Thursday, February 10, 2005

Sentimental Boz > Propagandistic Boz

Boswell pens "Field of Dreams"-ish column, puts things in perspective

As many of us are aware, Tom Boswell is considered an award winning columnist by us, the Nats bloggers. Of course, those awards are the products of unrelenting idiocy, so he should probably keep the "You love me; you really love me!" speech in dry dock.

Life unfolds in many acts, however, and tonight (or tomorrow morning, depending on your method of delivery) the Boz takes a substantial step back toward respectability, penning a truly nice column that, what is more, doesn't misrepresent the Nats' roster.

Among the many high points:

You don't know the Nationals now. But you will. Even Tony Kornheiser will be hooked by midseason. Just watch. Because total familiarity is the core of what it means to have a hometown baseball team, as opposed to a make-do club in another city.

Okay, so that paragraph lends itself to residual cheap shots. ("Gee, Tom, you're one to talk about total familiarity. Say, what do you think of Juan Rivera's chances of making a positive impact this year for the Nats?")

Let me find something better:

As Exhibit A, take our Tony K. For 20 years, he has invested many times the normal sane allotment of attention (and column inches) to the woeful Wizards. A waste? No way. Les Boulez are Washington's team, like it or not. Their eternal consternation becomes part of the community, the conversation. Until one year, Gilbert Arenas and Antawn Jamison are all-stars and we wonder if we are watching the beginning of something that is made more special by our knowledge of everything before it.
Next week, we will begin the process of getting to know the Nats -- the new ones, not the old ones on the dog-eared baseball cards. We will, no doubt, inflict nostalgia on each other about obscure Senators who retired before Brad Wilkerson or Jose Vidro were born. But once the games start, that fetish should fade and a new era can begin. It may not even be too painful on the eyes. After all, over the last dozen
years, including last season, the Expos have won more often than the Redskins.

These two paragraphs, to me at least, say it all. Washington is getting a team---its own team, a team it deserves. Make all the jokes about Les Expos and no-name players that you wish, chuckleheads, because we know better. Why? Because this is our freakin' team, that's why. That's enough for now. And if we're lucky, they'll be pretty good, too---and, as John Cusack's character said in "City Hall," you have to be willing to be lucky.

And you know what I thought was the best part? Boswell made my sports fan's heart flutter, and he did it without excessive ad hominem attacks or inadvertantly canceling roster changes.

You might have noticed that both excerpts reference Tony Kornheiser, and not without reason. Kornheiser took quite a hit among Nats' bloggers today, and I'll acknowledge that, as Red Cashen would say, the "givin' him the bizness" was largely justified.

Still, two thoughts occur to me:

1. The quick succession of columns strikes me as somewhat suspicious. While it's certainly possible Boswell opened his copy of the Post this morning, did a spit-take, yelled, "What in the bloody hell was that?" and then pounded out a spark rebuke---well, it strikes me as at least as probable that one of those tedious point-counterpoint things was at play.

Don't get me wrong: Kornheiser is quite capable of producing a column that makes him appear willfully ignorant all by his lonesome. But the thought occurs to me that maybe he had agreed to take the "This team ain't got no juice" position and overdid it. I'm not trying to defend the guy, at least not consciously; while I generally enjoy his columns, as Ryan's excerpt of my post this morning indicates, I don't really read Kornheiser for substantive value.

2. On a related note, this is going to be somewhat controversial, but I'll say it anyway: Perhaps the Kornheiser column was a positive experience in a sense, for the simple reason that we're going to need to develop a thick skin. Every team gets bombed by local columnists (hell, I think that's a material term of Marrioti's contract in Chicago), and while I'll acknowledge that Kornheiser's column was beyond idiotic, if we---I'm referring to the bloggers here---get up in arms every time a media type bombs the team, we're literally not going to have lives (not just be accused of not having lives).

Now, please be clear as to what I'm not saying: I'm not saying that we, the Nats fans, have no skin. (How could I possibly? I only "know" some of you---very few of you, actually---through online means.) Instead, I'm saying that we're fans of a new team (I think that's an accurate statement) that is, in many's eyes, a continuation of an old joke (I think that's an accurate perception in some circles). The jokes will continue for awhile, as we should know by now; many of these cuts aren't going to be well reasoned. We just need to expect it; that's all.

FYI - I think it was Ben Drieth who said, "giving him the business."
Really? I thought it was crazy ol' Red. Ah, looks like an early morning project for your apparently flu-saddled correspondent here. (Unfortunately, I made it to work.)
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