, his vet has prescribed “doggie pot” for him for his pain. So, he’s got that going for him! 

Let’s see, what else is good? Hmmmmm. 

Most of what has happened since last Monday has either made me sad or mad, so I won’t start listing it ALL because it would make the Introduction longer than the Chat –and, yes, that would be VERY long. 

There have been so many positive virus cases in MLB. NFL, college football and other sports that the proper question now, it seems, is: Will there be ANY sports in our major games anywhere in ’20? I’m seriously starting to doubt it. There are many reasons. No. 1, 2 and 3 are all the pandemic. BUT other countries have handled THEIR part of the pandemic well enough to get baseball back (Japan and South Korea) and soccer (Germany). We handled our pandemic so atrociously that –ranked far behind >120,000 deaths, >15% unemployment and every other human and economic disaster, it looks like sports is going to be a casualty of our incompetence in minimizing (yes, “mitigating”) our pandemic. What is it with people who won’t wear masks in situations where health experts say that they should? Or refuse to social distance? Yes, I know all the reasons usually given. 

I’d like to add one. Or a question: As a culture, how did we end up so stupid, stubborn or selfish? 

And the most recent, and disgusting, racist outrage –the noose hung in the NASCAR garage of African-American drive Bubba Wallace. Read Jerry Brewer’s excellent column. Especially one key point: Let’s not hear ANY more from people who bring up the Confederate flag as a symbol of “heritage, not hate.” It’s about hate –and has been my entire life, going back to the ‘50’s. 

As for the Confederate statues, bring ‘em down. What the hell have they been doing UP for 155 years? Anybody who can find cheerful subjects to chat about will also be heard!

Tom, I would like to be heard. I am a Vietnam combat veteran with the 1st Air Cav Div an am 100% disabled because of it and I retired after 20 years of service. My son is a Navy Gulf war veteran and is 60% disabled and retired after 23 years of service. My father fought in WWII in the Battle of the Bulge in Bastogne. His father fought in WWI no long after emigrating from Italy. My mother’s grandfather fought in the American Civil War not long after emigrating from Norway. So I think you can say I know a thing or two about respect for this country and the American flag. This country has a thing called freedom of speech and the right to express themselves how they see fit. Colin Kaepernick along with everyone else in this country has that right. Mr Kaepernick is not disrespecting the flag in anyway. By kneeling, he along with all the others who are doing this also are not only being respectful of the flag but is being respectful to the flag & all the citizens of the country. I may not totally like it BUT I do stand behind Mr Kaepernick in what he did and how he did it. I think that EVERY NFL player, every other player in every other sport do the same. What I did in the military and what this country is founded upon, gives him and everyone else in this country the right to do what hi has done. The right to protest in a civil, obedient and RESPECTFUL manner. I think that everyone in my family who has served feels the same way. I also think that the vast majority of service men & women feel the same way. I wish I could ask my father what his true feeling on the matter are. The one that should be behind Mr Kaepernick is the CINC. In military lingo that is the Commander in Chief. Right now it stands for Commanding Idiot ‘n Charge. Thank you sir, be safe and be well.

Thank you for your thoughts, with which I am sure many here on this chat agree.

I'm sure that my father (Army, '39-'45, two tours in Europe), his brother (Air Force, tail gunner, Pacific) and my uncle (Sam, yes) who fought house-to-house up the boot of Italy in WWII would all agree with you. Because they expressed themselves on this subject in the turbulent 60's. Your position --and theirs-- is basic to our country.

Thank you, and your family for your service and sacrifice.

 

I wonder if I am the only person who enjoyed watching the RBC over the weekend MORE because there no frat boys yelling out "IN THE HOLE!!" after every shot? It was refreshing to just hear the golfers and caddies discuss shots. Even the commentators seemed a bit more restrained, at least to me. Heck of a finish by Webb Simpson, even if the course played easier after the storm moved through.

I LOVE seeing these beautiful courses WITHOUT all the commercial junk and grandstands on them. I miss the fan enthusiasm --to a degree. But, at least on gorgeous courses like Harbour Town Golf Links, I'll take that trade off.

