NY Sports Day

Sportsbeat By Lloyd Carroll

Leave it to the Islanders James Wisniewski to make the Rangers’ designated goon, Sean Avery, a man who two years ago Penthouse Magazine named as the most hated man in the NHL, a sympathetic character.

Wisniewski, a rather anonymous player, made an obscene gesture at Avery, one that implied that Sean enjoys gay oral sex, during a Columbus Day family matinee at the Nassau Coliseum. James, you are a master of timing. The ironic thing is that for all of Wisniewski’s taunting, the reality is that Avery, who did an internship at Vogue during one off-season, has never had trouble attracting beautiful women.

Two weeks ago Newsday sports media columnist Neil Best tried to put the best spin possible on the fact that the Islanders’ flagship radio station is Hofstra’s WRHU. The cold reality is the Isles’ failure to lure a commercial radio station is a sign of their self-inflicted minor league status.

The New Jersey Nets may not be good this year but they will certainly lead the NBA in one category–air miles flown. During the preseason, the Nets flew to Russia, at the best of new owner Mikhail Prokhorov, and to China to play Yao Ming and the Houston Rockets for a pair of exhibition games. In early March they will play a pair of games in London against the Toronto Raptors.

You knew that this endorsement deal was coming when Prokhorov acquired the Nets. The team last week announced that Stolichnaya Vodka, better known to most as simply Stoli, has become a corporate sponsor.

Fantasy sports rarely attracts marginal fans. The odds are that you are fully committed to it by being involved with time-consuming leagues and drafts or totally ignore it. A company called Fantasy Sports Now is going after that sizable market of those who might enjoy partaking in fantasy sports but don’t want any of the hassles. Its website, www.playffnow.com allows sports fans to create fantasy teams for a given NFL game. You and your friends can choose the players you want or the website can assign them for you.

Former WWE star, one-time governor of Minnesota, and now host of Tru TV’s “Conspiracy Theory,” Jesse Ventura, declared that he would not be endorsing his one-time boss, Linda McMahon, in her race for the US Senate seat in Connecticut. Ventura claims that it is nothing against McMahon; it is just that he refuses to back anyone who runs under the Democratic or Republican banners. “The Body” would prefer completely non-partisan elections.

Former WWE stars Ted “Million Dollar Man” DiBiase, Virgil, Sean “X-Pac” Waltman and Torrie Wilson were among the celebrities working the autograph tables at the recent Big Apple Comic Con. They were a lot more obliging to their fans than the show’s main attraction, Lee “Six Million Dollar Man” Majors.

Don’t miss “Fernando Nation,” the latest installment from ESPN’s “30 for 30″ sports documentary series. Directed by Cruz Angeles, and produced by the Sterling Productions tandem of James Lawler and Virgil Price, “Fernando Nation” relives the excitement of 1981 when an unheralded pitcher from a small town in Mexico, Fernando Valenzuela, dominated baseball with his weird delivery and unhittable screwball.

“Fernando Nation” actually begins in 1959 when the city of Los Angeles used questionable eminent domain powers to forcibly remove the small Mexican-American community from their homes in the L.A. neighborhood of Chavez Ravine to make way for Dodger Stadium. It is highly doubtful that any of the area residents received commensurate fair market value from either the city of Los Angeles or the O’Malley family that ran the Dodgers. Mexican-Americans stayed away from attending Dodgers home games for nearly twenty years. That quickly changed with the arrival of Fernando Valenzuela.

Just as Fernando Valenzuela had a beneficial effect on the Los Angeles economy, so has the arrival of LeBron James to Miami’s. You have to wonder if the South Florida hotel industry knew that James was coming to the Heat before anyone else did. The JW Marriott Marquis, located next door to the American Airlines Arena in downtown Miami, is scheduled to open this month. It will be that city’s answer to Chelsea Piers as it will have tennis courts, a 10,000 square-ft. basketball complex and a golf school. Two famous Miami Beach resorts, the Fontainebleau and the South Beach Ritz-Carlton, have quickly upgraded their health clubs and spas. The pressure will squarely be on the shoulders of the concierges of Miami’s swanky hotels as high roller guests will certainly want good seats for Heat games.

Lake Success-based Coby Electronics is one of the few manufacturers of HD radios. There is a reason why this product never took off and it isn’t Coby’s fault. It is just that it’s unlikely that you’ll be able to pick up many HD radio stations. A Coby technical support staff member explained to me that receiving HD radio stations is the equivalent of trying to get broadcast TV stations without a cable or satellite provider. It is one big crapshoot. The good news is that WFAN has a powerful HD signal and it is more enjoyable to hear sportscasts and their regular programming in FM-quality sound.

Former St. John’s hoop star and high school legend Felipe Lopez was at the NBA Store earlier this month to promote a program initiated by both Bacardi and the NBA that will provide scholarships for African-American and Hispanic students who are over age 21. Felipe told me that he has met with new Red Storm head coach Steve Lavin and said that he will help him recruit New York-area high school talent.

Tailgating is an American college and pro football ritual. One problem is that the folding chairs are often bulky and their quality is shaky to say the least. GCI’s Pico arm chair is highly durable and it folds into the size of an umbrella when you need to store it away. It is also a good alternative to watching a high school football game on an uncomfortable bench.

Now that the weather is getting cooler, we tend to be indoors more than we’d like to be, and thus it is easy to pack on the pounds. A tasty snack idea is to try Tribe Hummus which is loaded with protein on a low-calorie chip such Pretzel Crisps, which also happens to be the official snack food of Madison Square Garden. Shrimp is high in both protein and iron and light on calories as well. Another low-cal treat is Nabisco’s 100-calorie cookie packs that Kraft Foods introduced at the 2010 US Open. Of course the trick is, to paraphrase that classic Lay’s TV commercial, to eat just one.

If you detest diet drinks because of the after-taste (the only enjoyable exception in my opinion is Diet Snapple), try O.N.E. coconut water which contains plenty of electrolytes, or Honest Tea, many of whose flavors have only a trace of sugar.


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