World Series, Redskins, more -- Ask Boswell

Thomas Boswell
Washington Post Sports Columnist
Thursday, October 28, 2010; 11:00 AM

Washington Post Sports Columnist Tom Boswell was online to take all your questions about the World Series, Redskins and more.

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Tom Boswell: Good morning everybody! And I do mean morning (out here). I'm not much of a first-cup-of-coffee writer so my trademark god-awful typos and spectacular spelling ought to be a wonder to behold this a.m.

What a wonderful fun game last night! Except 3-2, get 11-7. Lee shelled, Lincecum drilled by two liners, Freddy Sanchez (!) as hero. Vlad makes two errors in RF. Uh oh. And Texas makes four errors. I'd say we have a new favorite to win this Series. And it'll probably be a long wacky one.

Sort of like the Skins-Bears game! How do you fumble six times, throw two picks and have a third interception run back for a TD (but negated by penalty) and still win on the road when you are outgained! Now THAT is a miracle win. And maybe a sign that 8-8, 9-7 or even 10-6 is starting to be on the table instyead of the 7-9, 8-8 I've used as a baseline.

Okay, lets go!


Seats: So how were your seats last night? Were you and Dave in the aux box in deep left or did you get the prime seats behind home plate? How would writing your story from those seats in deep left be affected by being so far away from the action?

Tom Boswell: Great (different) questions!

For 20+ years, from the time I stopped being the Post's baseball national beat writer in the '80's until D.C. got a team back, I was always the "second man" on the seating chart at LCS and World Series games. Cities without teams aren't "major league," so you rank a little lower. That's okay. I understand. So I was always in the aux box which was usually 420-to-475 feet from home plate. At the '86 Series, Shirley Povich, John Fienstein and I were together in the ultimate Uecker upper deck seats in Shea when Buckner made his boot. About 39 degrees. Shirley hung in, never went inside to watch on TV. At the '02 Series here I was in leftfield bleachers, hoping it would rain into my computer and blow it up on deadline. A Jeff Kent homer missed my shoulder by 6 inches. I protected the computer (like a dope) and the guy next to me got the ball. In the long view, probably a bad decision! So I've seen a great deal of the best baseball history on record from the worst, or very close to the worst, seats in the house. Damon's homer to ice the Sawx first title since eternity went UNDER me into a lower deck.

Then when DC got a team, and we were not 'outcasts' anymore, so we got normal big-league city treatment. I've gotten in the back colrmers of the fourth row of the main box a few times and very happy to be there. But we usually send 3-4 writers to the Series on the East Coast so, again, you have to play fair and the second main box seat, if you even get one, is the worst. That's as it should be, imo.

But last night all the stars aligned! We only sent two people to the coast. I expected the Aux Box nightmare. (And it is a working environment hell, especially when you file your first column BEFORE the last pitch, then send your final column for the internet an hour later.)

Sheinin and I had the best seats in the house, just about! First row of the Main, together, directly behind home plate! I went around to some of the other scribes and told them I felt like a little kid at Christmas. The last time I had seats like that, or anywhere close, was probably the '83 Series when I was the Orioles beat writer. And I wasn't in the first row then! I remember I was under an overhang in Philly's box.

Anyway, that may be WAY too much information. Sorry. But I'm havin' a LOT of fun.


Fox network's mistakes: Posting early...1 minute into the pre-game coverage and Fox has already screwed up. They opened by announcing, 'the fall classic returns to the city by the bay for the first time since 1962.' The 1989 series was pretty memorable...it featured the SF Giants and Oakland A's, and was interrupted by the Loma Prieta earthquake.

Tom Boswell: Yeah, Loma Prieta was pretty memorable, especially if yopu were sitting in the upper deck when it happened. Also, wasn't there a Series here in S.F. in '02? I seen too remember covering it. Hummmm.....


Handle Pending: Boz, I asked this trivia question in Tracee Hamilton's chat earlier today, she did not receive the right answer. I wonder if you know it, it is a bit of a trick question (although entirely legitimate). Who is the last switch hitter to win the American League MVP Award?

