Sports Beat “Queens HS Sweep at Barclays”

Saturday was a great day in Queens high school sports history as the Francis Lewis Patriots and the Cardozo Judges won the Public School Athletic League girls and boys basketball championships respectively at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center.  The Cardozo game was a nail-biter as it wasn’t decided until the Judges’ Rashond Salnave hit two foul shots with less than three seconds left on the clock.

It wasn’t easy as both teams were the de facto visitors as they played against two Brooklyn high schools, South Shore and Thomas Jefferson Campus, respectively. Dave Diamante, the  Brooklyn Nets public address announcer who possesses a stentorian voice, admitted to me that he tried to put a little more enthusiasm into announcing baskets made by the Brooklyn players than those made by  Queens players.

Over 5,000 spectators came to the Barclays Center to watch the games and the atmosphere was fun and energetic from start to finish. What was dispiriting however was the lack of attention the big media outlets gave the game. There is no reason why none of the regional sports cable television networks or at least one of the many NYC-owned television stations couldn’t provide live coverage of these games. Even worse, none of the sports reports that I listened to on WFAN,  the various news radio stations, or the local TV news that I watched on Saturday evening, mentioned the PSAL championships.

According to NYC Dept. of Education official Eric Goldstein, the PSAL will be alternating its high school hoops championship games between Madison Square Garden, the game’s longtime home, and the Barclays Center where it made its debut this year.

It is expensive for an NBA arena to host a PSAL game because of the various costs such as  putting down a floor for the game; security; and for custodial and other staff , so both the Garden and the Barclays Center have to be credited for putting civic responsibility before profits.

In comparison, the Philadelphia Public League gets a lot more attention from the Philadelphia media than the PSAL gets from New York outlets but its championship games have been played at various local colleges such as Temple and the Community College of Philadelphia and not at the Wells Fargo Center where the NBA’s 76ers play.

Ironically there have been many times where interest in games played by the varsity of traditional high school Philadelphia powerhouses as Germantown, Overbrook, Simon Gratz, Northeast, and Robert Vaux (St. John’s Red Storm star guard Rysheed Jordan’s alma mater ) has far outweighed that of the city’s longtime languishing NBA franchise.

Hopefully the PSAL will be able to hold its 2014 baseball championship game back at either Yankee Stadium or Citi Field. Last year the game was played at MCU Park, the home of the Brooklyn Cyclones.

This looks like the final season that Kevin Burkhardt will be working as a sideline reporter on SNY Mets telecasts. Fox Sports 1 announced that he will be one of the anchors on their new nightly baseball show that will start on Opening Day. The show will originate in Los Angeles. Burkhardt will be bi-coastal this year but my guess is that he will be relocating to LA next year. Kevin started calling NFL games for Fox this past fall so his career is certainly on the upswing.

Former Mets and Yankees pitcher as well as St. John’s University alum CJ Nitkowski will be joining that Fox Sports 1 show as well. The erudite Nitkowski has a natural voice for broadcasting and subbed for Yankees radio voice Suzyn Waldman when she missed games in order to observe the Jewish high holidays two years ago.

Mike Francesa’s old radio partner, Chris “Mad Dog” Russo, who left WFAN for more money and a national audience with Sirius XM satellite radio, will be hosting a new noon show on the MLB Network that is to be called “High Heat with Christopher Russo.” That show debuts Opening Day (March 31).

Earlier this season New York Islanders general manager Garth Snow traded popular left winger Matt Moulson and a few top draft choices to the Buffalo Sabres for Thomas Vanek who had proven to be a prolific scorer in the National Hockey League. The fact that Vanek could be an unrestricted free agent at the end of the 2013-14 season did not deter Snow.

Vanek apparently was not happy playing with the Islanders and he rejected every long-term contract offer that the team made. Last week Snow was forced to trade him to the Montreal Canadians just before the NHL trading deadline expired. The package that he got back from Montreal paled in comparison to what he gave up to Buffalo four months earlier. If this were a tax return, Snow’s trades would be classified as major short-term capital losses with carryover implications for future years.

You have to give ESPN the Magazine credit for the courage to write about the numerous conspiracy theories that are part of National Basketball Association lore such as whether the 1985 NBA Draft was rigged so that Patrick Ewing would be drafted by the Knicks; how referees seemed to do whatever they could to make sure that the big market LA Lakers defeated the small town Sacramento Kings in the 2002 Western Conference Finals; as well as whether it was set up in advance that the hometown Cleveland Cavaliers won the NBA Draft Lottery in 2003 and were able to draft hometown high school prodigy LeBron James.

Dr. Frank Jobe, a physician who modernized sports medicine by inventing Tommy John arm surgery, which has resuscitated the careers of countless baseball players since it was first performed on the former Yankees pitcher 40 years ago, passed away last week at the age of 88. The Baseball Hall of Fame should have a wing for physicians such as Dr. Jobe who have been an integral part of our nation’s pastime. On Sunday Tommy John gave a nice tribute to Dr. Jobe on Ed Randall’s “Talking Baseball” program on WFAN.

The annual New York Restaurant & Food Service Show was held at the Javits Center. Queens was well-represented as Astoria’s DF Mavens (which produces tasty dairy-free desserts), Ridgewood’s Karl Ehmer Meats and Long Island City’s Tom Kat Bakery all had booths.

Long Island is quickly becoming the home for great-tasting low calorie energy drinks that both hydrate and provide valuable electrolytes. Last week I reported on Woodbury-based Arizona Beverages’ Skinny Girl Sparkling Water. A new company, Agua Enerviva, whose headquarters is located on the site of the old Grumman headquarters in Bethpage, showcased its products at the Javits trade show. Bottles of both Skinny Girl and Agua Enerviva contain a mere ten calories.

You have to give  Red Lobster credit for knowing the needs of the marketplace. The Orlando-based chain which has found a way to make lobster and other seafood delicacies affordable to the masses. Lobsterfest, its annual  promotion that showcases numerous lobster and lobster tail dishes, which is now in its 31st year,  runs through the end of Lent. Many people give up meat for the entire 40-day Lent period.

When I was growing up, shampoo ads invariably slanted towards women (baby boomers will certainly remember those fun Breck girl TV commercials.) The only time that you ever saw a guy in a shampoo ad was for anti-dandruff products such as Selsun Blue. Things are changing as men are being marketed for high end boutique shampoos as Paul Brown, Grande Hair, and DermOrganic. This isn’t surprising considering how everyone, no matter what the age, is trying to look as youthful as possible. Men over 50 who are looking for work are having a very difficult time so it makes sense that guys are concerned about their appearance for reasons that go beyond vanity.

Brooklyn has long enjoyed the image of being the cool outer borough but Queens may be catching up. “Saturday Night Live” came out to Kew Gardens and Forest Hills last week to film a sketch where cast members Kenan Thompson, Taran Killam, Cecily Strong, and guest host Lena Dunham were driving in a car around Forest Park singing the 1970 Five Stairsteps’ classic “Ooh Child.”

FX is giving premium cable networks as HBO and Showtime a run for their money as it shows edgy animated series as “Chozen” and “Archer” as well as appointment viewing series as “Justified” and “The Americans.” Veteran comedy actor George Lopez has returned to television with a new series on FX titled “Saint George,” which like all of his past TV series is somewhat autobiographical. Billy Bob Thornton will make his television series debut next month on FX with an adaptation of the film “Fargo.”

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