Aaron Judge of the New York Yankees after hitting his...

Aaron Judge of the New York Yankees after hitting his American-League record 62nd home run of the season, against the Texas Rangers at Globe Life Field on October 4, 2022. Credit: TNS/Ron Jenkins

The bad news in metropolitan-area sports in 2022 was that like every other year since the Giants won Super Bowl XLVI on Feb. 5, 2012, none of our NFL, MLB, NBA or NHL teams won a championship – the longest such drought in more than a century.

The good news was that unlike most years since that long-ago Giants triumph, there were winners across the local landscape, even if none won it all.

The Giants and Jets even were relevant again!

Here is a look back at the year that was, our annual list of the top 10 stories in New York sports, starting with a no-brainer at No. 1.

1. Aaron Judge passes Babe, then Maris

Many people considered Aaron Judge unwise, ungrateful or both when he passed on a seven-year, $213.5 million extension from the Yankees as the season began.

Then his bet on himself paid off spectacularly, to the tune of an American League-record 62 home runs – surpassing first Babe Ruth’s 60, then Roger Maris’ 61 – an AL MVP Award and a new nine-year, $360 million contract.

The Yankees won out over the Giants and Padres to retain an essential, homegrown star who at times in 2022 led the team both on the field and at the box office in a season in which the team fashioned a torrid 49-16 start before cooling off.

Managing general partner Hal Steinbrenner headlined the effort to keep Judge in the fold, because losing him seemed unfathomable.

He nearly won the AL Triple Crown and finished with a .311 batting average, 131 RBIs, 133 runs, 111 walks and a 1.111 OPS in 157 games.

He hit No. 62 against the Rangers’ Jesus Tinoco at Globe Life Field in Arlington, Texas, on Oct. 4. The fan who caught the ball got $1.5 million for it at auction.

The playoffs were much less fun and ended in an ALCS sweep by the Astros.

2. Steve Cohen throws his wallet around

The Mets were plenty good on the field in 2022, winning 101 games, making Buck Showalter National League Manager of the Year and even producing a combined no-hitter.

But the bigger-picture narrative was their newfound financial might under owner Steve Cohen, altering the perception of the franchise.

Two-time Cy Young winner Jacob deGrom left for the Rangers as a free agent, but Cohen kept other players and attracted still others with massive paydays, saving his biggest bombshell for last when he landed Carlos Correa with a 12-year, $315-million contract after a late snag in Correa’s deal with the Giants. (The deal reportedly hit a complication on Christmas Eve as the sides worked through something in Correa's medical report, but it still is expected to be completed.)

Brandon Nimmo signed for $162 million over eight years, Edwin Diaz $102 million over five, Justin Verlander $86.6 million over two, Kodai Senga $75 million over five, Jose Quintana $26 million over two, Adam Ottavino $14.5 million over two and David Robertson $10 million for one.

The Wilpons, this ain’t.

3. Nets lead NBA in drama and controversy

It takes a lot for the Nets to break through the local clutter and attract attention. But boy, did they find creative ways to do so.

James Harden forcing his way out in a trade for the 76ers’ Ben Simmons seems like years ago, but it only was in February!

Kyrie Irving was reinstated full-time despite lacking a COVID-19 vaccination, then explored a trade, then recommitted to the Nets.

Kevin Durant also sought a trade, then also recommitted to the Nets.

Irving got suspended for posting a link to an anti-Semitic documentary.

Jacque Vaughn replaced Steve Nash as coach.

Almost forgot: The Celtics swept the Nets in a first-round playoff series in April.

4. New York football is finally back!

The past decade mostly had been a wasteland for the area’s two NFL teams, the worst such stretch for local pro football since the 1970s.

Then the Giants started 6-1 under first-year coach Brian Daboll (and first-year GM Joe Schoen) while the Jets were 5-2.

Newsday's back page from Oct. 17, 2022. 

Newsday's back page from Oct. 17, 2022. 

For the Giants, the keys included strong performances from free agents-to-be Saquon Barkley and Daniel Jones.

Both teams ran into rough patches after their fast starts, but they achieved their baseline goals of meaningful games in December . . . and possibly beyond. 

5. Rangers get within two games of Cup Final

The season after a front office and coaching shakeup, the grittier Rangers totaled 110 regular-season points, then led defending Stanley Cup champion Tampa Bay 2-0 in the Eastern Conference Final before losing the next four games in a row.

