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Ask Boswell: Nats, Orioles, Redskins and More

Thomas Boswell
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, September 3, 2009 11:00 AM

Washington Post sports columnist Thomas Boswell was online Thursday, September 3 to take your questions about the Nats, Orioles, Redskins, Tiger Woods and the latest sports news and his recent columns.

The transcript follows.

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Arlington, Va.: Can you believe the Redskins are suing season ticket holders who have to cancel their seats because of bad economic times? Is this common practice in the NFL? Then add to that, what do you think about the lawsuits when the Redskins are re-selling the seats anyway?

I think it's time to boycott the Redskins. What do you think of having the Redskins just charge a $1,000 admin fee for the effort it takes to replace a change in a season ticket holder?

washingtonpost.com: Washington Redskins React to Fans' Tough Luck With Tough Love (Washington Post, Sep. 3)

Tom Boswell: Unfortunately, I can believe it. Easily. There's nothing out of character here.

If anything, James Grimaldi's excellent series on the Redskins and their tickets takes you close to the heart of this franchise. And why it has had so many problems for the last 10 years. This is business __and these Redskins are above all a business__ that simply does not have a core set of respectable values. People aren't treated right. Evryone who leaves, including a Redskin icon like Bobby Mitchell, says, "What a place to work. Unbelievable," on the way out the door. Whether its the price of parking or rousting the tailgaters or suing little old ladies who can't afford the tickets they signed a contract for __when you claim that you have 160,000 people on your "waiting list" that WANT those tickets__ its all of a piece. And it makes it tough on the players and coaches to function __and win__ in this environment. And it makes it tough for lifelong fans to continue to root for a team they love.

I learned long ago that you have to seperate owners from the team's they control __or you're going to have a mighty short list of team you can pull for.

I wish my late father were still here so he could give me his thoughts on the way Snyder is running the team that he rooted for from the day it came to town right through all the Gibbs' Super Bowls. He saw every champion from Baugh to Rypien. He and my son and I even got to watch a few Redskin games on TV together __three generations. When my wife and I got married, my wife said, "I get 'design rights.' I think the Redskin trash can is going to have to go."

You're got a grandmother, who's worshipped the team all her life, saying the team has sued her (and won a $66,364 judgment) at a time when she's on the verge of bankrupcy. You have the team legally pursuing a guy over tickets who has a severe mental illness. And then there's the guy who was sent to jail and tried to cancel his tickets with the Redskins and Nats. The Nats sent him free tickets. The Skins sued him.

No, you really can't make this stuff up.

I grew up on awful Washington owners __George Preston Marshall, Calvin Griffith and Bob Short. Shirley Povich raised hell about all of them, as he should have. But it's a tradtion that doesn't seem to want to die. What did we do to deserve this? Even the owners who are good people in other respects, like EBW and Abe, seem to run onto the rocks when they buy a pro sports team. Either they meddle too much or they don't spend enough or they are too loyal to mediocre employees. It's always something.

Against this backdrop, Ted Leonsis and the Caps are a true light of hope. Maybe the Lerners __Mark Lerner is on the Caps board__ will follow the bright side of the Force.

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Gambrills, Md.: I was disappointed by Stephen Strasburg's reported irritation at the amount of media attention paid to his first pitching performance in a Nats uniform. Doesn't he realize this comes with the territory? It can only get worse from here on out.

Tom Boswell: He seemed to handle his media day at Nats Park quite well. Just a first impression, but he seems more than smart enough to be a successful pitcher. Intelligence is almost essential in that job. (Almost. There are exceptions.) I think he was just shocked that there'd be a mini-mob in Florida. He needs to get used to it. He didn't get a low-profile agent. He (through Boras) wrestled over money until the final 77 secoinds before a deadline __making him a national news story. He could have gotten at least $12M out of the Nats the day after he signed. There'd have been a lot less attention if he'd settled for somewhat less money. But you can't blame anybody for wanting the extra few million. Maybe he thought it might be an extra $10M+. But money, controversy and media go together. If you don't want the kleig lights, then don't sign with the Yankees or don't have Boras battling for you.