The first vacation of my own that I ever took, after I'd worked at the Post as a copy 'boy' for about three years and saved up money, was to drive down to Hilton Head to play that Harbour Town course --opened just a few years before by Pete Dye. I had a great time. Got to play Sea Island at the Cloisters --and MISS a two-foot putt for eagle, which was a rotten experience, but made for a decent magazione story on my Golf Temper. (It died after I left that eagle putt "short in the heart." I'd already thrown clubs in trees and twisted putters in my life and had a bad reputation as a golf head case --but after THAT you either have to kill yourself or do nothing. I did nothing. My temper didn't disappear entirely. As my Post golf-partner buddies would tell you. But it was never nearly as bad again.

So, the day I got a tee time at Harbour Town it rained all day --sometimes hard, sometimes just steady. I was almost the only person on the course, playing as a single. (Wjho else would be dumb enough to play?) By the back nine I was drenched (who cares) but all my gloves and grips were soaked. It was 50-50 whether the club would go flying after contact with the ball. I was never so disappointed to walk off a golf course. It was beautiful. But I was not able (s0b) to post a score that day. And never got back.

Years later, I did get to play Dye's 17th at the TPC not long after it opened --and I hit a ball to six inches for a tap-in! Unfortunately, it was for a triple-bogey six since I'd already hit two in the water.

I enjoyed reading the Couch Slouch column every Monday morning, but the Post hasn't published it since May 10. I sent an email to the sports department but did not get a reply. Do you know what happened to Norman?

Very good question.

Our Post sports editor, Matt Vita, sends this reply:

A new California law places severe constraints on companies that wish to regularly use the services of individuals as independent contractors such as freelancers. Publication of “The Couch Slouch” has been disrupted as a result. We cannot be sure when, or whether, it will resume. There is a possibility the law will be amended, allowing for regular publication.

I hope to see the ol' Slouch back in action. We have a deep bond: We both love bowling. I was once the Post's Bowling Editor! Both duckpin and 10-pin. When I was still The Phone Answering Person for calls from the general public in the department --that lasted six years!-- a woman called to say that her father had just broken the world duckpin bowling record in a league on his dinner break. He'd rolled a 256! (If memory serves). Honest to God, his name was Harry Suit! I checked with the alley owner and the bowling record-keeping folks and it WAS a new record. So, at a time when I couldn't get arrested as a sports writer it gave me a nice "off-beat" feature story --that got picked up around the country. The man was in his 50's, I think. I got a good punch line by doing what you are always supposed to do in tnterviewing --think hard, then ask ONE MORE question (Yeah, like Columbo). I asked the lady, "What did your father roll in his NEXT game?"

She said, "Oh, he bowled his league AVERAGE. 99."

Sometime, ask my about my waist-high trophy that I won when the PBA Tour came to D.C. (West Springfield) and I won the amateur part of the pro-am tournament, beating a bunch of lame ex-Redskins, etc. Bowling is famous for BIG TROPHIES. This was amazing. The worst thing about getting married was that my wife suggested --but did not insist-- that since it was the most hideous thing you've ever seen, and for a tiny silly accomplishment that happened a dozen years before, that perhaps an actual adult would throw the thing away so it would make our entire apartment (in Adams Morgan) look ridiculous. I mean, no matter where you put it, you couldn't hide it. So (second 'sob" of the day), I chucked it.   

 

 

I wonder if I am the only person who enjoyed the RBC over the weekend MORE because there were no cfrat boys

It's interesting that Nick Faldo and Ian Baker-Finch are doing their "expert commentating" from Orlando --by watching on TV!

That's OK. Long ago, including when I first got to the Post in '69 (I think), the Post couldn't afford to send Shirley Povich flying all over the country to cover Skins games. So, his Monday column on the Skins game would often --someplace in the first few graphs-- include the words, "the way it came over Channel 9 yesterday."

Seems likes an opportune time to change the Redskins name. Such a move would receive wide. If Snyder were to announce this coming season would be the last under the Redskins name, he would also reap a bonanza in terms of merchandise sales -- some people gobbling up Redskins stuff, many more proudly buying items featuring the logo of the new name for the Washington football franchise. (Also, what name would you like to see supplant "Redskins"?

