Live Nationals baseball or opera on the scoreboard?
First of all, let me just say I'm honored to be subbing for Tracee here today. Let me also say that my opera background tends to get -- shall we say? -- a little embellished in sportswriting circles, no doubt as a result of the sheer novelty of it. So while I will try to answer as many of those questions as possible, I am by no means an expert -- just a guy (a tenor, to be precise) who used to sing a little back in the day, and who may, on a really good day, still have a decent high C.
But these days, as the golf analyst David Feherty once said, I only sing opera to punish my kids.
Anyway, this is an easy first question: Live Nationals baseball, by a mile.
Do you have any favorites?
My favorites would all be tenors, of course. All-time favorite: Jussi Bjorling. I also love Mario Del Monaco for the big, meaty, dramatic roles (Canio, Otello, etc.)
Hey Dave -- Love the work, but hate your anti-Midas touch. Given your interest in writing books on Strasburg (injured) then RGIII (injured), do you have any future books? Perhaps we could interest you in a book on Kris Medlen or Eli Manning?
Yeah, I've gotten this one a lot lately. Most of the time, some wisecracking friend will simply ask that I let him know in advance should I ever decide to write a book on him. As if.
No, the so-called Sheinin curse is nothing more than a grim coincidence for which I take no blame.
And for those whose are in the dark (shameless plug alert!), I do have a book on Robert Griffin III's rookie season coming out in August. It's called RG3: The Promise, and you can pre-order it pretty much anywhere. (Including here: http://www.amazon.com/RG3-The-Promise-David-Sheinin/dp/0399165452)
As we sit here today, with the Nats at 39-38 and the Braves at 45-34, what do you think is the likelihood of the Nats winning the division?
I'd say there is still a decent likelihood -- not a GREAT likelihood, but a decent one. But they need to get Bryce back ASAP, and one more extended absence by him would probably torpedo the whole thing.
I still don't buy the Braves as a 95-win team (or even the 93-win team that they're currently on pace to be). I think they are eminently catchable. I also don't buy the Phillies as any sort of contender at all.
So it's there for the taking, and at the risk of sounding too much like Boz here, I think the Nats are due for a 22-7 month any minute now.
(By the way, sorry the chat has just now gone live. I've been chatting away here for the last 10 minutes, but apparently I needed to hit the "play" button to make my answers go live. Don't you hate amateurs?)
Not being confrontational, and I certainly can't claim to have read the book, but as a journalist, what can possibly be the purpose of spending time writing a book on a 23-year-old QB who really hasn't accomplished anything of note other than a lot of ad contracts and media interest and potential? Lots of players have blown into pro sports only to see their careers ended quickly by injury or their talent figured out by other teams or self-destruction. No books about them. Why now other than commercial purposes? Is the story really that intriguing that there's more to tell us that we don't already know from the already incessant coverage?
Fair questions, I suppose. However, I would hope you would read the book before passing judgment on the purpose of it. I suspect there are plenty of people who feel Griffin is a compelling enough figure for a book, even at the age of 23. It is not a straight-up biography, although it is partly that.
You say he hasn't accomplished anything, but I beg to differ: He rejuvenated one of the NFL's flagship franchises, won the offensive rookie of the year award and established himself as one of the most popular and fascinating athletes in the country.
Who do you think is on the trading block for the Nats? My top candidate is Drew Storen. After the double shocks of Pete "8 strikes and you're out" Kozma in Game 5 last year, and the acquisition of Soriano over the winter, he's one guy that could strongly benefit from a change of scenery, and the nats could get value for him. Also, if they can get one decent outing from Haren after he comes back from the DL, maybe someone can be bamboozled into taking him, especially if we eat much of the salary A(or take their salary dump guy). What do you think?
I could see why you would say that about Storen, but really, Davey finally has his bullpen set up the way he wants, and that bullpen is going to critical -- just as it was last year -- for the stretch drive. I doubt the Nationals would be anxious to mess with the back end.
Of the 32 nfl franchises, how many would you consider to be flagship status?
Great question... Let's see: Packers, Steelers, Cowboys, Patriots, Redskins. Maybe the Bears? Dolphins? Giants? Vikings? Raiders?
Anyone want to help me out here? Obviously, the criteria are pretty well undefined.