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Boston: Aren't there two sides to the competition equation--what you do and what your opponent does? Isn't there an element of Tiger's opponents learning to win against Tiger over time and not just Tiger learning to lose (or losing his playing edge down the stretch). Other players haven't given up on the first tee of the final round knowing Tiger was a lock to win as in the past. The word competition is derived from "com" (we) and "petio" (strive/question) so isn't it fair for us to question both Tiger and his competitors?

Tom Boswell: Good point.

Tiger's opponents in future are certainly going to be given an enormous amount of hope by the wins from Wang and Slocum, neither in the world's top 100.

In my column on Tiger, I noticed that some of those who commented pointed out that "Tiger finished second. That's not bad. That's not losing." I promise you that to Nicklaus and Woods, finishing second IS losing __if they felt the had a reasonable chance to win. If somebody laps the field by six shots, that's different. But if Tiger has a 54-hole lead in a major, or is in as good a position at the Barclays as he was, he thinks he should win.

In Nicklaus' 1-for-17 slump in the majors from age 36-through-39 he was constantly on the leaderboard. He had four runner-ups, two thirds and two fourths. It drove him nuts. Every year we all had to write stories on "What's wrong with Jack?"

I think Tiger will have much less of a problem. He's younger. He's better than Jack. And he has Jack's record as a target. BUT his "misfortunes" in the last month have certainly brought up one of the most fascinating recurrent questions in golf: Is Tiger learning to lose? Because everybody does. If nothing else, age eventually whispers in your ear and says, "Buddy, it isn't like it used to be anymore." I think Tiger's going to overcome the problems he had this season __and he had all kind of problems, not just one. Putting problems (PGA), swing problems (British Open) and course-management problems (Masters).

This just makes '10 that much more interesting. Great athletes love challenges. I assume Tiger will look at it that way and feed of it. But I followed Nicklaus around a lot in '76-'79 and saw his frustration up close and the variety of causes for his near misses. And watching Tiger this season, I promise you that one thought kept coming back over and over: "I've seen something like this before." We'll see how it plays out.

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Capitol Hill, Washington, D.C.: Boz:

I think you or others in the media predict that Willingham will be the full-time left fielder next year. The guy has power but isn't he a little too "streaky" to be given the full time job? Seems like a nice guy but I'd prefer a guy with a guy with a little more consistency (and the same goes with Dukes!).

Tom Boswell: Sluggers are often streaks. I might even say "usually." That's why they play 162 games.

Until recently, Dunn had a 50-games streak where he slugged .699 and hit over .355. Now he's cold. That's just the way it goes. You have to milk the streaks as long as possible and find a way to get out of the slumps as quickly as you can. Zimmerman, so far, is doing a great job of not cooling off from his post-All-Star game hot streak.

Dunn, by the way, won't even say the word "slump." He has a long history of tailing off in August and september. At 280 pouns, maybe he just wears down. In April, he remarked on it __said something like "in August and September I go fishing." He was criticizing himself. Maybe by "fishing" he even ment expanding his strike zone. Anyway, his great August is a big improvement over his past patterns. If he can have even a half-decent September he'll have a huge break-out-to-a-new-level season. The Nats stole two sluggers last off-season __a near-great one in Dunn and a very good (and previously underrated one) in Willingham. A lot of thing have gone wrong this season. But that went very right.

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Fairfax, Va.: Who do you think will be more productive this season: Malcom Kelley or Devin Thomas?

Also, what is your opinion about possibly trading Todd Collins for a decent draft pick? What do you think we could get?

Thanks for the time.

Tom Boswell: Kelly seems to have more talent. He has speed and is even bigger than Thomas __6-4, 227 to 6-2, 215. However, the receiver everybody is watching is rookie Marko Mitchell (6-4, 218). You saw him go high for a TD catch from Chase Daniel. He got 40+ yards downfield to throw a key block on Cooley's 72-yard reception against the Pats.