Seems like a good idea -one some of us have favored unto the third generation --my dad, me and my son.

Many have mentioned Washington Warriors over the years. Seems a bit innocuous.

A couple of years ago I wrote a column on the Skins nickname after I did a search of all the team nicknames in America, looking for something strong and unique, something that maybe only one obscure team uses.

Almost the only appealing nickname (out of hundreds) that I found which was used by only one school was a Division III college that had changed its nickname from a racially offensive one to a huge, mighty prehistoric animal with huge almost circular tusks. The team logo --with the tusks-- was awesome looking, imo.

The name: The Mammoths.

As in, Washington scored a Mammoth victory over the Cowboys on Sunday.

Of course, I may be biased. As I pointed out in that column, the school that changed its name to the Mammoths was my alma mater --Amherst College (the former Lord Jeffs).

So, I don't know if it would be a conflict of interest for a sportswriter who IS (now) a Mammoth to cover a team called the Mammoths.

Note: This might be a good time for Joe Gibbs, given his connection to both the Skins nickname and NASCAR --with its current NASCAR Noose Nightmare-- might want to consider the good he could do by talking about both these subjects.The heinous noose incident is many times easier to discuss and denounce. And I'd expect that he would address it, as will almost everyone in NASCAR. It may be harder for him, despite his deep religious faith, to get his mind around the problems that many people --including the Post's editorial page over the weekend-- have with 'Skins.

But it's important to understand that all moments in social or cultural history are not equal. In biology --at least when I studied it as a Mammoth-- there is discussion of evolutionary change (adaptation) over enormous periods of time but there are also more sudden changes in species that are linked to sudden genetic mutation --mutations in DNA. "Mutations are essential to evolution. They are the raw material of genetic variation."

I suspect that, while much of our progress in American history is that slower process of evolution, there are also moments of mutation in public consciousness when large numbers of people suddenly see an issue more clearly, and with much more emotional force, than they ever saw it before. "Society" simply changes its mind --in an important area. Not EVERYBODY in society, of course. But many --enough-- to completely shift the national position on an issue. I would call it a Mutation Moment. We may be in one. 

As a simple illustration, 2020 is the 100th anniversary of the 19th amendment, giving women the right to vote. Hard to believe that women COULDN'T vote until 1920 --134 years AFTER the Declaration of Independence. Just 10 years before 1920, NO state allowed women to vote. Washington was the first in 1910. Slowly, more and more states passed suffrage laws. But even in 1917, in what's called "The Night of Terror," suffragist prisoners were beaten and abused at the Occoquan Workhouse in Virginia. (Now the site of Lorton Reformatory.) So the RATE OF CHANGE increased radically from 1910 to 1920. Perhaps we are seeing fundamental progress right now with BLM as a catalyst.

Ironically, at least imo, when the President talks at his rally in Tulsa about damage being done to "our heritage" and our beautiful "monuments" to that heritage, I suspect that he is accelerating change, not slowing it.  

As I have mentioned before, sports and social issues always interact with each other, but sometimes it happens at wide intervals. At other times, like now, sports and the problems/battles of society are all over each other --intertwined. When that happens, sports writing and discussions of society have many more points of connection and the job description alters --like Jackie Robinson breaking the 'color barrier' in MLB in 1947 when it was important that prominent white sports writers like Shirley Povich and Red Smith take a string positions --which they and others did. 

Why are a bunch of billionaire businessmen trying to nickel and dime their product (the players), for a service (baseball) where the customer base (fans) is aging, getting smaller, and being lured away by multiple other service providers (NFL, college football, basketball, soccer)? This all seems so short-sighted and unnecessary.

The key word is "short-sighted."

I've written two columns recently on the enormous appreciation of MLB franchises for MANY decades. For example, Jerry Reinsdorf bought the White Sox in '80 for $20M. His team is now valued at $1.6-billion. That is a compound annual growth rate of 11.9% for 39 years. And it is wealth that compounds with capital gains --just like an IRA compounds wealth-- until the ballclub is sold. Owning a team is not just a wealth-compounding machine, it is a tax-deferred wealth-compounding machine within a legalized monopoly! 