Tom Boswell: A switch-hitting pitcher, maybe Vida Blue. That's off the top of my head. Anybody else know?


Adam Dunn: So Boz, the Nats have a promotion where the prize is an Adam Dunn game jersey. Is this a sign that they want to keep him (why promote a guy who's leaving?) or were they just clearing out his locker and decided to hold a garage sale?

Tom Boswell: I'd guess the right hand didn't know what the left hand was doing. Not much chance on Dunn I'd still say. They've gone from 'wait until late in the season and he'll want to sign because he loves it here so much' (go ahead and beat your heads on the wall) to 'we don't really need him because Pena or somebody will be a better defender' to 'gee, maybe we should get him back so lets (finally) give him a three-year low-ball offer' back to 'ah, we probably won't get him so lets move on' to wherever they are this minute.

Not a piece of beautiful orchestration. But on Opening Day I promise there will be someone standing on first base. If this post-season shows one things it's that 'You never know.' Maybe Michael Morse plays first or Willingham and they have a bunch of 15-to-25 home guys who score more runs than last year, run the bases better and play better defense.

Or maybe they lose Dunn, their offense gets even worse and they lose 95.

Perhaps the jersey promotion was run by the same Nats department that thinks it's big-league to have those AAA pre-game bits where the fans or sponsors run out and stand with the players on the field during the Anthem. Bush league.


Fairbury, Nebraska: Great article yesterday. You kicked off a lot of animated discussion. Using your article as a starting point and (for the sake of discussion) assuming Dunn doesn't re-sign, who can the Nats sign to improve their offense and defense that will give them a lot of production for reasonable contracts? Who should they be looking at this offseason?

washingtonpost.com: 2010 World Series offers hope for mid-budget franchises

Tom Boswell: Thanks. The teams that win the most games over a 10-year period are usuially the richest ones. I'll study up on this and maybe post on it next week. But in any one year, baseball has been amazingly lucky to have so many different teams get into the World Series and many win it. It's made the sport very healthy during a time when other things (steroids) were going wrong. Marlins, D'backs, Rockies, Houston, White Sox, Angels (rich), Rays, Blue Jays ('90's), Twins, etc.

The key is usually pitching. I assume, until I see otherwise, that Strasburg will come back and be an ace of Lincecum stature. Seems reasonable. Jordan Zimmermann must pan out and be a Matt Cain type in 2-3 years. Lannan is probably a fourth-fifth starter on a contender. But they need more arms. Some, that they've just drafted, are years away or a mystery. Maya doesn't have anywhere near top of the rotation stuff. They probably whiffed there, though lets see next spring. Livan's short term.

They won't contend for Lee. It's the Yanks or Texas. He likes it in Dallas for family reasons __close to his Arkansas home__ and Yankee fans were ugly to Ranger wives in NYC and Mrs. Lee didn't like it one bit and said so.)

It's Garza and Grienke that the Nats probably aim at. But you're going to have to give up quality __a Norris, Espinoza or Desmond type and that hurts. No point in giving up Zimmermann to get another pitcher. It's going to be hard. We'll see if they are blowing smoke after the Dunn PR mess or can execute on their gotta-get-a-top--of-the-rotation-pitcher talk. I think Rizzo's very good. I hope he has enough help around him so he doesn't have to work 25/8.


Kalorama, DC: Riggleman just said on the Fan that the Nats won't contend until "maybe the middle of 2012 season". I've had partial season tickets since 2005. Why should I renew? I like Zimm, JZim, Espinosa etc but with Rizzo botching the Dunn deal and no hope that any front line starter will come here, why should I bother renewing? This organization is just pitiful. Oh, I guess we'll get new uniforms next week. yea

Tom Boswell: Kalorama,

Don't renew. (I will be renewing.) Maybe find a different team to follow. (I don't plan to change.) Or you can just join the trolls on Nats Journal who complain about everything. (They're so boring and predictable I stopped reading them. Why does stupid-or-crazy almost always drive out smart-or-sane on internet chat rooms? Oh, that's so obvious it doesn't need an answer. Talk about a "natural home" for stupid-crazy-anonymous. Too bad, because the "samrt and sane" in those places is REALLY good. You know, you have to self-police those forums by calling out the nuts and driving them away. It's classic Troll Theory right out of the Grimm fairy tale.)

