NY Sports Day

Sports Beat: 05/02/11

Normally unflappable NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell appeared to lose his composure on the Radio City Music Hall stage on the first night of the NFL Draft as nearly 5,000 fans screamed in unison “WE WANT FOOTBALL!” at the top of their lungs as he opened the proceedings. I guess the fans are not sympathetic to the team owners’ economic fantasy of upwardly redistributing wealth at the expense of the players.

I ran into Nebraska cornerback Prince Amukamara and Alabama defensive tackle Marcell Dareus at Yankee Stadium who were watching batting practice three days before the draft. Both players agreed that the city where you play in and the endorsement opportunities are more important than the position that you are drafted on the big night.

Dareus was the third pick of the draft but the bad news is that he was selected by the small market, cold weather Buffalo Bills. In the press room, he joked that his first purchases will be a snow blower and four-wheel drive vehicle. The well-spoken Amukamara was selected by the Giants who had the 19th pick and said that he felt like he won the lottery. My guess is that Prince will be a media favorite for Giants beat writers the way Justin Tuck is now.

Apologies once again to HBO Real Time host Bill Maher. New rules: Sportscasters can no longer refer to the conference area where a football team’s executives gather to decide which college player to take on draft night as “the war room” when there are American soldiers putting their lives on the line in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Phil Hughes’ dead arm, which is believed to be caused by a circulatory problem, is upsetting even if you are not a Yankees fan. Hughes is only 24 years old and was one of the most promising young pitchers in the majors. The next time you get upset at a “greedy” athlete try to remember that a career can end in a heartbeat.

Hughes might want to use the Spoonk acupressure mat that has over 6,000 plastic points that simulate acupuncture needles. It simulates a shiatsu massage that increases blood circulation throughout the body. Check out www.spoonkspace.com.

Ian O’Connor’s Derek Jeter bio, The Captain (Houghton Mifflin), is obviously getting a lot of attention for the not-so-shocking revelation that Jeter and Alex Rodriguez have an icy personal and professional relationship that has given Yankees executives agita. While the A-Rod stuff is what will sell the book, O’Connor does a thorough job on all aspects of Jeter’s life and clearly does not have an axe to grind with the future Hall of Famer. He quotes former Yankees PR director Rick Cerrone who praises Derek for being a low maintenance guy who doesn’t need an entourage and is very giving of his time to children who have life-threatening illnesses. Ian does go over the high profile women of Jeter’s life including Mariah Carey. He broke up with her because she was a diva. It’s hard to fault The Captain for that.

The Mets closed out April by losing to 2-1 to Roy Halladay and the Phillies at Citizens Bank Park which was certainly no disgrace. Actually, it was a gem of a game as both pitchers worked fast, threw strikes, and rarely went to a three-ball count on a batter. Both squads played error-free stellar defense. The game was over in less than 2 ½ hours.

After the game Mets manager Terry Collins agreed with my assessment that this was the kind of game that was common in the 1960s and ‘70s but has become increasingly rare over the years. Collins was stumped as to the reasons for that but concurred that more games like the Halladay-Niese duel would increase attendance and fan interest.

It was nice running into two Mets alumni last month who were traded away by former GM Omar Minaya for a bag of balls. Ironically the Mets could really use both catcher Ramon Castro (now with the White Sox) and pitcher Nelson Figueroa (Astros).

Figgy, who grew up in Brooklyn and still looks like he is 21 even though he is 36,  told me that he still roots for the Mets and that he would like to be a baseball broadcaster or general manager when he does hang it up. He is thinking of going for an MBA and may start taking classes at Arizona State University since he now lives in the Phoenix area.

It was a classy gesture on the part of baseball commissioner Bud Selig to have MLB teams to make small pension payments to players who failed to accrue enough service time and played from 1947 to 1979. I asked Bud if this largesse was a way of tweaking the arch-rival NFL which is having a three-way gunfight between owners, current players and former players. Selig did not disagree with my insinuation but he did speak sincerely about baseball being a social institution that takes its responsibilities seriously.

Jack Norworth’s song “Take Me Out To The Ballgame” has been recorded by everyone from Sinatra to LL Cool J. Singer Carly Simon has teamed up with illustrator Amiko Hirao to come up with a delightful children’s book, “Take Me Out To The Ballgame” (Imagine Publishing). Carly has included a three-song CD that includes “Take Me Out,” “I Gave My Love A Cherry” and “Scarborough Fair.”

Pepcom, the quarterly trade show for the media that showcases tomorrow’s products today, celebrated Earth Day with an ecology products showcase. There were a number of companies, such as TerraCycle, who recycle trash into such consumer goods as flip-flops, backpacks and tote bags. My guess is that it won’t be long until athletic merchandise as footballs, basketballs, hockey pucks and various gloves are made entirely from recycled materials.

The New York Racing Association is finally doing something right. On July 1, ex-Foreigner lead singer Lou Gramm will perform at Belmont Park. I think that it has been 30 years since name talent played in Belmont’s backyard.

Jim Craig was the goalie on the US hockey team that upset the Soviets and won the gold medal at the 1980 Winter Olympics in Lake Placid. Craig has just written Gold Medal Strategies (Wiley Publishing) in which, as countless athletes have done previously, use sports as a paradigm for achieving success in business and life. No cliche about teamwork is spared.

1050 ESPN Radio is dumping its best talk show host, Brandon Tierney, and is giving the extremely dull Mike Lupica a daily hour show. WFAN executives must be laughing like hyenas.

I guess it’s safe to say that Roger McDowell won’t be winning any awards from GLAAD in the near future.

Snacking is responsible for weight gain and is a key culprit in diseases as diabetes and heart disease. Pirate’s Brand, based in Sea Cliff, makes healthy popcorn and rice puff snacks while KIND Snacks has a very tasty line of fruit and nut bars.

Coconut water is a great alternative to soft drinks. Boston Celtics center Kevin Garnett approached Zico Coconut Water executives for an endorsement deal (instead of the other way around) because he drinks it all the time since it helps replenish electrolytes and potassium after exercise. Madonna is an investor in rival Vita Coco which has done well with flavored coconut water. Acai & pomegranate, pineapple, and tangerine are some of its popular items. A third competitor is L.A.-based O.N.E. that is a favorite of Hollywood celebrities.

KFC deserves some praise for introducing both grilled chicken and sting beans to its menu. McDonald’s also deserves a high-five for debuting oatmeal but if you’re smart you’ll stay away from the maple syrup. By the way, Mickey D executives, if you can bring back the McRib then how about bringing back the Asian chicken salad!

Everybody wants to look both look and feel good. If you want to visit a spa at a bargain price, check out www.therightdeal.com every Wednesday at 9 AM. You get both treatment and a spa product that you can use at home as part of the “right deal.”

The just concluded 2011 Tribeca Film Festival marked the tenth year of the lower Manhattan cinema fest and featured two very well-received documentaries: Klitschko which looked at the lives of those cerebral boxing siblings, Wladimir and Vitali Klitschko. The sports film that created the most buzz though was Catching Hell about beleaguered Cubs fan Steve Bartman. Bartman, who has been reclusive since interfering with Cubs outfielder Moises Alou’s attempt to catch a foul ball at Wrigley Field in a 2003 playoff game, did not cooperate with the filmmakers.


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