cloudyn.png
Thursday February 20th, 2020 10:09PM

Column: A look back at the best (and mostly worst) in sports

By The Associated Press
Related Articles
  Contact Editor

Wanted: a host for the sixth annual Newby awards.

Yes, we're in a bit of a bind, though nothing like the good folks at the Academy Awards.

You see, we never even got to the point where Kevin Hart accepted the honor, then had to withdraw because people capable of working the screengrab function pointed out that he's posted some terrible things about gay people.

I guess the lack of an actual ceremony — not to mention those all-important goody bags they hand out backstage — has stifled our search just a bit.

But we've still got time to rectify the situation.

Anyone interested?

Chris Rock? Billy Crystal? Who has Ellen DeGeneres' number?

(Insert sound of crickets.)

Well, since no one appears interested in a major career boost, we'll resort to our usual method for doling out the 2018 awards.

Without further ado, the winners (using that term very loosely) are:

INVERTEBRATE AWARD

Always one of the most competitive categories in sports, this year the choice is clear. While it's hard to deny the spineless wonders at the World Anti-Doping Agency, who went against the advice of pretty much everyone except Vladimir Putin when they in effect forgave Russia for its massive doping operation, we've got to go with those who looked the other way for years when faced with very clear evidence of Larry Nassar's serial sexual abuse. Really, folks, this should be an easy one. If you know of a doctor, coach or anyone who is abusing another human being, report it. Nassar will spend the rest of his miserable life behind bars. Those who allowed him to get away with his crimes for so long are equally culpable.

URBAN LIAR 101

While we're on the subject of lacking backbone, let's not forget Urban Meyer. The Rose Bowl will go down as his last game, but we'd prefer to focus on some other achievements that came to light during his final season as Ohio State coach. Like spending the better part of the past decade hiding, denying, ignoring and justifying the horrific behavior of assistant coach Zach Smith. Meyer served a three-game suspension, returned to lead the Buckeyes to another Big Ten title, and then announced his retirement. Of course, disgraced coaches never just fade away. Meyer says he'll be back on campus next year to teach a course on character and leadership. You can't make this stuff up, folks.

WORST FAREWELL TOUR

Danica Patrick, who had far more success on Madison Avenue than she did on the race track, closed her career in appropriate style. The much-ballyhooed "Danica Double" turned into the Danica Dud when Patrick crashed out of both the Daytona 500 and the Indianapolis 500. She finished 35th out of 40 drivers in her final stock-car race, followed by 30th out of 33 in her Indy-car capper. While Patrick was undoubtedly a highly influential figure, it feels as if her career was largely an opportunity wasted.

BEST DEBUT

Talk about a longshot. The Vegas Golden Knights brought the NHL to the glittery land of all-you-can-eat buffets, watered-down drinks and washed-up stars. But instead of going through the growing pains that are a rite of passage for most expansion franchises, the Golden Knights won their division and made it all the way to the Stanley Cup final. Alas, that's where the fairytale ended with a loss to the Washington Capitals. Too bad. If nothing else, it would've been fun to needle Toronto fans that an expansion team we presume was coached by Wayne Newton held the title champions of hockey, while the Maple Leafs haven't won the cup in over a half-century.

SPECIAL RECOGNITION FOR REDUNDANCY

The College Football Playoff is certainly a welcome upgrade over previous methods for selecting a national champion, but it's also clear that changes are needed. The same teams keep showing up in the four-team field, including Alabama all five years, Clemson four times and Oklahoma on three occasions. Notre Dame is the only newcomer this season. An eight-team playoff would be an easy fix, giving automatic berths to each of the Power Five conference champions, another automatic berth to the top team from the Group of Five, and two wild-card spots to round out the field. Of course, that makes so much sense we can expect the powers-that-be to resist with all their might. Oh well, maybe next century.

MOST UNLIKELY TITLE

The city of Atlanta was once dubbed "Losersville," with good reason. Until this year, the 1995 World Series-winning Braves were the A-T-L's only big-time champions (though those who remember soccer's Atlanta Chiefs, all 14 of them, would beg to differ). Atlanta United broke the 23-year drought by winning the Major League Soccer championship in just its second season. While certainly out of character for the city United calls home, the title was a fitting reward for a franchise that has stunningly become one of the best-supported teams in the world. Atlanta broke its own league record by averaging more than 53,000 fans per game during the regular season. Every playoff game drew more than 70,000.

