Sports Beat “90 Wins or Bust”

Mets general manager Sandy Alderson generated headlines when he told fellow team executives that he expects the Mets to win 90 games in 2014. Alderson’s remark generated understandable guffaws from even optimistic types because the Mets have come closer to losing 90 games in a season the last five years than they have to winning that number.

Even if Sandy knows that he is blowing the kind of smoke that is now legal in Colorado I can’t really fault him. Frankly, I am surprised that he didn’t guarantee a parade down the Canyon of Heroes in late October or early November. The name of the game this time of the year is to energize the Mets fan base which has been understandably lethargic. Having five straight losing seasons, and going into this one with what is reporting as the seventh-lowest in the majors, will tend to depress ticket sales even among the diehards.

Queens was the site of a new entry into the Guinness World Records Book this past Sunday morning when the United States Tennis Association invited 406 youngsters to the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Flushing Meadow Park for what the Guinness folks are saying is the largest-attended tennis lesson in history. The event was held in recognition of World Tennis Day.

I have always found Knicks point guard Raymond Felton to be very affable. I remember how much he enjoyed being part of Delta Airlines’ holiday party for underprivileged kids at JFK Airport four years ago.  Assuming that his arrest last week was justified, Felton, like too many athletes in the news over the years, seems to be tone deaf to both the laws about the possession of weapons and how celebrity domestic disputes invariably wind up on the front page.

Mavericks owner Mark Cuban, arguably the best known team owner in professional sports,  spoke with the New York media informally on the Mavericks bench before their game with the Knicks last Monday.

Cuban made his fortune with Internet broadcasting and his HD Net, now called Axs TV, was the first cable network that created content for the then fledgling high definition television market. Time Warner Cable has not treated Cuban’s network as well as Comcast has so it wasn’t a surprise that he is rooting for Comcast to absorb TWC in their proposed merger. While he admits that the merger would reduce cable competition he is more concerned about the duopoly that exists in the phone app market which he sees as the future of communication. “Right now you can only get an app from either Google or Apple. That’s scary,” Cuban said.

CBS Sports has shaken things up with the personnel of their Sunday football show, “ The NFL Today,” by dismissing Dan Marino and Shannon Sharpe and replacing them with just retired All-Pro NFL tight end Tony Gonzalez and former Jets linebacker Bart Scott. CBS liked Scott’s work on their lively CBS Sports Network Sunday morning NFL talk fest, the humorously named “That Other Pregame Show,” hosted by SiriusXM and SNY air personality, Adam Schein.

Ironically a lot of Jets beat writers had trouble with Bart during his playing days because he did not like answering obvious and cliched questions. On the other hand I found him to be quite engaging when I asked him about his sizable role in the ESPN documentary, “Broke,” which made its debut at the 2012 Tribeca Film Festival.

The New York Times Travel Show held this past weekend at the Javits Center is one of the largest consumer travel expositions in the world. The folks at the Scottsdale Convention Visitors Bureau booth (Scottsdale is a ritzy Phoenix suburb) admitted that they breathed a deep sigh of relief when Arizona governor Jan Brewer vetoed Bill # 1062 that would have allowed businesses to discriminate against serving homosexuals for “religious reasons.”  The 2015 Super Bowl is slated to take place in Glendale, Arizona but you can be sure that the NFL would have moved it in a heartbeat if Gov. Brewer had signed the bill into law.

The Lehigh Valley Visitors Bureau was promoting the opening of a new arena in Allentown this coming October for the Philadelphia Flyers’ top minor league team, the Phantoms, who play in the American Hockey League. It takes generally less than two hours to get to Allentown and minor league hockey is worth the drive since tickets are very inexpensive. This new arena is a chance for both Rangers and Islanders fans to see their up and coming talent when the Hartford Wolfpack (Rangers) and Bridgeport Sound-Tigers (Islanders) play the Phantoms.

On a non-sports note, American Express had a facsimile at the Javits Center of the Centurion Lounge that they will be opening at LaGuardia Airport this fall. The Centurion will be competing with the various airline clubs but won’t require any advanced reservations to use as long as you are an American Express card holder.

Last year when Mayor Bloomberg was ranting about sugary soft drinks I wondered why there weren’t low-calorie drinks that would be a compromise between often bad-tasting diet sodas and full-blast caloric sodas. Slowly but surely more choices are hitting the marketplace. Pepsi introduced Next last year which has about half the calories of their standard can of cola. Arizona Beverages now has Skinny Girl Sparklers, a flavored sparkling water, which has 5 calories per bottle. A small health company, Vemma Nutrition, has created Vemma Renew which has fruit flavors, anti-oxidants, and plant-based silica which purports to beneficial skin, nails, and hair and each can packs only 45 calories.

Marilyn Monroe is one of the greatest pop culture icons in American history. Surprisingly, there has been little licensing of her name by businesses. That may be changing. Last year a Florida-based corporation paid the Estate of Marilyn Monroe a princely sum to start a chain of spas. Last month the Marilyn Monroe Spa came to New York City as it opened in the brand new Hyatt Times Square. As befitting Marilyn’s universal appeal, the spa has services for both men and women. Andy Warhol would have been proud!

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