I say "almost" because I certainly exclude our distinguished chatters here. (Seriously)

There have been times to be quite annoyed with the Nats. And there's plenty to nag about at any and all times, as well most teams. Okay, not the Giants and Rangers at the moment! But the Nats improved by 10 wins this year. They had one of the stories of the year in Strasburg. Harper, so far, looks like the real deal. They have a half-dozen really legit young prospects, etc.

Even mid-'12 is probably too soon to talk about "contending." Look at the win progressions in Texas and S.F. in my column yesterday. It's more likely to be mid-'13 if things work out well for them. It's a long way from 59 wins to 90+ wins. But there's been progress. There's been luck __the availability of Strasburg and Harper just when you have 1/1 picks. But with the loss of Kasten, they need to beef up plenty of parts of the operation. They're running thin.


Tight collars: Looked as if both teams started the game really tight. Only SF loosened up a bit and showed composure. Is Texas just too new to this to win?

Tom Boswell: Both teams had serious stage fright. Six errors! Lincecum looked different than I've ever seen him. The run-down blunder was the most shocking brain freeze I've ever seen in a Series. Sheinin and I looked at eachother and said, "Ever seen anything like THAT?" We probably have, but it doesn't come to mind. He would have walked a trapped base runner back to third __with men standing on first and second base__ and never thrown the ball to third at all, when he was in Little League.

A Series doesn't have to be wonderfully played to be great fun to watch. Maybe we're going to have a trick-or-treat Series with both teams taking turns screaming everytime somebody says "Booo!"

A lot of hitters got untracked last night. Multi-hit games for Sanchez (4), Huff (3), Bengie Molina (2), Moreland (2) and multi-RBI games for Sanchez (3), Uribe (3), Vlad G (2) and Nelson Cruz (2). That breads confidence. This looked like a pitching Series. Does it still? We'll see. The Rangers really need to win tonight and I think Cain-Wilson is a tough matchup for them. Cain loves to pitch here and Wilson faces a lot of RH hitters.


Gaithersburg, MD: I cannot tell you how excited I was to see the Rangers and Giants end up in the World Series. I'm a hometown fan of the Nationals and Orioles but I absolutely love the way the Rangers play. Steals, hit and runs, bunting to advance the runners, its "pure" baseball and in my opinion the best baseball to watch. Hope they can pull out game two!

Tom Boswell: The way the Rangers came back and scored seven runs showed that they aren't going away in a hurry. The two-run Cruz double __about 400+ to CF__ off The Beard was a little message that "we'll be back." Lincecum said he didn't have his best stuff, but that's what they all say when their line is 5.2-8-4-4-2-3 and you're taking line drives off the foot and thigh. He's going to be one sore Freak today.

These teams TRY to play "pure" baseball, but the Rangers actually make plenty of errors __over 100 this yuear, while the Giants had just 72-73-74. (Forget which.) That's VERY low. Michael Young at 3rd for the Rangers is a great guy, fine hitter but for an excellent athlete __he may be able to walk on his hands for all I know__ he's one of the worst third basemen I've seen. Gets to nothing. And misses some of what he reaches. Vlad has an amazing arm, but is two seasons past his expiration date as an outfielder.


Arlington, VA: Boz, do you think that given his uncanny ability to throw quality strikes, Cliff Lee is more effective against good hitting teams than poor ones? Since most good hitting teams nowadays are patient teams that take pitches and try not to swing at tough pitches, they play right into Lee's hands as he gets ahead in the count and then is able to finish them off. Could that be why he is BETTER in the post season than the regular season, and could it portend continued troubles against the hitting challenged Giants (as opposed to the Yankees who he dominated)?

