Capitals

Blue Jays hire John Gibbons as manager again

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Blue Jays hire John Gibbons as manager again

TORONTO (AP) Blue Jays President Paul Beeston couldn't believe it when he learned the Blue Jays had the chance to land three star players from the Miami Marlins last week. He was equally surprised when his general manager told him he wanted to hire John Gibbons to manage the Blue Jays again.

``They were back-to-back shockers,'' Beeston said with a laugh.

General manager Alex Anthopoulos unexpectedly hired Gibbons as his new manager on Tuesday, a day after a megadeal with the Miami Marlins reinvigorated the roster and raised expectations the Blue Jays will make the playoffs for the first time since winning their second consecutive World Series in 1993. Only Kansas City and Pittsburgh have longer playoff droughts.

``I said `Are you serious?''' Beeston recalled. ``Forget about him being an intellectual, he's a baseball guy. And those are the guys you really want in your organization.''

Gibbons managed Toronto 2004-08 and had a 305-305 record, making him the third-winningest manager in franchise history.

He succeeds John Farrell, who spurned Toronto for his dream managing job in Boston. Gibbons takes over a very different team from the one Farrell managed.

The surprise announcement came a day after the Blue Jays completed the trade to acquire All-Star shortstop Jose Reyes and pitchers Josh Johnson and Mark Buehrle from Miami. Toronto agreed to the trade last week and Commissioner Bud Selig approved it Monday. The Blue Jays, extraordinarily busy in this offseason, also finalized a $16 million, two-year contract with free agent outfielder Melky Cabrera.

Gibbons said he never imagined he'd be hired by Toronto again.

``Who wouldn't want to be here?'' Gibbons said. ``The front office has put together a legitimate contending-type team.''

Yankees general manager Brian Cashman is well aware the AL East has gotten even more competitive because of Toronto's recent moves.

``I know the sleeping giant that exists up there. It's a great baseball town,'' Cashman said in a conference call with New York beat writers. ``Last year wasn't a true reflection of how good they could have been because they got derailed with injuries and unexpected underperformance.''

Anthopoulos said he wanted someone he was familiar with. Anthopoulos was an assistant GM when Gibbons managed Toronto. Gibbons joins Cito Gaston as managers serving two stints with the Blue Jays.

``I don't know that there was anybody better in terms of managing a bullpen, connecting with the players, connecting with the front office, holding players accountable,'' Anthopoulos said.

His best season was in 2006, when Toronto went 87-75 to finish second in the division - the same season he had a well-publicized blowup with players Shea Hillenbrand Ted Lilly. Gibbons said he regrets the physical altercation with Hillenbrand and called it a black eye, but Anthopoulos defended him and said if you can't play for Gibbons then you can't play for too many guys.

Gibbons most recently managed the San Antonio Missions of the Double-A Texas League in the San Diego Padres' organization last season. He also had three seasons as the Kansas City Royals' bench coach.

Gibbons joined the Blue Jays' coaching staff in 2002 as a bullpen catcher and was promoted midseason to first base coach. He served in that capacity until replacing Carlos Tosca in 2004. Before joining the Blue Jays the first time, Gibbons spent 11 seasons working with the New York Mets.

Anthopoulos said the Blue Jays have gone beyond what they thought the payroll could be, but said he was promised that if the right opportunity came along ownership would spend. The payroll stands at $120 million as of now.

Anthopoulos said he didn't expect to make such a splash this offseason. He said he first targeted Johnson and but quickly learned Reyes and Buehrle were also available. He told Beeston he knew it was a lot of money, but said Beeston encouraged him and checked with the owners, Rogers Communications.

``I always felt when the opportunity was right that Rogers would invest in the ballclub,'' Beeston said. ``We've spent the money, now let's go out and win.''

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Game 61: Capitals at Panthers Date, Time, How to Watch, Game Thread

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USA TODAY Sports

Game 61: Capitals at Panthers Date, Time, How to Watch, Game Thread

What: Washington Capitals vs. Florida Panthers

Where: BB&T Center, Sunrise, Fla.

When: 7:30 p.m. ET

How to Watch: Capitals-Panthers will be broadcast on NBC Sports Washington (Channel Finder)

Live Stream: You can watch the Capitals-Panthers game on NBC Sports Washington's live stream page.

WHEN IS THE CAPITALS-PANTHERS GAME?

The Capitals (34-19-7) take on the Panthers (26-25-6) Tuesday, February 22 at 7:30 p.m. ET in Florida.

WHAT CHANNEL IS THE CAPITALS-PANTHERS GAME ON?

