Tom Boswell’s weekly Web chat is one of the most enjoyable regular reads on our Web site, filled with passionate analysis and 800-word digressions and institutional knowledge that few else on our staff possess.
In case you don’t read it in full each week, I did want to spotlight the last Q-and-A from this week’s session:
Q: The Wiz & ‘Skins & Caps are bad. I recently purchased a half season plan to see the Nats. They seem to know what they’re doing. If MLB adds a second Wild Card, do the Nationals have a playoff chance? I can see this town becoming a baseball town real easy.
A: 1) Yes.
2) It’s not easy or quick to be a baseball town, especially when only a very few on TV or radio could even tell you off the top of their head who Matt Purke is, where he went to college or (hint) what arm he throws with. Okay, a couple could. (Kelli Johnson is here every year and knows her stuff.) And Thom Loverro. The rest can’t even find the stadium. Shame, shame....Yet Purke’s on the Nats 40-man roster and in the main clubhouse. That’d never happen with a Redskin. We’d be on 24/7 Purke Alert. Things’ll balance out. But it takes time.
Hey now. Those are some words.
I will say that I can think of at least three other TV or radio folks — Holden Kushner, Grant Paulsen and Danny Rouhier — who are legitimate baseball nerds with plenty of nerdy knowledge about the Nats. Then there’s Fox 5’s Lindsay Murphy, who happens to be married to a professional baseball player and likely knows how to find Nationals Park.
But I also feel pretty certain that a huge number of TV and radio folks — or, you know, newspaper folks — don’t know where Mike Knuble went to college, or where Brooks Laich played juniors, or which side most Capitals defensemen shoot from. Post columnists unquestionably pay far less attention to the Caps than to the Nationals, and until recently, local talk radio ignored the hockey team entirely.
Then suddenly the Caps got good, and landed all over the television and radio waves, and sold out every game, and ran promos about “America’s Hockey Capital,” and became the focus of Washington D.C. sports for months at a time every winter and spring. Because they were successful. Which the Nationals haven’t been.
I would put that explanation for our baseball-townness deficiencies well ahead of the lack of Matt Purke knowledge from TV and radio hosts.
I do believe, though, that baseball will be enormously successful and popular in this market once the team starts contending, regardless of whether Dan Hellie knows that Purke went to (checking) TCU.
(Update: Kushner has already responded to Boswell on Twitter, writing that “other people in the media follow baseball other than you,” that “I happen to work for MLB Network Radio along with Grant Paulsen,” that “I can guarantee you that we know the current game every bit as well as you do” and that “we’re not as arrogant as you to think that others can’t understand the game.”)