Some of this, some of that

Today is a pretty big day in Dan Kolko's world. And yes, I'm writing in the third person.

The college basketball season kicks off today, which marks the beginning of one of my favorite sports to watch. I'm also thrilled to see the University of Maryland basketball team back in action.

Full disclosure: I didn't actually go to UMD. I'm a graduate of the University of Delaware, but grew up in Silver Spring as a big Maryland basketball fan. As a sports reporter, it's tough to remain a fan of whatever teams you grew up rooting for as a kid because you have to remain unbiased and it's tough to monitor the goings-on of other teams when you're focused so heavily on the one that you cover.

But Maryland basketball is one of the few teams of my childhood that I still pull for, and I'm excited to see how the new-look Terps fare tonight against the defending national champions, the Kentucky Wildcats.

Today could also a pretty big day in Davey Johnson's world.

Johnson and the Nationals are very close to finalizing a contract which will allow the 69-year-old Johnson to return to the dugout as the Nats' manager for the 2013 season. The deal could end up being completed today.

The process of Johnson and the Nationals reaching an agreement has taken a bit longer than many of us had expected, but the important thing is that the two sides have closed in on an agreement.

The negotiations apparently weren't hostile and there weren't any major issues which caused things to drag on to this point. It just took a while for a deal to be finalized. Johnson was already under contract for 2013 as a consultant, but the language in his contract needed to be adjusted for him to return as manager, and his salary had to be negotiated.

Johnson leads a pretty sweet life these days. He'll spend the early part of his 70s managing a successful baseball team, he wins fishing tournaments in his free time and is close to a scratch golfer.

Consider me quite jealous.

laroche high five dug out colorado sidebar.jpgToday is a fairly normal day in Adam LaRoche's world, although you will hear a bit of "news" on LaRoche at some point later on.

The free agent first baseman will decline the Nationals' qualifying offer before today's 5 p.m. deadline, which is in no way a surprise.

This doesn't mean that LaRoche won't return for next season or that the Nats cannot continue negotiating with the Gold Glove and Silver Slugger award winner. It just means that LaRoche will turn down the Nationals' one-year, $13.3 million deal for next season in search of a multi-year contract.

Because the Nats presented LaRoche with the qualifying offer, they're guaranteed a compensatory draft pick if he signs elsewhere.

As I've mentioned, the Nats would like to figure out where things are going with LaRoche sooner rather than later so that they can turn their attention to other areas, but for now, LaRoche and his agent continue to determine how much interest there is from other teams on the open market. Once they have a better idea of what LaRoche's value is, they can come back to the Nats and try and talk shop.

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