In keeping with our lists of events from 2006, here are some of the sports stories that Gothamist found compelling in the past year. It ranges from the playoff disappointment from the Mets and the Yankees to the welcome performances of last season's Rangers, this season's Jets and Rutgers.

2006_06_swingedfoot.jpgMickelson Chokes at Winged Foot: Everyone knew the Winged Foot course in Mamaroneck, N.Y., was a tough place to play, but no one found it crueler than Phil Mickelson. His questionable decision-making on the final hole cost him his third straight major title and a chance to equal Tiger Woods' feat of four straight. Maybe it was hubris, maybe it was anxiousness or maybe it was something else that caused Mickelson to have reason to say, "I am such an idiot." His loss proved even more hurtful because, whether it be in Bethpage, Shinnecock or at Winged Foot, the New York galleries made it clear at the U.S. Open that Mickelson's the favorite. Even if he is the runner-up, which he's now been four times at the U.S. Open. - Tom Boorstein

Staten Island Reaches the Little League World Series: They captured the imagination of the area with a flare for the dramatic- reaching the World Series thanks to back-to-back games won by walk off home runs and reminded everyone that baseball can be a city game as well. They didn’t win the crown, but for a brief moment in August, New York’s baseball fans were not just focused on the Bronx and Queens, but on another borough, Staten Island. - Peter Trinkle

2005_12_snascarsi.jpgNo Nascar to Staten Island: In more Staten Island news, the bid by International Speedway Corporation to bring a NASCAR racetrack to New York was abruptly yanked after stiff opposition and tepid political support. The proposed track would have been a 3/4 mile oval for 82,500 spectators. While ISC no longer plans a racetrack for the land, they are considering various options for the land. - Tien Mao

Rangers Make The Playoffs: For seven seasons the Rangers toiled near the bottom of the league. Overpriced talent was brought in and failed miserably as the franchise became the laughingstock of the NHL. Before the 2005-06 season, expectations were in line with the past: this team was expected to stink. But, somehow it all gelled together. Jaromir Jagr shook off the malaise that had plagued him over previous seasons and Henrik Lundqvist emerged as a very good goalie. Throw in players like Blair Betts, Ryan Hollweg and others who were willing to go into the corners and New York made it back to the playoffs for the first time since 1997. - Peter Trinkle

2006_12_sagassiopen.jpgAndre Says Goodbye: Andre Agassi came into tennis 21 years ago, railing against some of the traditions of the game, even refusing to play Wimbledon for a while. He was phenomenally talented, but fans couldn’t seem to relate to him. But, in the mid-90’s he changed his image and his rivalry with Pete Sampras brought reminders of Connors-McEnroe before. By 2006, he no longer had a great game, but he had the dedication and heart that the crowds at Flushing Meadows love. His last match came against Benjamin Becker and ended with this eight-time Grand Slam champion walking off the court after an eight minute and tear-filled ovation. - Peter Trinkle

The Giant Unrealized Potential: So much has gone wrong with the Giants that no yearly recap can touch on it. But they've been the opposite of the Jets. They're not well coached -- though they have plenty of talent -- and they didn't have a soft schedule. They're not lucky, but they should be good enough to make their own luck. The only similarity between the New York clubs that each has the ability to sneak into the playoffs. For an organization that has long prided itself on a polished image, the Giants' finger-pointing has gotten out of hand. Tiki Barber's leaked retirement plans followed by Barber's, Jeremy Shockey's and Plaxico Burress' sulking, Michael Strahan's chirping and a generally discontented locker room have proved a huge thorn in Coach Tom Coughlin's side. To make matters worse, Giants fans can look across the country to San Diego and rue the day they traded for Eli Manning. Whom would you rather have? Philip Rivers, Shawne Merriman and Nate Kaeding or Manning? - Tom Boorstein

2006_12_srutgerslouis.jpgRutgers Chops Onto National Scene: With no college football powerhouse in New York City, Rutgers managed to captivate the city and all of New Jersey with its run in the Big East. The highlight of the Scarlet Knights season was a match-up of unbeatens when Rutgers prevailed over Louisville in overtime. While Rutgers ended up losing 2 of their next 3 games, the program is looking up. Though Rutgers cruised to victory in the Texas Bowl last night against Kansas State for their first bowl victory ever, the most important thing going into next year is that head coach Greg Schiano will be back. - Tien Mao

Jets Take Off: How do you get to the brink of the playoffs in the NFL? Take a new coach -- defensive-minded, of course -- and the energy he brings, add a system that helps the quarterback, a soft schedule and some lucky bounces. Mix it all together and you get the New York Jets, a team that has few weapons on offense but a strong defense capable of shutting down the opponents. With scheming of Coach Eric Mangini, the team has kept itself above water all year. He won't be coach of the year because the Saints revival has happened in New Orleans, but in any other year, he'd get deserved consideration for the award. - Tom Boorstein

2006_12_sdailynews.gifThe Knicks Keep Things Interesting: Larry Brown came in and tried about every lineup under the sun before leaving with almost $30 million for one horrible year of work. Isiah continued to bloat the payroll and Jim Dolan sat back and watched. Meanwhile, the franchise finished an abysmal 23-59, one of the worst seasons in team history. Despite the hideous brawl a few weeks ago, the end of 2006 appears to be better than the start. The squad is 13-18 and some players are showing development, but Knicks' fans will wish that Jim Dolan follows through on his ultimatum to Isiah and brings some new blood to run things in 2007. - Peter Trinkle

Yankees Flame Out: They spent like they usually do, adding Johnny Damon in the off-season and Bobby Abreu at the trading deadline. And, despite a rash of injuries, they took charge of the AL East with a thrilling five-game sweep of the Red Sox in August. On the last weekend of the season they clinched home field throughout the playoffs and fans were just waiting for the Subway Series to start. But, no one banked on the Tigers. Using superior pitching and some timely hitting, Detroit completely shut down the potent Yankees’ offense and proved once again that pitching beats hitting in October. Once again, the season ended in the ALDS and the Yankees remain without a championship since 2000. - Peter Trinkle

2006_12_metscards1.jpgClose, But No Cigar for Mets: After cruising through the National League East and the division series, the Mets hit an unexpected bump on the way to the World Series. They became the latest team to be reminded of the cruel twists in the baseball playoffs when they lost to the Cardinals, a squad that oozed mediocrity during the regular season. Baseball series turn on enough small bounces and unlikely events -- like Yadier Molina's pennant-clinching homer -- that the better team doesn't always win. When Carlos Beltran struck out looking in the bottom of the ninth inning of Game 7, the Mets lost a chance they'd love to have back. Making the playoffs isn't easy, and advancing in them isn't either. With the injuries and the question marks surrounding 2007, who knows if this Mets team missed out on its best shot? - Tom Boorstein

What did you think were the best sports stories this year?

Photo of Andre Agassi by AP/Elise Amendola; Photo of Scarlet Knights kicker Jeremy Ito by AP/Tim Larsen; Photo of Mets fan by AP/Julie Jacobson