I think that you have to get the opera bug by age 8 to have a real lifetime love for the art. I grew up in a household that loved opera - we had all of the London Records Tebaldi/Del Monaco/Siepi Verdi recordings. Having heard a lot of Del Monaco growing up, at least on recordings, I appreciated the old joke "You've heard of bel canto? Del Monaco can belto" Great technique, little subtlety. Probably my favorite opera of all time is Boito's "Mefistofele". We had the complete Siepi/Del Monaco/Tebaldi set, (as well as the Norman Treigle set, which I consider definitive). As an adult, I got a highlights recording from an abandoned project that featured Tebaldi, Siepi and Giuseppi Di Stefano, and Di Stefano's performance blew Del Monaco out of the water. Oh well, different strokes for different folks. Besides, my all time favorites are Feodor Chaliapin, Boris Christoff and Norman Treigle (alll basses for you non-opera fans) so what do I know about tenors... Section 405
I will defer to you on Di Stefano > Del Monaco. I only know that I absolutely love the power and depth in Del Monaco's voice.
Unfortunately, I didn't really get into opera until college. My only familiairty with it as an 8-year-old was through Bugs Bunny. ("Kill da wabbit! Kill da wabbit!")
Shanahan's history in Denver was to draft young running backs, run them to death, toss them aside, and repeat. Since RGIII is a running quarterback, is his strategy the same with him?
I'd certainly like to think Shanahan is smarter than that. I don't believe he is trying to use Griffin up, then toss him aside. I think that, whether it's true or not, the Shanahans truly BELIEVE the offense they have designed for him will keep him healthier than a more typical NFL offense.
You might want to try and get out of the DC area for more than a few days in baseball season. Being in the military and being transferred around the country every 3 years, no one outside of the DC area believes that the Redskins are a flagship franchise.
Let's put it this way: The Redskins WERE at one time a flagship franchise. Three Super Bowl titles between 1982 and 1991. To this day, only five franchises have won more Super Bowls (Dallas, Green Bay, Pittsburgh, San Fran, New York).
The Irish Tenors or The Three Tenors? Personally, I'll take Vince Gill.
I'll take George Jones, may he rest in peace.
Again, not confrontational, and you're absolutely right about all RGIII did do for the franchise ... may already have done more had he not been left in stupidly when Cousins proved he could lead the team but that's hindsight ... anyway my question is in light of all the media hype already about him (wedding registry??) what do we learn from the book that we didn't already know? Most of the hype is media generated remember. Love your stuff i just get cynical when hype becomes over hyped. Get off my lawn.
I mean, I'm about as biased as is humanly possible, but I think there is plenty you will learn from the book that you didn't already know.
Do you call him RG, Griffy, Griff, or Robert?
When I see him, I typically call him Rob or Robert.
So Anthony Rendon will be in the starting lineup for the next 15 years or so, right?
Man, I sure hope so. He's fun to watch -- in an entirely different way than Harper is fun to watch. Count how many times in a game he "squares up" a ball -- not just line-drive hits, but screaming foul balls down the line and hard grounders and line-drive outs.
Should be NE, MIA, BAL, PIT, DEN, NYG, DAL, GB, CHI, NO, SF and until Peyton left IND
I can buy most of those... Should have had Denver and San Fran on my original list. Not so sure about New Orleans.
If in the reporting for your book on RG3, or anyone for that matter, you find out something that would normally be immediately reported in the next day's paper, can you write about it? Like if RG3/his agent/his family complained to you about how they were dealing with his knee injury prior to the last playoff game, could you write about it immediately or have to wait to put it in the book?
Well, the question is moot, since the book is done and is being printed more or less as we speak. But if that scenario had come up during the reporting, and if the information was highly newsworthy, I would have gotten it into the paper immediately. That's partly out of loyalty to my employer, but also because whatever that information was, it probably would have come out in some other form, or in some other media outlet, before the book would be published.
Hi, Dave. I just joined the chat. I really enjoyed your piece on Trout. Would you care to comment on the relative potential of Trout and Harper? While you're at it, what do you think of young Mr. Rendon?
