Ask Boswell: Tiger Woods at the Masters, Nats Season Opener, Donovan McNabb, Redskins, Caps and more

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Thomas Boswell
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, April 8, 2010; 11:00 AM

Washington Post sports columnist Thomas Boswell will be online Thursday, April 8 at 11:00 a.m. ET to take your questions about Tiger Woods at the Masters, Nationals Opening Day, Donovan McNabb, the rest of Major League Baseball, the Caps, Redskins and his latest columns from Spring Training.

Submit your questions and comments before or during today's discussion.

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Lightning round: Tom,

Some yes or no for you.

1. Nationals get #1 pick again this year? 2. Skins make playoffs this year? 3. Tiger gets a Top 10 finish at Masters? 4. Haynesworth gets traded prior to draft? 5. Double bonus:Sandra Bullock gets a divorce?

Tom Boswell: Good morning. And a great one here in Augusta with Langer and Marino (N. Va) now at -3 in the early lead after 9 and 6 holes respectively. Also, Tom Watson -2 through 6 holes.

Lots of subjects. Good day for that Lightning Round.

1. No, the Nats will probably lose 91 games, give or take a few. The bullpen doesn't look like it has even one dominant arm. Not worse than last year, but far from a strength and maybe an early-season worry. Strasburg will help give the rotation some backbone around game 60. They're not as bad as they look now, but, as Rizzo knows, they are still far from good. They need to go from 59 wins to 81 to be a .500 team. If they get to 70 wins this year, they are half way. And I suspect that's about where they'll be, though the first 40 games could be ugly. I'll guess the six or seventh pick in '11. Heck, the '07 team had zero talent and only got the No. 9 pick.

2) Despite all the historical evidence of the way fine QBs at McNabb's age make a dramatic improvement in their new teams, I still think 8-8 would be quite an accomplishment. So, I'll go with "no" for the playoffs. But there's certainly movement in the right directiopn.

3) Tiger, yes, Top 10.

4) I suspect Shaanahan has made his point and doesn't actually have to trade him. No, I don't think they'll get that done because they sure won't give him away after all the money that's sunk in him.

5) Don't care. Hope we get to the point soon where we don't care about Tiger's private life, either.

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Rockville: "Lose one for the Tiger?"

The good thing is that people can say anything they want.

But it also helps to make sense.

Tom Boswell: When you feel something you've never felt before, that's usually material for an interesting column. I've never, ever felt that it was inappropriate for someone to win an event. And, as I said, I don't like the feeling. But I suspect a lot of people will be scratching their heads over the weekend.

On the other hand, it's going to be wonderful to see Tiger The Golfer -- that's the interesting part of him -- on display again.

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Opening Day Furor: Boz, what's your objective take on the Philly fans taking over Nats stadium on opening day? I also read where the Nats paid the Red Sox to stop in DC Saturday to play the last spring season game at Nats Stadium. Is that uncommon? To me it smacks of the attitude this owner and President have about local fans - an attitude bordering on disdain. How sad. This is a great market and if they put a decent product on the field, fans would come. In big #s. And they wouldn't have to market to Phildelphia fans to fill the stadium. I was hoping that the Nats would be better by now 6 years into their tenure in DC.

Tom Boswell: The Nats handled Monday very badly. Kasten's only experience is of sports in Atlanta where he started working for Ted Turner when he was in his early-to-mid-20's. He still has a surprisingly poor feeling for the Washington area and seems tone deaf on some issues. When something blows up in your face as dramatically as the Opening Day fiasco, it should be a hint that you should try to get a better feel for your community before you invite thousands of Phillie fans, in buses, to your "home."

How on earth can anybody be shocked that Philly fans are much different than any other group. For whatever reasons over the decades it has become their collective identity to boo. So, of course, they're proud of it. They booed Santa Claus. It's their badge of perverse honor, in part as a response to all the bad teams they've had. Of course, you could say that their booing may have helped them keep losing. But it is nuts to think you can have 10,000+ Phils fans, or maybe 15,000, and not have them realize that they have a unique chance to show off their famous bad manners. Partly it's just their "act." But it was really ugly with all the "You S*ck" chants as the Nats were introduced on Monday.

If it didn't make you mad, you're not a Washington sports fan. The Nats need to take a lesson and never have it happen again on Opening Day. Ask for the Mets or Braves or Fish, not the Phils, until/if you have a good enough team and a big enough fan base to stand up for yourself.

