NY Sports Day

Sportsbeat 11-28-11

      Last year the New York Islanders had the best record in the National Hockey League following the All-Star break despite season-ending injuries to team captain Mark Streit, and the team’s highest paid player, goaltender Rick DiPietro. There was a lot of reason for optimism two months ago when the 2011-12 campaign began since both of the aforementioned were now healthy. Unfortunately, the Islanders have regressed. In a season full of low points, the Islanders hit their nadir on the Saturday before Thanksgiving as they were shelled at home by the defending Stanley Cup champions, the Boston Bruins, 6-0.

After the debacle both Mark Streit and head coach Jack Capuano vented their frustrations to the media about both their team’s effort and execution.

Streit did not disagree with my assessment that Bruins goalie Tim Thomas could have read a book in the first period and it wouldn’t have mattered since the Isles could muster a puny two shots on goal. Capuano railed about the team’s lackadaisical attitude and basically said that his squad embarrassed themselves on their home ice.

      DiPietro tried to avoid meeting the media after the game but reluctantly did so only after a writer from a prominent daily paper demanded to an Islanders PR official that he be summoned.

HBO has just released the DVD of last year’s “24/7 Penguins/Capitals Road to the NHL Winter Classic.” The back stories of this year’s Rangers-Flyers Winter Classic should make for entertaining programming on HBO next month.

St. John’s University men’s basketball coach was pleased with his undermanned team’s efforts at last month’s 2K Coaches Vs. Cancer tournament at Madison Square Garden despite losses to Arizona, and a particularly heartbreaking one to Texas A&M, where the Johnnies frequently fell behind by double digits and could have won the game had guard Nurideen Lindsey hit a pair of free throws with 2.3 second left. Lavin told the press that the Texas A&M game will reap dividends for his young team down the road.

Let’s hear it for the Columbia Lions who beat Brown on the last day of the Ivy League season to finish with a record of 1-9. Any time Columbia doesn’t wind up winless is a success in this alum’s opinion.

Unfortunately for Norries Wilson, the Lions head coach for the last six years, the Columbia administration is apparently raising the bar. He was given his walking papers the day after the season ended. The next Columbia head coach had better win at least two games next year or else!       The Mets announced last month that they will bring back Banner Day as well as the uniforms that the team wore during their inaugural season as part of the celebration of their 50th anniversary. Mets fans had better hope that the 2012 team doesn’t play like their 1962 forebears which is a distinct possibility if they don’t re-sign their free agent shortstop, Jose Reyes. Mets management may have to reluctantly add a golden anniversary promotion next season: instituting 1962 ticket prices to get customers to Citi Field.

The Jets went into Thanksgiving with a 5-5 record. While they have not been the busts that the Philadelphia Eagles have been, they have not been very good either. While QB Mark Sanchez and head coach Rex Ryan have taken most of the heat from the media, and some of it is well-deserved, I am going to point fingers at general manager Mike Tannenbaum and the NFL schedule makers.

Tannenbaum got rid of wide receivers Braylon Edwards and Jerricho Cotchery and replaced them with Derrick Mason and Plaxico Burress. Mason was a total bust who was shipped off for a low draft choice to Houston after Week 7 while Burress has finally come around after a dreadfully slow start. The running game has been non-existent as LaDanian Tomlinson is starting to show his age while Shonn Greene has not exactly been the second coming of Lamont Jordan.

Mark Sanchez will never have the arm strength of Tom Brady but he has proven to be a winner in his first two seasons. Like all quarterbacks though he needs protection and the right side of the Jets’ offensive line anchored the awful Wayne Hunter has been porous.

Finally, the NFL schedule makers did not do the Jets any favors having them play on a Thursday night in the high altitude of Denver five days after getting pummeled by the Patriots on NBC’s Sunday night game. The Jets historically have had trouble beating the Broncos in the Mile High City going back to when Joe Namath was in his prime.

The New York Road Runners have long been the sanctioning body for local marathons but they could be getting some competition from a new group, NYCRUNS, that sponsored the first-ever, 26.2 Brooklyn Marathon, in Prospect Park.