This was a debate that raged all winter and well into the 2013 season (the debate has been expanded in some cases to account for Manny Machado). Such a tough call -- it would be easy now, with Harper on the DL and Trout putting up huge numbers again, so side with the latter. But I tend to agree with those who believe Harper's sheer power is the tiebreaker. That type of power is so rare, especially in a complete package such as Bryce, that it puts him ever-so-slightly ahead of Trout, in my book.
Why are Miami and Denver flagship teams, but not the Redskins according to the other poster? I see a lot of Redskins gear across the country. They may not have been good in the last decade, but as a franchise I think they are very well known.
Yeah, I mean, we probably ought to establish some criteria, if we're going to debate this properly. I would certainly think Super Bowl titles is the No. 1 criterion. National marketing reach would be another. Hall-of-Fame players. A long, rich history. Those would be my main criteria.
I have a bunch of old vinyl opera records my Grandfather used to give my Grandmother for birthdays, anniversaries etc. Kept them but never cared about opera until I discovered his little notes to her inside the record jackets. Gave it a whole new perspective and sitting there listening while imagining them sitting there listening to the same record ... priceless. Relevant to sports because sometimes I'll listen while watching the 'Nats. SO there.
That is so awesome. Thanks for sharing.
It seems that you are totally ducking Mr. or Ms. Non-confrontational's hard-hitting questions. Be a man and admit that you are purposefully writing books that people might want to buy.
Uh, well, yeah, I wouldn't want to waste my time writing books that no one would read.
So, how 'bout them O's? They keep flying under the radar, they keep getting slighted with AP and re-run Sun stories here (despite there still being a decent contingent of WaPo readers who root on the O's), they still got a good shot at the playoffs once they get their starting pitching straightened out, they got a handful of the most exciting players in the game (including 4 who would start the All-Star game if voting ended today), oh, and they got a better record than the Nationals despite playing in a much tougher division. Ain't the beer cold.
I feel you, Arizona Bay. The Orioles are a great story, and they've built a core of position players that almost any team in baseball would trade for their own. I've got a story on Chris Davis that I filed yesterday and that will be in the paper this weekend.
I'd feel better about their chances if they had one front-line starting pitcher. I see their entire rotation as consisting of 3s and 4s. (Tillman may be an exception.) At the same time, no one is going to run away with the AL East, it doesn't appear, so they will be in this thing to the end.
"In some cases" to account for Machado? Some cases? I think it's pretty much all cases at this point. Kid is on pace to break the record for doubles in a season and as he fills out those doubles will be homers, plays a borderline gold-glove defense at 3rd, and probably eventually SS (more premium positions than OF). You compare the numbers of all 3 through their fist 100, 110, 120 games and Machado's right up there.
Absolutely true, and I wrote a story on Machado a few weeks ago that brought up all that stuff. I guess I just meant that Harper and Trout have the connection of being rookies of the year in 2012, and the enormous hype entering this season. But in the past few months, Machado has absolutely made this a three-way debate.
I agree with you that Davey has the bullpen finally set up how he wants, and it's apparent that that includes using Storen as little as possible, mostly as a 7th inning guy. When Mattheus comes back, that slot's gone too. Give the guy a break and trade him. Section 405
Well said. Mattheus's return does change the entire equation.
Dave, Davey Johnson seems to go out of his way lately to discuss seeking and receiving advice from Jayson Werth on a variety of issues. Is this Johnson ribbing Werth for being outspoken in his opinions as to how the team should be run or is Werth playing an unofficial player-coach kind of role?
I'm not around the team enough these days to answer this authoritatively, but I do know that Werth considers himself a sort of clubhouse sage, and is someone who is comfortable walking into a manager's office to speak on behalf of himself and his teammates.
I can understand it, having the national media (mostly deservedly) shove the Yankees and Red Sox in their face for years, but it seems like Baltimore fans have riled themselves up into a frenzy over two and a half months of baseball. The Nats actually did win 98 games last year and the season is far from over...
Well, to be fair, it's only 2 1/2 months of baseball that have O's fans "riled up." They did make the playoffs last year, so they're not exactly flashes in the pan. At this point, they are three games better than the Nats. As you say, it's a long season, and I wouldn't be shocked if the Nats wind up with a better record. I also wouldn't be shocked if they don't.
With that, I'm outta here, folks. Thanks for welcoming me in, and thanks for all the questions. Hope to be back here again before too long.