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Washington DC: I don't get all the uproar over Opening Day and group sales. The Lerner's are just following the Pirates playbook for making money in the new MLB. Keep payroll low and recruit visiting fans from power clubs. You gotta give props to the sales team for actually calling Philadelphia groups - Brilliant! The Lerner's however, thank their lucky stars that they're close to Philly and NY and not stuck in western PA. Why won't you and the rest of the weak DC sports media just acknowledge these facts and report these truths?

Tom Boswell: I wrote that column last summer. It's the greatest fear of DC baseball fans that the Lerners are far more bottom line conscious than they admit and that, with big-market ticket prices, pluis that $23-million local-TV deal from MASN (Orioles) and all the revenue streams from MLB, that they don't have anywhere near enough sense of urgency about fielding a credible product.

I'd say they've made progress in the last 18 months. But still not nearly enough. They are patching with second-line free agents -- like Marquis, Capps, Pudge -- until the Plan works from the bottom up. But besides Strasburg, Storen, Espinoza, maybe Norris, and Maxwell (if he gets straightened out), it's not a high-quality farm system.

Rizzo is the only one, maybe, who has a true sense of how long this is going to take and doesn't blow smoke. It's always been part of Kasten's job here and in Atlanta to be part salesman and part defender of the owner. Turner presented an entirely different set of Nightmare Owner issues, but the lesson Kasten took from Atlanta is that every ownership is difficult in different ways and you have to find a good-soldier way over, under or around it. But it leaves him wearing rose-colored glasses that can look foolish at best.

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McLean, Virginia: During the winter I researched some of Ryan Zimmerman's fielding statistics on baseball-reference.com. If my memory serves me, of Ryan's 65 career errors, 48 were throwing errors. I researched the available numbers on some great fielding third basemen from the past, such as Brooks Robinson and Mike Schmidt, and their ratios of throwing errors to fielding errors were nowhere near what Zimmerman's were. Do you know of any other third baseman whose main fault, like Zimmerman, was throwing the baseball rather than fielding the baseball?

Tom Boswell: Great point. Throlwing has always been Zimmerman's (only) defensive flaw. At times, it's scary enough to make the name "Knoblauch" jump into writers minds. But that seems to be behind him. Part of the reason is that he really likes throwing to Dunn at 1st base! Who'd have guessed. Dunn's one strength, right from the beginning, is that he has good hands on low throws. It's a knack. He has it. In one inning last year, he saved Zimmerman two erros on low throws. That seemed to be a turning point. Zimmerman also loves the Big Target. He says, "How can you miss him?" It's partly psychological, but so what? Dunn really does look huge on a baseball field -- dwarfs the other "big" guys. So, when Dunn looks bad on a ground ball, remember that Z'man's throwing has improved with him over there.

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Sec 114, Row E: The Bos, Day 5 of the MLB season and we finally get a chat! Thanks - and I have to admit, Kilgore is doing a great job.

Tom Boswell: Adam's doing a wonderful job. I'm addicted. He's a baseball nut, loves the game and respects the people he covers. And he'll be tough doing the proper reporting, I'm sure, on things like the Opening Day mess.

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Martinsburg, WV: I love your talks. I am concerned about the Nats pitching after the first two games. I remember you mentioning in a previous talk that you wished that the Lerners had given their general manager a 10 million dollar larger budget so he could have signed some better pitchers for the 2010 baseball season. Do you still have the same regrets?

Tom Boswell: I always said, and still say, that they needed to add TWO free agent starting pitchers out of the large pool that was available. And both on two-year contracts. In essence, two Marquis-level pitchers, not one. If both work out, great, then you have X, Y, Lannan and Strasburg on the way. Then the FA contracts roll off the books after '11 if you've developed better pitchers -- Zimmermann, Detwiler, the '10 top pick, Wang, etc.

But when you have the WORST pitching in the league and had 98 games started in '09 by pitchers who had ERAs over 5.10, one new arm (plus Livan at the last minute) wasn't enough. Who, specifically, could they have gotten -- easily. Doug Davis, the lefty the Brewers signed for one year for less than Marquis-money. The Nats could have had him for two years. He's mediocre. Maybe both he and Marquis, after many consistent years, will pick this year to fizzle. BUT it's still the right thing to do.

With $10M more in the budget, the Nats would have had the option of thinking about other RF solutions. Would they done things differently? Don't know. But they'd have had the choice. More money, and not much more, makes the whole 100-piece puzzle easier to solve.

