NY Sports Day

Sportsbeat – 3/21/12

Whenever he was asked about the possibility of getting fired at one of his pre-game press conferences, former Knicks head coach Mike D’Antoni would smile at the media and respond, “I am 60 years old and I am not worried.” The implications of that statement were (a) he was financially secure, and (b) he could probably find another NBA head coaching slot with relative ease.

It’s not a surprise therefore that he fired the Knicks after they barely showed up against the Bulls in Chicago who out-rebounded them by 20 to extend a losing streak to six. The return of Carmel Anthony and his shoot-first, think later ways probably made Mike D’ blow an internal gasket.

Mike Woodson, who served as an assistant to D’Antoni, was named interim coach. The Knicks immediately played a swarming defense, something that was never a D’Antoni strong suit. Even Carmelo Anthony was running down the court to stop two-on-one fast breaks even if that meant incurring an occasional flagrant foul.

Orlando Magic big man Dwight Howard wavered back and forth at the NBA trade deadline but in the end he decided to re-up with his current team for another season. The soon-to-be Brooklyn Nets were praying that Howard would want to come to them, if for no other reason, it would facilitate signing their All-Star point guard, Deron Williams, who now will probably leave for his hometown Dallas Mavericks before the start of the 2012-13 season.

In what has to be regarded as a panic move, The Nets traded for Portland Trailblazers small forward Gerald Wallace as a way of showing Deron that they are serious about upgrading their roster. Wallace is a good player but no one has ever bought a ticket or tuned in to watch him. It’s highly unlikely that Deron will be appeased by his acquisition.

Jim Bouton had a great line when he attempted a brief comeback at age 39. “I spent my whole life gripping a baseball but in the end it was the other way around.” Andy Pettitte certainly echoed Bouton’s philosophy when announced that he would try to make a comeback with the Yankees.

Mets ownership smartly agreed to basically split the difference in half with Madoff victims trustee Irving Picard. Even if the jury had completely exonerated Wilpon-Katz-Wilpon of all wrongdoing and didn’t let Picard get one extra dime out of them, the public testimony would have been terribly damaging. Picard would have had a field day grilling Mets president Saul Katz who is a CPA. I guess now we’ll never know why the fact that Bernie Madoff used a two-man shlock accounting firm in Rockland County instead of say PriceWaterhouseCoopers or Ernst & Young did not raise a red flag to Saul. Nor will we find out if it was true that the Mets restructured a $6 million lump sum payment to Bobby Bonilla into a $30 million annuity that gave an 8% annual return because they assumed that Bernie was a lock to provide a 10 % return on capital even in an off-year.

The Mets couldn’t even fake being healthy during spring training which adds just one more damper on a 2012 season that can’t even enthuse the most optimistic of Flushing faithful. The Mets are making a big splash over their golden anniversary and the odds are that we’ll be making lots of comparisons between the 1962 and 2012 Mets. The dilution of talent in the big leagues means that it’s highly unlikely that they will lose 120 games as their forebears did, but losing 100 is not out of the question.

I have to give the Mets credit for doing something long overdue. With the exception of Opening Day and the Subway Series, the Mets will offer $10 tickets for high school and college students on the day of a game. Hey, that’s cheaper than going to the movies. Expect a lot of young Phillies fans who have trouble getting tickets to see their team at Citizens Bank Park when the Phils come to Flushing this year.

One upbeat event that will take place at City Field is the annual Taste of Queens where some of the borough’s best restaurants will offer samples of their cuisine at the Caesars Club on May 1 from 6 to 9 PM. A Taste of Queens is similar to the various Village Voice-sponsored food festivals such as Choice Eats that took place earlier this month and the Food Truck festival that will take place April 24 at Manhattan’s Pier 86 where the Intrepid is located.

Following the model of LA Live!, the dining and entertainment complex located across the street from the Staples Center, Philadelphia’s Xfinity Live! has just opened on the site of the Spectrum that was razed two years ago. Among the restaurants you’ll find are the Broad Street Bullies Pub, the Spectrum Grill, as well as many local restaurants in the food court area. The idea is for Phillies, Eagles, Flyers and Sixers fans to spend more time in South Philadelphia instead of going to Center City to eat. It would be nice if there was a similar type of establishment on the grounds of Citi Field.

Giants wide receiver Victor Cruz has certainly been the most visible member of the Super Bowl champs this off-season. He gave salsa lessons at the Times Square Modell’s, cut the opening ribbons for both Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week and Toy Fair, and last week he was one of the celebrities present to introduce a new line of Old Spice products.

Cruz certainly knows how to travel with attractive company. At Fashion Week he was accompanied by Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue cover girl, Kate Upton, while another SI swimsuit model, Chrissy Teigen, posed with him at the Old Spice event.

Eli Manning will certainly be looking for Cruz a lot more this fall now that one of his favorite targets, Mario Manningham, has signed with the 49ers. I will miss hearing the Giants press box announcer saying, “Manning to Manningham for a 20-yard gain.”