Mitchell is a No. 6 pick, so he has to "overperform" to beat out the higher picks __Thomas and Kelly. That's not how it should be. And it's not how it is on some very self-secure teams. But many teams, including the Redskins, just hate to look dumb on their high draft picks. So they give them extra leash to make it or break it.

You have to keep Collins. Neither Daniel or Brennan is an NFL quarterback. Or at least not any time soon. If Campebll gets hurt or fails, you have a chance with Collns in '09. With the other kids, you're doomed. And this is a team with plenty of old players, especially linemen. You can't waste a season because you didn't have a proven backup.

Brennan's biggest problem in getting the 3rd-string QB spot is that his biggest mistakes against the Pats were from the neck up. Nobody should ever throw a 99-yard interception return TD -- especially in the flat where the guy can just burn it back up the empty sideline. Everybody knows this. No excuse is good enough. It's a 10-point play, at least. Almost as bad, late in the game (24-24), the Redskins were in field goal range and Brennan took a third-down sack that made the FG attempt -- which was missed -- longer than 50-yards. This is how you turn a probable win into a possible loss -- with one bad judgment. You have to see the field, know where you can throw the ball away if the play breaks down and then have the presence of mind and quickness to throw it away, if necessary, and take the FG. Big mental mistake by Colt. He's young but he's not that young.

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Washingtonian in New York, N.Y.: Bos -

An observation regarding the Redskins: I've often wondered, with everything I learn about business practices of the Redskins, from suing fans to firing coaches when they are 7-7 (see Norv in 2000), why I don't just listen to the voice in the back of my head and boycott and switch to the Ravens or Steelers, whose management I envy. I mean, if any other corporation acted like this, I'd stop buying its products right away.

But you are right, that it's so easy to separate the team (and my memories) from the corporation. I remember being an 8 year old kid, watching Doug Williams lead the Redskins to a 35-point, second quarter, 11-0 in 1991, Gibbs return, etc, etc. The memories and emotional connection, even just the habit of setting aside every Sunday from Sept-Dec for the Redskins, I could never follow through w/a boycott. And so many fans feel the same conflicted way. And so we'll all keep giving Dan Synder our money, fill that stadium, and nothing will change.

Tom Boswell: You've got it nailed. That's why it's so ugly that Snyder apparently thinks he can take advanatge of the love of the Redskins that his fans feel -- and that he did absolutely nothing to create -- and abuse it.

Fans of the Ravens and Steelers are lucky, indeed. The contrast to the current Redskins is brutal. However, you can't change the past or your personal history. Loyalty to a lifelong team is very strong. I never had a Ravens trash can and much as I respect them I never will.

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Bethesda, Md.: Boz- how much Caps coverage will you be able to do this season?

I always enjoy your columns!

Tom Boswell: As much as they deserve. Last year, that was a lot. I hope that's the case again. They've got me hooked.

Besides, I need to talk some baseball with Bruce. He'd a huge fan.

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Arlington, Va.: I put my son's name and mine on the Redskins waiting list when he was born seven years ago. About two years ago we had somehow miraculously jumped from No. 92,000 on the waiting list to being offered tickets. I turned them down and ever since the Redskins have been repeatedly soliciting me to buy season tickets. If they sell out every year how could I jump 92,000 places in line in five years? The whole waiting list is a fraud. I bought Nats and Caps season tickets instead and they treat their fans like customers, not like cattle!

Tom Boswell: I have heard stories like yours over and over.

I think the odds are roughly a-million-to-one that the Redskins representation of their "waiting list" would meet any realistic definition of candid.

They say that you don't know who's swimming without a bathing suit until the tide goes out. Well, the Great Recession certainly hit some Redskins fans hard, as you'd expect. However, with respect to the waiting list, the use of ticket brokers and law suits against some fans who have hit hard times, the Redskins suits have been caught without their bathing suits. And the tide is definitely out.

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Ryan Zimmerman:: Why not try me out at shortstop? The Nationals don't have need a good SS. The Orioles did it with Cal. Can I do it, too?