As long as you PROTECT THE CORE PRODUCT --the game itself, and the game's popularity-- you own an oil well that never stops pumping, generation after generation. And an average MLB team also makes annual profits on TOP of all that leveraged (with borrowed money) compounding.

So, I would simply repeat your question: Wat Are These Guys Thinking?

I know what some owners were thinking before they forced the Strike of 1994: It is being tough with the union, always trying to break the union, that KEEPS that CAGR machine churning. Yet, during MLB's long period of labor peace, the game's wealth increased even more. 

The owners SHOULD have gotten an 81-game season and eaten some loses --on the order of $25-to-$30M a team while players only got 50% of their original '20 pay. 

Even within the last 10 days, MLB owners --i they had a brain-- would have accepted the union's more than fair offer to play just 70 games at full pro-rata pay --meaning the players would only get 44.4% of their expected '20 pay. And the players would have accepted any gimmick to increase revenue that the owners cooked up --certainly expanded playoffs and possibly even grotesque ideas LIKE WEARING CORPORATE PATCHES ON UNIFORMS!

The owners last offer was 60 games. So they are arguing about almost nothing in comparison to the kind of wealth creation that owners have gotten in recent times --the average team increased from $600M to >$1.6Bcame in the last SIX YEARS.

Right now, it looks like the virus may have the last word and cancel the '20 MLB season (if I had to bet on the final outcome). If MLB, with lots of natural social distancing, can't manage to stay healthy enough to play, how can the NFL?

It's a fluid situation with the potential for new treatments and, eventually vaccines. But the last count I heard --with more tests results expected-- the Phillies already have five players test positive and three members of their staff.

Here's Barry's fine column on the subject.

My feelings: There's no rush. If there's no season, in whatever sport, we'll "get over it" and, in a year, or whenever our "new normal" arrives, we'll move forward --and right back into our love of sports.

The only truly bad outcomes are not lost seasons and lost money but damaged health --and even deaths for those in and around the sport-- for the sake of games.

We have industries in precarious shape in the U.S. where employees need their jobs badly and owners don't want to go bankrupt. THOSE industries face complex questions.

The NFL, MLB and NBA are NOT industries of that type. They are all rolling in money. They can afford to err on the side of caution.

During the weather delay in Sunday's golf coverage, CBS replayed last year's final round. Hearing fans on the course again was totally annoying! You'd think the CBS producers could push a button to mute the crowd once you hear the whack of the shot. I hope they can keep it going since team sports aren't going to happen.

 

In all of WWII, there were 4-Ha!

Unfortunately, I think the "new case stats" are absolutely dismal for the return of the major sports.

Scroll down a little and take a look at "Daily New Cases" for Florida. The increase is exponential.

This is what the beginnings of a raging epidemic look like. Florida, Texas, California and Arizona, as well as Georgia, SC, La and others better watch out.

A lot of states --and states where many are hoping to mplay games or reopen leagues-- are living in a fool's paradise. The average number of Covid-19 deaths per million in population in Texas, California, Florida and Arizona are 76, 140, 148 and 184. No wonder many people there think "What is the big deal?"

The death rates per million (and still going up, though slowly now) in NY, NJ, Conn and Mass are 1,605, 1,463, 1,195 and 1,148. It's NOT JUST New York.

Right now, the three counties in the U.S. with the highest death rates per capita are all RURAL counties in Georgia. If deaths-per-million in the huge states which are just being hit end up in the 1,000-to-1,500-deaths-per-million --and we aren't even through the FIRST wave yet-- the numbers will be mind blowing.

In World War II there were 405,000 U.S. combat deaths.

The current population of the US is 330M. The math is scary. If, after this first wave and whatever second wave we have, the average number of deaths per million is 1,228-per-million --less than the average of NY, NJ, Conn and Mass already have-- then Covid-19 will top WWII as a killer of Americans.

I think we better worry more about wearing our masks in the places where it's called for and less about how soon the Nats, Caps, Wiz and Skins play again. (Although I plan to stay interested in when those teams will return, too.)

Treatments that reduce death rates for those that end up hospitalized --and some have been found-- as wel as the speed of coming up with a vaccine change the shape of the future.

