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Rob Gronkowski is irreplaceable and Rendon isn’t far behind

March 25, 2019

Once again, it’s time to check off some items on my “TIDU List” Things I Don’t Understand. Like:

I don’t understand how anyone replaces Rob Gronkowski

The future Hall of Famer has elevated the Patriots’ offense since catching 10 touchdown passes as a rookie in 2010. Injuries stunted his all-time numbers, but he still ranks among the best tight ends in history. He’s arguably No. 1 if equal weight is given to receiving and blocking. Tom Brady said the Pats were “almost unbeatable” with Gronk on the field.

They’ll figure something out, but it won’t be the same.

I don’t understand why the Nationals would consider letting Anthony Rendon walk

Prominent homegrown players like Bryce Harper, Ian Desmond and Jordan Zimmermann already departed via free agency. The Nats apparently made the right decision with the latter two, and it’s too early to tell on Harper. But Washington needs to extend Rendon like it extended Ryan Zimmerman and Stephen Strasburg to bridge the past with the future and avoid a hole at third base.

Drafting and developing without retaining gets old after a while.

I don’t understand how teams can defend Duke’s Zion Williamson

Players who stand 6-foot-7 and weigh 285 pounds aren’t supposed to have 40-inch verticals and moves that are equally deft and explosive. “It’s hard to match that level of special athlete,” Florida State coach Leonard Hamilton told reporters. “You can put him down as one of the greatest athletes that has ever come through the ACC, and there have been quite a few.”

But none like Williamson, which Virginia Tech is about to learn.

I don’t understand why Robert Kraft thinks we’re stupid

The Patriots’ owner issued a statement saying he’s “truly sorry,” without saying what he’s apologizing for, other than calling it “this matter.” Kraft and his lawyers refuse to admit the obvious that the 77-year-old billionaire solicited prostitutes at a seedy massage parlor in Florida even though (allegedly) there’s video of him being serviced. Kraft would rather pretend it never happened than accept a plea bargain.

Unfortunately for him, the NFL isn’t handling the investigation.

I don’t understand how Virginia ever lives down UMBC

The No. 1-seeded Cavaliers were tied at halftime last year before falling and making history in the Greatest Tournament Upset Ever. This year, still reeling from that humiliating blowout, Virginia trailed Gardner-Webb at intermission. Thoughts of a repeat performance danced through everyone’s head, but the Cavs rebounded to thump Gardner-Webb and, on Sunday, Oklahoma. Yet, the ghost remains in need of company.

Virginia will root for every No. 16 seed from now until another one wins.

I don’t understand why the Wizards waited so long

The playoffs were Washington’s goal, even with no shot at advancing. Coach Scott Brooks ran Bradley Beal into the ground. Veterans Jeff Green and Trevor Ariza remained on the payroll. Owner Ted Leonsis said the Wizards would “never, ever tank.” But on the verge of elimination after losing to Denver last week, Brooks said “We gotta experiment and see different lineups. Obviously, we’ve got decisions to make.”

They obviously decided to waste a prime opportunity earlier.

I don’t understand how Russell Westbrook makes it look so easy

Before Westbrook began assaulting the NBA record book, we marveled at Oscar Robertson being the only player to average a triple-double for an entire season. When Westbrook joined The Big O two seasons ago, some said it was fluky. Then Westbrook did it again. OK. Now he’s in line for a third consecutive season with double-figure averages in points, rebounds and assists.

But, sure, keep telling yourself that anyone can do it.

I don’t understand why schemes are irrelevant to Doug Williams

Great coaches adapt to get the most out of players. But when all else is equal, players who fit the team’s style are better choices than players who don’t. Except to Doug Williams, personnel executive for Washington’s NFL team. “I don’t do the scheme thing,” he said. “When we look at players, we look at talent ... I don’t know exactly what the scheme is.”

As if there aren’t enough reasons for embarrassment in Ashburn.

I don’t understand how the Capitals’ White House visit matters

Goaltender Braden Holtby and forward Brett Connolly said they wouldn’t accompany their teammates during Monday’s trek. Other players, like Alex Ovechkin and T.J. Oshie, were excited about going. Covering which teams/players go and which ones don’t has become a story, but it has no bearing on wins, losses or chemistry. “We stick by every single teammate we have and their decision,” Holtby said.

Maybe some real food was on the menu this time.

I don’t understand why Tom Izzo’s antics surprise anyone

The Michigan State men’s basketball coach usually masks his ire better than he did Thursday while coaching freshman Aaron Henry. But cameras have captured plenty of other instances usually partially obscured in huddles when Izzo’s lips curled as he turned beet red and berated his team with a stream of expletives. He’s firmly entrenched in the old school and isn’t inclined to change at this stage.

He might as well retire if he can’t coach his way.

⦁ Deron Snyder writes his award-winning column for The Washington Times on Tuesdays and Thursdays.