The Capitals-Panthers game will be broadcast on NBC Sports Washington. Coverage kicks off with Capitals FaceOff at 6:30 p.m. followed by Caps GameTime at 7:00 p.m. Stay with NBC Sports Washington for Caps Extra following the game, Caps Overtime at 10:30 p.m. and Caps in 30 at 11:30 p.m. for all your postgame coverage. (NBC Sports Washington channel Finder)

6:30 p.m. — Caps FaceOff
7:00 p.m. — Caps GameTime
7:30 p.m. — Capitals at Panthers
10:00 p.m. — Caps Extra
10:30 p.m. — Caps Overtime
11:30 p.m. — Caps in 30

WHAT ARE THE PROJECTED LINES FOR THE CAPITALS-PANTHERS GAME?

Here are the projected lines for the Caps-Panthers game:

Forwards
Alex Ovechkin - Nicklas Backstrom - Tom Wilson
Jakub Vrana - Evgeny Kuznetsov - T.J. Oshie
Brett Connolly - Lars Eller - Andre Burakovsky
Chandler Stephenson - Jay Beagle - Devante Smith-Pelly

Defensemen
Dmitry Orlov - Matt Niskanen
Christian Djoos - John Carlson
Michal Kempny - Brooks Orpik

Braden Holtby starts with Philipp Grubauer as backup

Scratches: Alex Chiasson, Madison Bowey, Jakub Jerabek

WHERE CAN I STREAM THE CAPITALS-PANTHERS GAME?

The Capitals-Panthers game, as well as Caps GameTime and Caps Extra, is available to stream live here through NBC Sports Washington's live stream page and is available to authenticated NBC Sports Washington subscribers on desktops, tablets, mobile devices and connected TVs anywhere in the United States.

CAPITALS-PANTHERS OPEN THREAD

Use the comment section below to discuss the game action with other Capitals fans. 

For all the latest Caps coverage, follow Capitals Insider Tarik El-Bashir, Capitals correspondent JJ Regan and the NBC Sports Capitals account on Twitter. Be sure check out our Capitals page and NBC Sports Washington's Facebook page.

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Need to Know: The most underrated Redskins events of 2017

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Need to Know: The most underrated Redskins events of 2017

Here is what you need to know on this Thursday, February 22, 20 days before NFL free agency starts.

I’m out this week so I’ll be re-posting some of the best and most popular articles of the past few months. Some may have slightly dated information but the major points in the posts still stand. Thanks for reading, as always.

The underrated Redskin moments of 2017

Originally published 12/29/17

Sometimes in the NFL, something happens that grabs headlines and appears to be a momentous event that has ripple effects that will last all season and perhaps beyond. Other times something that is greeted with a yawn by fans and the media turns out to be something with lasting impact. Here, in no particular order, are three underrated events from 2017. Tomorrow we’ll look at three events that were overrated at the time they happened.  

Beating the Rams in Week 2—Nobody got particularly excited when the Redskins went to the LA Memorial Coliseum and beat a Rams team that had gone 4-12 in 2016. Sure, there was a belief that they were in good hands with Sean McVay but nobody saw them as anything better than a middle of the pack team. The win looks much more impressive now as the 11-4 Rams have locked up their division with a playoff game in their future.

Drafting safety Montae Nicholson—He was a fourth-round pick who had a shoulder injury and appeared to be a reach. But once he got on the field, the reasons the Redskins drafted him became apparent. His range and hard hitting had an immediate impact on the game. Nicholson had problems staying on the field and he will finish the year on IR, so his impact this year was diminished. Regardless, he has a good chance of being part of the solution to a position with which the Redskins have had issues for years.

Ty Nsekhe’s injury—Against the Raiders in Week 3, Shawn Lauvao’s facemask had an issue and he had to leave the game for a play. In came Nsekhe without an opportunity to warm up. He suffered a core muscle injury and had to undergo surgery. His absence didn’t seem like a big deal at the time, but Trent Williams suffered a knee injury the next week and other offensive linemen were sidelined with injuries over the next several weeks. Nsekhe was inactive until the Week 10 game against the Vikings and he didn’t start a game until the Thanksgiving game against the Giants. He sure would have been useful to have in the lineup instead of T.J. Clemmings or Tyler Catalina.

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page Facebook.com/TandlerNBCS and follow him on Twitter @TandlerNBCS.

Timeline  

Days until:

—NFL Combine (3/1) 7
—NFL Draft (4/26) 63
—2018 NFL season starts (9/9) 199