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Do you think Stan is still telling Phills fans to come on down?: Boz - A group of us have had a package to Nats games since they moved here. Everyone dropped out this year but two of us. On opening day we left Kensingtion at 10:45. Walked in the gates at 1:30 - YES 1:30!!!! Sat on the South Capital bridge for an hour and a half. I'd say the stadium was 70% Phils fans at least. Terrible game day experience - no concessions in the stands, ran out of everything. Team lost 11-1. Could the Lerners have screwed this day up any worse?

So,were we the fools for not dropping out?

Tom Boswell: I knocked Stan last year for going on the radio in Philly with his "come on down" pitch. A total miss-read of Washington. I know he read it. I guess he's stubborn and didn't like the message; so the Nats ticket people -- doing their job as ordered -- doubled down on the original mistake.

I've gotten tons of e-mails from angry Nats fans, and with good reason. I want to look into whether concession stands were really understaffed and other complaints. Hard to believe you can screw up a celebration like Opening Day that badly. Of course, if they'd lost 5-4, the tone of the day would have been different -- but not a LOT different.

Selig was right. The crowd was maybe 1/3 Phils fans. But, to their credit, after being outcheered in some early pre-game showdowns with Nats fans, they took over after their team started pounding Lannan. It would have been fun to see how the cheering battle would have gone if the Nats had woin 7-1. (They do actually win games sometimes, 59 of them last year. It wasn't written on stone tablets that they had to lose by 10 runs on Opening Day! Sometimes losing teams can go a whole season with only one or two games where they are outscored by double digits.

No, I dopn't think you are fools. You have, or soon will have, more fun players to watch on this team than I ever diod growing up -- Zimmerman, Dunn and Morgan are special. Desmond is on a pace for 162 extra base hits and 162 errors. That should be interesting! And, of course, after they settle down, Lannan and Marquis, plus Strasburg, ought to provide plenty of games worth watching this season.

But I was watching the Caps-Pens here the other day with Barry Svraluga and we both said the same thing: It is just so annoying to start several Aprils in a row the same way. If they don't win a few, this will be five creaul Aprils years in a row. It takes so much fun out of the game. Every fans loves to "suspend his/her disbelief" as long as possible. If you are 35-42, you can still fool yourself and enjoy every game. Delay reality. But if you are 27-50, the energy gets sucked out of the season.

So, does Stammen change the team's mood and the mood of our chats, starting at 4 p.m. this afternoon? Ya never know.

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Long Island, NY: Tom, Today's Master's column is one reason why you are the first read during the majors. I belonged to the Tiger's a little "off" camp, but now I get a little different picture and may be inching over to your camp. The frustrating thing is that we have to be told by insiders that he is a good guy. He doesn't realize that he can still control access while giving the fans a little more without being a grump or privacy freak. Tiger should model his public behavior from JFK Jr. (in NYC no less!) rather than Charles "I am not a role model" Barkley.

Tom Boswell: I haven't had time to scan the comments on that column yet. That's a new feature I enjoy. I've been an Internet chatroom fan for nearly 15 years, so I know how to ignore the trolls and cranks and find the posts that are worth reading, including those that strongly disagree with what you wrote. Feedback is really good. And I didn't expect this column to go down smoothly. Glad you liked it.

I promise that, this afternoon, I will write about Tiger's GOLF! That, at least, I have a lifetime of experience at analyzing.

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"With $10M more in the budget...": Bos, Forbes is reporting that the Nats had $33 million in operating income (Earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization). It looks like they have the $10 million to spend, they just didn't do it.

You could argue that they could still spend it. Sign Jared Washburn for the rotation and Jermaine Dye for RF. Are they great options? No. Are they better than what we see now? Yeah.

Tom Boswell: Yes, those are the "ballpark numbers" that I mentioned in my column last year. The Nats can't avoid making money. Every time the Phils, Mets, Orioles, Cubs, Cards and several other "good draws" come to town -- much less years when they get a series with the Yanks or Red Sox -- they are going to average 28K-to-30K just by opening the gates. When you have 25-to-30 games that sell themselves, it is tempting to preach "patience" to your customers while practicing "profits" for yourself.