Chris Kreider and Adam Fox  of the Rangers hug after being...

Chris Kreider and Adam Fox  of the Rangers hug after being defeated by the Lightning in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Final of the 2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Amalie Arena on June 11 in Tampa, Fla. Credit: Getty Images/Andy Lyons

It was the third season in a row the Lightning eliminated the Islanders or Rangers in the NHL semifinal round.

Igor Shesterkin won the Vezina Trophy, Chris Kreider scored 52 regular-season goals and Artemi Panarin had 92 points as the Rangers at last began to reap the fruits of the rebuilding project they began in 2018.

6. COVID concerns recede in return to normalcy

The COVID-19 virus has not gone away, and cases were on the rise in late autumn. But in terms of its impact on local sports, 2022 marked a return to near-normalcy.

As leagues abandoned asymptomatic testing of players, local authorities loosened and dropped vaccine mandates and fans grew more comfortable being in crowds again, the world began to look mostly like it did in 2019.

Yankees home attendance went from zero in 2020 to 1.96 million in 2021 to 3.14 million this year. Mets attendance went from zero to 1.51 million to 2.56 million.

7. Islanders disappoint, then fire Barry Trotz

After consecutive trips to the NHL semifinals, the Islanders lost their way in 2021-22, undone by a record-long season-opening road trip while awaiting the opening of UBS Arena, then waves of COVID-19 disruptions, injuries and a schedule that veered from too spread out to too condensed.

Coach Barry Trotz in March called it a “mentally crushing year so far.”

When it was over, the Isles were 37-35-10 and missed the playoffs.

Then Trotz was fired after four seasons as the second-most successful coach in team history. Assistant coach Lane Lambert was promoted to replace him.

8. Islanders say goodbye to iconic stars

The Islanders lost two pillars of the early 1980s dynasty years when Clark Gillies died in January and Mike Bossy in April, both of cancer and both in their 60s.

Bossy had announced his lung cancer before the season, but few knew that Gillies was ill, too. Both were Hall of Famers and filled crucial roles on the four Cup championship teams.

Mike Bossy, right, of the Islanders, reacts after he scored the...

Mike Bossy, right, of the Islanders, reacts after he scored the winning goal in overtime to beat the Maple Leafs 3-1 at Nassau Coliseum on April 20, 1978. Credit: AP/Ray Stubblebine

Jean Potvin, a member of the first two Cup winners and brother of Islanders Hall of Famer Denis, died in March at 72, another jolt to fans who remember that era.

9. Serena bids competitive tennis adieu

Serena Williams’ visits to the U.S. Open have had dramatic ups and downs, but when she said before the 2022 tournament it likely would be her last major event, it put a charge into the proceedings.

Newsday photographer J. Conrad Williams looks back at his photos of Serena Williams at the U.S. Open over the years. Credit: Newsday

Ticket prices skyrocketed, and celebrities dotted the stands.

Although Williams fell far short of her 24th major championship – and seventh Open title – she had her moments on the court, winning her first two matches before losing in the third round to Ajla Tomljanovic, 7-5, 6-7 (4), 6-1.

In the second round, she beat No. 2 seed Anett Kontaveit, 7-6 (4), 2-6, 6-2 in a match that lasted near 2 ½ hours.

10. Knicks land Jalen Brunson

To the surprise of no one in the NBA, the Knicks signed free agent Jalen Brunson away from the Mavericks for a four-year, $104 million deal.

Brunson’s father, Rick, is a Knicks assistant coach, and team president Leon Rose used to be an agent who represented both Rick and Jalen.

Jalen Brunson

Height: 6-2

Weight: 190

College: Villanova

Draft: 33rd overall by Mavericks, 2018

Stats with Knicks (per game)*: 20.3 points, 6.2 assists, 3.2 rebounds, 46.9 FG%, 37.3 3P% (30 games)

Career stats (per game)*: 12.7 points, 4.0 assists, 3.1 rebounds, 49.0 FG%, 37.3 3p% (307 games)

*-as of Dec. 20, 2022

The 26-year old quickly established himself as a leader and the point guard in his prime whom the Knicks have been searching for over many years.

The Knicks later failed to land Donovan Mitchell in a trade with the Jazz to pair with Brunson.

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