2012 was full of great and not-so-great moments in local sports … which made it difficult to determine the Top 10 D.C. Sports Stories of 2012 on our own.
Here are the Top 10 Sports Stories of 2012 as voted by you, The Fan:
- Robert Griffin III
To say Robert Griffin III’s arrival in D.C. has been anything short of spectacular would be an understatement. The second-overall pick in the NFL Draft has rejuvenated a fan-base and franchise that has been lethargic for the better part of two decades.
- The Redskins win 7 in a row, beat Dallas at home in week 17 to win the NFC East and clinch a playoff birth.
Any time the Washington Redskins play in this town, it’s big news. And to say any game was bigger than the Redskins hosting the Cowboys at home for the last nationally televised game of the regular season and a chance to win their first NFC East division title since 1999 would be doing a disservice to the team and its fanbase. Of course we all know now, they won that game. And the RGIII-led Redskins sent the Cowboys and Tony Romo home demoralized to watch the playoffs on television along with the rest of the country.
- The Nationals win the NL East
For the first time since 1933 there was postseason baseball in Washington. In his first full season as manager, Davey Johnson guided the Nationals to the best record in baseball, giving birth to the term “Natitude.”
- Bryce Harper debuts for the Washington Nationals, wins the NL Rookie of the Year award.
No clown question here! All 19-year-old Bryce Harper did this year was hit .270 with 26 doubles, 9 triples, 22 homers and 59 RBIs en route to winning Rookie of the Year honors.
- The Strasburg Shutdown
The great debate! Should they or shouldn’t they? After imposing an innings, the Washington Nationals shut down All-Star Stephen Strasburg after he posted a 15-6 record with a 3.16 ERA and 197 strikeouts as part of long-term rehabilitation concerns stemming from Tommy John Surgery in 2010.
- Jayson Werth’s walkoff homerun in NLDS game 4, and the Nationals’ collapse in game 5.
Forget the biggest play of the year. Jayson Werth’s walkoff home run in Game 4 of the National League Division Series is one of the greatest moments in D.C. sports history. The moment sent Natitude into a fevered pitch as Washington’s dream season continued only to come crashing down in a historical collapse in Game 5.
- Chris Cooley is cut by the Redskins
An eight-season run, in which Chris Cooley became the penultimate fan favorite, the Washington Redskins released the tight end on Aug. 28, ready to move on with Fred Davis as the premiere player at the position. He was re-signed less than two months later when Davis suffered a torn Achilles tendon and placed on injured reserve.
- University of Maryland announces move to the Big 10
After 59 season in the Atlantic Coast Conference, financial hardship forced the Maryland Terrapins to jump to the Big 10 conference, drawing backlash from many longtime supporters and alumni. The University previously cancelled a number of sports because of a lack of funding.
- The Redskins cap penalty
As the free agency period neared, the NFL levied a $36 million salary cap penalty against the Washington Redskins for overloading contracts during the uncapped 2010 season. The penalty was spread over two years. The Dallas Cowboys were handed a $10 million penalty. Both teams lost their appeal.
- The #8 seed Capitals knock off #1 seed Bruins in the 1st round of the NHL Playoffs.
Joel Ward’s overtime goal lifted the eighth-seeded Washington Capitals to victory in Game 7 against the defending champion, and top-seeded Boston Bruins. The series helped propel rookie goalie Braden Holtby to the limelight.
Here’s what didn’t make the list:
The Wizards Amnesty Andray Blatche
On July 17, the Washington Wizards paid Andray Blatche $23 million to simply go away after a less than fulfilling seven-year relationship.
Flip Saunders is fired
Following a 2-15 start to the 2011-12 season, the Washington Wizards fired head coach Flip Saunders and replaced him with assistant Randy Wittman. Wittman led the Wizards to a franchise worst 0-12 start the following season.
The Wizards acquire Ariza, Okafor, Nene
Ernie Grunfeld traded Rashard Lewis to the New Orleans Hornets in exchange for veterans Emeka Okafor and Trevor Ariza. A few months earlier the Wizards acquired Nene in a three-way deal with the Denver Nuggets and Los Angeles Clippers.
Nationals “Take Back the Park”
In an effort to keep unruly Phillies fans at bay, the Nationals opted to only sell tickets to an early May series against Philadelphia to purchasers in the Washington area.
Adam Oates is hired
On the same day he was elected to the Hockey Hall of Fame, Adam Oates was hired to succeed Dale Hunter as coach of the Washington Capitals. He is currently serving as an assistant during the NHL Lockout.
Pierre Garcon signs with the Redskins
He spent his first three seasons catching passes from Peyton Manning and had a career-best campaign in 2011 with the Colts, but opted not to stay in Indianapolis and signed a five-year, $42.5 million deal to join the Redskins and helped rebuild a struggling receiving corps.
John Wall’s injury
John Wall began the season on the Wizards bench and remains there. Originally expected to miss eight weeks with a knee injury, Wall is yet to make his 2012 debut.
Ernie Grunfeld contract extension
Despite a playoff drought dating back to 2008, the Washington Wizards extended general manager Ernie Grunfeld’s contract by two seasons. Owner Ted Leonsis wanted to give Grunfeld an opportunity to complete the rebuilding process.
Mike Shanahan: Redskins are in evaluation mode
After an embarrassing performance against a then one-win Carolina Panthers team and falling to 3-6 on the season, Mike Shanahan stated it was time to evaluate which players wanted to be on the team in 2013 during a post game press conference. He would clarify his remarks the following day, emphatically stating he had not given up on the season.
Kevin Payne leaves D.C. United
Kevin Payne, who served in D.C. United’s front offense since the team’s inception in 1996, left the club to join the Toronto FC. Payne had been instrumental in building the MLS franchise.
Joel Ward target of racist remarks
Following the Capitals upset win over Boston in the playoffs, Bruins fans lashed out Joel Ward with racist remarks on Twitter. Boston has a long history with race-related issues in sports.
Wizards 0 – 12 start
In 2012, the Washington Wizards opened with a franchise worst 0-12 start. Their losses were compounded by the absences of starters, including John Wall who remains sidelined with a knee injury.
DC United Makes Playoffs
A bevy of young faces helped the DC United to rally without 2011 MSL MVP Dwayne De Rosario and snap a five-season playoff drought.