Top 12 New York sports stories of 2012
There's a reason they call it a "New York minute.'' Things happen -- and change -- fast around here. Submitted for your consideration: Neil Best's look back at the top 12 New York sports stories of 2012.
12. MAYOR BLOOMBERG CANCELS MARATHON
It had been less than a week since Sandy devastated the New York area, but Mayor Michael Bloomberg insisted the world’s largest marathon would go on as scheduled Nov. 4. Then only two days before the big event he reversed course amid intense pressure from the media, constituents and some aides and canceled the race, leaving thousands of international runners with nowhere to run.
To most, it was an acknowledgment that resources were more urgently needed elsewhere. Bloomberg merely said he did not want “a cloud to hang over the race or its participants.” Some runners went to Staten Island instead to help with the recovery.
11. STONY BROOK REACHES COLLEGE WORLD SERIES
The rise of Stony Brook as a major-college sports attraction on Long Island continued with the success of several of its teams, but nothing quite matched the baseball team qualifying for its first College World Series by stunning No. 1 seed LSU in Baton Rouge in a Super Regional.
The Seawolves lost to UCLA and Florida State to end their dramatic run, but they finished 52-15 and with seven players selected in the major league draft.
10. RANGERS ADVANCE TO CONFERENCE FINAL
After surviving the No. 8 seed Senators and No. 7 seed Capitals in seven-game series, the top-seeded Rangers fell to the No. 6 Devils in six in their first NHL conference final since 1997.
The most dramatic moment of the run came with the series against the Capitals tied at two games each and Washington leading, 2-1, late in Game 5. Brad Richards tied it with 6.6 seconds left in regulation time and Marc Staal (pictured) scored 1:35 into OT.
The Kings went on to beat the Devils for the Stanley Cup, but as autumn turned to winter the league had not returned to action because of another crippling labor dispute.
9. A-ROD BENCHED IN PLAYOFFS
As we saw in 2012, some New York sports lightning rods come and go. Others are evergreen. Ladies and gentlemen: Alexander Emmanuel Rodriguez.
This time the signature A-Rod moment of the year was Joe Girardi benching him for Game 5 of the ALDS. Then he did it again for Games 3 and 4 of the ALCS.
He was pinch-hit for thrice, and late in Game 1 of the ALCS reportedly was flirting with two women, one a bikini model, seated behind the dugout. He finished 0-for-18 with 12 strikeouts against righthanders in the playoffs.
Rodriguez is scheduled to undergo hip surgery in January. The Yankees still owe him $114 million.
8. NETS MOVE TO BROOKLYN
Marketing professors will be lecturing for decades about the textbook re-branding the Nets pulled off upon moving from a temporary home in downtown Newark to a shiny new one in downtown Brooklyn.
The hipness quotient was off the charts, led by minority owner Jay-Z, who helped design the team’s popular new logo and merchandise, and surrounded by a borough on the rise.
Superstorm Sandy delayed the long-anticipated Barclays Center opener from Nov. 1 against the Knicks to Nov. 3 against the Raptors, but that didn’t change the bigger picture: The nomadic Nets finally have found a home.
7. MO TEARS ACL
It was a shocking development that came out of leftfield. Well, actually, it was more like left-center. But there was Mariano Rivera in Kansas City May 4, crumpled on the warning track and clutching his right knee after it got twisted as he shagged a batting practice fly ball.
The diagnosis was a torn ACL that ended the reliever’s 2012 season and, at age 42, threatened his career. Happily, he intends to come back in 2013, as do a couple of fellow Core Four Yankees.
Derek Jeter’s ongoing late-career revival was cut short by a broken left ankle in Game 1 of the ALCS and Andy Pettitte’s coming-out-of-retirement campaign was limited to 12 regular-season starts, also by a fractured left ankle.