MOST AMERICAN-LIKE PERFORMANCE AT THE RYDER CUP

Returning to form after winning golf's premier team competition in 2016, the star-studded U.S. team was blown out by the Europeans at Le Golf National outside Paris. One week removed from his first victory in more than five years, Tiger Woods went 0-4 in the Ryder Cup. Phil Mickelson lost both his matches as well. Europe romped to a 17½-10½ victory — its ninth triumph in the last 12 tries of the one-sided rivalry.

JUAN ANTONIO SAMARANCH BOONDOGGLE CUP

This award will now be handed out every other year. In other words, during every Olympic year, when the city that just hosted the games realizes what a financial mess it left behind. After this year's Winter Games, Pyeongchang was saddled with empty venues, feuding over who pays for upkeep and a glistening ski course that's now an abandoned dirt runway. To the surprise of no one, there wasn't much use for a speedskating arena, or a hockey center, or a bobsled track, or a ski-jump stadium once the 2½-week party was over. Now, it looks as if many of those venues might have to be razed because it's too costly to keep them open. Kudos to the South Koreans, who faithfully followed the wasteful tradition established by Montreal and Athens and Sochi and Rio de Janeiro.

We look forward to handing out the next prize to Tokyo in 2020.

___

Paul Newberry is a sports columnist for The Associated Press. Write to him at pnewberry@ap.org or at www.twitter.com/pnewberry1963 . His work can be found at https://apnews.com/search/paul%20newberry

