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A Cup, Cinderella, And Cellar Dwellers: A Look At The Top DMV Sports Moments Of 2018

With the end of the calendar year right here, I thought it would be a good idea to look back on some of the biggest and best sports moments that came out of the DMV area this season. We saw historically good teams, we saw historically bad teams, we saw Cups, and we saw Cinderella show up to the ball. Let's dive deeper into the best sports moments from the DMV area. I should note that this isn't in any particular order too, just with how I came up with them.

Caps Win The Cup

This is easily my top sports moment, and one of the biggest stories in the DMV area of the year. The Washington Capitals winning the Stanley Cup trumps all other stories from the area. You know the story, chokers year after year, Presidents Trophy but no Cup,  can never beat Pittsburgh, always run into the hot young goaltender, can never make the conference finals, Ovi doesn't play defense and doesn't produce in the playoffs, Ovi golfs in June. All of that got shut down and thrown out when the clock ticked down in Vegas. It truly was an incredible playoff run for the Caps. This regular season wasn't like the ones previous, they didn't have the team that was the clear cut favorite, Presidents Trophy winning, steamrolling, peaking too early teams. They had a good regular season, won the Metro, but we all knew what was in store, we had read that book. It looked like the same old same old when the Blue Jackets won the first two games of the series, but it wasn't the same old same old, Washington won four straight to close out Columbus, went on to beat Pittsburgh in 6, and then knocked off the Lightning in 7.

They faced the Vegas Golden Knights, the darling team in the NHL. The best first year expansion team in sports history, everyone was rooting for them. We had the new kids on the block vs the losers from every year. Vegas won the first game but that would be all they could tally. Washington put on a performance in the rest of the series, winning their first Stanley Cup in 5 games. There were so many great moments in this playoff run with so many unsung heroes and young guys making names for themselves. The comeback in Columbus, Kuzy's series ender in OT off a Sidney Crosby turnover in Pittsburgh, Ovi swatting the puck out of the air in Pittsburgh in Game 3, absolutely shredding the Lightning in Game 7, "The Save" in Game 2 of the Cup Finals, DSP's falling down shot in Game 5, and obviously Lars Eller with the GW tip in after Fleury lost track of the puck.

Tears were shed, alcohol was drank, children were conceived, Stanley Cups were bent. Everyone who has ever lived and died with this team will remember where they were when Ovi finally raised that cup. Seeing his emotions as he lifted the Cup was something I'll never forget, if you don't tear up when 8 skates away with the Cup than you don't have a heart. An athlete and a team that got criticized and ripped apart every Summer was finally at the top of the mountain. No one deserved it more than Alex Ovechkin. And if you thought the fans had fun celebrating the Cup, think again. The Capitals made nationwide news as they had a tour with the Cup. It seemingly went to every watering hole in the area. We saw Ovi drinking beers out of it in a fountain, it came to Nats Park, Camden Yards, literally everywhere. Because of the Capitals, you now know what a "Cup stand" is. Alex Ovechkin is going to go down as one of the top hockey players ever, he very well could retire as the all-time goal scoring leader as well, but we do know that he will retire a champion, and you can't take that from him. What a season for these guys, easily the top sports moment in the DMV.

UMBC Makes History Against Virginia 

Every season going into March there were the talks, "is this the year a 16 beats a 1?" And every season you thought it could happen until halftime when the #1 seed goes on a 15-2 run and that pretty much ends the game. Virginia never had a chance to do that against the Retrievers of UMBC. People in the DMV area know the school, it's right off 95 before you get into Baltimore. We all knew that kid from high school who went there but didn't stay on campus and you don't really know what they studied. They certainly weren't known as a "basketball school", they were just kind of known as a "school".

It was a neat story when they won their conference tourney with a buzzer beater, but no one thought they'd do anything in March, especially when they got matched up with the defensive powerhouse that is Virginia. Lead by Jairus Lyles and K.J. Maura, the Retrievers stuck around with Virginia in the first half and had a few leads but couldn't pull away as the teams were tied at 21 at half. UMBC stormed out of the gate with a 7-2 run and never looked back. They absolutely wrecked Virginia in the second half, outscoring them 53-33. 53 points in the second half alone, just unreal. It screwed up everyone's brackets, but no one cared, we were all sitting in front of the TV rooting like hell against Virginia, it made it that much sweeter that it was UMBC doing what had never been done before. While UMBC did lose their next game vs Kansas State, this was still unreal to watch live, and will go down in the history books as one of the best upsets ever in any sport. You rarely saw anyone in the area sport their UMBC gear, but man has it come out since this win. Any other season, this would probably be the top sports story in the area, but Caps Cup > UMBC Upset. But I don't want to take anything away from this team, because this truly was one of the most remarkable wins and upsets in NCAA and sports history.

