Even if Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather had met in the ring in their primes, the anticipation for that fight would still pale in comparison for the first Muhammad Ali-Joe Frazier fight that took place in Madison Square Garden on March 8, 1971. Just about every fight that HBO and Showtime has ever put on pay-per-view is small potatoes compared to the ring battles between Muhammad Ali, Joe Frazier, George Foreman and Ken Norton.
The death of “Smokin’” Joe Frazier from cancer at age 67 is a reminder of how great heavyweight boxing was back in the day and what a sorry spectacle it has become today. It’s a shame that Frazier could never find it in his heart to reconcile with Ali. Two years ago, at an HBO press screening of its documentary on the Ali-Frazier rivalry, Joe made it clear that he never forgave Ali for publicly insulting him. Frazier was unmoved when I mentioned to him that Ali, who grew up loving pro wrestling, often said that he was just running his mouth to sell tickets and that he had no animosity towards Joe.
Kris Humphries has taken a lot of ridicule for his 72-day marriage to Kim Kardashian that followed arguably the most hyped, expensive wedding in the 21st century not counting that between Prince William and Kate Middleton. You have to wonder if an NBA team will take a chance on Humphries who is a free agent. General managers must be concerned if he’ll be mentally ready to play and also be able to handle the inevitable heckling that will come his way. Two weeks ago in a “Saturday Night Live” skit, Andy Samberg portrayed Kris as a mentally disabled dolt. He is certainly not that way in real life.
Incidentally, Kim Kardashian created a fragrance line titled “Love” that came out right after her wedding. That is sure to be a popular gag gift this holiday season.
Mario Lopez was one of the celebrities attending an Ivory Soap promotional event in Manhattan two weeks ago. He took the early canceling by the CW network of his show, “H8R,” in stride but he did promise that the episode where an emphatic detractor of Barry Bonds gets to meet his nemesis will air next summer.
Cable’s IFC Network is running the second season of the great CNN/Fox News takeoff The Onion News Network but there is no word yet if the Onion’s other TV project, the ESPN Sportscenter spoof, Sports Dome, will be back on Comedy Central.
Mark Lazarus, who this past summer succeeded Dick Ebersol as sports czar at NBC, made his first major public address at last Sports & Media Technology conference that was sponsored by the Sports Business Journal. Understandably, he pointed out how the 2012 Olympic Games in London will not only benefit NBC Sports, but most importantly, the Peacock Network’s primetime shows, which have struggled mightily in the Nielsen ratings.
Lazarus was also excited about the future of Versus which will be rebranded the NBC Sports Network on January 2, the day that the Rangers play the Flyers at Citizens Bank Park in the annual NHL Winter Classic. He wisely did not give a timetable as to when the network will be a worthy competitor to ESPN.
No one expected the Islanders to win a Stanley Cup but no one expected them to lose every game either which has basically been the case this season.
If you are looking for a change of scenery and great bang for your sports buck, check out the Philadelphia Flyers’ ECHL affiliate, the Trenton Titans who play in the beautiful Sun Bank Center. The Titans have a 4 for $48 promotion where you get four game tickets (and we’re not talking nosebleed seats either), four hot dogs and four soft drinks. Now that’s what I call value.
Longtime local football writer Ernie Palladino has written a book, Lombardi Landry (Skyhorse Publishing) that looks back to the 1950s when both Vince Lombardi and Tom Landry were Giants assistant coaches. The cruel irony for Big Blue fans was that neither gentleman ever became a head coach for them. Palladino details a humorous story of how Lombardi challenged Alex Webster after the two had words. Webster would eventually become a Giants head coach.
Veteran sportswriter and Flushing native Dave Buscema has turned his passion for his beloved Giants into a book cleverly titled 100 Things Giants Fans Should Know & Do Before They Die (Triumph Books). Buscema covers all of the Giants greats of course (Y.A. Tittle, Frank Gifford, Lawrence Taylor, Michael Strahan, Phil Simms and Eli Manning just to name a few) but he doesn’t shy away from Big Blue’s bluest fan moments such as the Joe Pisarcik fumble against the Eagles in 1978, when all he had to do was take a knee to end the game, and last year’s debacle against the Eagles at home. In a gutsy move considering his audience here, Dave writes a rather sympathetic profile of Tiki Barber.