  • Associated Categories: Associated Press (AP), AP Sports, AP Online Football, AP Online Hockey, AP Online Auto Racing, College Sports, AP Sports - College Football, Indy Car Racing
© Copyright 2020 AccessWDUN.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
Column: A look back at the best (and mostly worst) in sports
Column: The 6th annual Newby awards, honoring best and worst (mostly worst) in sports for 2018
2:03PM ( 21 minutes ago )
A blow to morale: Afghan generals worry about US withdrawal
Afghan generals say US troop withdrawal is a blow to morale, analysts say it will complicate efforts to reach a peace deal
2:00PM ( 24 minutes ago )
The Latest: Gatwick Airport in London reopens despite drone
London's Gatwick Airport says flights have resumed after a temporary shutdown due to a drone sighting
1:53PM ( 31 minutes ago )
Associated Press (AP)
Lawyer: Michigan State hampered probe of its Nassar dealings
An independent special counsel has accused Michigan State University of stonewalling his investigation into the school's handling of the sexual abuse scandal involving disgraced former sports doctor Larry Nassar
12:46PM ( 1 hour ago )
Shiffrin takes GS in Courchevel, 4th straight World Cup win
Mikaela Shiffrin won a giant slalom for her 49th career World Cup victory as the American continued her march to a third straight season-long overall title
12:38PM ( 1 hour ago )
Australian Open to have 10-point tiebreakers in deciding set
The Australian Open in January will play a 10-point tiebreaker in deciding sets, joining Wimbledon and the U.S. Open in using tiebreakers to avoid long matches
12:30PM ( 1 hour ago )
AP Sports
Reid's coach, teammates annoyed at latest random drug test
Panthers safety Eric Reid gets drug tested again, his coach and teammates increasing annoyed by 'excessive' drug testing by the league's 'random' policy
5:49PM ( 20 hours ago )
NFL suspends Patriots' Gordon for substance abuse violation
NFL suspends Patriots receiver Josh Gordon indefinitely for another violation of league's substance abuse policy
5:41PM ( 20 hours ago )
AP Source: Travis Scott in talks to perform at halftime show
Rapper Travis Scott is in talks to perform at the Super Bowl halftime in Atlanta and will headline a pre-Super Bowl show days before the big game
1:42PM ( 1 day ago )
AP Online Football
Ex-Senators executive pleads guilty to harassing driver
Ex-Senators assistant general manager pleads guilty to harassing driver in Buffalo
4:50PM ( 21 hours ago )
Penguins end Capitals' five-game win streak with 2-1 victory
Sidney Crosby and Bryan Rust scored and the Pittsburgh Penguins ended hot streaks by Alex Ovechkin and the Washington Capitals with a 2-1 victory
12:05AM ( 1 day ago )
Hart stops 20 shots in NHL debut, Flyers top Red Wings 3-2
Carter Hart made 20 saves in his NHL debut and Shayne Gostisbehere and James van Riemsdyk each had a goal and an assist as the Flyers defeated the Red Wings 3-2 and made interim coach Scott Gordon a winner in his first game
7:40AM ( 2 days ago )
AP Online Hockey
Jury recommends life in prison for man who rammed crowd
A jury has recommended life plus 419 years for a man convicted of killing a woman and injuring dozens when he drove his car into counterprotesters at a white nationalist rally in Virginia
4:01PM ( 1 week ago )
Jury resumes deliberations on white nationalist's sentence
A jury has started its second day of deliberations on a sentencing recommendation for a man convicted of killing a woman and injuring dozens when he drove his car into counterprotesters at a white nationalist rally in Virginia
11:25AM ( 1 week ago )
Jury to resume deliberations on white nationalist's sentence
A Virginia jury is set to resume deliberations on a sentencing recommendation for a man convicted of killing a woman and injuring dozens when he drove his car into counterprotesters at a white nationalist rally
12:39AM ( 1 week ago )
AP Online Auto Racing
Holiday gift: Boston College walk-on Herren gets scholarship
Boston College freshman walk-on Chris Herren Jr. awarded full scholarship by coach Jim Christian after practice
4:20PM ( 22 hours ago )
Oregon's Ionescu gets 13th triple-double, sets NCAA record
Sabrina Ionescu sets NCAA record with her 13th triple-double as No. 7 Oregon flies past Air Force 82-36
4:15PM ( 22 hours ago )
Ohio wins Frisco Bowl for Solich, oldest head coach in FBS
Ohio rolls to 27-0 win over San Diego State in Frisco Bowl for Frank Solich, now the oldest head coach in FBS
12:43AM ( 1 day ago )
College Sports
Ohio State gets first big W for new coach on signing day
Alabama wraps up another recruiting race title, Ohio St gets a big win
9:40PM ( 1 day ago )
Syracuse recruit has feel-good announcement
Syracuse signs defensive lineman Cooper Dawson of South Carolina; announcement goes viral on social media when friend Kingsley Feinman, who has cerebral palsy, does the honors
5:39PM ( 1 day ago )
The Latest: NCarolina, Brown slip in-state QB from Seminoles
New North Carolina coach Mack Brown landed a big pickup by flipping in-state quarterback Sam Howell from Florida State
3:12PM ( 1 day ago )
AP Sports - College Football
The Latest: Joey Logano wins 1st Cup Series championship
The Latest: Joey Logano has won his first Cup Series championship by passing defending champion Martin Truex Jr. after the final restart and then driving away from the field.
6:32PM ( 1 month ago )
The Latest: Kyle Larson wins 2nd stage of championship race
The Latest: Kyle Larson has won the second stage of NASCAR's championship race, edging championship contenders Kevin Harvick, Joey Logano and Martin Truex Jr.
5:20PM ( 1 month ago )
The Latest: Harvick wins opening stage of championship race
The Latest: Kevin Harvick has won the first stage of NASCAR's championship race.
4:23PM ( 1 month ago )
Indy Car Racing
A blow to morale: Afghan generals worry about US withdrawal
Afghan generals say US troop withdrawal is a blow to morale, analysts say it will complicate efforts to reach a peace deal
2:00PM ( 24 minutes ago )
The Latest: Gatwick Airport in London reopens despite drone
London's Gatwick Airport says flights have resumed after a temporary shutdown due to a drone sighting
1:53PM ( 31 minutes ago )
US aircraft carrier enters Persian Gulf after long absence
First US aircraft carrier enters Persian Gulf after American withdrawal from Iran deal; ends longest absence since at least 9/11
1:46PM ( 38 minutes ago )
Flights suspended again at London Gatwick after drone report
In a new nightmare for British holiday travel, flights have been suspended again at London's Gatwick Airport
1:43PM ( 41 minutes ago )
Pope tells abusive priests to turn themselves in
Pope Francis demanded Friday that priests who have raped and molested children turn themselves in and vowed that the Catholic Church will "never again" cover up clergy sex abuse
1:32PM ( 52 minutes ago )