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Thomas Boswell
Monday, March 7, 2011; 11:00 AM

Washington Post Sports Columnist Tom Boswell will be online Monday, March 7 at 11 a.m. ET to take all your questions about baseball, the Redskins, the Wizards and more.

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Thomas Boswell: Looks like a fine day for chatting!The players want to keep the current system which is making everybody rich and making the public happy. "18 games????*The Heat have lost four in a row. Kind of sad to hear D Wade say, "Outside (our locker room), the Miami Heat are just what everyone wanted __losing games. The world is a better place now because the Heat is losing..."But we'll figure it out...It's painful. This hurts." after their loss Sunday. Can't imagine Red Auerbach or Phil Jackson saying that his players were crying after a tough loss in the regular season. It's okay if they cvry. Or cuss, throw the food. But it's not OK to tell the world __that's happy to jump on you__ that your fragile team gently weeps.*The Nats and Orioles are both looking good in Florida. The way Ross Detwiler has pitched in his first two outtings, how are you going to keep him out of the rotation? Storen's mchanics __or something__ didn't look right when I was in Viera. They were constantly working on him or with him. So, his bad start is a concern.Hope that gets the pump primed. And I bet there will be a Redskins question.

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Orioles column: Let's get this question out of the way. How can you write a column about a Baltimore team when we have a team of our own, blah, blah, blah? Everybody feel good. Now let's move on. BTW, thanks for all you do, including the "outside Washington" columns.

Thomas Boswell: My family symbolizes the Nats/O's loyalty debate. I grew up taking the street car to Griffith Stadium, then rodee my bike toi RFK Stadium. But I also covered the Orioles for 29 years when D.C. didn't have a team. I think loyalties generally run back to your hpometown and your childhood teams.

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The Wizards: The Wizards have won back-to-back games once this season and they've won only three road games fewer than Cleveland. If it weren't for Cleveland, Minnesota, and Sacramento.... I don't even know what to say or how to put this team into perspective.

Thomas Boswell: Every once in a while I feel the need for a rant on a subject that isn't worth a whole column or which, in some cases, may feel too mean-spirited or premature for a column.guys on the floor who all have good games __McGee, Blatche, Wall, Young..."of the two teams. With the Bulls, I'd watch the Chi defense and say, "Picked up the man with the ball near half-court and made him stop his dribble...Force the dribbler to go in a direction the Bulls prefered....Denied the pass into the pivot...Blocked off on the defensive board...Fought through a screen.,.." And a hundred other things, including the things the Bulls did right on offense __movement away from the ball, setting screens, proper floor spacing, etc."Then when the Wiz played defense I'd say, "Not one player on defense is moving his five. No man with the ball has been contested high THIS QUARTER..." Then once the analysis was established, my son got it: "We'd just say 'uncontested....uncontested....uncontested...." As the Bulls ran their offense with no Wiz player doing ANYTHING to prevent Chicago from running its plays anyway they wanted. Not one pass into the pivot denied. Nobody forced to change direction."I didn't know they were THAT awful," my son said. On defense, they are just stealing their paychecks. The irony that the game was semi-close only shows how much b etter they could be if they tried.and those guys are second and third on the team in shot attempts: John Wall and Andre Blatche.For example, Magic Johnson, John Stockton and Steve Nash rank 8th, 9th and 11th in history in TS% at .610, .608 and .605.the current division leaders.*Miami: James .583, Wade .574, Bosh .558.*Celtics: Allen .626, Pierce .620, Garnett .574 (Shaq .655).*Spurs: Ginobili .576, Parker .568, Duncan .520 (not what he used to be.*Bulls: Noah .571, Boozer .554, Rose .536.*Thunder: Durant .587.*Lakers: Odom .600, Bynum .599, Gusol .591, Bryant .554.No player with 1,000 minutes this year has a TS% under .500 for any of these teams except the Lakers who have a couple of oldtimers barely under that level.are .550 to over .600 and almost nobody is allowed on the floor who isn't over .520. Here are the Wiz.Wall .489.488The idea that they are "good offensive players" can't possibly be right. They can't shoot. You may think they can. But they can't. Wall will p;resumably improve. But he's also a league-leader in turnovers. I'd hate to be Ted Leonsis trying to rebuild this mess.