I've almost never met a team that couldn't claim it was losing money -- at least on their books. Once, long ago -- I won't say under which Oriole ownership -- the team claimed it was losing money and I wrote it that way. A part owner of the team took me to lunch, showed me the team's internal books and said, "We're making plenty of money." Two sets of books? My memory fades. I can't quite remember. But I promise you there are teams that make $20 million, by any common-sense business definition of the term, that can "prove" that they lose $20 million.

The Nats have the money. Don't let them off the hook. I won't. Dye is a terrible outfielder. I'd rather give Maxwell a full shot as soon as he gets warmed up at Syracuse. He's 26. You need to find out about him. If he can't cut it, if MLB pitching is just too tough for him, too bad for everybody. But you need to find out.

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No. Va.: Hi, Tom. Thanks for your column on the Nats' opening day, which I spent with a lot of happy Phillies fans. Many things about what happened off the field are still stuck in my craw, and after being part of a season ticket group since 2005, I think I'm done with the Lerners and Stan K. Would you comment on Mark Lerner's recent remarks (reported yesterday by Dan Steinberg), that the team's owners see the Nats not as our local team but as America's Home Team and "absolutely the finest venue to see the Capitol lights at night." Is this really their vision for the Nationals?

Tom Boswell: Great. I'll have to see that.

Recently I walked with a top executive of a MLB team all around Nats Park. He said it had one of the "five best upper decks in baseball." But he was worrified by the red tent on top of the gargage in leftfield thjat blocks lots of views and was amazed that the Lerners had put it up there on purpose. Also, he said, "What is that one building beyond leftfield that blocks the view of the Capitals from so many seats in the upper deck."

I said, "That's the Lerner's own office building (20 M Strtett). They thought that lots of others would get built, so it wouldn't make a difference. But nobody else built. Anmd now that office building is empty."

He just shook his head.

So, I'd just say that there would be about three times as many views "of the Capital lights at night" if the Lerners themselves hadn't blocked them. And continue to do so with the garage tent (to high-end fet season ticket holders), that blocks about 800 Gallery level seats.

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Washington, DC: I may be in the minority here, but I'm sick and tired of hearing about Tiger. Tiger coverage is everywhere.

I care more about Kate Gosselin's performance on Dancing with the Stars (a show I don't watch) than I do about Tiger.

Please stop the madness. Let's disuss something more interesting than Tiger's return to golf. He's the best golfer of this generation, if not ever, but an utterly flawed human being. He is returning to the sport that made him rich and famous. He'll probably do well, now or with time. End of story.

Tom Boswell: After today, my Tiger coverage switches to a Need To Know basis. I've tried as hard as I can to write "only" three columns on Tiger between Thanksgiving and coming here. I don't deserve an award for restraint. But I could've done worse!

It's not a big story because he cheated on his wife. That's nothing (except within his own family). It's everything else. He earned a billion dollars by cultivating a totally fake public image for 13 years. He sold himself to the public as one thing and turned out to be radically different. He saturated the ad world with con-job advertizing. He became the most famous athlete in the world, and one of the most famous people, through false marketing (as well as great golf). That is a big story.

Long ago, on Thursday and Friday here at the Masters, there was a different knockout woman wearing a "Mrs. Floyd" badge to get into the tournament on the two days. Everybody got a big laugh out of it. Ray, who announced his retirement here this week, wasn't married at the time. There wasn't even one Mrs. Floyd. But his playboy image was real. He didn't deny it. He enjoyed it. After he married, he settled down.

If you are a great athlete and pretend to be something that is the opposite of who you really are, that's going to be a big deal, especially if your whole sport rides on your "image."

However, this is also a sign of our nosey times. Long (long) ago, there was a famous (married) golfer who fooled around on the road. As an old British writer told me the story yesterday, this star and a journeyman pro shared a motel room in Texas during a tournament (different era indeed). The phone rang in the middle of the night. The journeyman answer. "Is XXX YYYY there?" said a Texas voice.

"No, he's out," said the golfer.

"I know he's out. Because he's out with my wife -- again," said the voice, though more colorfully than that. "You tell XXX that I know your motel and I know what room you're in and I'm coming with my shotgun. Will you tell him that?"

"Yes, I will," said the journeman. "Please, just remember, I'm the guy in the bed next to the window."

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After all the damage he's done to golf, a win at the Masters would give Tiger Woods an almost too easy return to the game.: Tiger damaged golf? Um, insofar as Tiger IS the sport of golf, I guess this is correct.

Tom Boswell: Tiger's done a ton of good for golf. He's taken back about a thousand pounds worth.