It was a nice touch on the part of the WWE to hold the 25th anniversary of the Survivor Series at Madison Square Garden. The WWE held a lunchtime pep rally in front of the Garden the Friday before the event as Phillip Jack Brooks, better known as CM Punk, addressed the crowd. In late June, CM Punk created serious heat when he attacked the inner workings of the WWE at the end of a “RAW” episode on the USA Network. It could be argued that Punk was an inspiration for the Occupy Wall Street movement. Instead of playing that angle up, WWE script writers have made him a generic good guy. Too bad.

If you miss the days of bungee jumping, New York Zipline Adventure Tours will give you a similar adrenaline rush. You can travel like Superman on a cable going at speeds of 50 mph at an altitude of 600 feet at Hunter Mountain just in case the skiing there is too dull for you.

The Time Warner Center at Columbus Circle is trying to compete with Rockefeller Center this holiday season with its free light and music spectacle that occurs every day between 5 PM and midnight that runs until January 3. The TWC is owned by Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross.

Miami, of course, is a popular winter destination. If you are despairing the fact that you won’t be able to see Dwayne, LeBron and the rest of the Miami Heat because of the NBA lockout, and you are looking for some alternative entertainment, I have good news. The Lee Network, a rival to upscale Rick’s Cabaret, has opened the Wonderland Adult Playground on Biscayne Boulevard. Coutney Cummz, arguably the biggest name in adult films these days (hey with a name like that you don’t think that she was meant to be a CPA!), cut the opening ribbon on 11/11/11.

I guess the Penn State scandal must be a big deal because Jerry Sandusky’s photo is on the front page of The National Enquirer, a spot usually reserved for the likes of Brad Pitt, Angelina Joie, George Clooney and Madonna.

Not to be outdone, OK! Magazine has brokenhearted Kris Humphries on its cover. Our guy is still trying to get over Kim Kardashian.

MSG Network is trying to create Knicks-related programming to try to fill the void created by the NBA lockout. Knicks Greatest Rivalries features ex-players as Bernard King, Anthony Mason and Derek Harper discussing their most intense games from the early 1990s.

NBA Hall of Famer and the man whose silhouette is the NBA logo, Jerry West, has penned his autobiography, West By West (Little, Brown). West admits that he can be a very distant person and is not at his best around women. He also reveals that he is not friendly with Phil Jackson. The best part of the book is that he peels back the curtain to peak into the corporate cultures of both the LA Lakers and the Memphis Grizzlies. West served as president of that franchise a few years ago. It is a surprisingly engrossing read.

Modern day burlesque star and actress Dita Von Teese was in town last week promoting Cointreau Travel Essentials. Cointreau is a French spirits manufacturer that has long been a successful player in the cocktail market.

Mars Corporation is promoting the fact that M&Ms can be used as art work for a holiday party table as well being part of a martini. The company recently held a press event in NYC to play up the fact that the cocoa found in M&Ms has health benefits such as increasing blood circulation.

Hewlett-Packard’s Snapfish.com is a great way for amateur sports photographers to create painting-sized high resolution photos of the action that they have shot. You can also place your photos on mugs and note cards through the company.

In my last column I mentioned how Yoga Fit has become a leader in both manufacturing yoga apparel and in licensing instructors. Yoga has indeed become a more mainstream exercise program as athletes are realizing the importance of stretching as a way of preventing career-ending injuries. Yoga is also seen by many as a way of combating mental illnesses such as dementia. A leading yoga practitioner, Nina David, in conjunction with the Visiting Nurse Service, has been giving yoga lessons for those who are in the early stages of Alzheimer’s Disease at senior citizen care facilities in our area.

Safe at Home, the non-profit started by Joe Torre, held their annual star-studded fund-raiser at Pier 60 two weeks ago. Another terrific philanthropic organization that fights domestic violence is Safe Horizon. Conair and John Freida Styling Tools is donating product from its promotional event at Bryant Park’s Celsius Restaurant on November 30 to Safe Horizon.

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