Bryce Harper Wins Home Run Derby In His Home Park

Bryce put on quite a show in the Home Run Derby in his home park in what could be have been his last chance to represent the Nationals on a big, national stage. He was the runner up in the 2013 Home Run Derby in New York and had mentioned that this was the only other time that he would participate, not a bad decision. He was the #2 seed in the Derby and had to go through Freddie Freeman and Max Muncy before meeting Kyle Schwarber in the finals. There were some questions about Bryce's dad throwing some pitches too quick, but who cares, its a HR Derby, let them swing metal bats for all I care.

Bryce came out with his USA Stars and Stripes bat, headband, arm sleeve and socks, and looked like he was taking this thing pretty seriously. Some guys tend to mess around and have fun, he wanted to win this. Schwarber put up 18 in the final round which looked like it would be enough to hand the Nationals and their star yet another loss short of their goal. Harper then flipped the switch and absolutely turned it on. He homered on 9 of his last 10 swings to tie it up and earned himself an extra 30 seconds of swing time. He wouldn't need all 30 seconds as he drove the second pitch he saw over the fence for the win. Harper celebrated with some of his Nats teammates and his dad on the field. He was having a terrible year at the plate, but it was kind of neat to watch a guy really embrace the "Hometown Hero" mantra and win it in front of his fans (that he will probably be leaving). Harper and the fans obviously enjoyed it and it was one of the best highlights from a great All Star Break in DC.

Terps Win Another One Vs Texas

When it was announced a few years back that the University of Maryland would be playing two games against Texas in football I think we all penciled those in as losses. They surprised EVERYONE last year when they went into Austin last year and won by 10. Texas came into FedEx Field to face an emotional Maryland team, a Maryland team playing it's first game since they lost a teammate and brother, Jordan McNair. McNair was an offensive lineman for the Terps who died two weeks after he collapsed during an offseason practice. The story didn't end there. Many reports surfaced of a "toxic culture" in College Park, and many stories were leaked about abuse from coaches and trainers on staff.  There were stories of fights between players during practice over suspected leaks to the press, it got really ugly. It was a black cloud that hung over the program and school for months, and still is hanging over them. They were able to pull out another fantastic win over the 15th ranked Longhorns, completing the two game sweep.

It was the best moment of their dark season, a season in which the Terps put former head coach,  D.J. Durkin on administrative leave, reinstated him, and then fired him a day later after backlash from nearly everyone. Matt Canada stepped in and did a great job with the cards he was dealt, and he was able to coach the Terps to a hell of an upset over a team playing in a late December bowl game. Not many things to hold your head up high about when mentioning the Terps football program in 2018, but this was one of them.

One Last Trot To Center Field In Baltimore For Adam Jones

This isn't news to you, the Orioles were dog shit this season. In fact, they became the sixth team in MLB history to lose 115 games, things did not go according to plan. The season was over by the end of April, and many fans had checked out. With the season lost, key players started being dealt. Adam Jones could have followed in the footsteps of Manny Machado, Zach Britton, Kevin Gausman, Jonathan Schoop, and Darren O'Day as key pieces of the franchise to be traded, but he exercises his 10-5 rights and veto'd a trade. He wanted to end the season in Baltimore with one of the worst teams in the history of the sport. No one really knows why, I think he wanted to be the Cap10 that goes down with his ship. That's just the kind of guy he was. Could he have gone to Philly and helped them make a playoff run? Sure, but he didn't. He went out to play every day for a team that was going to lose over 100 games. The team made it clear that he would not be returning when his contract was up at the end of the season. They had a replacement in mind, Cedric Mullins, who they wanted to patrol center field in Baltimore. They brought him up and for the first time in Jones' 11 years in Baltimore, he'd be playing somewhere other than center field. He moved to right field for the remainder of the year, and didn't say a word about it.

He knew his role, and he accepted it. Many other players would have thrown a fit, Jones took it in stride. On the last day of the season Buck Showalter announced that Jones would be getting the start in center field. He took the field in an O's uniform one last time and jogged out to center, no one else joined him. The team let the longest tenured Oriole and a future Orioles Hall Of Fame get one final applause from the Orioles' fans. It was rightfully earned, and really an awesome moment in a god awful season. Jones handled it with class and dignity, the exact same way he went about the game during his time in Baltimore.