Tom Boswell: Cal was a good third baseman. Zimmerman is one of the half-dozen best defensive third basemen I have ever seen. Zim is at his perfect position now. You don't move genius. (Cal became a genius at SS with his footwork, study, anticipation, fabulous hands, gun arm, soccer-goalie reflexes). Zim is behind Brooks Robinson, Graig Nettles, probably Mike Schmidt and, someday, I'm probably make the whole (short) list. His throwing problems -- not bad, but not fixed either -- and his habit of getting out of the way of smashes and playing them off to the side prevent me from moving him up higher.

Yes, he could probably play a decent SS. But he plays a fabulous SS. I want to watch him there for many years.

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Miami: Tom, Love your articles. You're one about the Nats' first spring training some years back in particular was fantastic.

My question, after reading the article about the Skins suing their fans, is how much is too much with the NFL? I really enjoy football, but it seems the past few years in particular it is 24 hours a day 7 days a week. Last season I decided to stop going to bars to watch the games, and stop reading about Terrell Owens and Michael Vick and Chad Ochocinco and it was good.

The other professional leagues, although obviously driven by business as all leagues are, have become so much more enjoyable to me in the face of the NFL. My love for the college game has risen exponentially. For every good story about the league and its players there seems to be 10 bad ones. Is there a limit to when people will be turned off, because the more they do, the more we eat it up?

Tom Boswell: If I were just a football fan, and didn't cover it as part of my job, I'd tune out more than half of all NFL news. Because a lot of it will make you want to get 100 miles away from it.

People who are paid to do extremely violent things, make huge amounts of money and are spoiled and given special treatment form an early age are not a group of people that you'd pick to be model citizens. And the worst of them are going to be pretty horrible. It's probably remarkable that so many NFL players are worth admiring.

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"I promise you that to Nicklaus and Woods, finishing second IS losing": Or the classic quote attributed to a Royal Navy officer standing by Queen Victoria as they watched the first America's Cup race in 1851. As the yacht America crossed the finish line to win the cup that would bear its name, the Queen supposed asked who was second. "Your Majesty," the officer is said to have replied, "there is no second."

Tom Boswell: Thanks.

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Section 205, Row K: Bos,

The Nats need to change their between-innings fare from baseball's version of reality TV (Kiss Cam! Muscle Cam! Bored Spectator Cam!) to honest-to-goodness baseball. Just got back from San Diego, and their between-innings offerings included highlights, bloopers, retrospectives, and -- this was terrific-- a list of all pitchers in the bullpen with the date they last pitched.

We're not at the ballpark to get VH-1 or Bravo: give us baseball, please!

Tom Boswell: I absolutely agree. Kasten loves the "something for everyone" approach. But you can take it too far. Washington is a town with a baseball learning curve that needs plenty of work. Any between-innings-education, properly packaged, would be a help.

Don't sell Washington fans short. They are very knowledgeable about sports. And want to know as much about baseball as they do about the NFL, etc.

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Redskins and Contracts: Let's not paint this as a good guy/bad guy situation. Contracts are contracts, and people who affix a signature to one and then complain about the ramifications later can look in the mirror for blame. Whether it's the Redskins or any other pro team.

You might want to ask the Advertising Department at the Washington Post (or any other local print or broadcast media organization) how they feel about advertisiers who try to back out of contracts.

Tom Boswell: This is a variation on the lame Redskins response -- it's the fault of both sides...equally.

No, it's not. Yes, the fans bought the tickets, sometimes for amounts of money that most of us would consider insane. But it's the Skins who have gone completely over the line in their response. The story this morning listed nine teams that wen on record saying they would never sue their own fans over tickets -- Ravens, Bengals, Packers, Texans, Jgas, Giants, Jets, Seahawks, Titans. Many teams did not respond to inquires, but some/many of them may have the same sane policy.

