Sportsbeat – 2-17-11

The Jeremy Lin phenomena is a reminder to all athletes why playing in New York still makes a big difference if you want national recognition such as getting on the cover of Sports Illustrated or being mentioned by President Obama in a very short amount of time.

Lin could not have come along at a better time for either Knicks head coach Mike D’Antoni, who was certainly on the hot seat as recently as Super Bowl weekend, or for Cablevision CEO James “JD” Dolan in his fee increase battle with Time Warner Cable.

“Jeremania” has certainly helped bars and restaurants in Queens who use satellite providers instead of Time Warner Cable. Flushing is home to one of the largest Chinese-American communities and the Applebee’s there has been doing great business on the nights that the Knicks are playing.

The advent of Lin and the Knicks could not have come at a worse time for the New Jersey Nets who are getting ready to play in Brooklyn (don’t be surprised if their borough president, the ever promotion-minded Marty Markowitz tries to rename it Brook-Lin!).

When the Nets played the Knicks at the Garden during Super Bowl weekend, the teams’ records were virtually the same. After Lin’s 25-point breakout performance, the Nets sank like a stone in the standings. Even worse, the Nets’ futility came at a time when they could have easily made new fans being the only local NBA or NHL team on Time Warner Cable since their games are on the YES and not the MSG Network. Nobody expected the Nets to be good, even with the yeoman-like work of All-Star point guard Deron Williams who will likely bolt at the end of this season as a free agent, but you can’t win 30 per cent of your games (and that percentage may be optimistic) and expect to be taken seriously.

The annual SI swimsuit issue has become such a national obsession that this year’s cover girl, Kate Upton, who a week earlier cut the opening ribbon for Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week, was a front page story of the New York Times the morning after it was revealed on The Late Show with David Letterman that she would on the front of the mag.

As per custom, Sports Illustrated held its annual media event/party for its big issue the day after the announcement and all of the models walked the red carpet. Normally camera crews from the nightly celebrity shows as Entertainment Tonight, Access Hollywood, Extra, The Insider, and Inside Edition mob the event but there were fewer of them given the fact that Whitney Houston’s death was seemingly their only story.

Russian models Irina Shayk and Anne Vyalitsyna got defensive when I asked them their thoughts about the upcoming Russian presidential campaign. Anne V told me that she hardly returns to her homeland and knows little about what’s going on there, while Irina S, who looks like one of those great James Bond fem fatales, ran into the SI party when I sought her opinion.

Julie Henderson, who has a Texas girl-next-door beauty, was in her sixth swimsuit issue and has yet to grace its cover. She took it well when I asked her if she felt she was the Parker Posey of swimsuit models; namely being in a supporting role and never being the big star. She agreed that was a fair analogy and talked about getting out of modeling and trying to launch her own fashion/beauty products company a la Kathy Ireland and Cindy Crawford.

Giants wide receiver Victor Cruz, who ranks right behind Jeremy Lin as New York’s most popular young professional athlete made a promotional appearance at the annual Toy Fair held at the Javits Center. Franklin Sports displayed their new CFX PRO Batting Glove that provides protection for the hand without needless bulk and helps create a solid bat grip.

For the first time that I can recall a surfboard company displayed its wares at Toy Fair. Bender Boards out of San Diego displayed its classic, sleek, and rather simple boards–the kind that you saw on the covers of early Beach Boys albums. Bill Brennan, the president of the company, told me that he has a lot of customers who surf at Long Beach and in the Rockaways.

Former NFL QB Rodney Peete and his wife, actress Holly Robinson Peete, renewed their vows at the Empire State Building in a Valentine’s Day promotion.

It will be interesting to see whether the St. John’s Red Storm men’s basketball team will recover from their St. Valentine’s Day Massacre when they lost by 30 to the Seton Hall Pirates at the Pru Center. The Johnnies appear to be reeling from the absence of junior guard Malik Stith who abruptly quit the team for personal reasons.

