Capitals

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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'It's like losing a brother': The human aspect of the NHL trade deadline

'It's like losing a brother': The human aspect of the NHL trade deadline

The NHL trade deadline is always a fun time for fans. It's a time for buyers to bring in the final key pieces of a Stanley Cup roster or maybe those one or two players needed to complete a run to the playoffs. For sellers, it is time to move players away and begin looking towards the future. It's a time when everyone with any interest in hockey pours over rosters, cap hits and stats trying to determine who could fit where like pieces on a chessboard.

The feeling is much different for the players.

"It's difficult," Nick Jensen said of the trade deadline. "It's a whirlwind. Everything's going on, you're kind of comfortable at the place you're at, you have a place where you played for a while and your family's there and all of a sudden, for me, I got traded and that night I was gone and I never really looked back."

To the players, the trade deadline is not just about shuffling names from roster to roster, this is real life. A player's life can change with one phone call and the news that he now has to pack his bags for a new city and get there in a matter of days, sometimes hours.

The uncertainty of the trade deadline affects every player of every team. Obviously there are those like Alex Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom who know they are not going to be traded, but that doesn't mean friends can't be traded for or away. Whether your team is in a rebuild or a Cup contender, there's a chance the roster could look very different by 3 p.m. on Monday for any team in the NHL.

"It can be a little distracting at times for the whole team in general if you're a team that you think was going to be making some moves, but it can also especially be distracting if you're a guy that's being talked about being traded," said Jensen who was traded to the Caps in 2019 as a deadline move.

Some players find themselves to be the unwilling trade chips of a deal as general managers try to tweak their rosters. The news of a trade, however, can sometimes be a welcome relief. That certainly has been the case for most deadline pickups for Washington in recent years.

From a competitive standpoint, typically the Caps have sought reinforcements from teams that know they will not be headed to the playoffs. Players come to Washington with the hope of competing for a Stanley Cup or perhaps of being able to find a better fit and a bigger role than the one they are leaving.

"I was in really bad situation [in Chicago]," said Michal Kempny, who was a trade deadline pickup for the Caps in 2018. "Every change was good for me. I just kind of waited what's going to happen and I got traded here."

"To come here and have some big-time meaningful games coming up, and be right in the thick of the race, it's a lot of fun," the newly acquired Brenden Dillon said.

But that's on the ice. The off-ice implications are a bit more complicated.

Off the ice, players have to think about their homes, their wives or girlfriends and their kids. Off the ice, players are faced with the realities of a world that is not built around the schedule of a professional athlete.

"My wife had just finally started living with me because she was in grad school before that so it was like oh finally we get to live together," Jensen said, "And then we lived together for like five months then I get traded and like oh here we go again. Dealing with when you get traded the stuff outside of hockey can be tough like that."

Initially, players do not have to worry about much in terms of housing. They are put up in a hotel and can adjust to their new surroundings. Then they are left to trying to adjust to their new team.

"It's kind of different.," Kempny said. "New city, new organization, new teammates. It's part of our job and those things happening every year to a lot of guys."

Adjusting to a new team can be especially difficult when it is one as tight as the Caps.

While players are certainly excited to join the organization, there also comes with it a level of intimidation of walking into the locker room.

"It feels like a tight-knit family in here, and there's a reason that they've had so much success not just this year but in years past," Dillon said. "I'm just trying to be a piece to the puzzle, come in and do what I can."

"I'm coming into a team where I got traded for a guy that was here that a lot of the guys were pretty fond of so that's kind of in the back of your mind too," Jensen said. "I know the guys really liked [Madison Bowey.] I heard he was a really great guy so I know losing guys at trades can be tough in that sense because you could grow as a family here and it's like losing a brother. Going in and trying to replace that can be tough too."

Adjusting to a new team, adjusting to a new system, adjusting to a new city and doing it while also trying to figure out where you're going to live and if and when your family may move with you is a lot for anyone to handle. The trade deadline comes with the added pressure of having to adjust quickly. A player who is traded in December still has over half the season left to play. It comes with all the same challenges, but there is more time for a player to get his game in order.

At the trade deadline, however, it's crunch time. There is only about a quarter of the season left to play and suddenly all the off-ice things that most people would refer to as "life" become a distraction from the task at hand, something in which the players have to shut out.

"The approach I always took is I always try to control the things that I could control and getting traded is out of my control," Jensen said. "I just focus on each game and take the same approach that you always take whether you're being traded or not being traded. If you focus on the stuff outside of your game, it's just a distraction, it's a waste of energy and it kind of puts a toll on you a little bit.

"It's not easy. It's not easy shutting things out like that, but that's kind of the approach you've got to take."

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Wizards vs. Bucks: time, TV channel, live stream, how to watch

Wizards vs. Bucks: time, TV channel, live stream, how to watch

The Wizards head back to the nation's capital Monday night for a matchup with Giannis Antetokoumpo and the Milwaukee Bucks at Capital One Arena.

Bradley Beal led the Wizards with an astounding 53 points in the team's loss Sunday night to the Chicago Bulls. Beal passed Jeff Malone on the team's all-time scoring list for second place. He now only trails Elvin Hayes.

The Bucks are coming off a dominant 21-point win over the 76ers on Friday night and look to continue their stellar play in D.C. against the struggling Wizards.

Here is everything you need to know.

WIZARDS vs. BUCKS HOW TO WATCH

What: Washington Wizards vs. Milwaukee Bucks

Where: Capital One Arena, Washington D.C.

When: Monday, Feb. 24, 2020, at 7:00 p.m. ET

TV Channel: Wizards vs. Bucks will be broadcast on NBC Sports Washington (NBC Sports Channel Finder)

Live Stream: You can live stream Wizards vs. Bucks on NBC Sports Washington's live stream page and on the MyTeams App.

Radio: Wizards Radio Network, 1500 AM

WIZARDS vs. BULLS TV SCHEDULE

6:00 PM: Wizards Outsiders

6:30 PM: Wizards Pregame Live

7:00 PM: Wizards vs. Bucks

9:30 PM: Wizards Postgame Live

10:00 PM: Wizards Talk

WIZARDS vs. BUCKS PLAYERS TO WATCH

Bradley Beal, Wizards (29.6 PPG, 4.4 RPG, 6.0 APG): Beal will look to carry the Wizards to victory against the Bucks after the team was unable to defeat the Bulls on Sunday night.

Giannis Antetokounmpo, Bucks (30.0 PPG, 13.6 RPG, 5.8 APG): The Greek freak is on a fast-track to another MVP trophy and has the Bucks in a prime position to come out of the Eastern Conference.

Click here to download the MyTeams App by NBC Sports. Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream Capitals and Wizards games easily from your device.

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