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Aaron Judge heads Newsday’s top NY sports stories of 2017

Giants’ decline, Mets’ pitching, Isles stadium search, Giancarlo Stanton, Mike Francesa, Sloane Stephens were also among the top stories.

Yankees' Aaron Judge hits a three-run home run

Yankees' Aaron Judge hits a three-run home run in the bottom of the fourth inning against the Astros in ALCS Game 3 at Yankee Stadium on Oct. 16, 2017. Photo Credit: Newsday / J. Conrad Williams Jr.

Hey, it wasn’t all bad. There was the Yankees’ surprising season and their equally surprising trade for Giancarlo Stanton and . . . well, OK, it mostly was bad.

But 2017 was not only a down year in New York sports, it was part of a down decade around here.

By the time June arrives — and with it the next chance for a championship — this will mark the longest stretch without a New York-area sports title in the four major pro leagues since 1905-21.

For better and (more so) worse, here you go: the top 10 New York sports stories of 2017.

1 YANKEES’ POWER SURGE

Aaron Judge and rest of Baby Bombers nearly win a pennant

It was great fun for Yankees fans: 91 victories, a comeback against the Twins in the wild-card game, a comeback from two games down in the ALDS against the 102-win Indians, coming within one game of a World Series against the Astros.

But the fact it happened sooner than expected, and that it was fueled by Baby Bombers such as Aaron Judge, Gary Sanchez, Greg Bird and Luis Severino, added to the unexpected pleasure.

Judge in particular was a revelation and a sensation, with 52 home runs, a Rookie of the Year Award and a second-place finish for American League MVP.

It was not enough to save manager Joe Girardi’s job, but it was enough to mean enormous expectations for his successor, Aaron Boone, and the 2018 Yankees.

2 GIANTS IMPLODE

2-13 record, Eli sits, coach & GM fired

Tough call between the 2017 Mets and Giants as the most disappointing team in recent New York sports history. But the Giants get the nod for the tragicomic manner in which they botched the end of Eli Manning’s 210-game streak of consecutive starts at quarterback. And then there were the high-profile suspensions of Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, Janoris Jenkins and Eli Apple. Of course, their 2-13 record and extremely rare in-season firings of coach Ben McAdoo and GM Jerry Reese speak for themselves, Eli or no Eli. Maybe the hiring of new GM Dave Gettleman marks a return to normalacy.

3 METS’ MESS

Vaunted young pitching arms go limp

When SNY analyst Ron Darling predicted in March a potentially historic season for the Mets’ young pitching rotation, there was not much reason to disbelieve him. Until everyone other than Jacob deGrom went down with serious injuries. Then slugger Yoenis Cespedes joined them, plus others along the way. The Mets were out of NL East contention by mid-May, lost 92 games, finished 27 games out of first place and parted ways with manager Terry Collins, replacing him with Mickey Callaway.

4 ISLES: FUGGETABOUT BROOKLYN

And they’re off...to Belmont Park

About the Islanders’ allegedly permanent move to Brooklyn in 2015 . . . never mind. Having decided they want out of Barclays Center and want their own arena closer to their fan base, the Islanders have identified a site near Belmont Park as their preferred new home. Then on Dec. 20 got state approval to develop it.

Soon the team at last will have the best of both worlds — easy driving access for many of their fans and more proximity to the big city, complete with a rail link.

5 YANKEES’ NEW DEAL

Giancarlo Stanton deal creates a new “Murderers’ Row

Blockbuster offseason acquisitions by the Yankees are a decades-long tradition that we have come to expect, so it takes something extra-big to shock and rock the baseball world.

This qualifies: By trading with the Marlins and their old pal Derek Jeter for Giancarlo Stanton, the Yankees have both leagues’ reigning home run champs and a batting order that could — make that SHOULD — dominate the American League.

6 WFAN: NOT BACK AFTA THIS

Carton arrest, Francesa exit hits the FAN

This always was going to be year of change at WFAN, with Mike Francesa’s long-planned departure on Dec. 15 and a new, three-person show scheduled for afternoon drive time Jan. 2.

Then came Sept. 6, and the arrest of morning co-host Craig Carton on federal charges of conspiracy, wire fraud and securities fraud. He resigned a week later. Make that two new-look shows come January.

7 KNICKS CLEAN HOUSE

Hit the road, Jax . . . and Melo, too

The Knicks fired Phil Jackson in June, then traded Carmelo Anthony in September, ending their most recent era of dysfunction on and off the court. In their place: a new, seemingly more stable regime headed by president Steve Mills and GM Scott Perry, and a fresher feel on the court, headlined by emerging star Kristaps Porzingis.

8 NO-NAME JETS DO BETTER THAN EXPECTED

Seven big-name players exit in ‘rebuilding’ year

With his brother Woody busy in London as a United States ambassador, Christopher Johnson took over as the Jets’ CEO. That wasn’t the only big change for the team, where an offseason purge erased most of the roster’s recognizable veterans, including Darrelle Revis, Nick Mangold, Brandon Marshall, Eric Decker, David Harris, Sheldon Richardson and Ryan Fitzpatrick. Many expected the Jets to go 0-16 or thereabouts. Instead they were more competitive than expected behind 38-year-old quarterback Josh McCown and coach Todd Bowles and general manager Mike MacCagnan

9 U.S. OPEN’S NEW QUEEN OF QUEENS

Sloane Stephens captivates National Tennis Center

Stephens won her first major championship — and became the first American woman since 2002 to win one outside of the Williams sisters — by beating Madison Keys in the final of an event that featured an All-American final four of Stephens, Keys, Venus Williams and CoCo Vandeweghe. Stephens had had foot surgery in January and was unseeded for the Open.

10 COLISEUM RISES FROM THE ASHES

Shiny new look, and some sports, too

After a major renovation, the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum reopened in April, with it opening the door to an assortment of live sports events in the heart of Long Island. No, the Islanders are not coming back, but they did play a preseason game there (and Gov. Andrew Cuomo said he’s going to push for some games there as the Islanders’ new arena at Belmont Park is being built). Boxing, UFC and college basketball also have been on the schedule, as well as the Nets’ G-League team.

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