the debut of the Washington Nationals, a professional
baseball team is representing Washington, D.C., for
the first time since Sept. 30, 1971.
Washington Post sports columnist Thomas
Boswell was online Friday, May 20, at 11 a.m. ET to
take your questions and comments on the team, Major
League Baseball and his recent columns .
Rockville, Md.: Tom,
Love the coverage you and Barry are providing.
I look forward to the articles every day, and feel doubly
lucky when there is a chat.
I wonder if you guys are hearing from
folks like me, who, having figured they would go to
3 or 4 games this year, went once and got hooked. Even
before I went to the first Sunday home game I had already
bought tickets to 2 other games. After that Sunday,
I bought a 20 game plan. Now I absolutely hate when
the Nats are playing at RFK and I am not going! I didn't
think I would be so obsessed, but my team is back an
I am loving it!
Tom Boswell: I went to RFK yesterday on
my day off. Sheinin almost went. The sports editor and
assistant sports editor both snuck out. I think I saw
a famous neo-con commentator (no not G Will) JOGGING
across the street in front of RFK to make sure he was
in his seat by the first pitch. (No, nobody tried to
run him down. A very bi-partisan crowd, fortunately.)
We want Boswell Bobbleheads: It is interesting
to me that Castilla and Johnson have made several stolen
base attempts. I assume that Frank told them to and
it seems like he'll send them when the situation calls
for it regardless of the speed of the baserunner. Wilkerson
is not running as much as I would have thought. And,
Guzman would have to be on base to steal. Are there
any runners with the green light? Why not more from
Wilky? And, am I incorrect in my belief that Castilla
and Johnson are below average in speed?
Tom Boswell: The Phils manager set me
straight on the Nats speed. I'd underestimated it. Even
though they aren't base stealers, they are ALL good
baserunners __1st to 3rd, 1st to home. He said Castilla
was the slowest on the team "and he's not slow."
Castilla WON yesterday's game by scoring on a short
passed ball not more than 20-25 feet from the plate.
He gambled. Brewers weren't expecting it and flubbed
In RFK, with scoring so low, it's turning
out to be very important that the Nats can run and,
just as important, that nobody clogs the bases. Carroll
scored from first yesterday on a two-out double to right
that died 20 feet short of the warning track.
Wilkerson is not fast, just an exceptional
all-around athlete. He gets a good jump in center and
catches a lot of balls on cruise control. But he is
not a burner and doesn't cover as much ground as some
CFs. Johnson runs well for a first baseman.
Guzman is a career .266 hitter who's now
hitting .206. That means he'll probably hit .90 the
rest of the season (just as Brian Roberts isn't going
to continue hitting 100 pts and slugging 300 points
(!) above his previous norm.
Chevy Chase, Md.: Tom, your column in
The Post yesterday hinted that the baseball union might
"punish" baseball in the next labor negotiations
if Congress passes a tough anti-steroid law. What might
the union want from baseball as part of any negotiation?
Has their strategy been to bring up steroids the next
time they have to negotiate an agreement, conceding
something on steroids and getting something in return?
Now, a new law would ruin that strategy?
Tom Boswell: Nobody ever thought Congress
would take the steroid issue seriously enough to act
__or at least make a serious threat, rather than a mere
PR threat. In essence, Bud is saying to Don: You're
on your own now, fella. We can't take this much heat
on an issue that is really YOUR issue.
We're finally going to see real progress
on steroid in baseball. As usual, enormous public/media/political
pressure was needed. For those who say, "Why do
you folks make such a fuss about steriods," it's
to keep the issue in the public eye so that SOMEDAY
something will be done. Now, "someday" is
very close at hand. (Only took 17 years.)
Salt Lake City, Utah: I wrote in a couple
of weeks ago asking for advise as to how to end my two-local-teams-induced
baseball apathy and you suggested I see the baseball
doctor. In the end I didn't need to, I took inspiration
from the example of your son -- continuing to support
the Orioles (the team I grew up with) and semi-adopting
the Nats. So thanks to the Boswell clan.
Now a question if it's not too greedy
. . . How confident would you be about the Orioles right
now if they'd managed to sign or trade (only) prospects
for a front-of-the-rotation-type pitcher in the offseason?
Tom Boswell: If the Orioles had gotten
Pavano, I'd think they were 50-50 to make the wild card
right now. Which is saying a lot, because the Yanks
and Red Sox aren't going to die, even though they're
not as strong as the last two years.
Everybody had to raise total hell before
the O's finally got Sosa. Rem ember, they had been shutout
when Delgado signed while Bowden had added many parts
to the Nats puzzle. I'm convinced that getting Sosa
was a last-gasp semi-accident. He was there. Nobody
else wanted him much. His PRESENCE helps Tejada and
all of the rest of the lineup. But, even when he comes
back, I doubt he'll equal last year. His bat speed's
just not what it was.
Silver Spring, Md.: What do advance scouts
for other teams think of the Nats?
Tom Boswell: Barry's quote from Ned Yost
this a.m. summed it up: "That's a nice club...They
play the game right. They don't make mistakes. And they're
Larry Haney (ex-catcher, scout, etc) likes
their fundamentals and the Frank Factor (intensity,
Yesterday was the PERFECT Nats win. I
wonder if the town can quite appreciate it yet. Castilla
got Livan out of one inning with a bare-hand Brooks
play on a swinging bunt. Livan worked around the whole
bottom of the order TWICE just to get to No. 8-9 hitters
and escaped both times. Winning run on a short passed
This is really an "inside baseball"
type of team with a VERY serious locker room.
Arlington, Va.: Although the stadium has
been slowly improving its information provided on various
scoreboards, I was at Wednesday's game and they were
only giving National League scores and standings. I
thought that it was Major League baseball and not National
League baseball. Other than that, it was a great game.
Tom Boswell: No, the AL scores were up,
too. They were on the NEXT scoreboard over __more to
the left. One board for AL, the other for NL. Still,
it's all a bit hard to see. And, in the lower deck,
the PA system is still TOO LOUD.
However, in the park as a whole, there
is MUCH less junk noise __you know, the constant audio-clutter
that the Redskins abuse__ between pitches. It sounds
like a ballgame should feel: announce the hitter, then
let the fans and the crack of the bat provide the "commentary."
Chocolate City: What was up with some
of the Nats having mustaches earlier in the month? Were
they celebrating Cinco de Mustache or something?
Tom Boswell: Clubs that see themselves
as underdogs, as the Nats certainly do, tend to have
a lot of team spirit stuff. Lotta goatees, etc, showing
up now. Loaiza has a post-victory handshake ritual for
several players __all different.
Washington, D.C.: Could you give a plausible
explanation why Christian Guzman bunted with 2 strikes
yesterday? Did he miss a sign, or was this a bad managerial
Tom Boswell: This is a hitter's way of
saying, "I am profoundly sorry for not getting
my bunt down on the first two strikes. To prove my sincerity,
I will 'sacrifice myself' on the third strike and try
to bunt again."
This is a players way of PROVING that
he didn't just screw up the bunts so he could swing
away with men on base on his third strike.
RFK - Section 436: What is Frank going
to do about Jamie Carroll when Vidro comes back? He's
played great filling in, but you don't start him over
Vidro. Any chance he moves over to SS and replaces Guzman's
Tom Boswell: Frank loves Carroll. Everybody
wants to start, but Carroll is an invaluable utility
man. He came over to me on the bench one day to show
me all FOUR of the gloves that he might have to wear
that day __depending on the position. He takes some
ground balls with each of them, I believe.