Redskins

Column: And the winner is ... Time for the Newbys

Column: And the winner is ... Time for the Newbys

Forget the Oscars or the Emmys.

It's time for the Newbys - my awards for the top people, moments and mishaps in sports from 2012.

We'll skip the lame banter on the red carpet and long-winded acceptance speeches (unless it's Les Miles). Heck, we'll even take a pass on handing out actual trophies (enough of those already).

So, without further delay, the envelopes please.

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WORST DECISION: This is always a hotly contested category, considering the abundance of boneheaded calls, trades and signings that occur in any given year. The New York Jets acquiring Tim Tebow, for instance. But in 2012, the award goes to ... NFL replacement refs, for somehow concocting a way to give the Seattle Seahawks a game-winning touchdown on a Green Bay Packers interception. Though, to some, this might have been the best decision of the year because it forced the league to bring back the real refs. We never realized how much we missed those guys.

GENDER OF THE YEAR: Men are always tough to beat in this category, given their centuries-long head start. That said, the award goes to ... women! From Missy Franklin and Gabby Douglas lighting up the Summer Olympics to Serena Williams proving she's still a tour de force with a tennis racket. And let's not forget the small but monumental step of every country allowing women to compete at the London Games, which may turn out to be the biggest victory of all.

BIGGEST FREEFALL - It's hard to deny Felix Baumgartner, who leaped from a balloon at the outer edges of space with nothing but a parachute on his back, so with apologies the award goes to ... Bobby Petrino. The former Arkansas coach/Evel Knievel wannabe wrecked his motorcycle while on a ride with his mistress, lied about what happened, and lost his job when the truth emerged. Of course, we knew some school would give Petrino another chance, but it's quite a plunge from the Southeastern Conference to Western Kentucky.

MOST IMPROBABLE COMEBACK - The English Premier League put on a thrilling pennant race, the kind we used to have in baseball before they started letting everyone into the playoffs. The award goes to ... Manchester City, for scoring two goals in extra time on the final day of the season to capture its first premiership in 44 years. The fact that Man City edged crosstown rival Manchester United on goal differential only made the title that much sweeter for the Blues.

COUNTRY OF THE YEAR - Carrying on with the royal theme, the award goes to ... Britain, for putting on a stellar Olympics that included perhaps the most inspiring races of the year - Mo Farah's sweep of the 5,000 and 10,000 meters - among a bevy of gold medals for the host country. The British also claimed the Tour de France (Bradley Wiggins) and U.S. Open tennis championship (long-suffering Andy Murray), while contributing to Europe's historic Ryder Cup rally.

HOTTEST SPORT - For its glowing presentation of the Daytona 500, the award goes to ... NASCAR. It helps to be a sport that relies on flammable liquids, but no one expected the biggest race of the year to turn into Devil's Night. Juan Pablo Montoya's car spun out during a caution period, colliding with a jet fuel-powered dryer and igniting a towering inferno. Fortunately, no one was seriously hurt, and people who never paid a lick of attention to the good ol' boys suddenly tuned it to see what all the flames ... uh, fuss, was about.

BEST RANT - If he wasn't a football coach, he might be a comedian. His garbled vocabulary already has inspired its own Web site. For that reason, the award goes to ... Les Miles, the LSU football coach who was really on his game after a win over Ole Miss. In a steadily rising voice, he defended his players and urged anyone who ran into one of them ``to throw your arms around them and give them a big kiss on the mouth.'' Then with a smile, he quickly added, ``If you're a girl.'' Then, still smiling, he giddily proclaimed, ``Wow, what a game!'' Wow, indeed.

DUMBEST RULE - Who knew an NFL coach couldn't challenge a call that was already subject to review, and if he did, not only would his team receive a 15-yard penalty but the call would no longer be checked for accuracy? Truly ridiculous. But not ridiculous enough. The award goes to ... baseball's ``outfield'' fly rule. In a one-game playoff, the Braves hit a fly ball to left that dropped between the shortstop and an outfielder. The umpires called an automatic out, invoking the infield fly rule - even though the ball landed more than 200 feet from home plate. A potential Braves' rally was cut short, Atlanta fans turned Turner Field into a garbage dump, and the Cardinals won the game. Even dumber, baseball has yet to amend the rule to avoid a similar debacle.

MOST CALLOUS FRANCHISE - We're long past believing that professional teams really care about the fans, but one franchise took its cavalier approach to new lows. The award goes to ... the Miami Marlins, who persuaded their city to foot most of the bill for a new stadium, signed a bunch of high-priced players, then promptly traded most of them away after one disappointing season. So far, there's been no offer to settle up with the taxpayers, who were under the mistaken impression the Marlins would actually try to field a competitive team for more than a year.

PERSON OF THE YEAR - Saving the best for last, the award goes to ... Chuck Pagano, coach of the Indianapolis Colts. Stricken with leukemia early in his first season as the head guy, he stepped away for three months to undergo treatment. Inspired by his struggle, a team that went 2-14 a year ago has won 10 games, clinched a playoff berth and made shaved heads a fashion statement. Pagano returned to work the day before Christmas, just in time for the postseason. He's already a champion, showing us what's truly important in life. And, no, it's not sports.

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Paul Newberry is a national writer for The Associated Press. Write to him at pnewberry(at)ap.org and www.twitter.com/pnewberry1963

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10 Training Camp Questions: How dangerous is the Brandon Scherff contract situation?