The Caps said they could not think of a reason to sue a season ticket holder. If the season ticket holder fails to make payment, the team cancels the tickets and resells them. For a team like the Redskins, which CLAIMS to have a huge waiting list, this is obviously the only civil and sensible business position.

Even if they had no waiting list at all, it would be the only long-term-smart business practice.

Can you imagine how many Redskin ticket holders are now digging out their contrcts to see what their obligations are? Nice PR.

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Arlington, Va.: Do you know what is the overall level of talent their is in the free agent market this winter? Who are the big names? Do you see the Nats finally taking the plunge to at least pick up some mid-level players?

Tom Boswell: This list, off the internet, isn't up to the minute. But it should help some.

Starting pitchers (that might fit the Nats): Jason Marquis, Braden Looper, Jon Garland, Livan Hernandez, Kevin Milwood, Carl Pavano, Joel Pinero, Randy Wolf. Of course, I was on the Wolf, Garland, Lopoper bandwagon, in that order, all last winter. Now they'd cost more, especially Wolf.

Lot of others. That's why some of the above might fall. John Lackey, Tim Harden, Tim Hudson, Cliff Lee, Brad Penny (back strong for SF last night), Brandon Webb (hurt), Brett Myers (hurt). If some of these have signed long-term deal in mid-season, lemme know. Free agent lists interest me but aren't my specialty.

Relievers (tougher to find 'em): Rafael Soriano (Atl), Jose Valverde, Mike Gonzalez (Atl), Fernando Rodney. Also, oldesters Billy Wagner and Trevor Hoffman. Kevin Gregg (Cubs, out of favor). J.J. Putz.

Outfielders: Xavier Nady (31, next year, Boras client). Some Nats players are already lobbying to get him for RF. Ordonez, Dye, Abreu, V Guerrero, Geoff Jenkins, Randy Winn. A lot of them are too old, etc.

2nd: Orlando Hudson.

SS: Khalil Greene, Marco Scutaro, M tejada, Bobby Crosby (not promising.)

Just to prime the discussion in future weeks.

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Capitol Hill, Washington, D.C.: The Park Factor at Nationals Park is much more pitcher friendly this year. What's going on?

Tom Boswell: It changes more than you'd think from year-to-year for lots of parks. It'lltake a good five years to have a good line on Nats Park. But they avoided their main fear: a cheap homer park that would damage the development of their young pitchers in future. The O's suffer from this gopher-ball problem in Camden Yards. Saw the five by the Yanks on Tues. Ouch.

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San Diego, Calif.: I saw the Nats at work at Petco on Monday night. That night -- and the series just completed -- are as much a puzzle to me as the rest of the season has been. Although Nyger Morgan was out (I'd looked forward to seeing him play; didn't know about the broken wrist), the lineup isn't all that bad, and certainly not 88 losses bad. I have to believe there's good chance for a return to .500 ball or better next year.

Tom Boswell: The Nats looked awful in San Diego. And they, like the Orioles, have a tough in-division schedule the rest of the way. Right now, Riggleman and trembley look secure in their jobs for next year. But if either or both teams truly collapse, then they won't be back, imo.

The O's have the tougher schedule and just lost Adam Jones on top of trading Sherrill and Huff. The Nats have lost Morgan, have Guzman out, nobody hitting, Dukes getting picked off and over-throwing cut off men and a bunch of hit-the-bat kids in the rotation who may be going on fumes. My guess: It's going to get early-season ugly for the Nats. For a while, I thought they might avoid the No. 1 overall pick in the '10 draft. But I think they just locked it up in San Diego! Though KC seems determined to quit when Grienke isn't pitching. Hard to be the worst team in baseball when you have the possible Cy Young winner.

As for Nats, Livan may help. Would it be against the law for the Nats to score three-runs-a-game when Lannan pitches? I don't see how the O's even play .400 ball from here out -- 16 games with Yanks, Red Sox and Rays, plus (probably) two painful dental appointments with Dr. Halladay.

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Chevy Chase, Md.: a slightly more national question, but what do you make of Joe Mauer's year? I feel like I'm watching one of the great individual years in baseball, and hardly anyone in the national media has made a peep about it.

