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Hello! (Or, Here Comes Boz)

Ever since Tracee and I were at the Olympics last summer we've been talking about Nationals Journal this season. I told her that when I wasn't actually at the park I was constantly watching Nats and O's games live on TV or the next morning (with FF). And, of course, I had a lot of miscellaneous thoughts about almost every game. Who can watch a game and not want to talk the ear off the person next to them? (Unfortunately, that applies to me especially well.)

The past four seasons, Barry and Chico have been very tolerant of me: kibitzing, pontificating, theorizing, inflicting my anecdotes, putting in a call or two (for a homer on that at bat, or the next pitch) and, of course, my defining in-game characteristic -- changing my mind, re-changing my mind, then re-re-changing my mind.

Tracee said, "Well, post on NJ all you want next season." So, cover your ears (or eyes). You're stuck with me, I suspect. I don't know whether that will mean 50 or 500 posts. When it comes to baseball, I'm pretty *compulsive. But I also hate to bore or annoy people with inane or half-cooked ideas. It's a fine line between being a pest and a real contributor to the discussion.

I've actually been an active poster on (non-sports) internet boards for more than 10 years. (My wife is not always happy about this. "Are you in there chatting?") In fact, I've considered joining Internet Addicts Anonymous (if there is one) and have, with great self-discipline (yeah, right), cut back my on-line "contributions." I understand the kind of community that grows up over time among people who have a powerful common interest. Sometimes you feel that you know chat-room posters better than many of your friends. Someone's "writing voice" is very revealing because it is so often a different voice than the one that comes out of their mouth in normal conversation. AND (I just realized this) the anonymous voice on the Internet may actually be a THIRD writing voice! It's amazing (or alarming) what you find yourself posting (or almost posting, then 'killing') in cyberspace. I don't mean that every outwardly normal person turns into a "troll" or flamer. (I love the phrase: "Don't feed the trolls.") Even on the most wild-and-woolly boards I've been on -- and this one is extremely civil by comparison -- the large majority of the "voices" there are exacly the people you'd want to talk with about your pet subject.

I remember going halfway across the country to an event with perhaps 50 other chatters that I'd never met. Get experience. Especially when you say, "I'm (then give your online nickname)," and you have a real person to attach to this "anonymous" cyber voice. I remember thinking, "So, YOU'RE 'Goingtohellinahandbasket.'"

Perhaps the most hostile, slashing (and really smart) poster on that board was someone I assumed I would not like. He was permanently unemployed (by choice), politically extreme (and exactly opposite of me), loved to argue with anybody about anything and lived a miimalist (almost Thoreau-like) lifestyle; I suspect he sent most of his days either reading in a public library or posting insults, insights or polemcs on the web. We hit it off so well that, going to a massive chat board dinner -- we took up half the restaurant -- we were so busy talking and making friends that I ended up driving into another STATE. (It's hard to miss an entire state.) "Did that sign say were were in Iowa?" We were so lost, even though we were only 10 miles from our target, that a friendly state trooper gave us an escort to the restaurant! So, the two of us -- always arguing on the board -- showed up laughing like old buddies with the cops leading us into the parking lot.

So, you folks seem like a very sympatico bunch. I particularly enjoyed the stories here the other day about Where I Saw My First Game. (Nice idea, Tracee.) By way of introduction, I thought I'd throw out my memory of my first game....Except it wasn't quite my first game. I don't actually remember Game 1, except that it was against either the White Sox or Indians at Griffith Stadium in '56 when I was eight. The purpose was to see Roy Sievers, my hero. And I think it was a night game because I remember how brilliant, almost internally illuminated, the green grass looked when you walked up the first-base runaway and saw the whole field -- or a big slash of it -- for the first time. My mom took me -- "all the way across town" -- on the streetcar. Florida Avenue was a long way from NE. (My dad, a football fan, took me to my first Skins game for my 10th birthday. Baseball bored him. He tried to pretend it didn't. But we usually left him home.)

My first vivid memory of a Nats game was on a hot summer afternoon in '56 or '57, the first time I went with my mother and my best friend from down the block, Lamont Wash. My mom paid for herself and me. Lamont had his own money and came behind us. The ticket guy tried to charge him twice as much as me. My mother told us to "go over there and wait a minute." I never saw her chew anybody out as long and hard in my life. "He tried to cheat us," my mother said. So, I didn't really figure out why she was sooo mad that day. Neither did Lamont. I hope. (He cut a soul album in '86 in L.A. under the name Lamar Barry. "There's Nothing Better Than Love." You can Google it.)

So, I guess I've always associated baseball with both the keenest pleasures, mixed with a consistent ability to inspire my outrage, from Calvin Griffith on down through the years.

