Sportsbeat – 02/20/11

It’s amazing how Joba Chamberlain’s stock has tumbled faster than a dot-com when the tech bubble burst a few years ago. It seemed like it was just yesterday that fans and the media were debating whether he should be a starter or the heir apparent to Mariano Rivera in the bullpen.

Before the first spring training game of 2011 took place, Yankees beat writers were suddenly talking about Joba’s weight and whether he would even make the team after GM Brian Cashman refused to give him a vote of confidence.

Sandy Alderson made an interesting comment in his interview with The Sporting News when he said that baseball doesn’t need a salary cap and that the sports with such compensation limits always seem to have the most bitter labor negotiations.

Rangers left winger Sean Avery has always professed a love for fashion and is currently dating super model Hilary Rhoda. Avery and Rhoda spent Valentine’s Day at the American Express Skybox at Lincoln Center during the Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week.

Avery is unusual in that he is surely the only professional athlete to serve an internship at Vogue. When I joked with him that his coach, John Tortorella, wouldn’t be caught dead at Fashion Week, Sean laughed, “Yeah, this isn’t his scene but I think that (goalie Henryk) Lundqvist would gladly come.”

Hilary Rhoda was doing double duty in New York last week. Not only was she part of MB Fashion Week but she was also appeared at the annual Sports Illustrated Swimsuit edition launch event. Also appearing in yet another SI Swimsuit issue were cover girl, Irina Shayk, and veterans Esti Ginzburg, Julie Henderson, and Brooklyn Decker, who is co-starring with Adam Sandler and Jennifer Aniston in “Just Go With It.” The only New Yorker to make it into the issue was Brooklyn native Damaris Lewis who is currently filming destination promotional pieces for JetBlue.

The most intriguing model was Tunisia’s Kenza Fourati who studied at the Sorbonne and a master’s degree in film. When asked about the recent revolution in Tunisia that started the upheaval in the Middle East, Fourati felt confident that a Taliban-style theocracy would not take hold. Let’s hope that she is right. I don’t think that Sports Illustrated executives would want to put out a burqa issue.

One area where SI is going to have to show some improvement is finding more Hispanic models. The only one to appear in the 2011 issue, to the best of my knowledge, is Costa Rica native Jessica Perez who received a bachelor’s degree in psychology from CUNY’s Hunter College last year.

Incidentally, veteran Israeli model Bar Rafaeli did not participate in this year’s photo shoot.

It was the end of an era when Bernard Lagat was defeated by Deresse Mekkonen at the Millrose Games’ signature event, the Wanamaker Mile. Lagat had won eight straight Wanamakers.

The upcoming May 7th fight between Manny Pacquiao and Shane Mosley highlights what is wrong with boxing. Mosley, who may have an AARP card, has no chance against Pacquiao, and at the press conference announcing the Las Vegas fight admitted that the public would much rather see Floyd Mayweather take on Pacquiao. “I am the only alternative to Mayweather,” he said conceding how thin the ranks of the welterweight division are.

Mayweather may be afraid to put his undefeated record on the line and that may be paralyzing his career. The term “undefeated” has a lot of currency in boxing and when a fighter loses his first fight a lot of mystique gets tarnished. Shane Mosley admitted to me that mixed martial arts has gotten popular because the best are always fighting the best and no one stays undefeated.

If you must spend your hard earned money on the Pacquiao-Mosley fight make sure to pick up a 12-pack of Tecate Beer before the fight. Tecate is offering a $25 rebate for anyone buying the Showtime pay-per-view.

There are two intriguing fights this month. On March 12, middleweights Sergio Martinez and Sergiy and Dzinziruk will slug it out at Foxwoods’ MGM Grand Arena. Foxwoods, by the way, just opened a state-of-the-art bowling center which is clear evidence of that sport’s incredible resurgence.

A week later Vitali Klitschko takes on Odlanier Solis in a WBC heavyweight championship bout. The fight will be shown on Epix, the premium cable network owned by Viacom which has struggled getting distribution. I wouldn’t be surprised if more people pay to watch this fight on Epix’s website than purchase it from cable and satellite providers.

Last week at a Manhattan press conference ESPN brought out a number of its personalities as Erin Andrews, Mike Golic & Mike Greenberg (“Mike & Mike”) and Woodside native and basketball great Len Elmore to promote its “On The Line” initiative which will try to encourage men to get prostate cancer checkups.

Franklin Sports debuted the “Slurve Ball” which is a wiffle ball that is designed to let you to throw curves, sliders and even knucklers at the 2011 Toy Fair held at the Javits Center. Another company, Junk Ball, introduced a line a fluorescent bats and wiffle balls that allow you to play even after the sun goes down. While wiffle ball is obviously aimed at youngsters, the eye-hand coordination with minimal injury risk makes it a fun activity for everyone.

If you want to learn how to properly kick a soccer ball, Franklin has come up with a simple, yet long overdue, idea; namely the Soccer Leash. This is where a ball is tethered to a dog-style leash that you hold in your hand so that you can rapidly kick it with various parts of your feet without having to chase it afterwards.

Brendan Brazier is a rarity; he is a respected triathlon competitor who leads a completely vegan lifestyle. His company, Vega, has launched a line of plant-based smoothies called Shake & Go that just require you to add water. They are loaded with anti-oxidants and Omega 3 oils and are not very caloric unlike traditional creamy smoothies. It won’t replace a Jamba Juice fix but they are rather tasty when served cold.

For those who prefer a more traditional smoothie, try Lifeway’s Kefir that contains many proteins and probiotics. It was the most popular beverage item in the lobby of the recently concluded Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week.

Somehow I don’t think that Donald Trump or Mark Cuban will ever by limited partners in the Mets.

The Mets aren’t the only area team with ownership issues. Brick City is a major owner in the New Jersey Devils and the company announced that they are trying to sell their stake in the team. Rumor has it that they are not happy with the way managing partner Jeff Vanderbeek allows general manager Lou Lamoriello to micro-manage every aspect of the team’s operations including who is allowed a press credential and how the team is marketed. Captain Lou despises the press and he hates the notion of promoting a team’s stars. The fact that his policies are bad for business and that Vanderbeek (who is known in some circles as Jeff Vanderweak) figuratively sucks his thumb doing nothing has probably ticked off Brick City,

No one does comedic exasperation better than Matthew Perry. Perry stars in a new comedy called “Mr. Sunshine” which can be seen Wednesdays at 9:30 PM on ABC. Perry plays Ben Donovan, the general manager of a fictional San Diego sports arena called the Sunshine Center.

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