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Q&A with "Beltway Boys" author

Apr 3, 2013, 4:30 PM EDT

The success of the Nationals over the last year, not to mention the emergence of both Stephen Strasburg and Bryce Harper as two of the most recognizable faces in baseball, has led to plenty of increased attention and coverage of the franchise. That includes a just-published book by local writer Elliott Smith, whose "Beltway Boys: Stephen Strasburg, Bryce Harper and the Rise of the Nationals" is now on the shelves and for sale on Amazon.

Smith, who grew up in Richmond, has been covering a variety of sports in the D.C. area for the last two years for multiple outlets, including the Associated Press and the Washington Times. He previously covered Seattle's pro teams for The Olympian newspaper. Oh, and he also was my colleague and editor at The Daily Northwestern many moons ago.

Since Elliott was kind enough to interview me during his reporting of the book, I thought it would only be appropriate to turn the tables and interview him about the process of writing it, about the mad scramble to update and finish the book while the playoffs were still underway and then to offer him a chance to make fun of me from my college days.

Enjoy the interview, and please check out the book. It's a great read! …

MARK ZUCKERMAN: You've been in D.C. for a couple of years now, and you've covered all kinds of different sports. What made you want to write a book specifically about the Nationals?

ELLIOTT SMITH: Well, the way this all came about was, I was working Triumph (the publisher) on something else, and they said: "You're in D.C. Do you have any ideas about the Nationals?" ThisRead more ยป

  1. natsfan1a - Apr 3, 2013 at 4:50 PM

    This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. natsfan1a - Apr 3, 2013 at 5:01 PM

    Corrected for cut-and-paste fail. See y'all after lunch.Oh, man. Don't leave us hanging like this… :-)But to your readers: Next time you see Mark, ask him about that Penn State road trip. That's when you'll get to see a different side of Mark, right there.

  3. Ghost Of Steve M. - Apr 3, 2013 at 5:07 PM

    Penn State dirt on Mark?

  4. Unknown - Apr 3, 2013 at 5:08 PM

    From the first week the Nationals arrived in Washington until a year ago, I was one of the team's most ardent bloggers. For awhile there, I blogged 2-3 times a day during the regular season.The name of my blog? The Beltway Boys.Hmmm ………I guess there isn't anything I can do considering I took the name "Beltway Boys" from a Saturday afternoon political show on Fox in the late 1990's.But I'd settle for five or six cents. That would keep me quiet for sure :)Farid @ IdahoBlogging as The Beltway Boys

  5. Rich P. - Apr 3, 2013 at 5:13 PM

    Meanwhile, Dave Sheinin of the Post spent months stalking Strasburg in 2010, then more months stalking Harper in 2011. What does he have to show for that?

  6. Faraz Shaikh - Apr 3, 2013 at 5:17 PM

    Quick question: is anyone planning on attending Nats vs Braves next Saturday? I cannot but I want GG's bobblehead. Anyone willing to share?

  7. Doc - Apr 3, 2013 at 5:17 PM

    I haven't read the interview yet, Mark. As soon as I get a chance I'll puruse it. Strictly a coincidence but I got up this morning without knowing about Smith's book, and thought to myself it'd be neat if Zuk wrote a book about the Nats.But hey, why not wait until they win the WS and then Mark's book will have more impact!!!! LOL

  8. UnkyD - Apr 3, 2013 at 5:27 PM

    New posted….:—————UnkyD said…I have a little trouble seeing what all the fuss is about, in losing the power bat of Mikey. I love the guy, but seven of the eight starting position players have a reasonable chance of getting 20+…some as many as 30-40 taters, this year. Lack of power does not seem like a major worry…April 03, 2013 1:23 PM

  9. Ghost Of Steve M. - Apr 3, 2013 at 5:33 PM

    The book I want to read is how players like Jamey Carroll have flourished in the MLB since the clean-up of PEDs.I want to read a book on a non-star but someone who grinded every day of there lives to get where they are. If not him, Chad Cordero.Baseball, hockey, and golf are among the sports that still have a place for gritty hard working youngsters who persevere. They don't have to be 6'2" and take PEDs.I will read Elliott Smith's book, but I really want to read about the underdog. I do understand that not too many people want to read that type of book but some will.

  10. Doc - Apr 3, 2013 at 5:36 PM

    Yeah Mark, wad about that Penn State trip??Were the cops called in?? Were there strippers and booze? Who paid for the broken furniture, and the holes in the walls?Sounds intriguing!

  11. Ghost Of Steve M. - Apr 3, 2013 at 5:42 PM

    This comment has been removed by the author.

  12. Ghost Of Steve M. - Apr 3, 2013 at 5:43 PM

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/nationals-journal/wp/2013/04/03/how-much-will-the-nationals-miss-michael-morses-power-in-the-lineup/Well James Wagner throws in his 2 cents on Michael Morse and his power.One missing point on Morse is that he played hurt almost all of 2012 making 2011 a great season to judge him on his power potential.In an above average lineup, you can't pitch around the batter in front of him like you can with Stanton and the Beast is one of the few feared batters when he is healthy.