Can't wait for Opening Day. I've never posted my thoughts on a game that I didn't actually attend and where I was not able to ask the players/manager afterward for their thoughts (or self-defense) on what had happened. In a way, it's not fair. But it captures the duality of the blogosphere -- passion (always), insight (sometimes), community (intense), pleasure for those involved (considerable), accountabilty (none), knowledge (anywhere from "a lot" to zero). But at least I'll still post here with the certainty that I have to face the people I write about within a few days. I hear they all have access to the Internet! Or, as Stan Kasten said to me a couple of weeks ago on a Thursday at about 11:45 a.m. when I said that I had to get off the phone: "Ohhh, the most dreaded words of the week -- 'Boswell's chat is about to begin.' I hope you know that's just one step above talk radio." He was kidding. Sort of.

One promise: This will be, by far, the longest post of the season!

By Thomas Boswell  |  April 3, 2009; 2:49 PM ET
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Next: Casto, O'Connor to Syracuse; T. Young on DL


I am ecstatic! And you all know I don't use bangers in earnest.

Now Sheinen full time!!

Posted by: Section506 | April 3, 2009 3:04 PM | Report abuse

Glad to see you'll be joining us. Another voice of reason, I hope.

Posted by: Natsgal | April 3, 2009 3:06 PM | Report abuse

Mets just signed Sheffield...

and Ichiro has a bleeding ulcer and is on DL.

Posted by: kfisher32 | April 3, 2009 3:06 PM | Report abuse

Tom pontificated: "It's a fine line between being a pest and a real contributor to the discussion."

Tom - we're all pests here. You'll fit right in, either way. :o)

Posted by: dand187 | April 3, 2009 3:06 PM | Report abuse

Section506 -- you convinced them with your earlier plea. Sheinin's finishing up a project today but you'll be getting him soon... like, tomorrow.

Posted by: traceeh | April 3, 2009 3:08 PM | Report abuse

Welcome to the zoo, Boz. I'd never have pegged you for a chat-aholic. I understand about talking people's ears off during games. I do that all the time. Heck, I even do it when I'm watching at home alone. But that's another story.

It's always interesting to put faces to monikers, and I've had the opportunity to do that in the past with this forum and others (both baseball and non-baseball related).

We've got all types of people here, even the occasional troll, but I think one thing we can all agree on is that we love baseball (and our Nats).

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | April 3, 2009 3:08 PM | Report abuse

Sheinin, too? Thanks, Tracee (and 506)! Can we get the occasional Barry appearance, too? Pleeze pleeze pleeze?

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | April 3, 2009 3:09 PM | Report abuse

"Clint aka Ryan Secrest puts smiles on the faces of the young women."

As I recall, NatsNut self-identified here as a young woman, didn't she? And as I recall she's not all that crazy about Clint. Or is she?

Posted by: nunof1 | April 3, 2009 3:10 PM | Report abuse


Post early and often, I loving reading your stuff.

And I know that Nunof1 feels the same way.

Posted by: Section505203 | April 3, 2009 3:13 PM | Report abuse

I once sat in front of two young women who expressed much squealing approval of Clint in the first inning of a game. Luckily, my hubby and I realized that we were sitting in the wrong row and subsequently moved. (Their chattering did not relate to the game in that case.)

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | April 3, 2009 3:15 PM | Report abuse

Our gang of crazies is about to embark on a season of Nats bliss. So nice to have the professionals (Boz/Sheinen/Tracee/Chico et all, join us for the ride. We're primarily a pretty happy group of pests. Aren't Nats and there fans supposed to be pests?

Posted by: cokedispatch | April 3, 2009 3:17 PM | Report abuse

Post overload. Can't keep up. And it's almost game time. Is this heaven?

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | April 3, 2009 3:17 PM | Report abuse

Boz, bring on everything you've got. We'll want it.

BTW: "But I also hate to bore or annoy people with inane or half-cooked ideas."

Boz, why else would we be fans if you can't bore or annoy people with inane or half-cooked ideas?

Posted by: baltova1 | April 3, 2009 3:18 PM | Report abuse

No it's NJ.

Posted by: Section505203 | April 3, 2009 3:18 PM | Report abuse

Mr. Bosewell; Its a pleasure and honor to have you amongst the sick,lame and lazy!

Welcome to "OUR HOUSE"!

Posted by: TippyCanoe | April 3, 2009 3:23 PM | Report abuse

"I once sat in front of two young women who expressed much squealing approval of Clint in the first inning of a game."

At the exhibition game last year, our first look at the new stadium, I was sitting a couple rows in front of two young women. Well, twenty-something, which is young to me. When Clint's picture first popped up on the big screen, one of them said loudly and annoyedly to the other one "That dooshbag is back AGAIN?"

So there's that.

Posted by: nunof1 | April 3, 2009 3:26 PM | Report abuse

And yes, I know that's not how it's spelled. But my spelling gets through the board's content filter, unlike the correct spelling.

Posted by: nunof1 | April 3, 2009 3:28 PM | Report abuse

Lamar Barry - There's Nothing Better Than Love

Posted by: ilikeike | April 3, 2009 3:30 PM | Report abuse

baltova speaks for me.

