Sportsbeat – 4/15/12

Mets pitcher RA Dickey is certainly enjoying a high profile April. He has been promoting his autobiography, Wherever I Wind Up (Blue Rider Press), and is one of the subjects of a documentary, Knuckleball, that will be part of the Tribeca Film Festival ESPN Sports Day lineup.

Dickey’s revelations about the sexual abuse he endured as a youngster have generated a lot of buzz but that’s a minuscule part of his story. What really sticks out in the narrative are the trials and tribulations of trying to provide for his family while toiling away in the minor leagues after continually being released by major league teams.

Despite his placid demeanor, RA has always had a daredevil side as evidenced by his climbing of Mount Kilimanjaro this past winter. He describes how he nearly drowned trying to swim across the Missouri River to go from Council Bluffs, IA to Omaha, NE after being egged on by minor league teammates.

In addition to Knuckleball, another sports documentary that I am looking forward to seeing at the Tribeca Film Festival is Broke which examines the inordinate number of professional athletes who squandered their sizable earnings.

Surprisingly little was written about the Mets’ bizarre decision to remove Wayne Hagin from the radio booth after four seasons of calling their games. Wayne was a total pro as he used his stentorian baritone voice to call a game that was free of theatrical hysterics and never insulted his listeners’ intelligence.

Hagin was replaced by Josh Lewin who is a young broadcasting veteran having been the radio voice of a number of MLB teams, a part of Fox’s Saturday Game of the Week team, as well as the current play-by-play broadcaster for the San Diego Chargers. It always takes awhile to get used to a new voice but I have to give Josh props for working in pop culture into his broadcasts. On the last homestand he referenced the late British vaudevillian Benny Hill, and his theme song, Boots Randolph’s “Yakety Sax.”

Congratulations to Lewin’s partner, longtime Mets and Islanders broadcaster Howie Rose, who will be inducted into the Jewish Sports Hall of Fame in Commack on Sunday, April 29. The folks at the Hall have somehow overlooked Spencer Ross, who was clearly one of Howie’s influences. Hopefully they can correct that oversight ASAP.

Hofstra University will host a three-day symposium of the Mets’ golden anniversary and how the team has reflected and impacted American life from the time of JFK until now the last weekend of April.

I ran into former Mets closer John Franco in Manhattan last month. While he is content doing public appearances for the Mets’ chief corporate sponsor, Citibank, he told me that he would like a role in the general manager’s office doing player evaluations. He would be ideal for a role similar to what the Knicks have given Allan Houston.

Can someone please tell me why Yankees general manager Brian Cashman felt the need to acquire backup catcher Chris Stewart from the Giants when Francisco Cervelli who has done an outstanding job as Russell Martin’s understudy? Cervelli was informed by Yankees manager Joe Girardi that he was demoted to the Yanks’ Scranton farm team after hitting a home run against the Mets in the last game of the spring training schedule. Now that’s cold.

Nets center Brook Lopez attended the Nationals-Mets matinee two weeks ago with his foot in a cast as he recovers from foot surgery. Brook has a great sense of humor and he likes sharing a laugh with the press corps. That truly makes him an anomaly. He liked the idea of a Brook-lyn Lopez marketing campaign when the Nets move to the Barclays Center this fall.

It was not a happy homecoming for Washington Wizards general manager Ernie Grunfeld as he watched his team get crushed by the Knicks 103-65 last Friday night. Grunfeld, the greatest basketball player in Forest Hills High School history, was surprised to learn that Big East Rookie of the Year, St. John’s University forward Moe Harkless also attended his alma mater although he graduated from a Connecticut prep school. Harkless declared himself eligible for the upcoming NBA draft.

It’s bad enough that we’re in hock to our eyeballs in China but adding insult to injury to Knicks fans is that the Chinese government has erected a Rocky-like statue in the heart of Beijing to Stephon Marbury for leading his team to a championship in that country’s equivalent to the NBA.

The Dodge Viper was the sports car that seemed to garner the most attention at the just completed NY International Auto Show. Fuel efficiency was on the minds of most manufacturers as nearly every car company displayed hybrid models. A track was set up on the Javits Center’s lower level so that attendees could take a ride in an electric car.

One notable exception was Rolls-Royce whose latest Phantom car gets a whopping 12 miles a gallon in the city according to the company’s CEO Torsten Muller-Otvos. He chuckled when I mentioned that the mpg matched that of my 1979 Dodge Diplomat.

“Grey’s Anatomy” star Patrick Dempsey is a serious auto racer and will produce a four-part documentary, The Road to Le Mans, that will air in 2013 on Discovery Network’s Velocity channel. Dempsey will compete at Le Mans as well.