Tom Boswell: He's having a Mike Piazza year. But without the cloud of suspicion.

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Washington, D.C.: Tom, the thing that really hit my about the Redskins ticket story was that the Redskins would sue a ticketholder for years worth of future ticket prices, recover that judgment, not give those tickets to the ticket holder even though he or she has now paid, and then sell those same tickets to someone else. Double-dipping! Pretty outrageous.

Tom Boswell: That was one of my "favorite" parts, too.

Just when you think the world can't surprise you. A sports team NEEDS its fans at a far more heart-and-soul level than a company that makes sofas or TV sets. How can you just burn up goodwill like this and not even seem to know that you are doing it.

As with Six Flags, we may see that -- over the long run -- the Synder-as-businessman story may have been oversold.

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Baltimore: Tom,

Love your stuff. One of your previous answers about Tiger and age whispering "it's not as easy as it used to be" reminded me of something Tony Kornheiser said to Bill Simmons on a recent podcast. He was talking about how he was grateful that TV and radio came along so he didn't necessarily have to confront when his writing wasn't improving any more. When he got to the point he knew he couldn't do any better.

And without implying anything, do you ever worry about when you might "lose it"? If you'll know, etc.?

Tom Boswell: Okay, as an obnoxious lit major, I'll point out that lyric poets often burn our their "inspiration" by age 40, like math, chess and cancer-research geniuses. Once talked to a leading oncologist about this. Said he had to get his life's work done "by 40," then coach the next generation, raise funds for research.

However, those who work in prose -- fiction, journalism -- tend to get better with time. Their work may change -- but that's good. More range of experience, better frame of reference, deeper desire to be fair and less self-infatuation. Hemmingway said that, to be a good writer, you had to have a "shock-proof sh*t detector" about your own work. I think they bleep-detector gets better with time. However, I think the poetic flights of fancy, the purple prose, shouldn't be forced. You have to wait for that muse to show up, not fake it.

Last night on PBS, I was watching the series on American Classics on Dalton Trumbo, the black-listed screen writer who gave up "Exodus," "Roman Holiday," "The Great One," "Papillion," and so many others. I was surprised that, the older he got, the better I liked his work -- less florrid, more depth of conviction (probably the only gift granted by real suffering).

Oh, you get it. Writing is one of the few professionals where history clearly says there is no reason to quit and no reason not to get better. And no reason not to keep changing. Just one view.

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Washington, D.C.: How many years in total do you think Albert Pujols has to play at the level he's been playing throughout his career so far to be considered an automatic hall-of-famer? Or do you think that right now, should his career end tomorrow, he'd be a lock for the hall?

Tom Boswell: He's a lock.

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On the Waiting List: It looks like I'm on the Redskins waiting list. Not by choice. The only way I figure it is a few years ago my wife took her son to Redskins training camp. You had to go on the internet to print a "ticket" and of course give other info.

Now I get mail and e-mail all the time begging me to buy a package. They even had a special day at FedEx "Just for Me" so I could pick out my seat.

Waiting list = fraud.

Tom Boswell: Interesting.

I may be the only person in Washington who has not given his "info" -- name, address, etc. -- to the Redskins. So maybe I'm the only person in town who is NOT on their "waiting list."

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Nady = Tommy John surgery: Almost certainly will not be ready for the start of the 2010 season

Tom Boswell: Thanks.

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Baltimore: Question re: Redskins ticket behavior and the good of the NFL: Is there any way the franchise ownership can be disciplined by the league for conduct detrimental to the entire business enterprise that is the NFL, or can Snyder simply do what he wants, no matter how it tars the entire league in a season where we may be looking at a fair number of home games being blacked out?

Tom Boswell: I doubt that the NFL would dare try to prevent an owner from "enforcing a contract." It's the Redskins right.

That does mean it IS right.

