Now that Super Bowl XLVII is behind us, the attention will turn to our area since MetLife Stadium will be hosting the game next year.
You can start counting the “Snowmageddon” headlines. Nobody gets worked up if the NFC or AFC championship games, which take place two weeks before the Super Bowl, are played in Arctic conditions, so why all of the obsessive talk about a Super Bowl being played in cold weather?
The Pro Bowl has become an easy punchline for talk show hosts and football pundits who decry the fact that this NFL All-Star Game is a joke. They are right, but so what? I think that it’s cool that the NFL’s best get together in Honolulu after the end of a tough season and participate in an event that reminds us of the pickup games we played in schoolyards.
Let me borrow a bit from the Post’s Phil Mushnick. Lookalikes: New Jets general manager John Idzik and actor Mike White who co-starred in the weird cult indie flick “Chuck & Buck” and as is currently in the HBO series “Enlightened.”
It is one thing not to like Alex Rodriguez but the Daily News crossed the line when they ran the headline “Hi, Hip Hooray” referring to A-Rod’s ailing hip that may force him to retire. Rejoicing over a player’s physical pain is highly distasteful and the fact that A-Rod may have been a steroids user as recently as last year does not give the News license to gloat.
Former Yankees pitcher and noted author Jim Bouton was one of the many speakers at the memorial service for the former executive director of the Major League Baseball Players Association which took place on Martin Luther King Day. Bouton talked about the absurdity of the late shortsighted baseball commissioner Bowie Kuhn being in the Hall of Fame while Miller continues to be excluded. “That’s like having Wile E. Coyote enshrined while the Road Runner is kept out,” quipped Bouton to howls of laughter from the attendees.
If the penny-pinching Mets are going to stink anyway this year, why both to spend $4 million on pitcher Shawn Marcum who is yet another injury reclamation project, something that rarely works out for the Mets? Chris Capuano was a noticeable exception.
Islanders fans may petition for the NHL season to begin in January given the great start the Isles had to begin this lockout-shortened season. Are these guys really the Islanders? If they keep winning, we may have to start thinking about our for-now Nassau hockey heroes being in the playoffs. Of course there is still plenty of time for things to return to normal.
Just in time for the return of hockey, is The Winter Classic (Motivational Press) the latest book by veteran puck scribe Russ Cohen who partnered with Philadelphia sportswriter Michael del Tufo. The book is a thorough review of the five outdoor games that have allowed the NHL to wrestle New Year’s Day away from college football bowl games. The only criticism I have is that Cohen and del Tufo did not report on cranky Rangers coach John Tortorella’s complaint at his post-game press conference about the officiating in the final five minutes of the game where a number of controversial calls were made in the Flyers’ favor. Torts told the press that the believed that the refs were trying to send the game into overtime to please the league’s broadcast partner, NBC. That statement cost him a $30,000 fine from NHL commissioner Gary Bettman.
I wonder if the Brooklyn Nets will win a game against either the Miami Heat or Houston Rockets before I collect social security.
Nets center Brook Lopez got a well-deserved reward when he was named to the NBA East All-Star team as he’ll back up his crosstown rival, the Knicks’ Tyson Chandler this Sunday.
Former Newsday sportswriter and current MSG Network air personality Alan Hahn has written a terrific coffee table book about the team he has covered for years, The New York Knicks (MVP Books). Hahn covers the team’s history quite well from Harry Gallatin to Carmelo Anthony.
It has been no secret that CNN’s ratings have languished in recent years and the network is turning to sports to try to give it a spark. The Turner network recently signed longtime ESPN reporter Rachel Nichols and will start using the brand of one of its websites, Bleacher Report, for features on CNN and its sister channel, Headline News. I wonder if Turner execs will try to revive the old CNN/SI Network which went defunct in the early 1990s when Time Warner executives decided that they did not want to compete with ESPN.
After a two-year absence from our area, Michael Jordan and Nike will bringing their Jordan Brand Classic, one of the top two US high school all-star basketball tournaments, to the Barclays Center on April 3.