Tom Boswell: That's nice. A lot of Giant hits were the result of swings at quality pitches where it looked like the hitter thought, "Hey, I can get my bat on that!" Sanchez poke double near the chalk in RF, Huff's bloopish double, Posey's flick swing at a changeup that went over the SS's head. But they smoked him in the 5th inning.

You can never tell which hitters "see the ball well" against which hitters until they actually meet. The Rangers better hope that the Giants aren't a team that just feels comfortable against Lee. As a minor example, Lannan is an average MLB pitcher and doesn't look "out-of-his-league" against anybody __except the Phils, despite all their LH hitters. But they light him up.

For example, the collective Texas career batting average against Cain is .109. Limited sample size, but not tiny. Francouer 0-for-14, so don't expect to see him in the lineup, ergo more Vlad adventures in RF.


Giants fan in Dallas: As a lifelong Giants fan now living, oddly, in Dallas, I'm realizing just how much West Coast baseball is out of the national picture.

I agree there probably isn't quite as much angst over the never-won status, like there is in Chicago. But lots of us have suffered for lots of years, hoping beyond hope that the Giants will win a Series at some point in our lifetimes. And West Coast fans really do love the game, just as much as their East Coast brothers and sisters.

Also, I'm a little weary of this particular Giants team being called a rag-tag group of misfits and cast-offs. True, it's not Bonds-Kent-Snow-Nenn. But we love them almost because of that. And, really, they are still major-leaguers, you know? It isn't as if they were drafted out of a beer league.

Thanks for taking the time to talk about this Series...

Tom Boswell: I have good friends out here who are lifelong Giants fans so, for them, I'd be delighted to see S.F. win.

Also, the "castoffs and misfits" line came from Bruce Bochy during the playoffs, so it's fresh meat to us in the media. You've got to admit that's a pretty tough tag to ignore when it comes from a team's own manager.

But his ROTATION doesn't have any castoffs or misfits! The Giants left the highest-paid player on their team off the Series roster! Barry Zito who made $16M, made 33 starts, pitched 199 innings with a decent 4.15 ERA __about the league norm. How good is your pitching when your highest paid, and perfectly decent, player can't make the team!


Berkeley, CA: Bochy seems to be pushing all the right buttons, including starting two right handers at home in the Series while Ron Washington's decision to put Guerrero in right field looks like a blunder. How much difference does a manager make or is it just a matter of execution by the players involved?

Tom Boswell: Managers matter and especially in a short series.

Washington was in a tough spot. Lee and Wilson, both LHers, have the best stuff on his staff by far. I admire Lewis, but he doesn't knock your eyes out. You don't want to risk using Wilson in Games 3 & 7 and then not have a Game Seven at all. So, he's starting LH-LH against a RH hitting team and he better cross his fingers tonite.

There hasn't been a Game Seven in the last seven Series __the longest such winner-take-all draught since '23, I think. So, maybe we get a seven-gamer.


AL Teams in NL Parks: You just stated that Vlad is two seasons past his expiration as an outfielder.

So what would you do with your DH when there is no DH? Does his bat out weigh his liability in RF? Or do you use him as a Pinch Hitter?

I love the strategy that is required by managers when the pitcher has to bat!

Tom Boswell: I'd play Vlad and hold my breath, just as Washington is doing. But of all the DHs that I can remember being forced back onto the field for a Series, Guerrero is about as much of a liability as I can remember. The whole Giant team may go first-to-third on him, despite his great arm. He just can't GET to anything. And if it bounces, he gets very, very worried. But he's played over 1500 games out there. If he has a chance to throw somebody out at the plate on a potential sac fly, you may see a highlight film heave on the money.


Vienna, VA: Boz,

Any downside to the Yankees adding Cliff Lee and having three lefties in the rotation with Hughes?

Tom Boswell: No.

To illustrate with hypoerbole, would you turn down a rotation of Sandy Koufax, Warren Spahn and Lefty Grove?