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How 'bout dem O's!: Mornin' Boz,Thanks for the write-up on the O's offseason. I was glad to see it, though I'm sure the more militant Nats fans will protest. Like it or not, the O's still have a significant loyal following in the DC area, and a little Post coverage is warranted, now and then.Do you think the two teams make any moves with an eye on the opposite Beltway? Does a high-profile signing (or talk thereof) by the O's spur the Nats into action (and vice versa)?

Thomas Boswell: The O's are worried, after the last 18 monmths, that the huge buzz about Strasburg, Harper and Werth will put them in an even worse position by '12-'13-'14. The Nats were looking at Lee a little more than LaRoche, but it didn't make a big difference to them. Still, my take is that they'd have prefered Lee, but not at $10M if he gets 600 PAs. So, they got LaRoche for 2-yrs for $16M. The Nats get a LH bat, which is good. But LaRoche doesn't have three Gold Gloves. And his best seasons haven't approached Lee's best year. a bunch of 25-homer, 85-RBI years left in him.

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Managing : Boz, not to appear to be a lickspittle, but your baseball knowledge and experience writing about it is legendary. If given the opportunity to manage a MLB team for a season, would you do it? If your answer is "yes" how do you think you would do? If your answer is "no", why not? I know one thing, I wouldn't play fantasy baseball against you.

Thomas Boswell: I was stunned. I told him that writing about baseball and actually running ayear, even with tons of help, required a completely different skill set and that "incompetent" wouldn't begin to describe my own evaluation of myself for that position. My God, the draft, the scouting system, contract negotiations and 20 other aspects of a GM's job!What scared me was that he DIDN'T KNOW THIS.He turned out to be a well-intentioned, but terrible owner.Of all the managers and GM's I've covered enough to have an opinion, I'd say there was only one __out of more than 100__ who did NOT know at least twice as much about baseball as I do. And with the good ones, I wouldn't even want to guess what the multiple is.

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If I can quote Jeff Van Gundy...: In the words of Mr. Van Gundy, last August:, the Miami Heat will break the Bulls' league record of 72 wins, with a shot at the Lakers' winning-streak mark of 33, "And only the Lakers have even a remote shot at beating them in a playoff series. They will never lose two games in a row this year.. They have put together a much better roster than anybody could ever have expected. There is now no good way to defend them. They are unguardable. They are indefensible. They are just too good and have added so much shooting and are so versatile that they will score at will." He added that there is one way the Heat can be stopped. "The other 29 teams better hope the lockout gets moved up a year.'I don't think I'll add my comments to what Mr. Van Gundy said. After all, he's the expert getting paid good money for his knowledge and insight.

Thomas Boswell: Thanks, that's wonderful stuff.I never thought I could feel even alittle bit sorry for the Heat after their self-aggandizing introduction of James. One of the worst moments in sports that I can remember. The marriage of so many things that are wrong, including some aspects of ESPN.The "highlight film" view of sports is a terrible influence. For example, in my exam ple of watchjing the Woiz with my son, I kept mentioning (and probably boring him to death), that ALL the Wiz players atre good at the kind of plays that make ESPN highlights __dunks, shot blocks out of bounds, three-pointers, crazy acrobatic layups, steal-and-breakaway. But at NOTHING else. No wonder they have no clue why they lose. "But we are so talented." Yeah, at what? At highlight tricks, maybe. (Nice lob-dunk.) At basketball, no. And everybody is mystified that the best record in the NBA is...the Spurs.The big blow to the Heat was losing Udonis Haslem, who was aveeraging 11.1 rebounds per 36 minutes, for the season. He gave them inside strength and somebody who would do all the "dirty deeds done dirt cheap."At some point, in a acouple of years, maybe "we" can all take our societal curse off the Heat.But not any time real soon, imo.