But it is the DANGER of the near-term future that our country --or much of it--seems to be willfullly ignoring. Granted, my wife and I are in a "target demographic" for this pandemic, so I'm focused to it. So, I apologize (a little). But not a lot. 

Prior to 1920 (and Babe Ruth) were the baseballs in use actually dead? Or was it more a case of using balls until the covers almost or literally fell off? Perhaps it was just the pitchers scuffing, spitting on or cutting the ball? Was this overuse extended to returning foul balls to game play? Thus, rather than the horsehide being extra juiced last season could it have been more a case of new balls being put in play seemingly after every other pitch? What is the ratio of balls provided to play a game by the home team in the modern era compared to the "beanbag" era? Aside from hitting the ball over the wall was the game actually made more interesting by the two juicing eras? If doing it to the ball was favored by fans why was doing it to players frowned on as cheating?

The ball was literally made differently. To increase home runs --following the popularity of Ruth's home runs-- the specifications for manufacturing the balls was significntly and deliberately changed by MLB.

A lot of old timers --like Ty Cobb and writer Ring Lardner-- HATED the new "lively ball" and said it would ruin, or had already ruined the game.

I think baseball has officially been "ruined" at least a dozen times --including about FIVE "ruinations" that I have covered. There has NEVER been a time when I wasn't told that baseball was dying" or that young people didn't play it anymore, or watch it anymore or like it anymore.

Those predictions have not only been universally wrong, they have been backwards. MLB has its problems. But I don't think anything that is happening now is going to "ruin" it.

Someday, though it doesn't always feel like it, there will be a post-pandemic, new-normal period. And it will resemble the Old Normal about 20 times as much as it resembles some "new" future. Things will change. That's important. Much, much more will remain essentially recognizable, or "the same" to the degree that anything stays the same. I try to tell myself to relax and even enjoy things. America has been through worse --much worse. Honest. But there are just days when it doesn't feel like it.

The flip side of that coin is that these are definitely times, maybe even moments of mutation, when it would be wise to take the actions that increase the chances that we get a future about which we can be optimistic.

Nooses in NASCAR? the 'President' complaining (again) about Kaepernick and/or Goodell (who finally grew some courage). Golf played in a rising hot spot where one player tested positive and surely more will, Washington DC Football removing the Marshall statue, but sill oblivious of how their name plays into all this, and on and on...and on top of it all (for us locals), MLB can't seem to agree on 10 stinking games? Oy what a mess - a lot to address and clean up.

Yes, a lot to "address and clean up," as you say.

But it is in times like this that we see progress toward those things BEING addressed and GETTING cleaned up.

I'm from the philosophic school that "the times are permanently bad." They always have been. They always will be. That's why there so much credit, and so much courage required, in trying to change and improve them ANYWAY. 

In 1969, as a seven-year-old, I fell in love with baseball at Jarry Park in Montreal. The story of baseball for me began then, with countless episodes to follow, many agonizing or even heartbreaking, but some wondrous, and others humorous. To pick just one sample: in the first years after the move to Olympic Stadium in 1977, an oversized but thin Padre rookie nailed a fastball. As it continued to rise in a beeline over the center field fence more than 400 feet away, the entire stadium emitted an unrehearsed, collective gasp at the unprecedented display of power. That was Dave Winfield as a rookie. The transition to Washington Nationals fandom was effortless for me, as I lived in DC for a while in the 1980s, and have lived in the U.S. ever since. The story arc also seemed a seamless continuation, with glimmers of great hope dashed again and again as the team improved. Finally, finally, after 50 years---exactly--we were the team of destiny, to the very triumphant end. For me, a lifelong story was completed. Long story short? For me, and I suspect for many others, while we certainly can continue to enjoy baseball in the future, it really doesn't matter a great deal if they never play again, at least until it is really safe to go out and mingle again, if and when that ever happens. I couldn't care less about the players' and owners' competing interests and stopgap measures. The struggle to safely reopen many other vital businesses is vastly more important.

Thanks. Lot of good memories, and points.

It's a "when" it happens, not an "if."

Glad to offer a little space for ruminating and ranting. We all need it.