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Washington, DC: I have this uncomfortable feeling that Mike Shannahan is really a Rocky Mountain version of Tom Coughlin: cranky disciplinarian and uncompromising taskmaster unloved by his players, who will tolerate him as long as they're winning. What's your take on Shanny?

Tom Boswell: No take yet.

So far, I've loved how he's handled the Haynesworth situation. There are hundreds of reporters here, most probably cover many sports. When Haynesworth's name come sup, they just can't believe that anybody would sign a $100-million contract, $40 million of it guaranteed, then show up out of shape and -- under a new and successful head coach -- defy him right to his face about as simple a thing as "Show up and get in shape at our 'voluntary' workouts."

If he shows up next season any bigger than he was last season, they are going to have to change the name of his new position from nose tackle to *&^%$ tackle.

This is a quiz. What is the five-letter word (not profane, just insulting) that I just can't bring myself to type, though Barry is sitting here laughing and egging me on.

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Tyson's Corner: Boz, My wife and I were at Opening Day and watched last night's game on television. The ambiance of last night's game seemed to be totally different from that on Opening Day. No blocks of Phillies Phanatics. Carpenter and Dibble said that there were a lot of walk-up ticket sales last night. While 27,000 attendance is not a sellout, it's not bad, particularly for the worst team in MLB.

Tom Boswell: This was a GROUP PACKAGE problem. The issue, the catalyst, was that big chunks of Phils fans got to sit together, perhaps have a beer together, and feel save in being as totally obnoxious as they chose. That's why they sounded like more than 1/3 of the crowd. If they'd been mixed in at random, they'd have been loud, like Red Sox fans on Saturday night. But it was lumping them -- inviting them to be a cheering section -- which was so stupid.

What are hundreds of Phils fans going to do if you put them together -- not sometimnes, but 100% of the time? They are going to find somebody to boo (and probably laugh right after they stop) and they are going to yell rude stuff and feel brave about it.

Thanks for the info on last night. I'm almost amazed at 27K. Beautiful night and a pennant-winner as a draw. But Game Two of almost every team's season is a low point. Don't know what to make of it because 27K sure isn't going to be any kind of low! Maybe it just shows the strength of the Visiting Team factor. It also, perhaps, proves that you don't have to sell huge blocks of tickets to out of town fans on Openingt Day. Or, apparently, let the groups have a shot at tickets -- hey, that's just what we always do -- before some of your own fans.

Well, if that's the way you do it, then find a new way to do it.

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Burke, Va: "Dunn's one strength, right from the beginning, is that he has good hands on low throws."

Dunn's strength is that he's 6'6", which pretty much eliminates any mental issues Zim might have about overthrowing his first baseman.

Tom Boswell: Yup.

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Anonymous: "Tom Boswell:...I've been an Internet chatroom fan for nearly 15 years..."

Boz invented Internet chatroom! No, seriously, has it been 15 years already? It still feels like yesterday.

Maybe a premature question - but can we expect Halladay-like dominance from Strausburg, say, soonish?

Tom Boswell: No, I sure didn't invent 'em. But by '98 (not 15 years) I was hooked on a couple.

Also, Strasburg will not be Halaway. Doc can throw all his pitches into a tea cup. I don't think he threw a pitch over 92 on Monday, just 2 m.p.h. faster than Lannan. But he "operated" on hitters. If you wanted to know the "book" on the Nats lineup, tape that game and study it. (I did and when I get home I will.)

Strasburg has control and, at times, appears to have command, too. That would be reamrkable. Buit not Halladay command. At some point, I'll wheel out the first-year stats of some other young power pitching phenoms. If, in 15 starts, he's, say, 5-5 with a 4.00 ERA, that'll be good. Seriously, that's about what I expect. It's Year Two that often reveals the true high potential.

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Feel free to disagree...: ...but I find using the voice of your late father to help scrub your tarnished public image an act of grotesque cynicism.

Earl would be mortified, by Tiger's conduct and this latest ad.

Tom Boswell: Oh, I haven't seen it yet. But lets say that my initial reaction to hearing about the ad was not good.

At least for now, the Tiger "brand" is dead whether Nike likes it or not. Woods needs to work on his problems, play good golf and act nice to people. Forget about selling golf junk for a while. Give it a rest. (Not that Nike would know how.)

Last night, I remembered a line by Red Smith about the impact of the itinerant life -- temptations, general decadence -- on journalists: "The road will make a bum of the best of them."