  13. Tcostant - Apr 3, 2013 at 5:57 PM

    I would love for Mark to post that college road trip story :)I have an interesting story about how the author said that the Nationals are not well know. I was in Mexico at x-mas time and he were crossing the Tj / San Degio boarder. For none who have done this before, think of long lines and vendors selling everything from toco to jerseys to garden gnomes.So my wife was buying some jerseys and hats for my boys of the local Tj soccer team. But they have everything Giants, Cowboys, Yankees, Royals, etc. The guy ask me "what's your team"; I point to my hat and say The Washington Nationals. He looks at me and says, "like Seatle?". I say no, Washington, D.C. He ask if it is a college team. I say no, major league baseball. He goes and ask a few other guys and none have even heard of the Nationals.No kidding…

  14. Sec. 3, My Sofa - Apr 3, 2013 at 5:59 PM

    So, Elliott, is this available in local bookstores? Nats shops? At the ballpark? Does it come with a free copy of Bob Carpenter's scorebook? (FP made me ask that–Bob wrote the foreward).Beltway Boys on Amazon.com

  15. baseballswami - Apr 3, 2013 at 6:01 PM

    Great guy, but the folks who post around here have short memories. On this and other blogs his defensive skills were routinely criticized, as well as his ability to play a full season. Now that he is gone he has become a folk hero. I love the guy's personality, he is a really good hitter, I am so glad he was a Nat, I thank him for Take On Me ( I think many folks at the ball park had no idea they were playing it because he was up to bat, though), and I wish him health and success in Seattle. The Mariners were the first major league club I took my sons too,as they were born out there. I hope it is a great fit for him.

  16. baseballswami - Apr 3, 2013 at 6:03 PM

    That was about Morse, of course.

  17. Sec. 3, My Sofa - Apr 3, 2013 at 6:19 PM

    Wait, I just thought of something: Without Morse, who's in charge of the shaving cream pies for position players?

  18. Candide - Apr 3, 2013 at 6:21 PM

    Faraz Shaikh said… Quick question: is anyone planning on attending Nats vs Braves next Saturday? I cannot but I want GG's bobblehead. I'm going. You can have my Gio bobblehead.When you pry it from my cold, dead hands.

  19. Ghost Of Steve M. - Apr 3, 2013 at 6:26 PM

    baseballswami, read all of my past posts on Morse. Yes, he was not a great defensive leftfielder but was still better than that hack Matt Holliday and 2 or 3 others. I felt his best position would be 1st base. I guess it's water under the bridge now and at times this season it will be a bitter pill to swallow every time we hear how he is dominating.As I said last week, he led all of the MLB in Spring Training with 9 HRs which he hit against real MLB starters. If ALR does his job near last year and Denard Span excels and AJ Cole is a stud, then this turns out to be a great trade but everyone has to remember, Morse was going to be a Free Agent after this season so he was going to be a short-timer regardless.

  20. Candide - Apr 3, 2013 at 6:29 PM

    Tcostant said…I have an interesting story about how the author said that the Nationals are not well know. I was in Mexico at x-mas time and he were crossing the Tj / San Degio boarder. Cunegonde and I were also in Mexico (Cozumel) at Christmas. Vendors galore, of course, signs were 90% English, dollars were the standard medium of exchange, apart from Visa and Mastercard.One outdoor kiosk sold an odd item: beer bottles that had apparently been melted flat, and in the melting process, had a team logo embedded into the glass.The usual suspects were there: The Yankees' NY, the Cowboys' lone star, and other popular teams, all in prominent display.I didn't see a Nats bottle as we walked by, and remarked as such to Cunegonde. The lady in the kiosk heard me, and said, "We have the Nationals…" and beckoned us over.Sure enough, there's a flattened blue bottle with the big red Curly W in the middle.Ten bucks. It's on our kitchen stove, serving as a cooking spoon resting place.

  21. baseballswami - Apr 3, 2013 at 6:32 PM

    Ghost – the free agency is one of the biggest factors. That, and having many, many outfielders and first basemen. I think some people expect Span to replace Morse but they are totally different players . Span is not a power hitter but can bat lead off, freeing up Jayson for another spot. It's just a different skill set and dynamic.

  22. Section 222 - Apr 3, 2013 at 6:42 PM

    I'd say Morse's impending free agency was the biggest factor. If he'd been under team control for several more years, Rizzo might very well have stood pat, knowing his value would increase with another monster season. We've yet to see what Span can do. If he has an OBP of .350 or above this year and plays excellent CF, and Harper starts making some great plays in LF, people are going to stop moaning about the loss of Morse even if he continues to rake in Seattle.

  23. DaveB - Apr 3, 2013 at 7:09 PM

    So as long as we're beating this dead horse, would Giancarlo have tested Morse on Monday? and would he have made it? (I think the complaints on Mikey were about his range, and not his arm, but ust thought I'd toss it out there.

  24. baseballswami - Apr 3, 2013 at 7:11 PM

    Good point.

  25. Rich P. - Apr 3, 2013 at 7:16 PM

    The choice wasn't Morse or Span. The choice was Morse or LaRoche. Giancarlo wouldn't have tested Morse on Monday, because Morse would have been playing first base.

