NY Sports Day

Sportsbeat – 8/7/11

Jets general manager Mike Tannenbaum has lost me. He spends $3.1 million on Plaxico Burress when he could have re-signed Braylon Edwards for roughly the same money. Burress has served his sentence and deserves a chance to earn a living as a pro football wide receiver but he is 34 and has not been away from the gridiron for two years. Who knows if Plax is still capable of handling the rigors of an NFL season.

If that weren’t strange enough, the Jets jettison talented receiver and all-around great guy Jerricho Cotchery in favor of 37 year-old Derrick Mason who played for the Baltimore Ravens when Rex Ryan was an assistant coach there.

Jets QB Mark Sanchez had developed a great rapport with both Edwards and Cotchery the past two years. Gang Green fans had better hope that he can get in sync with his new receiving corps ASAP.

The Jets aren’t the only local team with receiving issues. Tight end Kevin Boss surprised the Giants by signing a lucrative contract with the Oakland Raiders. Boss was clearly overwhelmed by Al Davis’s generosity but he was also unhappy that the Giants cut two of his buddies from the offensive line, Shaun O’Hara and Rich Seubert.

The Jets will hold their annual Long Island training camp workout at Hofstra on Thursday, August 25. There was a rumor that the team would consider holding summer training camp at a new Nassau Coliseum sports complex had the August 1 vote gone in Islanders’ owner Charles Wang’s favor but the team quickly denied that there was any veracity to that story.

Given the lopsided 57-43% against Nassau County funding a new coliseum the odds are that even if the Jets had agreed to return to Long Island for the summer, it probably would not have affected things at the ballot box. Charles Wang, to his credit, did not throw a temper tantrum when the results came in and said that he would continue to find a way to keep the team in Nassau County.

ESPN seems to have a thing for former Jets head coaches. Herm Edwards has done a fine job as an NFL analyst for the guys from Bristol and now Eric Mangini is coming aboard. Mangini was a control freak when he was in charge of the Jets but he did have a quick wit which he tried hard to bury. In December 2008 the Jets were freefalling out of the playoff hunt while the Bernie Madoff scandal was just starting to gain notoriety. I asked Mangini why he was getting more vitriol from the press than Madoff was. “He gets the front page and I get the back,” was his very clever retort. It’s a shame we didn’t get to see more of that side of him when he was running the Jets. Hopefully ESPN executives will coax that out of him.

Versus, which has been a distant competitor to ESPN, is clearly stepping up its game since Comcast, its parent corporation, acquired NBC. Sports documentaries have long been the domain of HBO, Showtime and ESPN but Versus (soon to be rebranded as the NBC Sports Network) has produced its first offering in this area and it’s a good one, “OUT. The Glenn Burke Story.”

Glenn Burke was a highly touted Dodgers outfield prospect who was well liked by his teammates. Growing up in Oakland, his contemporaries were former Mets Claudell Washington and Rickey Henderson, both of whom describe him as one of the best athletes to ever come out of the Bay Area. What is best remembered about Burke however is that he was the first ballplayer to come out of the closet after his playing days were through although everyone interviewed here knew that he was gay but it’s clear that it didn’t bother them. Burke’s old LA manager, Tommy Lasorda, is conspicuous by his absence. Burke died of AIDS in 1995.

There shouldn’t be a rush to judgment of Alex Rodriguez’s allegedly partaking  in a high stakes poker game but it shows how far STAR Magazine, and its sister publication, the National Enquirer, have come in terms of journalistic credibility over the last twenty years. It was STAR who broke the A-Rod poker story.

Mets starter Dillon Gee broke into a big grin when I told him that I saw a little boy on the 7 train wearing his jersey. He told me that he did not realize that there was a demand for merchandise with his name on it.

The Mets have sent down and recalled Nick Evans to and from their Buffalo Bisons farm team so often that I am beginning to believe that they keep JetBlue in business on the NY-Buffalo route singlehandedly.

Speaking of JetBlue and Buffalo, Jets fans should mark November 9 on their calendars. The Jets play the Bills at Ralph Wilson Stadium that day. Tickets for Bills games are fairly easy to get at reasonable prices because (1) Ralph Wilson Stadium can hold more than 80,000 people, (2) the Bills have been awful in recent years, and (3) Western New York has been hit by this horrible recession worse than most of the country.

While both the Jets and the Giants canceled their training camp sessions in Corltand and Albany, NY respectively, the Bills, the only true New York State taxpaying team, have not disappointed their fans in Rochester and are holding their 2011 training camp there.

Lou Gramm, best known for being the lead singer for both Foreigner and his eponymous band, sounded great singing the national anthem at Citi Field during the Mets’ last homestand. Lou was scheduled to perform at Belmont Park on July 1 but was forced to cancel on orders his otolaryngologist because he lost his voice. He told me that he would like to reschedule when the thoroughbreds return to Belmont at the end of this month but he hasn’t heard anything from the New York Racing Association. NYRA marketing executives should jump at the chance to rebook this rock legend.

Last month’s match between Manchester United and the Major League Soccer All-Stars received very little attention even though the game was played locally at Red Bull Arena in Harrison, NJ. Manchester, as usual, steamrolled the MLS 4-0. Pro soccer will never come close to joining the big four sports until the best players in the world come here in their prime.

I am not sure if it will be competitive, but one Friday night a month the Spirit of New York will have its passengers provide the entertainment as they will have karaoke cruises around Manhattan. Normally, the wait staff on Spirit Cruises, nearly all of whom are professional singers, provide the on-board entertainment.

Starbucks is having their annual “make a purchase before 2 PM and buy a grande size cold drink for $2 after 2 PM” promotion through Labor Day.

“Sugar, Sugar” by the Archies was the top hit of 1969 and it still gets a lot of play on oldies stations. Sugarsugar.com is another story however as it is a website that tries to match up very attractive women with wealthy men. Sure, it’s sleazy but the website’s owners do have a sense of humor. They borrow the “two girls for every guy” tag line of the great 1963 Jan & Dean hit, “Surf City” and change it to “eight girls for every guy.” Is this a great country or what!


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