Sports Beat 4/1/11

Rip Van Winkle would have loved the Yankees based on their Opening Day roster. Seeing the names of Bartolo Colon and Freddy Garcia on their pitching staff makes you feel as if you have been asleep for 20 years and have just woken up. Andy Pettitte has to be wondering if he retired too soon when he sees their names on a major league roster.

Things are picking up where they left off for the Mets. Jason Bay started off the year on the disabled list after straining his rib cage during batting practice in Port St. Lucie.

The Mets may not have the best starting pitching staff but they certainly have the brightest. Only 26% of major leaguers possess college degrees. Chris Young (Princeton), Chris Capuano (Duke), RA Dickey (University of Tennessee) and Mike Pelfrey (Wichita State) all have their sheepskins.

It is too soon to tell how the Carmelo Anthony trade will work for the Knicks but his presence has certainly helped the local economy around Madison Square Garden. An employee at the Borders bookstore adjacent to the Garden told me that business is way up since Carmelo came to the Knicks. Of course we don’t know things will be next year when the Knicks drastically raise ticket prices assuming that the NBA does not lock out its players.

Former Knicks forward Malik Rose, now an MSG Network commentator, has shown that he is unafraid to criticize his old mates after bad losses.

The stars of the WWE visited the Hard Rock Café in Times Square at the end of March to kick off attention for Wrestlemania XXVII. Mike “The Miz” Mizanin showed why he has the charisma and mike skills to be the biggest WWE star since Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson was in his heyday.

Paul “Triple H” Levesque told me last month that he is moving away from being in the ring to taking a more active role in WWE business affairs (he is, after all, Vince McMahon’s son-in-law). Levesque claims that Wrestlemania provided Atlanta a $50 million economic stimulus, and that cities now bid for the annual WWE extravaganza the way they do for political conventions and Super Bowls.

Don’t look for Wrestlemania to ever return to the New York area anytime soon. “We are committed to doing Wrestlemania the first Sunday in April and we are using football stadiums. Weather is a factor so we’ll either use outdoor ones in warm weather climates (such as Miami Sun Life Stadium in 2012 ) or domed ones in colder climates,” Levesque said.

As for that other ring sport, 46 year-old Bernard Hopkins returns to action on May 21 as he takes on Quebec native son Jean Pascal at Montreal’s Bell Centre. Hopkins will probably still be boxing when he is forced to collect social security.

Speaking of boxing, there are few outlets devoted to the world of pugilism. is a terrific website that features some of the best writers in the business such as our own Rich Mancuso.

If anyone doubts that it makes a difference for an athlete plays here, consider this: Crain’s New York Business had Amar’e Stoudemire on its cover two weeks ago while Derek Jeter is on the front of this month’s GQ.

Two books that should whet your tennis appetite are Wimbledon by David Green (Stewart, Taboori & Chang) which recalls in breathtaking photos the great matches that have taken place in that venerable London stadium, and Bud Collins Encyclopedia of Tennis (New Chapter Press) in which the most famous tennis commentator of all-time provides a who’s who of the sport.

Expect to hear a lot about the Indy 500 this year as “The Brickyard” will be celebrating its centennial. Indycar driver, and past “Dancing with the Stars” winner, Helio Castroneves came into New York last week to promote the fact that he is hoping to get his fourth victory at Indy this Memorial Day weekend. That would tie him with AJ Foyt, Rick Mears and Al Unser for most career wins there.

Bicycling is a fun way not only to get from points A to B but it’s a terrific way to exercise as well. Schwinn and Cannondale recently unveiled their line of new bikes to the media just in time for the warmer weather. If you are a serious cyclist who likes to go up and down big hills and look forward to the Tour du France and the Amgen California Tour, then Cannondale’s Quick CX 2 is your baby. If you’re like me and haven’t ridden a bike in years then you should go with Schwinn’s Trailway and Avenue lines which have sturdy frames, wide tires with good tread, and most importantly, easy-to-find brakes that stop on a dime!

This is a smart time to visit Florida. The weather is great, it’s less crowded, and the prices drop considerably even at the toniest resorts as well as on always inexpensive JetBlue. If you want to sharpen your tennis game, spend a long weekend at the Boca Raton Resort which is known for its teaching pros. If you’re a golfer, the pros at the PGA National Resort in Palm Beach Gardens will work on all aspects of your game. Finally if you want to devour low-calorie gourmet food, enjoy spa treatments, and exercise with top-notch personal trainers, the Pritikin Longevity Center in Miami located next door to the Doral Country Club (yes, you can play golf there as well) makes for a productive getaway.

At the annual Search Engine Strategies trade show, a rep from Sedo, a Boston-based domain hosting service, told me that websites devoted to buying and selling tickets are incredibly popular but warns web entrepreneurs to stay away from anything resembling corporate names to avoid lawsuits. For example, if you want to buy or sell Yankee tickets, work off a name resembling “Bronx Baseball” as opposed to the famous team that plays there.

David Paterson may not have been a great governor but he has proven to be a pretty good entertainer. He nicely poked fun of himself last year in a “Saturday Night Live” skit with his doppelganger played to perfection by Fred Armisen. Om March 28, Paterson nicely handled his hour segment hosting a call-in show on WFAN. He knew his stuff even if he went a bit over the top in his monolog telling Mets fans why they should be optimistic about the 2011 season.

Unilever’s Dove brand has always been synonymous with women but last year the company started to go after guys with its “Men + Care” line of deodorants, soaps and body wash products. Among the endorsers for Dove on their “Journey to Comfort” TV ad campaign are Joe Girardi, Albert Pujols, Magic Johnson and Bobby Hurley.

Olympic snowboarding gold medalist Shaun White is getting into the clothing design business for Target. Ironically, the winter games athlete is creating flip-flops, graphic T-shirts, denim shorts, hoodies, and sneakers for the Minneapolis-based retailers.

Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches are an American staple. If want to enjoy a dessert-like treat, substitute Lotus Bakeries’ Biscoff Spread, which contains gingersnap, for the Jif or Skippy.

Drinking red wine has proven to have benefits for heart health. A fun new wine that made its debut at the Choice Eats food festival at the Lexington Avenue Armory last month was Wines That Rock. The company’s gimmick is that the labels feature the artwork from classic albums such as the Police’s “Synchronicity” and Pink Floyd’s “Dark Side of the Moon.” The grape quality is pretty good too given its fairly low sales price.

The New York International Auto Show gets underway at the Javits Center April 22. I can tell that the economy is improving. While I still can’t afford to even rent a Porsche for an hour, I can at least afford to buy Carrera sunglasses this year!

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