The Jets did the right thing taking themselves out of the Peyton Manning Derby and showing faith in Mark Sanchez by handing him a three-year contract. Granted, Sanchez did not look great last year but the offensive line was the NFL’s answer to Swiss cheese last season. Jets offensive tackle Wayne Hunter was practically a maitre d’ escorting opposing linebackers to Mark because he was a sub-par blocker.

Do you think that the Jets’ acquisition of Tim Tebow may have been driven in small part as a way of diverting some buzz from the Super Bowl champion Giants?

Expect to see a lot of “Tebow coming to Sodom & Gomorrah” references now that he is in the New York area. The truth is that while Tebow is deeply religious he has never been known to proselytize.

In 2007, as a bit for its Heisman Trophy show, ESPN sent Tebow to the Carnegie Deli to enjoy an oversized brisket sandwich. When I asked him about celebrating the first day of Chanukah with a kosher-style sandwich, Tebow gave a knowing laugh and said that he wished that the Carnegie Deli would open a branch in Gainesville. He gets it.

I wonder if the IRS will audit any suspected NFL players who may have received bounty hunter payments a la those that some New Orleans Saints players received. I doubt that any of them declared the fully-taxable payments on their returns.

St. John’s University forward Moe Harkless, who was named the Big East Rookie of the Year for 2012, announced that he would be entering the upcoming NBA Draft at Madison Square Garden press conference. Hopefully he’ll have better luck than Omar Cook who left St. John’s after one season in 2011 was a second- round draft choice and wound up just getting “cups of coffee” in the NBA. He has spent most of his playing career in Europe. Red Storm head coach Steve Lavin gave qualified support to Moe for his decision and joked that he was screaming out “One Moe Year” from behind the bushes on the St. John’s Jamaica campus whenever he’d see him on the way to class.

Harkless will be competing with a very deep draft class because a number of college players wisely stayed in school an extra year to avoid getting victimized by the NBA lockout. Barring an unfortunate injury, Moe would be better off returning to St. John’s and declaring for the NBA in 2013.

In 2011 Adam “Edge” Copeland had to retire from the WWE after suffering a neck injury. Like a lot of World Wrestling Entertainment’s talent, Edge, has gotten a chance to star in a WWE Studios film, the just released “Bending The Rules.” He plays an easy-going New Orleans undercover cop who is not ashamed to admit that he has done some corrupt things. Copeland has a likable Burt Reynolds-like charm and a natural acting ability. Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson has competition.

The GLBT Expo, sponsored by Delta Air Lines, Wells Fargo, Anheuser-Busch, and Clear Channel, held last week at the Javits Center attracted almost as many travel destination exhibitors as the New York Times Travel show did two weeks ago. Among the sports exhibitors were the WNBA’s New York Liberty and Connecticut Sun who play their home games at the Mohegan Sun Casino & Resort. The International Gay Rodeo Association certainly shattered stereotypes. Yes, there was a mechanical bull straight out of the 1980 John Travolta film, “Urban Cowboy,” at their booth.

Last year Under Armour introduced a Charged Cotton line of t-shirts that claimed to dry perspiration five times faster than regular T-shirts. C9 by Champion for Target accomplishes the same goal for half the price and is available only at the Minneapolis-based retailer.

If you’re a baby boomer, the odds are that your first pair of sneakers were PF Flyers. The company is celebrating its 75th anniversary and will have several commemorative shoes out in 2012.

You have to love those MLB 2K 12 ads that project the euphoria that would engulf Chicago if the Cubs were to win the World Series this year. It’s hard not to get misty-eyed even if you’re not a Cubs fan.

The CBS Sports Network is trying to get away from its old college sports image. The cable net will be showing the National Lacrosse League next year (“the fastest game on two feet”) and it will have the irrepressible Jim Rome host a one-hour sports show at 6 PM.

Maintaining your health and looking younger than your age is the holy grail for most of us. NeoCell, a Newport Beach health supplements company has been promoting its line of anti-oxidant Resveratrol juices and vitamins as well fish collagen tablets.

In a similar vein, White Plains-based Grande Natural is taking on Rogaine in the hair regrowth market. It’s promoting itself as a less expensive alternative that you only need to use once a day instead of Rogaine’s two times daily regiment and it has a better smell.

The just-held Publishing Business Expo & Conference showed that old media is alive and well and can nicely co-exist with digital platforms. It’s a disgrace how many teams and leagues have stopped publishing media guides in the guise of “going green.” Going green is frequently a nice euphemism for saving green (a.k.a. being cheap).

Coinciding with the Publishing Business trade show was Search Engine Strategies, the annual preeminent spring e-commerce event. This show used to be dominated by offshore gaming websites. Now that the IRS has cracked down on them, web marketers such as Adlucent are going have to reach consumers in a different way. You have to love the T-shirt that they were handing out that said “I Shop In My Underwear.” I love trade shows!


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