Jordan Brand Classic’s formidable rival, the McDonald’s All American High School Basketball Game, will take place in the city of Michael Jordan’s glory, Chicago, on April 13. Local players who may go to the McDonald’s game are Jon Severe from Middle Village’s Christ the King H.S., Jordan Washington from St. Albans’ Pathways Prep, and Kentan Facey from Brookville’s traditional powerhouse, Long Island Lutheran.
Be sure to catch a terrific documentary, Granny’s Got Game, which showcases a group of women in their 70s who play competitive basketball, that made its debut last week at Barnard College’s Athena film Festival.
If you are a film buff and went to get out of the cold weather as well, head down to the Miami International Film Festival. Venus and Serena, a documentary about how tennis’s Williams sisters are handling the fact that the days when they ruled the sport are behind them, will make its debut. Serena’s loss to Sloane Stephens at the Australian Open shows that a change of the guard is occurring.
I asked Milwaukee Bucks center Larry Sanders before his team’s Friday night game with the Knicks at the Garden whether he still gets jokes about his name because of the old HBO late night talk show satire, “The Larry Sanders Show,” that starred Garry Shandling. “I got that a lot as kid but not in the NBA,” he said with a smile. He added that he has never met Shandling but would welcome the opportunity.
The Knicks did not ask their fans to observe a moment of silence on the passing of former New York City mayor Ed Koch Friday night but they did put his photo and pictures of his life on the Jumbotron during the first quarter. In a moment that Koch would surely have loved, the crowd cheered mightily.
It was the least the Knicks could have done not just because they are a New York-based NBA franchise but because in 1982 Mayor Koch gave the then owners of Madison Square Garden, Gulf & Western, a permanent exemption on from paying New York City real estates. Veteran sports business author and lecturer Evan Weiner estimates that over the last 30 years the Garden has saved roughly $300 million cumulatively from Koch’s largesse.
In fairness to Ed Koch, New York City was just starting to come out of its financial morass from the 1970s. Times Square was still very seedy and the crime rate was uncomfortably high. There was a trend all across the country for professional teams to build stadiums and arenas in the suburbs. Both Giants Stadium and the Meadowlands Arena opened in East Rutherford in 1977, the year that he was first elected mayor. The Nassau Coliseum was only five years old at the time.
Given the environment, Gulf & Western executives figured that they had the leverage to threaten to move the Knicks to Long Island and the Rangers to New Jersey. In retrospect it was a bluff, but Mayor Koch knew that the departure of a pair of highly visible sports franchises would be devastating to the image of a city that was coming back.
Although he was not a sports fan the way his successors David Dinkins and Rudy Giuliani were, Koch was well aware of how the departure of the Brooklyn Dodgers and New York Giants for California was always going to be part of Mayor Robert F. Wagner’s legacy and he did not want the same thing to happen to him.
Ed Koch certainly enjoyed New York City’s many fine restaurants and there is little doubt that he would have loved the Chocolate Week promotion running in many of the city’s French restaurants from February 4-13 as a way of building awareness for Valentine’s Day. Chocolate dessert and wine pairings are available at approximately half of their normal menu prices. For more information, log onto www.chocolateweeknyc.com.
Speaking of desserts, Jerry Greenfield, who along with his childhood friend from Merrick, Ben Cohen, founded Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream, returned to New York last Thursday night to introduce a new flavor, 30 Rock, in honor of the NBC program that ended it’s seven-year run last week. The new flavor consists of lemon Greek yogurt and blueberry lavender swirl in honor of the show’s lead character Liz Lemon who was portrayed by Tina Fey who has agreed to let Ben &Jerry’s use her likeness since some of the proceeds will benefit an early childhood education non-profit, Jumpstart.
Papua, New Guinea is arguably most remote spot on this planet not counting the North and South Poles. It is still in many ways that land that time forgot. Officials of the area are trying to bring tourists into the area and are raving about it being a pristine place for sports fishermen. At a press event in New York two weeks ago, a tourism executive did have some fun with the old cannibal image of its tribes. “We were thinking of using ‘We used to eat you but now we greet you,’ as our marketing slogan” he chuckled. That’s what you call a great line!