  26. natsfan1a - Apr 3, 2013 at 7:19 PM

    Seeing as how there don't seem to be sideline interviews now, that may be a moot point.Sec. 3, My Sofa said… Wait, I just thought of something: Without Morse, who's in charge of the shaving cream pies for position players? April 03, 2013 2:19 PM

  27. Section 222 - Apr 3, 2013 at 7:20 PM

    Somewhere Feel (or whatever he now calls himself) is smiling because we are still having this discussion.

  28. natsfan1a - Apr 3, 2013 at 7:22 PM

    That's rich, 222. ;-) Speaking of rich, I believe your post is missing a "not," Mr. P.Rich P. said… The choice wasn't Morse or Span. The choice was Morse or LaRoche. Giancarlo wouldn't have tested Morse on Monday, because Morse would have been playing first base. April 03, 2013 3:16 PM

  29. Sec. 3, My Sofa - Apr 3, 2013 at 7:23 PM

    OK, talcum powder in the bathroom, then. Who's giving players a hotfoot on the bench?

  30. Sec. 3, My Sofa - Apr 3, 2013 at 7:25 PM

    Perhaps we can revisit the "They should have traded/re-signed Soriano!" argument the next time we have an off day.

  31. Sec. 3, My Sofa - Apr 3, 2013 at 7:26 PM

    Actually, we do still rehash the Bartolo Colon trade some days, so maybe the Morse discussion will be with us for some time.

  32. baseballswami - Apr 3, 2013 at 7:29 PM

    Let's not forget that we actually got Morse for Ryan Langerhans. I think he might still have a job. Rizzo!

  33. natsfan1a - Apr 3, 2013 at 7:29 PM

    Curse you, Minaya! (shakes fist at screen)

  34. Doc - Apr 3, 2013 at 7:31 PM

    Actually Sec., the Bartolo Colon trade will 'live in infamy' to borrow a phrase. Worst trade in baseball history!

  35. Faraz Shaikh - Apr 3, 2013 at 8:37 PM

    Come on Ruth trade has to be the worst. Colon pales in comparison.

  36. Candide - Apr 3, 2013 at 8:57 PM

    Ruth wasn't traded to the Yankees; he was sold.The worst TRADE: Orioles send Milt Pappas, Jack Baldschun, and Dick Simpson to the Reds for Frank Robinson.

  37. NCNatsie - Apr 3, 2013 at 9:03 PM

    Nope. Lou Brock for Ernie Broglio.

  38. Sec. 3, My Sofa - Apr 3, 2013 at 9:12 PM

    Who can forget Frank Robinson for Milt Pappas, for [goodness's] sake?!

  39. Doc - Apr 3, 2013 at 9:33 PM

    Thanks Candide!Just trades here Faraz–not sales!Interessting to see last winter's Toronto-Miami trade come out??That trade has the potential to be one of the worst, depending on how the prospects for Miami work out.

  40. Tcostant - Apr 4, 2013 at 12:51 PM

    Candide said… Ruth wasn't traded to the Yankees; he was sold.The worst TRADE: Orioles send Milt Pappas, Jack Baldschun, and Dick Simpson to the Reds for Frank Robinson. Me – Nolan Ryan's trade from the Mets, might have been the worst of all time IMO.

Archives

NL EAST STANDINGS

W L GB
x-WASHINGTON 91 64 --
ATLANTA 76 80 15.5
NEW YORK 76 80 15.5
MIAMI 74 81 17.0
PHILADELPHIA 71 85 20.5
x-Clinched NL East title
Through Monday's games

NL PLAYOFFS STANDINGS

W L GB WCGB
x-WASHINGTON (3) 91 64 --
y-LOS ANGELES 89 68 3.0
y-ST. LOUIS 88 69 4.0
-------------------------
PITTSBURGH 85 71 --
SAN FRANCISCO 85 71 --
MILWAUKEE 80 76 5.0
x-Clinched division title
y-Clinched playoff berth
Through Monday's games

UPCOMING SCHEDULE
TUE: Mets at Nats, 7:05 p.m.
WED: Mets at Nats, 7:05 p.m.
THU: Mets at Nats, 7:05 p.m.
FRI: Marlins at Nats (DH), 1:05 p.m., 7:05 p.m.
SAT: Marlins at Nats, 4:05 p.m.
SUN: Marlins at Nats, 1:35 p.m.
(End of regular season)
MON: OFF
Full season schedule

Mark joins Rob Carlin and Joe Orsulak every Thursday at 4 p.m. on Comcast SportsNet for a half-hour show on the Nats, Orioles and rest of MLB. Re-airs Thursdays at 11:30 p.m., Saturdays at 9 a.m. and Sundays at 11:30 a.m.

ON THE RADIO

As ESPN-980 AM's Nats Insider, Mark makes daily appearances on the station's various shows. Here's the 2014 schedule (subject to change)...

MON: 12:45 p.m.
TUE: 2:30 p.m.
WED: 4:30 p.m.
THU: 2:30 p.m.
FRI: 1:30 p.m., 5:30 p.m.
SAT: 10:30 a.m.

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