Good to know that at least some young women are models of good taste...

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | April 3, 2009 3:31 PM | Report abuse

The more the merrier! Welcome Boz!

Posted by: PattyinSJ | April 3, 2009 3:36 PM | Report abuse

BTW, there's a lineup post up.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | April 3, 2009 3:37 PM | Report abuse

(29) parentheticals! Holy cow Boz, forget about the O's and FOCUS! Did you buy back your Nats season tickets yet?

Posted by: NavinJohnson | April 3, 2009 3:50 PM | Report abuse

Boz: You're the link to Shirley Povich and Nats I and II. That's awesome credibility in my book, so I hope the posters here show at least a little respect. You're entitled to a lot.

Posted by: nats24 | April 3, 2009 3:50 PM | Report abuse

I thought I was

Posted by: jdschulz50 | April 3, 2009 4:00 PM | Report abuse

Tom -- there are some really superb sports writers out there, some of them outstanding baseball men. I'm sure everyone here would put you on the short list of the most eloquent, passionate, and enjoyable of the last 25 years or more. It'll be great to hear -- and debate!! -- your thoughts...


Posted by: outsider6 | April 3, 2009 4:04 PM | Report abuse

Boz, feel free to post entries as long as you want. I'll read 'em all. :-)

A week from Monday can't get here FAST enough!

Posted by: Juan-John | April 3, 2009 4:10 PM | Report abuse

Boz is back in town
Sung to a loud baseball tune
Music to my ears

Posted by: HaikuMan | April 3, 2009 4:17 PM | Report abuse

Welcome Boz - we look forward to all your comments/insights. Just watch the food talk and remember to leave any Bmore love at the door. I can tell this year is gonna be a lot more fun than than 08.

Posted by: Bazz | April 3, 2009 4:17 PM | Report abuse

Tracee, thanks for getting Boz to contribute. Boz, thanks for contributing. You were here for all versions of the Nats. I am a version II and III only member. I love to hear guys that have been around for all three (my father and brother). When you guys speak or write about the Nats - the pain is tangible. Hopefully for all of us, the end of that pain is in sight.

Posted by: 6thandD | April 3, 2009 4:17 PM | Report abuse

PLEASE PLEASE stop treating the Orioles like a home team. They are not. The Orioles are the reason that the wait for a Washington team was 33 years. Without their blocking this territory, we would have had a team decades earlier. Not everyone loves the "O's".

Posted by: raymitten | April 3, 2009 4:22 PM | Report abuse

Noble Nats tie Despicable Orioles, 2-2, in fourth on two-run homer by Zimmerman!

Have I got got that all figured out and fixed? This NJ protocol isn't too tough.

Rats! DO's go ahead of NN's, 4-2, on two-run HR by Markakis in bottom of fourth.

This is getting simpler all the time.

True, I covered baseball THROUGH the Orioles for 29 years ('76 to '04). But remember, I spent '56-to-'71 hating 'em! So, "I feel very strongly both ways," as Billy Martin once said. But I promise to feel only one way (when here). Are we OK?

Many thanks for the warm welcome. Boz

Posted by: Thomas Boswell | April 3, 2009 4:47 PM | Report abuse

Maybe this is the time to mention this ... I use Thunderbird for my RSS, and I know some blogs are able to put the author's name in the From: field. Especially now that we have multiple contributors, it'd be nice if everything didn't come from "Nationals Journal."

Just a thought.

Posted by: Scooter_ | April 3, 2009 4:58 PM | Report abuse

(Markakis HR was in 1st, not 4th. Love NJ. More chances to be wrong.) See ya soon.

Posted by: Thomas Boswell | April 3, 2009 5:15 PM | Report abuse

Thanks for the updates, Boz. We're all a few posts up so I just noticed. You've got the NJ protocol down (some O's alliteration might be nice - the Odious O's perhaps? - but that's a quibble ;-)).

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | April 3, 2009 5:43 PM | Report abuse

Yes, we're OK - and happy to have you here!

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | April 3, 2009 5:45 PM | Report abuse

Thanks, Boz, and keep it up! If it's possible to have "favorites", you are many peoples' favorite baseball (and sports in general) writer. I happily include myself in that group. Hope to hear much more from you in NJ this year.

Posted by: ajtrue78 | April 4, 2009 1:46 PM | Report abuse

in your honor, sir, i pillage and loot the modern translation of a famous little middle english ditty from 1240 AD:

Summer is a-coming in,
Loudly blog, Boswell!
The seed grows and the meadow blooms
And the wood springs anew,
Blog, Boswell!
The ewe bleats after the lamb
The cow lows after the calf.
The bullock stirs, the buck-goat turns,
Merrily blog, Boswell!
Boswell, Boswell, well you blog, Boswell;
Don't you ever stop now,
Blog Boswell now. Blog, Boswell.
Blog Boswell. Blog Boswell now!

Posted by: natty-bumppo | April 4, 2009 3:47 PM | Report abuse

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