I'm probably going to cut this chat a little short. Gonna rest my eyes. I've got eye surgery on Wednesday. I have something called a "macular pucker" which is not uncommon in people between 55 and 75. It cut the vision in my left eye from 20-25 to 20-70 --which means the top line of the eye chart is blurry-- in a hurry. So, reading, writing and chatting have been kind of a strain for the last five weeks. (That's my excuse and I'm sticking to it.)  I'm told it is "routine" and, after a few days off, I might be back at work in time for next Monday's chat. "Routine" is a word I am currently very fond of --reassuring. Because the first part of the surgery is --my paraphrase-- "suck all the gel out of your eyeball"-- so they can fix three things with laser surgery, then fill your eye ball back up with something else. That's when I stopped asking for more details. "So, is my eye going to be better?" Oh, yeah, definitely going to be much better, maybe/might get back to normal or, who knows, some people are better afterwards. Nothing to worry about.  

A doctor friend told me, "You're lucky this isn't 40 years ago --they couldn't have done anything like this back then." So, I feel lucky about this. If I'm not here next Monday it just means I'm a little slow on the recovery. But I plan to be.

So, see you next Monday at 11 a.m. And thanks for all your great questions and thoughts.

I must have “missed the memo,” as they say, but why does it suddenly seem that the DH will be coming to both leagues, assuming the players and owners can reach an agreement on a season? Why now, after all these years of arguing?

The union has always wanted it --more high-paying job. Broad-brush: An NL has eight everyday players, five starters and three key relivers who are "important players" and can make big money. That's about 16 out of 25 (or 26 with new expanded rosters). An AL team has 9 + 5 + 3 = 17 key players who make the big money. 17 is better than 16.

So, you say --intelligently-- aren't the players just going to split up the SAME payroll? "New money" is not going to be invented to pay those extra DHs. Yes, that's right. It'll just be divided up. But players don't mind if the Rendon, Strasburg contracts get nicked a little --or whever the nip and tuck is-- they like the idea that there are 15 more spots (in the NL) when, if you can just HIT you can make more money.

Example: Say that either Howie Kendrick or Ryan Zimmerman or Asdrubal Cabrera or Eric Thames DON'T "get old fast." Say that they remain excellent hitters for several more years --or just one of them does. That full-time DH, or 500 PA DH, is going to be worth $10M+-a-year, no matter how old he is. Last year, Edwin Encarnacion (34 HR) made $17M to DH and had a $12M contract for '20 at age 38. Nelson Cruz hit 43 HRs as a DH last year and made $14M and also had a deal for $12M this year at 39.

As I wrote in a column last month, the Nats are (accidentally?) constructed as if they were an AL team WITH the DH. Look how well they played WITH the DH in Houston in the World Series.

...they're getting ready to play when all other students are away from campuses. Since there are amateurs--no union, no protection. All risk to them and no rewards.

You're right --that's ugly.

But after all the positive Covid test at LSU (30 players in quarantine) I wouldn't be betting on seeing college football.

NFL players are PAID to take risks, they have a union and they don't HAVE to play in '20.

College football players are being asked to play for --what-- a free non-education (in many cases) and a chance to get sick, or contribute to getting others sick.

Hi Tom, Binge watching old Letterman episodes, and noticed you were a guest in April '83, promoting your WS book. So, '83 book/book tour, '83 Os, '83 'Skins, '84 move to columnist. Helluva year, yes? But back to Letterman: who was better company back in the green room, George Miller or Zippy the Chimp? My money's on the chimp.

OK, the Zippy the Chimp story has to come out one last time. So, I'm on Letterman. They're pre-interviewed me for all the funny stories from my book that I'm going to tell Dave, who's a big baseball fan. It's Dave's birthday. I ask who's on the show with me --they say "Zippy the Chimp." The chimp comes into the Green Room with its trainer. Pretty big chimp. Very big teeth. Chimp comes over to introduce himself --kind of pursing his lips. (I wonder if this story has gotten "better" with the years. But the next part is completely  accurate.) 