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USA Today Sports

10 Training Camp Questions: How dangerous is the Brandon Scherff contract situation?

The Redskins report to training camp on July 24th, and for the next 10 days, JP Finlay will count down the 10 biggest questions the Redskins face going into the 2019 season.

10) Will the Redskins develop depth on the D-line?

9) Can the Redskins count on Montae Nicholson?

8) Want better offense? Get more out of the tight ends 

7) Will Jimmy Moreland actually win the slot CB job from Fabian Moreau?

6) After losing Reuben Foster, how's the Redskins LB situation?

5) Will potential match production for Redskins WRs?

When a team picks in the Top 10 of the NFL Draft, folks around the NFL expect that player to become a Pro Bowler. For Washington, that exact scenario unfolded with right guard Brandon Scherff. 

Mostly. 

Selected fifth overall in 2015, the Redskins took Scherff to play right tackle and anchor the offensive line opposite Trent Williams. That idea quickly faded, helped by the emergence of Morgan Moses, and Scherff moved inside to play guard. For four years, it's worked out great, with Pro Bowl selections in 2016 and 2017. 

Scherff is a mauler in the best sense of the word. He has great footwork and Redskins head coach Jay Gruden has called the former Iowa Hawkeye the best pulling guard in the NFL. Scherff is strong and nasty, words that won't win beauty pageants but absolutely win in the trenches of the NFL. 

Considering all of that, a contract extension for Scherff should be easy. Right?

Wrong. 

Currently in the final year of his rookie deal, multiple reports stretching over the last six weeks indicate that the organization is way off in their extension offers to Scherff. He might not command the biggest contract in the league, but he will get paid like a top three guard. In 2019, that means a lot of money.

Cowboys guard Zach Martin makes $14 million a year. Jaguars guard Andrew Norwell makes $13.3 million a year. Scherff might not get to Martin's salary, but he will probably get to Norwell, whether Washington pays it or not.

That means the Redskins need to pony up the cash now because as each day passes, the team is approaching an ugly set of options. Scherff and his representatives might continue to negotiate during the season, but it doesn't make a lot of sense. Once free agency becomes in view, players tend to wait for it. Just ask Kirk Cousins. 

In fact, the situation between Scherff and the Redskins has some resemblance to the Cousins saga from a few years ago. 

In that case, Washington low-balled their homegrown quarterback in their first set of negotiations. From there, things went sideways, and the team used consecutive franchise tags on Cousins before he finally left via free agency. 

If the Redskins can't get a deal done with Scherff, the team could use a franchise tag in 2020. But that's a dangerous game of roulette. 

The time to get a deal done with Scherff is now, if not last month. Redskins team president has said in the past that deadlines drive deals, but with Scherff, there is no exact deadline. He can decide to stop working on a contract extension at any moment, particularly once the pads come on at training camp. 

The Trent Williams holdout might be complicating things a bit, if Williams only wants more cash and the issue isn't about much more than that. The truth is a Scherff extension would actually free up cap space in the short term, as his signing bonus would be spread out over the life of the contract, and some of that salary cap relief could go to Williams right away. 

Williams' status isn't the hold up between Scherff and the Redskins. Whatever is the actual holdup best be resolved soon. or the Redskins are beginning down an all too familiar franchise path.

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Sánchez and Adams lead Nationals in crucial win over Braves

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USA Today

Sánchez and Adams lead Nationals in crucial win over Braves

ATLANTA—Anibal Sanchez outpitched Mike Soroka and scored the go-ahead run in the fifth inning, Matt Adams homered and the Washington Nationals beat the Atlanta Braves 5-3 on Saturday night.

Second-place Washington pulled within 5 games of the NL East-leading Braves, improving to 33-14 since May 24, best in the majors over that span. Atlanta has dropped four of five.

Sanchez (6-6) got a big assist in the bottom of the fifth when shortstop Trea Turner turned a bases-loaded double play, leaping to nab Nick Markakis' liner and throwing to first to beat Josh Donaldson back to the bag.

Soroka (10-2) allowed four runs and nine hits in six innings. He had won 10 straight decisions, best by an Atlanta pitcher since Hall of Famer Greg Maddux had a 10-decision streak in 2001.

Sean Doolittle got the last five outs, facing the minimum, for his 21st save in 25 chances. He struck out Ronald Acuna Jr. with a runner at second to end the eighth and breezed through the ninth.

Washington went up 4-1 in the fifth when Sanchez reached on an infield single to third, took second on Donaldson's throwing error and scored on Turner's double. Turner took third on Adam Eaton's single and scored on Anthony Rendon's single. Eaton scored on Juan Soto's single.

The Nationals took a 5-3 lead in the eighth off A.J. Minter as Turner singled, stole second and scored on Eaton's single.

Adams went deep for the 15th time, an opposite-field homer that bounced off the top of the wall in left-center and into the stands to tie it at 1-all in the fourth.

Sanchez, who pitched for the Braves last year and helped them win the division, allowed three runs and six hits and has a 2.70 ERA in his last nine starts.

Atlanta led 1-0 in the first when Acuna reached on an infield single, stole second base, advanced on a flyout and scored on Freddie Freeman's single.

Brian McCann's ninth homer, a two-run shot in the sixth, chased Sanchez and cut the lead to 4-3.

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NBC Sports Washington's Michael Stearman contributed to this Associated Press story.