Sportsbeat – 1/5/11

Giants chief operating officer John Mara did the right thing in not only retaining head coach Tom Coughlin but in offering him a contract extension as well. It would have been ludicrous for Mara to have fired Coughlin whose team when 10-6 but failed to make the NFL playoffs after ill-timed losses to the Eagles and the Packers considering that the 7-9 Seattle Seahawks were allowed to partake in the post-season festivities because they were the champs of the pathetic NFC West.

I couldn’t believe how much flak NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell took for postponing the Vikings-Eagles game two days because of the severe blizzard that hit the Northeast. Instead of being thanked by Philadelphia fans and officials for sparing them from having to both drive to Lincoln Financial Field and sit through horrendous conditions, most of the media reflected former Pennsylvania governor Ed Rendell’s belief that a dangerous precedent had been set and that Vince Lombardi must be turning over in his grave.

Of course the Chicken Littles in the New York media have been speculating as to what would happen if a blizzard hit when Super Bowl XLVIII is scheduled to be played at New Meadowlands Stadium in 2014. The answer is that it would be postponed one day; two at most. Big deal. The country would survive. You would think that sports reporters who remember 9/11 would have a better perspective about things.

You can just picture the steam that must have been coming out of CBS Sports president Sean McManus’s ears when NBC grabbed the marquee AFC first-round playoff game, Colts-Jets, while his network was left with the game that featured two small market teams who lack name players, the Baltimore Colts and the Kansas City Chiefs. CBS pays a fortune for AFC broadcast rights and Mark Sanchez and the New York Jets mean big ratings not only here but nationwide.

I can’t blame Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov for preferring to party with hot models in the south of France instead of hanging out in Newark and watching his god-awful basketball team, the Nets, get beaten game after game. Nonetheless, Prokhorov has gotten a free ride from the New York media despite his absentee landlord act. While no one expected the Nets to be much better this year, their few fans were at least hoping that he would be the Russian Mark Cuban. Cuban, is visible and accessible to all, at every Dallas Mavericks game.

Very few got excited when the Knicks drafted swingman Landry Fields from Stanford in the second round of the NBA Draft last June but he has been a revelation. Landry, along with the Clippers’ very much heralded Blake Griffin, were named the NBA Rookies of the Month in December.

New York Rangers rookie center Brian Boyle has been his team’s Landry Fields. Few knew much about him before the season began but Boyle has shown a knack for scoring game-winning goals.

The Islanders have basically thrown in the towel on making the NHL playoffs this year by trading ageless goalie (actually he’s 41) Dwayne Roloson to the Tampa Bay Lightning but the team has played better under new head coach Jack Capuano including winning games against two of the NHL’s best teams, the Pittsburgh Penguins and the Detroit Red Wings.

The general feeling was that it would take St. John’s Red Storm men’s basketball coach Steve Lavin a couple of years to turn the program around and get an NCAA Tournament berth. After a sluggish start that saw St. John’s lose to such mediocrities as Fordham and St. Bonaventure as well as eke out a win against the toothless Columbia Lions, St. John’s has become the beast of the Big East knocking off West Virginia, Providence and Georgetown.

Former Red Storm star, Queensbridge native, and current member of the L.A. Lakers, Ron Artest, has suddenly become the athlete men’s magazine editors are after when they need an interview that will generate newsstand sales. Artest speaks his mind in the current issue of Maxim and will do the same next month for Penthouse. Perhaps after Hugh Hefner finishes up his honeymoon, Playboy will be ready for Ron.

The New York Observer published its list of the 150 most powerful New Yorkers. Among the sports personalities that made the list were Yankees CEO Hal Steinbrenner, Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter and his manager Joe Girardi, Jets head coach Rex Ryan, and Cablevision CEO and loyal Good Times reader, James Dolan. Conspicuous by their absence were Mets owner Fred Wilpon, and his chief operating officer son Jeff as well as their franchise player, third baseman David Wright.

The Cosmopolitan Hotel in Las Vegas, which just opened, took five years and cost 3.9 billion to build. The hotel has 52 stories and is trying to emulate a chic Manhattan skyscraper a la Trump Tower. That is a key reason that hotel CEO John Unwin paid to have Alex Rodriguez spend New Year’s Eve there so that his property would be appealing to New Yorkers.

Nice touch by FX to promote its new show “Lights Out” about a fictional boxer, Patrick “Lights” Leary (played by actor Holt McCallany) trying to make a comeback, by bringing in former boxers as Huntington native Gerry Cooney, Larry Holmes, Joe Frazier and Lennox Lewis for a press conference with the cast at Grand Central Station last week.

USA Today Sports Weekly believes that the Mets will take a good look at minor league relief pitcher Nick Carr as a potential closer in case they decide to deal the expensive contract of Francisco Rodriguez in mid-season.

Personal trainer, and occasional Oprah guest, Andrea Metcalf has written a new book with a titillating title, Naked Fitness (Vanguard Press). As is frequently the case, the catchy title has little to do with the subject matter. Metcalf thouugh dispenses good advice by showing how you can do simple exercises while walking or sitting in a chair (she cleverly calls them “Sit-lates.”)

There are a lot of offshore wagering websites. Costa Rica’s allows you to make offbeat bets as putting dough on whether you think that the Knicks will trade for Carmelo Anthony.

I admit that I try to read at least once a day. Matt Cerrone, who runs the site, has done a great job for years keeping the team’s fans informed on Mets minutiae. SNY, which has a strong equity stake from Sterling Enterprises (you know those folks who run the Mets) helps support Cerrone’s cite and have also made him part of their website.

I like Matt. He’s personable, sharp, and makes no bones about the fact that he wants the Mets to win no matter what. The only problem is that I wonder if the SNY affiliation has made him a bit gun-shy about criticizing the team.

A couple of weeks ago Cerrone wrote how the Mets should be following the Minnesota Twins’ model of rarely spending money on free agents and instead developing young talent. Every organization wants to have that game plan, and frankly, the Pirates and the Royals have really stuck to that philosophy much to the chagrin of their fans. No one is saying that new Mets GM Sandy Alderson should go on a spending spree given the realities of the NL East and the Mets’ contractual obligations but he shouldn’t be praised either for inertia. Matt, and his sidekick Michael Baron, seem a bit too eager to wave their pom-poms for him.

Speaking of SNY, I received a press release just before the end of the year touting their 2011 sports year in review show that would feature the area’s top sports media pundits: Newsday’s Neil Best, the Post’s Phil Mushnick, and the bald guy from the Times whose name I choose to omit here.

I admit to some self-interest here. I concede that Neil and Phil are insightful guys who enhance any telecast. However when SNY came on the air four years ago, their executives claimed that they would showcase all facets of the Mew York sports media and not just the big boys and girls. Well, they lied. I confess that I would love to be interviewed on one of their shows. But it’s not just me. How about New York Sportscene’s Joe McDonald; the Bronx News’s Howard Goldin and Rich Mancuso; Bronxnet and Latino Sports’ Bobby Ciafardini; the Amsterdam News’s Jamie Harris and Howie Evans; the Queens Tribune’s Dan Miller; and veteran local sports columnist Dr. Mel Stanley? SNY would have more diverse and interesting programming if they dug a little deeper for their sports analysts from the print world.

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