Sportsbeat – 10/30/10

Mets general manager Sandy Alderson made a great impression on most of the media who covered his introductory press conference at Citi Field judging by the backpage headlines in the tabloids the following day.

Not surprisingly, the dailies ignored the question I posed to him to conclude the Q&A session. When asked about whether he was more concerned about long-term goals and that 2011 would be basically a caretaker year for him as the Mets bide time until the contracts of Luis Castillo, Oliver Perez, Carlos Beltran and Francisco “K-Rod” Rodriguez expire, Alderson said that he expected the Mets to be competitive next year but added that the team would not be active in the free agent market this winter.

“Competitive” is as meaningless a baseball term as “organic” is for the produce business. More often than not when a baseball executive says that he expects his team to be competitive it means that if his players stay healthy, his team gets some unforeseen good breaks, and bad karma happens to other clubs in the same division, then his guys will win a few more games than what was predicted by naysayers. That’s the bull you have to feed to season ticketholders.

The Last Boy: Mickey Mantle and the End of America’s Childhood (Harper) got a lot of buzz because author Jane Leavy revealed that Mantle was sexually abused as a little boy by Anna Bea, his babysitter. The truth of the matter is that The Last Boy is a must read because it is the definitive Mantle bio. She paints a rather sad picture of a man who clearly thought that he would not live past his fortieth birthday based on his family history. Mickey never seemed comfortable with fame and adulation. In fact being perceived as a role model was a liability with his favorite off-field activity of womanizing. Mantle is fortunate that he lived before the advent of the Internet; Tiger Woods and Brett Favre are choirboys compared to The Mick. To be fair, Leavy writes about the number of kind deeds Mantle did for strangers in the last decade of his life.

East Setauket native and Ward Melville High School alum Mick Foley has just penned his latest memoir, Countdown to Lockdown: A Hardcore Journal (Grand Central Publishing). Long considered one of the most cerebral wrestlers of all-time, Foley has been a constant presence on the New York Times best-selling book list.

As per his previous insider looks at the wrestling business, Foley Is Good and Have A Nice Day, Mick treats the reader with respect even at the risk of burning a few bridges. He details his ups-and-downs with Vince McMahon; claims that the tragic end of Chris Benoit may have been caused by factors other than “‘roid rage”; confesses that his old high school buddy, actor/comedian Kevin James was a better athlete than he was; as well as admitting to a serious crush on singer Tori Amos.

While the fate of the Knicks will hinge on the play of power forward Amar’e Stoudemire, keep an eye on guard Landry Fields. Fields has all of the attributes to be a big celebrity in the Big Apple. He is a Stanford grad; is blessed with matinee idol looks; and has the talent to be a big-name NBA player.

Maybe a new head coach and owner can make a difference after all as the New Jersey Nets won more games in October than they won in the first three months of the 2009-10 season.

While it is unlikely that they will pose a threat to the UConn Huskies, the St. John’s Red Storm women’s basketball team is ranked #5 in the Big East coaches’ preseason poll. Two Red Storm players, Da’Shena Stevens and Sky Lindsay, have business career aspirations. Stevens is an accounting major while Lindsay is studying finance and completed a Wall Street internship this past summer. Sky, who has both a great name and a megawatt smile, is minoring in public relations and wouldn’t mind a career in front of a television camera.

Baby boomers remember the opening scene of the iconic “Mary Tyler Moore Show” where Mary was washing her car outside her Minneapolis apartment wearing a Minnesota Vikings jersey. The NFL has long claimed that 40% of its fans are female and the league has just launched an NFL Women’s Apparel line that is being licensed to numerous clothing manufacturers. Not be outdone, Nike has just launched a high heel line of Air Jordan shoes that can be worn for all occasions.

The Biz Bash Expo held last week at the Javits Center is the annual gathering of entertainment and dining venues that compete for the corporate party business. It wasn’t so long ago that the conventional wisdom was that it was a dying sport. At Biz Bash, no fewer than four bowling emporiums were competing for the attention of event planners: 300 which has branches at Chelsea Piers and in Melville; Bowlmor which operates Strike in New Hyde Park as well as its flagship in Greenwich Village and is about to open a new alley in Times Square which will compete with Lucky Strike and Frames, the former Leisure Time that operates in the Port Authority Bus Terminal.

Motor sports were also a big part of Biz Bash. Monticello Motor Sports, that also had a booth at September’s Luxury Brand Review at Manhattan’s Rouge Tomate Restaurant, allows you to live out your racing fantasies at its track in Sullivan County as you can tool around in a Ferrari.

The Islanders, despite the serious injuries to both Mark Streit and Kyle Okposo, got off to a better start than most expected. A recent home-and-home series of back-to-back losses to the Montreal Canadiens in which the Isles played hard and crisp but were beaten by superior talented team. The perennially goal scoring-challenged Islanders couldn’t put the puck past Habs’ backup goalie Alex Auld who hadn’t started a game in nine months to close out October at the Nassau Coliseum. This may be a harbinger.

If you are looking to get out of the area and are looking for inexpensive sports entertainment, the Trenton Devils, the NJ Devils’ ECHL affiliate, has a $49 four tickets, hot dogs and sodas package for its Sunday matinees.

It’s no secret that Atlantic City is hurting financially as gaming revenues have sharply declined due to increased competition from the Philadelphia Race Track/PARX Casino complex, the Mount Airy Casino Resort in the Poconos, the Sands Casino in Bethlehem, Pa., and of course, the Empire City Casino at Yonkers Raceway. AC could have an ace in the hole (besides its majestic boardwalk of course) in sports. While it is not the Floyd Mayweather-Manny Pacquiao fight that boxing fans drool over, the November 20 bout between Sergio Martinez and Paul Williams at Boardwalk Hall is eagerly anticipated by even the jaded ring media. The following week, a college basketball tournament, the Legends Classic, will take place there. Finally, the New Jersey Devils’ two top farm teams, the Albany Devils of the AHL and the aforementioned Trenton Devils, will play some games at Boardwalk Hall.

Staying healthy as the colder weather arrives is never easy. Obviously it is a good idea for most of us to get a flu shot. There are a number of helpful consumer products as well. Honeywell’s inexpensive and compact Air Purifier helps keep homes dust and germ-free. Violight utilizes ultra-violet light technology to sanitize both toothbrushes with its Zappi and cell phones and Ipods with its newest UV product. Of course, even that classic remedy, chicken soup, has improved as Manischewitz has just launched a low-fat, reduced- salt line of broths.

I echo fellow NY Sportsday columnists Joe McDonald and Rich Mancuso’s tributes to the late Bill Shannon. Bill was more than an the Babe Ruth of official scorers and baseball historians. He was a true renaissance man with whom you could discuss any subject. Unlike many of his peers, Bill never believed in the pressbox caste system. He did not care if you wrote for the New York Times or Good Times. If you were a sportswriter then you had his respect and friendship. He will be missed more than words can describe.

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