Sportsbeat – 4/28/12

Jose Reyes’s return to Citi Field was a dud on all fronts. Perhaps it was a case of nerves, but the Marlins shortstop was a complete non-factor as the injury-ravaged Mets swept a three-game series with Miami. Even stranger was that Jose’s much ballyhooed return to Queens was more of a media event than it was one for the fans as only a shade more than 20,000 customers bought tickets for the game.

If it weren’t for bad luck Mike Pelfrey would have no luck at all. Big Pelf had always had a reputation for eating up innings much to the consternation of Mets fans who would inevitably watch him get pounded. This year he was pitching spectacularly and then all of a sudden he needs Tommy John surgery.

The Mets did not put David Wright on the disabled list after he broke his right pinkie. Although he has gotten some big hits after the injury I still think that he and the Mets would have been better off letting his finger heal properly. It is a long season and you never know if playing through will lead to other physical problems.

One thing that the Yankees have over the Mets is their own line of colognes and perfumes. The Cloudbreak Group, a distributor of various luxury goods, held a press conference at Macy’s late last week to promote its NY Yankees Fragrance. Yankee stars Curtis Granderson and Mariano Rivera are serving as spokesmen for the product.

Curtis had a keen wit at the press conference. When I asked him if he and Derek Jeter, who has his own cologne line, would get into a “spray war” in the Yankees clubhouse, Curtis laughed, “It’s funny; Derek has never given any of us a bottle of his stuff!” When I followed up and asked him if was prepared for some ribbing from teammates as Nick Swisher for being a pitchman for a fragrance, he quickly retorted, “Nah! Everyone’s got something on each other!”

Cloudbreak CEO Tom Butkiewicz told me that he is not precluded from working with other MLB teams but he has no plans to offer a Mets perfume. Too bad, I was kind of hoping that Eau du Flushing Bay would hit the market.

I couldn’t help but think of the late Dick Clark the day before the NFL Draft because EA Sports teamed up with ESPN2’s popular afternoon show, Sports Nation, to announce which NFL player would grace the cover of the box of its Madden NFL ‘13 game. The crowd that gathered in Times Square for the announcement that Detroit Lions wide receiver Calvin Johnson, Jr. was the winner had to have been the largest at the proverbial crossroads of the world since New Year’s Eve.

Carnival Cruises, the company the brought vacations at sea to the masses, is betting that video gamers and casual sports fans are an untapped market for the sailing industry. The company will open EA Sports bars on all of its ships where guests can watch their favorite sports teams while on vacation as well as play their favorite EA games.

Robert Griffin III was far and away the most popular player chosen at the NFL Draft two weeks ago based on the reaction of fans at Radio City Music Hall and the number of press who gathered for his press conference after being selected by the Washington Redskins.

Griffin has an infectious wide smile and laugh that makes him a sponsor’s dream. He signed his first big bucks deal with the nation’s largest fast food chain, Subway. Given the intense rivalry between the Cowboys and the Redskins, and the fact that he played at Baylor University which is not far from Dallas, I asked him if he feared that North Texas football fans would boycott Subway. He chuckled and replied “Well I think they’ll buy a foot-long if they get hungry enough!” He did admit that some of the folks who have always cheered for him probably hate him now.

The Jets selected UNC defensive end Quinton Coples and his choice elicited a rare reaction—cheers from Jets fans at Radio City. Gang Green has long needed a pass rusher and Coples should fit the bill nicely. It’s not a stretch to say that he is the best linebacker to come out of Chapel Hill since Lawrence Taylor. Hopefully he’ll have LT’s talent without his penchant for getting into trouble. At the very least, Coples has to be better than the last defensive end the Jets drafted in the first round–Vernon Gholston–back in 2008.

Georgia Tech wide receiver Stephen Hill was the Jets’ second round pick and given his pearly grin and upbeat personality he should do far better in the endorsement game than most of the first-rounders who went to teams in smaller markets assuming that he is a playmaker.

Nike just acquired the right to manufacture apparel for the NFL and celebrated by taking over a block in Times Square and placing a 50-yard Astroturf football field on it for a flag football game between teams coached Jets QB Mark Sanchez and Giants DE Justin Tuck. Sanchez and Tuck are contractually precluded from playing in these kind of scrimmages. The teams consisted of some hip-hop artists, actors, and members of the NYPD and NYFD. Former Jets QB Browning Nagle threw passes for Team Sanchez (yes, he threw an interception showing that some things never change) while legendary 49ers cornerback Ronnie Lott got to live out his passer fantasy with Team Tuck. Team Tuck won 20-0.

Following the game, Tuck was presented with the first-ever Nike Broadway Bowl trophy. I asked him how it compared with the Lombardi Trophy that the Giants won this past February. “It will hold a different place in my heart,” he deadpanned.

While the lives of professional athletes appear to be glamorous, they frequently suffer from sleep deprivation because of travel. Serena Williams was in town recently to promote Sleep Sheets, a dissolvable strip that you take approximately 20 minutes before going to bed.

Serena said that she is looking forward to returning to Flushing Meadows this August and winning one more match than she won last year when she lost to Australia’s Samantha Stosur in the finals.

“To the victors go the spoils” is an old expression and the sports variation of that is to the champions go the endorsements and appearance fees. Giants QB Eli Manning was tapped to host NBC’s Saturday Night Live while his favorite receiver, Victor Cruz, has made appearances at New York International Toy Fair, Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week, and at Old Spice media event. Giants defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul got to cash in as well in last week by showing up to mingle at a Unilever event promoting the latest line of AXE shampoos and shower gels.

The Nets did a great job saluting their 35 years in New Jersey at their last home game at the Prudential Center by bringing back a number of their former players including Lefrak City native Kenny Anderson. Anderson, by the way, still has a line of Converse sneakers, the KA1.

In an added nice touch, Gary Sussman, the team’s longtime public relations director who for years did double duty as the team’s public address announcer until he was replaced this year for reasons that I still can’t fathom, resumed his duties for one last game. It’s a shame that Vince Carter wasn’t in Newark on April 23. I would have loved to have heard Gary call out “It’s a V-C-3!!” after a Carter trey one last time.

How relieved do you think that both NBC Sports and NHL executives were relieved that the Rangers survived the Ottawa Senators in the first round of the playoffs? NHL TV ratings are dicey at best and losing the New York market early would have been disastrous.

My favorite documentary at the recently concluded Tribeca Film Festival was “Evocatuer” which looked at the life of the late controversial talk show host, Morton Downey, Jr. who was a ruder version of Glenn Beck back in the late ‘80s. Downey is shown singing the national anthem at Shea Stadium in 1988 and later conversing with Ralph Kiner and Tim McCarver in the Channel 9 broadcast booth.

Back pain has long been considered the most excruciating form of discomfort. A group of former Crocs executives have created a device called BackJoy Posture which is a plastic seat enhancement that looks like the kind of pan gold seekers like to use in rivers. Sitting on it however does help straighten back muscles and takes pressure off the bottom of the spine. You can learn more at

The warmer weather means the increased likelihood of such skin problems as irritations, rashes, and cracks. DermaE’s line of natural body care products provide quick relief and healing.

Summer can’t be far away now that beautiful Belmont Park has reopened.

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