Sportsbeat – 08-22-11

The US Open is underway and the outlook for American tennis players on both the men’s and women’s sides is bleak to say the least. These days Andy Roddick’s (America’s other A-Rod) best performances come on the silver screen (he had a cameo at the end of Adam Sandler’s last film, “Just Go With It”) than on the court. American ATP stalwarts Mary Fish, Robbie Ginepri, Taylor Dent, John Isner, Sam Querrey and Taylor Dent remind me of the Mets’ starting rotation–good, just simply not good enough against stiff competition. In short, expect the usual gang of Djokovic, Murray, Federer and Nadal to be playing in the men’s semi finals.

On the women’s side, who knows how healthy or how much the Williams sisters have left in the tank or whether Melanie Oudin was simply a 2010 flash in the pan.

At least there will be a cheap way of getting to the US Open. Delta Airlines is sponsoring a twice-a-day $1 ferry service that leaves from the South Street Seaport and the East 35th Street Terminal and takes you to the World’s Fair Marina. You have to buy your tickets in advance however at however.

While the crowds thin out at most beaches once September comes, that will not be the case at Long Beach as Quicksilver Pro New York will be taking place there September 1-15. Quicksilver is a the biggest stakes surfing competition the US (yes, contrary to those Beach Boys and Jan & Dean ‘60s hits, not all the surfing takes place in California!) and there will be Motocross and skateboarding competition as well. A number of top musical acts including the Flaming Lips and Long Island’s own Taking Back Sunday will be performing as well.

Also taking place will be the 2011 World Police and Fire Games. The WPFG is an Olympic-style competition in which the finest and bravest squads from cities all over the world will be competing in sporting events around the Greater New York area.

It is somewhat strange that Nets forward Kris Humphries, who has rarely been mentioned in Sports Illustrated, The Sporting News or even Slam, gets to be on the cover of People, In Touch Weekly, Life & Style, US Weekly and OK! by virtue of marrying Kim Kardashian. The odds are that Kris won’t have to sweat out the NBA lockout because he is sure to earn big bucks being a reality star on E!, the cable network that handles all things Kardashian.

US Women’s World Cup Soccer goalie Hope Solo announced that she would be posing nude for ESPN the Magazine’s annual “Body Issue” this month. I get the feeling that if the US team had won the World Cup then she would have passed on ESPN’s offer. That loss to Japan cost Solo millions and made her fade from public conscience almost overnight.

You also have to wonder how serious ESPN is about competing with WFAN. In Philadelphia, ESPN bought an FM station to compete with WIP, and they have been so successful that WIP’s Howard Eskin, the town’s answer to Mike Francesa (except that he has a better wardrobe, wit and looks), has decided to leave his afternoon drive slot. Eskin does a lot of TV work but you have to feel that he was frustrated losing the ratings war to onetime colleague, and now rival, Mike Missinelli.

It is natural to think that given that success, ESPN would have bought 101.9 FM from Emmis Communications when they made it clear that they wanted to sell it. Instead Emmis sold it to a small radio chain, Merlin Communications. I guess that Michael Kay will not be able to do to Mike Francesa what Missinelli did to Eskin.

Former Jets QB Chad Pennington has finally retired and will be working as analyst for FOX Sports on select NFL games. Chad has always been a classy accessible guy and will do a fine job. He has a degree in journalism from Marshall University.

One film that baseball fans will surely want to see is Moneyball that stars Brad Pitt as Oakland A’s GM Billy Beane and Jonah Hill as the fictional Peter Brand (read: Paul DePodesta) that hits theaters on September 23. I will be curious to see how Philip Seymour Hoffman plays manager Art Howe.

Yankees fans should definitely pick up a copy of Charlie Rosen’s latest book, Bullpen Diaries (Harper Books). It is a day-by-day lookback at the Yankees 2010 season as Rosen focuses in on the work of Mariano Rivera, Sergio Mitre, Chad Gaudin, Juan Aceves and David Robertson.

Speaking of relief pitchers, can anyone explain to me why Mets GM Sandy Alderson got rid of Hisanori Takahashi and kept the putrid Ryota Igarashi? Sandy, not all Japanese pitchers are the same! Igarashi could arguably be worst reliever in the majors this year. Yes, he has a wicked curveball but most hitters know that it is going to break far out of the strike zone. When Igarashi does come in over the plate, opposing batters pounce on his pitches. I wouldn’t be surprised if some of his fastballs are still on their way to Tokyo from Flushing.

There are a lot of reasons to visit Israel; the country obviously has countless historic and religious sites as well some of the western world’s best beaches. At the annual International Spa Association media show in New York last week a spokesperson from Ahava, the company that produces salts and masking mud from the Dead Sea, claims hat a lot of professional and amateur athletes bathe in the Dead Sea because it has miraculous therapeutic healing powers when it comes to combating aches, strains and sundry pains.

Mets centerfielder Angel Pagan admits that 2011 has been a tough season but he claims that he has been healthy for most of the season. Earlier in the year he had to be removed from a game because of dehydration and before that he had been on the disabled list because of a balky back. He unequivocally states that the Mets will play hard the rest of the year despite the fact that they have no realistic post-season hopes. “You always have to be a professional and play hard,” Pagan told me without a hint of sarcasm.

Brewers slugger Ryan Braun is also a principal in the rapidly growing leisure clothing company, Remetee, that is trying to compete with motorcycle/tattoo culture apparel as Afflicted, Ed Hardy and Von Dutch.

Now that gay marriage is legal in New York State can mixed martial arts be far behind? The Ultimate Fighting Championship promotion has just signed a lucrative broadcast rights deal with FOX Sports. On Saturday, August 27, a live UFC bout will be televised on a jumbo screen in Times Square.

One of Atlanta’s many attractions is the Braves Museum & Hall of Fame in Turner Field. On display here are Hank Aaron’s bat and the ball that he swatted with it for home run # 715 to break Babe Ruth’s record and a Pullman train car that was used to transport Boston Braves players in the late ‘40 and early ‘50s.

75 miles southwest of Atlanta is Macon where you can find the Georgia Sports Hall of Fame. Among the honorees are the late 1969 World Series MVP , Mets first baseman Donn Clendenon, one Walter Frazier, Jr of the New York Knicks. He is not referred to as Clyde however in the Hall.

If you are looking for some good yet inexpensive summer wines for your Labor Day barbecue/picnic, you can’t go wrong with the Sweet Red and White Zinfandel from Gallo Family Vineyards that cost around five bucks.

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