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Frederick, Md.: Mr. Boswell,

Have you had occasion to spend much time w/the Redskins owner? Do you think he will ever get "it" in regards to how to run a football team? Also, is he really as uncaring and mean spirited towards his fan base as it seems he is from the outside?

Tom Boswell: I've always been one of the declining number who held out hope for growth. Partly because, until he went to almost entire radio silnce, I got to deal with him at times. hen he was first owner he was almost humble. Unsure of himself, how do I do the right thing. He's gotten beaten up so much over the years that it may have hardened him: I'll show 'em. I'll do it my way.

In a way, I've always kind of liked him and felt a bit sorry for him. I take some kidding/abuse for that from my peers. I'm always the one trying to explain him, understand him, give him another chance, rather than just call him wiseguy names and dismiss him as a lost cause. Hard to explain why/how we react to peoplke at a gut level. When he brought Gibbs back I really thought he'd learn some lessons. It's really hard to be around Joe for four years and not come out better for it. But he appears to have managed it. Too bad. He's going to be around a long, long time. But it's never too late to grow up. Seriously, it's not. People change. They amaze you.

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Mission, B.C. Canada: Hi Tom, Are the Orioles on the right track in their rebuilding program? If their young pitchers improve, do they have enough hitting and power to become a winning team again?

I am not optimistic they will have a winning record in 2010. What do you think?

I enjoy reading your column and look forward to it.

Tom Boswell: I was talking to MacPhail the other night. Jeter walked past Trembley by the cage and congratulated him on all the O's good young talent and how hard they played. Dave said, "Thanks very much." The O's went out and roughed up AJ Burnett for six quick runs. Pie hit one out the other way and Scott almost hit the Warehousewith a three-run homer.

Final verdict on the night? The Yankees hit five homers, pounded an O's rookie pitcher (Hernandez), then finished the job on their lousy bullpen. And swept the series the next night. O's have one 20-homer man. The Yankees will end the year with eight.

For the O's, trying to get over .500 in the A.L. East is like trying to climb Mt. Everest in combat boots.

It can probably be done. But don't bet much on it.

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D.C.'s Most Interesting Sports Figure: Boz,

Who, in your humble opinion, is the D.C. area's sports equivalent to the Dos XX 'world's most interesting man', and why?

washingtonpost.com: Video: Dos Equis: The Most Interesting Man in the World (2009) (You Tube)

Tom Boswell: Ha! I hate that ad. It defines almost everything I find uninteresting in people.

But then I can't speak Russian...in French!

See you all next week. So many good question I couldn't get to. Cheers.

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Gene Mauch-style Nats Fan: What are those crazy red necklaces many of the Nats pitchers wear? Can't they get rid of those ugly things? What are they? Where did they come from? And when are they going? They obviously effect the young pitchers' abilities.

washingtonpost.com: Phiten Official Store: Titanium Necklaces, MLB Necklaces and Titanium Bracelets (Phiten.com)

Tom Boswell: Research needed!

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Washington, D.C.: Boz,

I've been mystified by Elijah Dukes' regression this year. It seems like he swings at everything now. So I checked FanGraphs. Last year, he swung at 44 percent of the pitches he saw, under the league average of 46 percent. This year, he's swinging at 53 percent, including 29 percent of the time when pitches are out of the zone (compared to 20 percent last year).

Do the Nats have any explanation for this dramatic shift? If just swinging less often could take him back to 2008 results, he's a pretty scary hitter in the No. 6 spot ...

Tom Boswell: Nice stats. I'll try to tell Eckstein and Dukes on Friday.

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L'enfant Terrible: What a delicious coincidence that the O's and Nats became the first two teams mathematically eliminated from playoff contention on the same night. I don't think there's been another instance of such regional putrescence in my lifetime.

A quick look at baseball-reference.com reveals that both Chicago teams finished in last place in 1948, and Boston had a pair of truly awful teams in the 1920s. But other than that, I don't know what compares.

They said we couldn't support two teams. They didn't tell us it was going to be the two worst teams.

Tom Boswell: "Terrible,"

Nice point, as always.

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