Go Giants!: Just a comment from a Bay Area Giants fan - Amazing 5th inning! And then...almost blew it in the 9th. That's the Giants for you. Emotional rollercoaster.

Great stadium, though!

Tom Boswell: You're right. There's no way the Giants just blow through the Rangers. It's not their style. They like "Sweet Torture."

Last night, Sheinin and I were looking at the scene spread out in front of us. Everybody standing at the least excuse. Ex-Giant Russ Ortiz having his picture taken with the field as a backdrop, just like a regular fan. Tony Bennett sings "San Francisco" after the first inning.

"Is this a great job," said Dave.


Handle Pending: Wow, you got the trivia right despite your early morning fog. You are the best. It was Vida Blue back in 1971. I've had that as a trivia question for years and keep waiting for a switch hitter to win it in the AL (Chipper did in the NL).

Tom Boswell: Thanks. I'll counter with one (I've used before).

Who is the only person in history to be in more than 1,000 MLB games, get a homer in his first big-league at bat, a triple in his second at bat and never have another homer or triple in his entire career?


Baltimore: Run into Jon Miller? Now that he's a HOF'er, does he still talk to you?

Tom Boswell: Jon not talk?

Not possible.

And always a pleasure.

How glad is he now that Peter fired him for not being a homer!?


Game 1: It's going to get better, right? Because last night's game was pretty bad. I was all excited that it wasn't a Yankees-Phillies World Series and I was going to get 4-7 nights of good baseball. Now the highpoint seems to be that at the end of all of this neither the Yankees nor the Phillies will have another championship.

Tom Boswell: We'll see. I think it'll get a lot better. Dallas is going to be on fire for the first Series game there. And SF is going crazier for this team than they did in '02 or '89 because it was such a surprise __to them.


Alexandria: Can we stop all the talk about Cliff Lee being the best post season pitcher in history now?

Tom Boswell: I thought it was both deserved __on the numbers__ but probably going to end __because he's not THAT great.

But I bet he's a lot better in his next start than he was last night. He's a hard-headed, cold-blooded competitor.

And one bad night doesn't take away anything __nothing at all__ from the amazing post-season games he's pitched the last two years. Especially those four starets with 10-or-more striekouts and no walks. And that doesn't include his 13-1 K/W game against the Yankees last week which was one of the best starts I've ever seen.


Kensington, MD: I guess that Dave Sheinin just got a pretty good lesson in baseball's unpredictability, eh? I wonder what sort of odds you might have gotten if you'd offered to bet that 18 runs would be scored in a game where Lee and Lincecum started!

Tom Boswell: I thought Dave's piece on Lee was excellent (told him so before the game) and exactly what should have been written. It's not a reporter's job to see the future. It's your job to analyze what already exists, explain it, put it in context, deepen the understanding of it, explain what makes the people tick. Dave's story did exactly that. He's a helluva baseball writer. And you haven't even heard him sing! He could do the Anthem justice at a World Series.


Fox network's mistakes: I noticed this too but I believe Joe Buck said the series was OPENING in SF for the first time since '62 -- i.e. Game 1 in SF.

Tom Boswell: Thanks.

(I didn't hear it.)


I'm turning into a curmudgeon: Great World Series, great matchups, who would expect 11-7 in a Lee/Lincecum game? But we should not be playing baseball on Halloween; and seeing Barry Bonds sitting there smirking and the fact that the Rangers' manager has used cocaine (can that really help solidify the team?) has made me feel the game has passed me by. Can I please have a pep talk? I love your work.

Tom Boswell: Okay, I'll try.

Ron Washington is a really good guy. Everybody deserves a second chance. As for Bonds, isn't it fun to laugh at him now that he has "deflated." It's like somebody let the air out of him. The dates of the Series are ridiculous, but baseball got lucky. It's gorgeous and 60's in SF and will be 70'ss-to-80 in Texas. No snow in November in Minnesota this year.

I thiknk I'm going to eat this room service omlette that's been sitting next to me, watching me, for the last hour.

Hey, lets talk next week!


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