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How about sticking to the team with WASHINGTON on their uniforms?: Apparently, you wrote a column from Peter Angelos' spring training today -- why? You of all people should have dropped coverage of his team the moment he voted "no" on DC baseball. You said Angelos was trying to kill the Nats in the crib by keeping them off cable TV for almost 2 seasons, but you never stopped covering them. Why have your rewarded this bad behavior with coverage?

Thomas Boswell: Everything you say is true. (Or "pretty true.")

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Nats dream: Hey Boz. Love your detailed analyses of the Nats.What has to go right for the Nats to finish over .500?

Thomas Boswell: In short, the Nats (and Orioles) could be much better, or much worse) than we now assume and we might not even know it yet. Though, so far, I'd say that any '11 surprised for both teams are more likely to be to the up side.for prospects nobody'd heard of. So, of course, I predicted disaster for the '77 Orioles. Because that's what everybody else thought.Eddie Murray, Scott McGregor, Mike Flanagan, Dennis Martinez, Rich Dauer, Rick Dempsey, Tippy Martinez, and Andres Mora.The '77 Orioles won 97 games. At least 20 more than I thought they would. By '79, they were playing in the seventh game of the Woirld Series.

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Orioles: Can the Os finish ahead of the Yankees this year?

Thomas Boswell: Okay, a nice place to continue that previous answer.and Jay Tibbs starting 141 of 162 games. The only guy who even had a decent career, Pete Harnisch, was 5-9. Don't sell baseball short. It was built to amaze us. When the Nats came here from Montreal, everybody said they would lose 95 games in '05 as they had in '04. I probably agreed. At the All-Star game, they had the best record in baseball.can't imagine the Rangers in the Series. They can't imagine a reigning world champ falling under .500. But it happens again and again.The band of possible outcomes is probably even wider than that, especially in baseball where half of all games are decided by one or two runs and many others are still close at the seventh inning stretch.

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GMU and March Madness: I was sorely disappointed that GMU didn't seize the opportunity to get the automatic bid. I think they'll get in anyway (and be seeded higher than VCU) but do you think that this stumble at the last pre-tournament hurdle will change their mind set going in? It certainly makes this GMU grad nervous!

Thomas Boswell: I was all set for a wonderful GMU run to the Sweet 16 when I'd be back from a second trip to Viera and hoped I'd get to cover their no-longer-Cinderella but still wonderful season. How long might their winning streak have been by then? (Over 20). But the tougher seeding will haunt them. Not many coaches are better plugged into their players than Jim Larranaga. So, I think he'll pull them back together. But first-round conference loses are a particularly bad sign. I'd love to see a study on how many 1st-round losers in any of the major conferences did in reaching the rounds of 16, 8 and Final Four.

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NFL : Hey Bos, do you think the NFL owners have any idea that their incredible popularity is not guaranteed for eternity? Right now, they rule the sporting world. But of course baseball, boxing and horse racing all could once say that. I think I'm at the tipping point. I wont lie and say I will never watch another game if there's a lockout, but it will make me care less about the games that dont involve my team. A lcokout now, with all the other options out there, could start the NFL in a slow descent. But I dont think the owners have any idea that could ever happen.

Thomas Boswell: commissioner as a mouthpiece.say!I'm almosty sure it will still be rolling toward Doomsday for America as Labor Day approaches.

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Surgery: Boz,In watching some of the Spring Training games (which seem to feature the Yankees), the announcers are talking about the "usual" Tommy John surgery, as apparently a number of their young starters (and they seem to have a bunch) have undergone the procedure. Nats fans see Strasburg, Z2n, etc.Meanwhile, Zimm & Espinosa (whose power may be down some this year) have undergone Hamate bone surgery, which seems to be common.Is there something wrong with this picture?By the way, I've watched, played, coached and umpired baseball since DiMaggio. I can't remember anything like this.

Thomas Boswell: So long, buddy.FWIW, Espinosa says his hand has been bothering him for two years and he already feels stronger after his Hamate bone surgery than he did before. You mena he hit those six bombs in September when he had been playing with a broken bone in his hand for two years!?

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Nats: If Jim Riggleman doesn't work for the Nats, would there be any chance Davey Johnson come back to the dugout? Or is he happy with his consulting gig?