The arrival of spring means that bicycle and outdoor skateboard season is underway.         Cannondale, LeBron James’ bike manufacturer of choice, has introduced the Hooligan, a sleek, very compact model that can be thought of as the Mini-Cooper of bikes. It’s perfect if you live in a dorm or a studio apartment where space is precious. Uncle Milton, a popular toy company, has partnered with National Geographic to come up with Shoe Lights. This is a very useful product to wear on your sneakers if you are riding at night.

Skateboards used to be just a varnished piece of wood with wheels under them. Those days are long gone. Tokidoki, an Italian company with a Japanese name, has created a line of boards that would not be out of place at a modern art museum. The same can be said for the helmet manufacturer, Bell, whose most popular models are designed by the artist and clothing designer Paul Frank.

Nice job by Longines, the upscale watch company, to support the junior tennis program at Flushing Meadows. This past weekend it sponsored a tournament whose winner would play an exhibition at the French Open. Billie Jean King was on hand at the tennis center named in her honor to promote American amateur tennis.

The Arthur Ashe Institute for Urban Health, an organization that helps fund careers in the health industry for those who otherwise not do so, as well as educating the public about health issues in such non-traditional places as nail salons and beauty parlors, marked its 20th anniversary by holding a terrific gala at Chelsea Piers Pier Sixty restaurant last Thursday. There was certainly a Queens feel as Douglaston native, and highly regarded tennis commentator, Patrick McEnroe and retired Emmy-winning sports producer (and Flushing denizen) Michael Weisman lent their support while Gail Marquis, a member of the silver-medal winning 1976 US Women’s Olympic basketball team, and arguably the greatest hoops player of either gender to come out of Queens College, was presented an award. The chief executive of the AAIUH is Jamaica obstetrician Dr. Edgar Mandeville. The evening was emceed by New York Times sports columnist Bill Rhoden and NY1 anchor Cheryl Wills who grew up in Queens. At the end of the evening every guest received a complimentary pair of Bob Cousy PF Flyers. Cousy, the great Celtics point guard, graduated from Andrew Jackson High School in Cambria Heights.

It’s no secret that American businesses love a winner in sports, particularly if they play in the nation’s biggest market. Vector Media hired a number of double decker buses to shuttle Rangers fans from Times Square to Madison Square Garden during the first two games of the Senators-Rangers playoff series to build awareness of the company. The buses were painted in Rangers blue and featured some Broadway Blueshirts alumni who greeted fans as they stepped on and off.

The NFL has opened a pop-up shop on the corner of 42nd Street and Sixth Avenue that will stay open until April 30 to coincide with the upcoming draft. Don’t be surprised if NFL Women’s Apparel outsells its male counterpart particularly since the Jets acquired Tim Tebow.

Spa Week Media has always done a great job of introducing the press to the new technology and treatments offered by this industry. At its semi-annual Spa Week press event last week, the Elizabeth Arden Red Door Spa, a national chain that has branches in Bellmore and Garden City, showed off its Smooth Sculpt machine that relieves stress and muscle ache by placing a small vacuum-like rod over pressure points in your hands and arm.

Staying with health technology, a Bay Area company has introduced Striiv, a pedometer-like device that can track calorie in-take, steps taken, stairs climbed, miles ran or walked, etc…In short it measures how you are exercising even when you are not thinking about working out.

Neat Feat Zori has introduced sandals that have complete arch support as opposed to being a flat piece of rubber or leather the way most sandals are. They are great to wear when walking on a boardwalk.

In my last column I mentioned how Bistro MD dietician Carrie Wissemeier recommended that when going to a ballpark such as Citi Field, it’s wise to go for healthier cuisine such as vegetable sushi, grilled chicken and fruit. Her press rep told me that she has not been to Citi Field so she cannot formally endorse any specific food establishment there.

Bistro MD is the healthy home meal provider that helps you lose weight while still enjoying tasty breakfasts, lunches and dinners. They offer various fish, poultry, meat and pasta dishes and the cost is quite reasonable.

Late spring and early summer are the time a lot of us become aware of allergies, particularly food allergies. If you like a sweet snack but worry about allergic reactions, Lucy’s Cookies, created by a pediatrician, are gluten-free and are made without nuts, eggs or milk.

Donald Trump hosted a Virginia Department of Tourism event that featured Gov. Bob McDonnell at Trump Tower last week. The Donald has opened a winery in the commonwealth and is building a golf course there.

Scotland tourism officials are hoping that Americans who come to root for their country at the Olympic Games in London this summer will head north for a few rounds of golf. You can’t beat the whisky, and yes, scotch that is made there.

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