Baltimore, Please Meet Lamar Jackson

When the Ravens traded back into the first round to get the 32nd pick from the Eagles, no one really knew who they were targeting. When they selected Lamar Jackson, QB out of Louisville, people went nuts. There was really no one in different about it, Ravens fans either loved it or hated it. Many of the Ravens faithful hold a strong connection to Joe Flacco, the QB who gambled on himself and then had one of the best postseason runs in playoff history while winning a Super Bowl in 2014. Joe Montana and Joe Flacco, just the only two guys in NFL playoff history with 11 TDs and 0 picks. Heading into the season it was thought that if Joe and the Ravens played well and saw the playoffs for the first time since 2014, Joe could be back in 2019. Lamar would be waiting in the wings when Joe's time was up. People knew Lamar wouldn't be ready, his passing game wasn't ready for NFL action, and that he would likely be a decoy on some plays, but mostly used as a running option.

Turns out Joe's time was up right around week 9 when he injured his hip in a loss to the Steelers. Lamar stepped in following the bye week against the Bengals and hasn't looked back. He is putting up crazy rushing yards, making the passes he needs to, isn't forcing the ball downfield, and most importantly, is winning. It's now a forgone conclusion that Joe Flacco will be playing elsewhere in 2019 and that Lamar will be the franchise QB for the Ravens. That has people very excited here in Baltimore. Would it have been different if Lamar had lost 4 games when Joe went down? Of course, but he didn't. He has opened up the offense so much for Baltimore, and in the span of a season we have seen them go from a team that looked like it may lead the league in passing attempts with Flacco, to a team that is almost unstoppable with the run game with Jackson. We've literally never seen an NFL  team do what Jackson and the Ravens have been doing on the ground over the past few weeks, it seems like the college RPOs, but no one in the league can stop it.

Lamar is literally a polar opposite player than what Joe is, so teams aren't sure how to attack or defend him yet, that's a good thing for Baltimore. He's really only played in about half a season for the Ravens, but Lamar has people BUZZING around Baltimore again, especially with them winning the AFC North.

Redskins Quarterback Carousel Continues

Going into the 2018 season, it looked like the Redskins finally had their quarterback. The on-again, off-again dating with Kirk Cousins was over as he signed a massive deal with the Minnesota Vikings, and the Skins traded for veteran arm, Alex Smith from the Chiefs. They signed him to a hefty extension and it looked like the Skins had their guy for the next few seasons. Washington was playing well, jumping out to a 5-2 start and looking like a team that could win the division. Fast forward to November 18th when Alex Smith was sacked by JJ Watt and sustained a broken leg. I haven't watched the video because I can't look at stuff like that, but from what I heard it was not pretty. We're talking about things pointing in ways it shouldn't, compound fractures, all that stuff, count me out. Veteran backup, Colt McCoy was the next guy up with the Skins still sitting at 6-4 and a pulse.

Not even a week later, McCoy is lost for the season with, yup, a broken leg during the Cowboys game. Two QBs, two broken legs, less than a week. Mark Sanchez was brought in to backup McCoy and started the next game against the Eagles. You won't believe this, but he is not good. He was benched in the week 14 game against the Giants, a game where the Skins lost 40-14. Those 14 points came from a guy who was signed less than a week before the game, Josh Johnson. If you like an NFL team, there is a 84% chance Josh Johnson has worked out or been on your team. He played decent and led the team to a win in Jacksonville, keeping them alive in the playoff hunt even with their fourth string guy slinging the rock. Johnson held his own against the Titans for three quarters before throwing two terrible picks and giving the Titans the game in week 16. He played pretty terribly in week 17, but the team had mailed it in at that point. But for a team with this many QB injuries to still be playing for something in week 16 is wild. I'm just talking QB carousels here too, not any of the other problems on the field for the Skins. I really thought the Skins performance in spite of the QB play and injuries were something.

So there you have it. The top sports moments from the DMV Area this year. It was an exciting one because I finally got to witness a Championship, I saw my favorite team lose 115 games, we saw a new star at QB in Baltimore, the same old stuff in DC, and we witnesses history on the hardwood with UMBC. I'm sure there were a few other big moments I missed, let me hear what I missed.

I hope you all have a safe and happy New Years. Don't be an idiot, get a DD.