Thomas Boswell: Over the wintyer, Davey had a heart procedure that got his heart beat back in sync. I could pretend I know the exact name of the procedure __had another friend who had it last year__ but I'd butcher it. But Davey says he feels better than he has in many years __more energy.I doubt very much that he is crazy enough to put himself through another managing gig.

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Delicious Envy: Boz:How often do you pinch yourself to make sure you're not dreaming? Whenever I open the paper and read a column of yours I'm filled with sweet envy. And this is especially true at this time of year. You get paid to do things that hundreds of thousands of your readers would gladly pay to do themselves. How sweet is that?

Thomas Boswell: Of course, you're right and I appreciate all the time. However, when I was in my 20's and 30's, I always wondered, "Will I still love it this much when I'm 50, etc. Is that the trap? You get sick of it?" Turns out that you enjoy it just as much and maybe appreciate it more. And it helps that you should come a little closer to knowing what you're talking about every year (though I'm sure plenty would disagree.)When I came to the Post at 21, ffetching coffee, answering phones, the four writers who sat right in front of me were (columnist) Bob Addie, (NFL writer) Dave Brady, (golf writer) Maury Fitzgerald and (behind them) Shirley Povich. I watched them every day. They were all in their 60's then. They had so much fun __were so sarcastic, gave everybody grief, laughed all the time__ it was ridiculous and none seemed anywhere near their age. I remember Dave Brady, a sweet soul, giving promoter Don King hell about a fight he was pitching: "If you put that %$#$@^&&% fight on in my back yard, I'd close the blinds." Then they both started laughing.

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Morgan Won't Make the Team RIGHT???: As always, thanks for the chats. There can't be any way that Morgan makes the opening day roster unless things change dramatically over the next 3 weeks right? I'd rather let Bernadina & Ankiel split time in CF and draft a guy like Jackie Bradley Jr. who would probably be pretty fast to the majors. Thoughts?

Thomas Boswell: They want to give Morgan a chance. He's their preference. That's not the same as lifetime Supreme Court appointment.So, either way, Nats fans will end up happy. Morgan will play. Or he won't play. And you'll get to see what somebody else can do. And it will probably be somebody with some pop.

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No. 5: Boz, Maya and, especially, Detwiler have looked really good so far this spring. Can either of them dethrone Gorzelanny for the fifth spot in the rotation? Or are any of the "set in stone" four in danger of losing a spot to either? The competition for starters is more spirited than I would have hoped for so far in ST.

Thomas Boswell: The Nats pitching rotation, set in stone!!!???Excuse me, I had to get up off the floor.All teams show copnfidence in their "probable" starting rotation. It's againsty the law to tell the truth: "We don't have a No. 1 starter. We don't have a No. 2 starter. If somebody would like to pitch really, really weel, we CAN find a place for you."if he is pitching well. Nothing against him. It just makes sense. So, it's not as crowded at it looks.But Wang not being able to go out for his second inning with elbow tightness was not a good sign. I've said I never thought he'd win another MLB game. Then I saw him in Fla and hoped I was completely wrong. In this case, I hate it when I'm right.

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A whole column on the Orioles?: I was bummed to see an entire column on the Orioles (though after watching George Mason's loss in Richmond yesterday I was already bummed). I totally understand that some people in the area root for both the O's and Nats. In fact, I grew up an O's fan since we didn't have a team here (Al Bumbry appeared at my little league parade). But the O's are the like the girl who dated you purely because you spent money on her. She never loved you. Her family never liked you. Her dad, Peter, is a jerk. So it's hard to get excited about seeing her again. Maybe the perspective is different in D.C. and MD, but here in Northern Virginia, I never hear anyone talking about the O's. When I go to the nearby farmer's market in the spring, I see an encouraging number of people in Nats hats. Not saying you shouldn't write about the Orioles, but I hope I don't have to read about them too often this summer (or not read about them, as I did this morning). Thanks -- I'm a huge fan of your work.

Thomas Boswell: description of "dating" the Orioles for decades but never even dreaming of marrying them was too good not to include. Thanks.


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