In a sense, the road made a bum of Tiger -- at least for now. In his case, it was the road to the Players Suite in Vegas.

You are your habits. Earl didn't say that. But my father did. In fact, he said it was just about the only thing he'd learned in his life that he was absolutely sure of. When your habits deteriorate, over a period of years, you erode, too.

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Boz: I had no idea until a couple of days ago that the Masters is the only event where press are not allowed inside the ropes. I've never noticed coverage of the Masters to be missing something that is found in other events. I've often been annoyed when I attend an event and am blocked by press inside the ropes. Assumiong you think there is some benefit to allowing reporters to walk inside the ropes, please give a specific example of how this access benefited me, your reader. Thanks.

Tom Boswell: I'd say that at least half of the columns of mine that you've read in the last 30 years included material that I couldn't have gotten without being inside the ropes.

When Mickelson blew the U.S. Open at Winged Foot, I was just a few feet from him on every "trouble shot" and heard everything he and his caddie said, even when TV wasn't "on" them. And when he twice ran up the fairway to see where his shots landed, I was running 10 feet behind him.

The only such mom ent I can remember at the Masters was in Tiger's first year when he hooekd a ball into the trees to the left at No. 9 and was outside the ropes so I could be a few feet away. He was on the way to shooting a front-nine 40 on Thursday and blowing himself out of the tournament. There was a delay. He got to his ball, then went into a crouch, on his haunches, and for several minutes, while there was a delay to clear the green, he held his head in his hands, almost a fetal position, and stayed motionless. Meditating? Composing himself? Literally "holding himself together.

He got out of the crouch and shot 30 on the back. That's 40-30--70. And, of course, he won that Masters.

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Ames, Iowa : What's your take on the MLB Network? I think it's a fantastic thing and a great way for the sport to appeal again to younger folks. For all that baseball has done wrong, they're clearly leaders in using their website to get games to fans all over the country and cable TV to celebrate both its past and present.

Tom Boswell: MLB is doing a fine job with MLB.com and with MLB network. Though they don't have me hooked as much yet as I'd thought they would.

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Silver Spring, Md.: Boz, The Nationals' handling of Opening Day clearly was a fiasco. The logical extension, I suppose, of Kasten's gracious invitation to the Phillie hordes last year to come on down. It wasn't only the group sales mess, but the way the Nationals failed to do anything about the most vile behavior of some of those Phillie fans. Yet, there's been no statement, much less an apology from the Nationals to what's left of us Nats fans, other than Kasten's incredibly evasive and tone deaf email responses to Kilgore's repeated questions. Now, Forbes reports that the Nationals had the third highest earnings in MLB last year. I've been a defender of these guys against the litany of charges - "cheap, amateurish, arrogant, in it for a buck", etc. Can't do it anymore. Are the Nats fans wrong about being PO'd about Opening Day? Should the Nats at least say something in the face of great fan anger over this? Is this anyway to build a fanbase? Are these too many rhetorical questions?

Tom Boswell: The Nats should apologize to their fans for their performance on Opening Day. They don't need to be specific about what they screwed up or what they will change. They need to say, simply and clearly, this was an unacceptable experience for far too many of our fans. Our customers are always right. We hear them. We're sorry. We'll do better.

That's it for this week. Maybe by next Thursday The Nast will have a winj, both Campbell and Haynesworth will be traded for draft picks and we'll know whether Tiger can still play golf. Okay, we already know the answer to the last one. Cheers.

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22202: Hi Boz, Thanks for your great work and great chats.

Had a question about NCAA expansion. It looks more and more like expansion is going to happen, but I don't really understand the vitriol that underlies the opposing position. Giving more teams the opportunity to win is good. There will be more close games in the tournament, which is good. I don't necessarily love college basketball because it is great basketball, and this is watering it down; I love it because of the passion, the different schemes, and the close games. This gives more opportunity for that.

So the question is, how much do you think the fact that the NCAA is driven by money makes people hate the idea? I think the fact that the NCAA and other actors involved want more money makes people initially be put-off, but that doesn't mean the idea itself isn't good, unlike the BCS. Thoughts?

Tom Boswell: It's a horrible idea. (Money aside.)

Why? Northern Iowa. Butler. St. Mary's. Cornell. All in the Sweet 16. With a bigger field and a tougher road, not as many get "deep" into the tournament. And the Sweet 16 is deep. The final 64 or 32 isn't.

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