Top Sports Stories of 2008

<b>Farewell to Yankee Stadium</b>It was the first sports venue to be known as a "stadium" and through the years Yankee Stadium bore witness to some of the most spectacular moments in sports history. On the night of September 21st, the Yankees <a href="">closed their famous stadium</a> for good, beating the Baltimore Orioles 7-3. Andy Pettitte got the last win, Mariano Rivera the last save and Jose Molina the last home run. Derek Jeter led his teammates in a lap around the field as "New York, New York" blared over and over again with the crowd joining in. <i>- Peter Trinkle</i>

<b>Farewell to Shea Stadium</b>The last pitch ever thrown at Shea Stadium was bounced. Hall of Famer Tom Seaver <a href="">delivered a toss</a> in the dirt to future Hall of Famer Mike Piazza. This ceremony followed the last ever game at Shea, a loss to the Marlins as the Mets missed the playoffs on the season's last day for the second straight year. Shea's last season didn't get the attention paid to Yankee Stadium's in the Bronx. It may not have had the same history as its older counterpart, but Shea did give fans a place to love. No park that hosted a baseball team since 1964 could vanish without fans' missing it. Yes, the upper-deck sightlines were atrocious. No, people won't regret the move to Citi Field. But 44 years is a long time, and the sight of its piece-by-piece destruction from the Grand Central Parkway isn't a pleasant one. <i>- Tom Boorstein</i>

<b>Yankees Miss Playoffs and Go Crazy for Free Agents</b>Joe Girardi selected #27 to wear on his back because his goal was to bring the 27th World Championship to the Bronx in 2008. Not only did he fail to do that, the Yankees missed the playoffs for the first time since 1994, ending a streak of 13-straight playoff appearances. In response to this failure, the team spent over $425 million on three free agents, signing <a href="">C.C. Sabathia</a>, <a href="">A.J. Burnett</a> and <a href="">Mark Teixeira</a>, to try and bring that ring to the Bronx in 2009. <i>- Peter Trinkle</i>

<b>Favre Welcomed as Jets' Savior, but Team Misses Playoffs and Coach Fired</b>Brett Favre made people care about the Jets. Without him, they may have suffered through another listless season, maybe scoring an upset or two but probably not cracking .500. Unfortunately for their fans and for <a href="">now-fired Eric Mangini</a>, the Jets didn't make the playoffs with him either. A summer trade made the Jets the hot story and made Favre <a href="">a New York icon</a>. After starting 8-3, they had inspired talk of a Jets-Giants Super Bowl. But then the Jets lost four of their last five -- that one win was an early Christmas present from the Buffalo Bills -- and now don't have the privilege of a playoff game or the consolation of a high draft pick. Favre threw 22 touchdowns and 22 interceptions and was about average as a quarterback this season. Don't pin this all on him, however. He wasn't part of the playcalling that led to what appeared to be a conservative offense. He also wasn't a part of the disappearing run defense down the stretch. With Favre's annual uncertainty upcoming, the Jets have few answers and many questions. <i>- Tom Boorstein</i>

<b>Isiah Thomas Finally Out as Knicks Coach/President</b>It should never have taken so long, but on April 18th, the prayers of Knicks' fans everywhere were answered when Isiah Thomas was <a href="">fired as head coach</a> and relegated to an "advisory" role with the team. In his tenure as Knicks President and Coach, Isiah made some of the worst trades in NBA history and turned the Knicks into a laughingstock. His teams routinely led the league in payroll and yet still finished near the bottom of the standings. Knicks' fans can only hope that they never experience another period like Isiah's reign of error again. <i>- Peter Trinkle</i>

<b>Knicks and Nets Tear Down and Rebuild</b>Only in the NBA do teams try to trade for nothing. With a historic free-agent class (<a href="">including LeBron James</a>) looming following the 2009-10 season -- that's not this summer but next -- teams with little chance of doing anything in that span will try to dump as much salary as they can. That includes the Knicks, who sent Jamal Crawford and Zach Randolph packing. In return they got Al Harrington, Tim Thomas and Cuttino Mobley. Mobley promptly retired with a heart condition. By dispatching with those two, the Knicks told the world they value cap space over competing this season. All this just to have enough salary cap space to go after James or Dwyane Wade or Chris Bosh or someone else. Yet another absurdity in the absurd world that is the NBA.The Nets made their moves as well. Jason Kidd <a href="">got flipped to the Mavericks</a> for Devin Harris and others. That trade has worked out well for the Nets, who rely on Harris as a scorer. Dallas suffered an early departure last season and now has an expensive and old Jason Kidd. Good job Rd Thorn. The Nets later <a href="">dumped Richard Jefferson</a> on the Bucks in their attempt to clear space for the Summer of 2010. They got Yi Jianlian and Bobby Simmons back. <i>- Tom Boorstein</i>

<b>Red Bulls Make a Run for MLS Cup</b>They are an afterthought in the New York area, but the Red Bulls are the only team, other than the Giants to reach their league championship in 2008. And, like the Giants, it was a very surprising run. After blowing the chance to qualify for the playoffs with a win, the Red Bulls got the help they needed to make the playoffs when the Columbus Crew defeated D.C. United on the last day of the season. A victory over two-time defending champion Houston sent them to the Western Conference Finals and a victory their over Real Salt Lake put them in the championship. Though they fell short, 3-1 to Columbus, the Red Bulls had their most successful season and left their fans looking forward to 2009. <i>- Peter Trinkle</i>

<b>Federer and Serena Win Open Again</b>Roger Federer didn't have the type of season he wanted. He lost in the Australian Open semifinals in January, then revealed he had been suffering from mononucleosis. At the French Open, the only Grand Slam he has not won, he was humiliated in the final by Rafael Nadal. At Wimbledon, where Federer had won five straight, he lost in the final to Nadal. It was small consolation to him that the match has been labeled the best ever. The No.1 ranking, Federer's since 2004, went to Nadal. But at the U.S. Open, glimpses of the old Federer returned. He wasn't the immovable force he had been in Flushing during tournaements in years past. He needed five sets to defeat Igor Andreev in the fourth round. A Saturday semifinal against Novak Djokovic brought out the best in the Swiss master, however. He won that match in four sets, watched as rain forced Andy Murray to finish his semifinal upset over Rafael Nadal on Sunday. Then he destroyed a tired and nervous Murray in a rare Monday final. Federer had his Grand Slam for 2008 and is now two away from breaking Pete Sampras' all-time record of 14. Serena Williams <a href="">won the women's title</a> over Jelena Jankovic. <i>- Tom Boorstein</i>