The WWE announced that next year’s Wrestlemania will take place April 7 at MetLife Stadium. That is somewhat surprising since the weather is uncertain in early April in the Northeast. Last year, Paul “Triple H” Levesque, who is an executive with the WWE as well as being one if its marquee performers, told me that he doubted that Wrestlemania would ever return to New York because Wrestlemania only takes place in gigantic stadiums that are either in warm weather cities or are domed.

On the topic of wrestling, Redbox, the Midwestern video rental retailer, gave actor Kevin James a lifetime achievement award. James was a wrestler at Ward Melville High School in East Setauket where his teammate was Mick Foley.

Nice touch by the producers of the USA Network’s popular series, “White Collar,” to film an episode in Yankee Stadium. Tim DeKay, one of the stars of the show, directed it. He was actually a highly regarded high school prospect growing up in Ithaca.

I had to laugh when Daily News sports media columnist Bob Raissman complained about why the press was not writing more about the bizarre Brian Cashman-Louise Neathway story. You may recall that Neathway stalked him and tried to extort him when their affair soured. Didn’t Raissman learn anything from the Greg Kelly phony rape story? This wasn’t the first and it certainly won’t be the last time that a psycho tries to shake down a celebrity.

Gary Carter was a mensch in every sense of the Yiddish term. He always made time for reporters from all media outlets. He did not believe in the media caste system that too many athletes and team honchos slavishly adhere to.

Veteran sportscaster Josh Lewin will replace Wayne Hagin in the WFAN booth calling Mets games this year. I am not sure why Mets management did not like Wayne who I always felt was both knowledgeable and had a great voice.

Sandy Alderson earned plaudits for showing a sense of humor about the Mets financial troubles on Twitter. Hey Sandy, how about showing that side of you to the media this year by being more accessible!

Yankee Stadium will be rocking next summer as both Madonna and Roger Waters of Pink Floyd fame will have concerts there.

Bill Hader did a marvelous job spoofing the Clint Eastwood Super Bowl ad for Chrysler on Saturday Night Live. I am still trying to figure out why some conservatives thought that Clint was shilling for President Obama’s re-election when he talked about “halftime in America” and how things would be improving in the second half. To me it was a reminder of President Reagan’s upbeat speeches about this country’s future. Eastwood has long been one of Hollywood’s most visible Republicans, albeit one with a libertarian bent.

The annual BNP Paribas Showdown will take place Monday, March 5, at Madison Square Garden. It will be a battle of the glamazons as Caroline Wozniacki takes on Maria Sharapova. On the men’s side, Roger Federer meets Andy Roddick. It’s safe to say that both of their careers peaked a few years ago. Both matches will be best of three sets.

Mercedes-Benz/New York Fashion Week has become like the Super Bowl in that just like football, having designers show off their latest works is just a small segment of what the event is about. Yes, online fashion discounter, Ideeli, and swimsuit/leisure wear manufacturer RICA had a presence at Fashion Week, and it’s not surprising that cosmetics companies as Maybelline, Guthy-Renker, and Lancome set up booth space for it as well. It is however a big marketing opportunity for the beverage industry as Diet Pepsi, Skinny Water, Sneaky Pete’s Juices and Vita Coco Coconut Water gave away samples while Equinox was hawking gym memberships and spa treatments. General Mills was touting its Fiber One snack bars. A new timepiece company, Slap Watch, and an upscale jeweler, CIRCA, were trying to get noticed on the accessories front.

My favorite offbeat vendor was Bing, Microsoft’s search engine competitor to Google, which thankfully set up a media lounge at the Mandarin Oriental, something that Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week operator, IMG, always neglects to do. IMG, which actually charges for press credentials, did not even give out a goody bag to the media for the first time. Way to go, guys!

The Kosher Food & Wine Expo held at Chelsea Piers’ Pier Sixty Restaurant, brought out expected vintners as Baron Herzog and Carmel (although Manischewitz surprisingly was missing) but also from various tequila and whisky manufacturers. McIvor Scotch Whisky 17-year  aged variety had a smooth finish as expected but even their five-year aged bottle, which retails for around $15 was easy to sip.

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