6. R.A. DICKEY WINS CY YOUNG
Even in the year of Linsanity and Tebowmania, R.A. Dickey was the best individual sports story in New York, from climbing Mount Kilimanjaro in January to writing a revealing autobiography published in April to throwing back-to-back one-hitters in June to becoming the first knuckleballer to win a Cy Young Award in November.
Then by late December he was gone, dealt to the Blue Jays after he and the Mets were unable to agree on a contract extension.
There was some rancor at the end, including a report that the Mets had tired of Dickey’s alleged self-promotion. At least, unlike the majority of athletes who are far less compelling, Dickey usually had interesting things to say.
5. JOHAN SANTANA'S NO-HITTER
People in other parts of the country — and many Yankees fans — pooh-poohed the excitement over Johan Santana no-hitting the Cardinals June 1. After all, no-nos have become commonplace.
They didn’t understand how Mets fans felt about the statistical quirk that long clouded the franchise. The Mets needed 8,020 regular-season games to secure their first a no-hitter despite having featured many star pitchers — many of whom accomplished the feat in other uniforms.
Adding to the drama was that Santana benefited from a blown call on what should have been a hit by former Met Carlos Beltran, was saved by a tough catch from a guy who grew up in Queens, Mike Baxter, and needed 134 pitches, which greatly concerned manager Terry Collins.
Santana went 0-5 in July and August before being shelved with a lower back ailment.
Some wondered whether it was a response to the Giants winning it all. Others, as Mark Sanchez once memorably put it, figured it was about “selling seats, man.”
Whatever the motivation, the Jets invited massive attention when they obtained Tim Tebow in a March 21 trade with the Broncos, whom he had led to a playoff victory in January.
Sure enough, the former Heisman Trophy winner was a media magnet grotesquely out of proportion with his role, even attracting live training camp coverage on ESPN.
But coaches never did figure out what to do with him, and when Rex Ryan benched Sanchez Dec. 18 he elevated third-stringer Greg McElroy, not Tebow.
Most basketball fans barely had heard of Jeremy Lin before he scored 25 points off the bench in the Knicks’ victory over the Nets the night before the Super Bowl.
By late February the Taiwanese-American out of Harvard had dominated Newsday’s back page for three weeks and appeared on the cover of Sports Illustrated twice.
The whirlwind included upsets of the Lakers and Mavericks and a 6-0 record in his first six starts. Then, just like that, it was over.
The Heat harassed him into an awful night Feb. 23, Mike Woodson replaced Mike D’Antoni as coach March 15 and Lin was through with a knee injury after a March 24 game. He signed with the Rockets in July when the Knicks declined to match a three-year, $25.1-million offer.
2. ISLANDERS ANNOUNCE MOVE TO BROOKLYN
It was a moment years in the making but it still was a jolt: On Oct. 24, at a hastily arranged news conference at Barclays Center, the Islanders announced they would move to Brooklyn no later than 2015.
With his lease at the outmoded Nassau Coliseum due to expire that year and no new or renovated building in sight, owner Charles Wang had finally given up on his goal of keeping the team on Long Island.
Technically, it will not be leaving the Island, because Brooklyn is on the same land mass as Uniondale. But for many Long Islanders, the move will sever a tie that dated to the franchise’s inception in 1972 as a team the sprawling suburban region could call its own.
1. GIANTS WIN SUPER BOWL XVI
Like most good sequels, this one might not quite have lived up to the original, but it more than satisfied fans of the series.
Four years after upsetting the previously perfect Patriots behind Eli Manning and an improbable winning-drive pass to David Tyree, the Giants upset them again behind Manning and an improbable winning-drive pass to Mario Manningham.
Adding to the fun for Manning, who won his second Super Bowl MVP, was doing it in Indianapolis, longtime (and soon-to-be-former) home of his big brother Peyton.
The 21-17 victory Feb. 5 gave the Giants their fourth Lombardi Trophy and attracted an average of 111.3 million viewers, the most ever for an American TV program.