Another Queens native, Jamaica high school alum and longtime New York Times sports columnist George Vecsey has written the definitive biography of arguably the most underrated baseball great of the 20th century with his latest tome, Stan Musial: An American Life (ESPN Books). Musial was as skilled a businessman as he was a hitter and even knew how to play a good harmonica.
Musial started his major league career just before World War II and finished it just before the JFK assassination in 1963. When it came to integration, Stan was not a prejudiced guy but he was not a leader on the topic in the Cardinals clubhouse either. He clearly did not want to offend his old school Southern good ole boy teammates according to Vecsey.
Livio, the leading manufacturer of Internet radios, has teamed up with Grooveshark, one of the Internet’s most popular music providers, to create a device that will make it easier to listen to out of market sporting events and sports talk shows in your car. The new product will debut at this January’s Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.
Castrol Motor Oil is the sponsor of a mathematical system that measures the best players in Major League Soccer. Think of it as the equivalent of sabermetrics in baseball. This year’s MLS MVP according to Castrol’s formula would be San Jose Earthquakes forward Chris Wondolowski. The fact that Wondolowski led the league in goals scored kind of made this an easy choice.
MSG Network Knicks sideline reporter and Plainview native Jill Martin has taken advantage of the downtime created by the NBA lockout to write her latest fashion book, I Have Nothing To Wear (Rodale).
After missing the Triple Crown, and finishing tenth at the Breeders Cup, it’s safe to say that Uncle Mo, owned by Middle Village native and Vitaminwater founder Mike Repole, is the Bode Miller of the thoroughbred set. Repole will be lucky to get Uncle Mo into any stakes races at Aqueduct this season.
Congratulations to the Gerber Group, whose co-founders, Cedarhurst siblings Scott and Rande Gerber, started their national nightclub in 1991, on their 20th anniversary. In a business where five years is a lifetime, the Gerber Group has stood the test of time, and they celebrated their milestone in a big way last week at their Stone Rose Lounge in the Time Warner Center. The Gerber Group has teamed up with Woodruff Reserve to create a bourbon whose sales proceeds will go to the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation.
Neil Patrick Harris is all over the media landscape these days. You can catch him in the new Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas flick as well as playing the delightfully obnoxious ladies’ man, Barney Stinson, on CBS’s wildly popular Monday night sitcom, How I Met Your Mother. A marketing company called Media Storm is putting the Barney Stinson character’s likeness in a number of area pubs, many of them sports bars, as a way of appealing to younger customers. Customers will find napkins and posters that contain Barney’s famous “Bro Code” philosophies.
Starbucks held a media event last week to promote its holiday lineup of drinks and gifts at the delightfully retro Gramercy Park Hotel. The peppermint mocha coffee and its Viatini cocktails were hits. When you can’t think of what to get for someone who you need to get a small gift for, you can’t go wrong with a Starbucks gift card.
If you are looking for a fun mix of soft drinks and liquor for the holiday season, you can’t go wrong with Jeremiah Weed’s “Lightning Lemonade,” “Roadhouse Tea” and “Spiked Cola.”
Aerosoles will be putting a lot of promotion into its Solo Artist line of shoes this spring which is popular with female athletes because its sturdy yet light in weight and is perfect for everything from cycling to yoga. In my last column I wrote that Aerosoles was considering a men’s line of shoes but a company spokesperson said that was not in their plans. Chalk it up to wishful thinking on my part.
Jopen, a Southern California manufacturer of women’s pleasure toys has discovered that one of its biggest sellers, a device called Intensity, is being bought by both men and women as a way of strengthening the Kegel muscles of the body. ESPN Radio’s LaFern Cusack reported on this phenomena according to a Jopen PR rep.