It's a smallish room. I'm not too crazy about the chimp. Somehow, at some point, I'm talking to a Leterman person and they say, "That's Zippy who bit Meryl Comer (a well-known TV anchor woman)." Then they tell a story --which I believe now to be exaggerated-- that Zippy went to "kiss" Meryl and chomped her cheek. Of course they tell the story like its horrible. Maybe it was. Never have gotten a chance to meet/ask her.

So, I'm a little nervous and go to the men's room --far from Zippy, I hope. I'm killing time, but rattled. Then I look down and I've leaned up against the wash stand and gotten water all over my pants leg --light gray pants where it really shows clearly. "OMG," I think, "I'm going to go out and Letterman is going to say, 'I know it's a big deal for a young sportswriter to be on my show, but you didn't have to pee in your pants."

"How long until I'm on," I say. Maybe a minute. Whatever. I climb up on the sink, trying to get the air blower that dries your hands to dry my pants. I'm never going to make it. The guy comes back and says, "Zippy is knockin' 'em dead. Dave's going to keep him on for another segment. Take your time."

I was warned that the worst thing in show business is to "follow a roller-skating chimp." Everybody loves 'em. By comparison, humans are a bore. Well, I loved Zippy --and do to this day. I got my pants dried. I went out and survived.

To this day I wonder what would have happened if Zippy hadn't earned that second segment.        

Whoever hung that thing just makes the point further that racism among NASCAR fans needs to be addressed head-on. They'd rather have their flag and lost cause than an integrated sport.

Sometimes, nothing makes a point --then multiplies it by a million-- like one IMAGE. Or even the thought of that image.

Accordng to reports, cars drove past the raceway with Confederate Flags and a plane flew over with a sign "Defund NASCAR." So, maybe the worst you can say of the incident is that it is FAR from unexpected. Maybe I'm wrong, but I think this will really unify NASCAR to move AHEAD --something Jerry said in his column that they were already making progress in doing. NASCAR has a clear choice. Move ahead into the future or get left behind. A LOT of businesses are facing up to that choice. Good.

Boz, no sports on my mind today, just wanted to say I enjoy your diversions in to music and culture, man, particularly the music. I recall when when DCUnited hired Los Lobos to play at RFK on the field post match, what wicked fun that was being near Jaime Moreno, Marco and the lads as East LA's best band, aside from The Blasters, gave us another 90 minutes , this time of great rock~n~roll. You and Mrs. B, lad too stay safely distant.

Just for you from 2017: Billy Gibbons, ZZ Ward and Orianthi do Sharp Dressed Man. Don't miss the Orianthi one-minute solo, or, for that matter, ZZ Ward on harp.

Next week, Blondie, The Lost Concerts from '77 --before Debbie "hit" and got the "look." You can see the pure Punk roots from CBGB, Max's Kansas City. (Mrs. B MIGHT have been there then --cannot confirm.)

Thanks to you and Sally Jenkins for two excellent pieces on U.S. Open golf, fathers, and, well, life. I loved the writing and thoughts and, with those subjects involved, Dan Jenkins gets thrown in to make it even better. Yesterday was my birthday, so many thanks to you and Sally (who has been on a roll with her recent columns) for a sweet birthday present!

Thanks. Dan, in his late-80's, was the best smart-ass on all of twitter. And proud of it.

Speaking of sports and the rest of life intersecting, welcome your thoughts on the Cal Griffith news from Minnesota.

Sat next to him on a press bus on way to a post-season game once when he was, imo, old and senile, or close to it. He asked where I was from. I said "D.C." It was like I'd hit a button --he started on a rant on why he'd moved, etc., full of "N" words. Maybe worst I've ever heard, certainly from anybody you've ever heard of. I've mentioned this before --long ago.   

The final nine for the RBC tournament was as good as it gets. No ‘It’s in the hole’, one fine shot after another, deft putting, and one small slip-up, and you were no longer a factor. The way golf could be, and not focusing on the 376-yd tee shot. No question here, but maybe the coronavirus makes us aware of all sports has to offer, and not just watching a golfer bludgeon his way to a 66.

If there were never any fans, would 10-under-par for the week ALWAYS get you a tie for 48th place --as it did at RBC?

And would a four-round total of 263 leave you a shot behind?  

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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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