The Week That Was: One And Done In Dayton

      The St. John’s Red Storm was one of many teams on the proverbial bubble when it came to the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament but the fact that their home is in New York City, the biggest American television market, had to have been a major tie-breaker in their favor. TruTV, Warner Media’s lowest-rated cable network, was the beneficiary as it got much needed attention here.

     While Red Storm players did hear their team’s name get called by Greg Gumbel on CBS’s “Selection Sunday” it can be argued that there should be an asterisk placed next to this accomplishment. A lot of people think of the NCAA Tournament as consisting of the 64 teams that began play last Thursday. St; John’s had to settle for being one of the extra teams that had to take part in the “play-in” game that takes place the preceding two days in Dayton.

      It was a quick trip to southern Ohio as the Red Storm lost to the Arizona State University Sun Devils 74-65 in one of the poorest played games that you’ll ever see as both teams had trouble making passes; hitting outside shots and making free throws; and committing countless dumb penalties. It was a shame that one of those two teams had to win the game.

      Former Red Storm head coach Steve Lavin, who is currently a broadcaster working the NCAA Tournament, poked fun at the number of networks who were televising “the big dance.” “There is probably a game on Animal Planet right now!” he joked. There probably would have been one  if Animal Planet were owned by Warner Media instead of Discovery Communications.

     The New York  Mets are using the MoviePass model to help boost attendance. The Amazin’ Mets Pass will allow customers to attend 78 home games (everything but the home opener and the two Subway Series games in Flushing) for $234. The catch is that you don’t get a seat. Still, it’s a good value because you get all of the promotional giveaway items and access to Citi Field’s restaurants where you can sit down. My guess is that if you give an upper deck usher a few bucks you’ll be able to get a seat for most games.

     Speaking of Citi Field dining, nearly all of the old favorites: Catch of the Day, Blue Smoke, Pat LaFrieda, and Shake Shack are returning while a number of a new dining establishments: Destination Dumplings (Korean); Pizza Cupcake and Emmy Squared (Italian); and Stuf’d (American sandwiches) are coming on board. If you want vegetarian dishes try Marty’s V Burgers (whose plant-based Beyond Burger looks and tastes pretty close to the meat kind) and Mikkeller NYC, the brewpub located on the 126th Street side of Citi Field which serves a delicious falafel avocado salad.  

     The New York Yankees shrewdly signed veteran pitcher Gio Gonzalez when they learned that both Luis Severino and CC Sabathia would miss at least the first two weeks of the season. My guess is that if any Mets starters land on the injured list Corey Oswalt will be the first to be called up from the AAA Syracuse Mets.     

      The European streaming service DAZN has made its revenue on boxing and mixed martial arts. In a needed attempt to diversify DAZN will be broadcasting live shots of the action from every MLB ballpark. Think of it as the NFL Network’s “Red Zone” for baseball.

     On the traditional TV front, “Million Dollar Mile,” an obstacle course game that was filmed on the streets of downtown Los Angeles and is hosted by Mets minor league outfield prospect Tim Tebow and is produced by LeBron James, airs Wednesdays at 9 PM on CBS.

      Hank Azaria is back starring in the third season of “Brockmire” which airs Wednesdays at  10 PM on cable’s IFC. Azaria grew up in Forest Hills and is a big Mets fan. His Jim Brockmire character is a baseball play-by-play broadcaster who wears garish sports jackets and has no filter when it comes to speech. He is clearly basing Brockmire on the late folksy Mets broadcaster Lindsey Nelson with Azaria imagining what he would have been like if he had a dark side.

      Showtime will be broadcasting the Claressa Shields-Christina Hammer middleweight title unification bout from Atlantic City’s Boardwalk Hall taking place the evening of April 13. This is the first time that I can recall where a women’s title fight was the main event for a Saturday night cable telecast.

     NBA legend, ubiquitous TV pitch man, and TBS NBA studio analyst Shaquille O’Neal was one of the many celebrities doing a meet-and-greet at the annual optical industry Javits Center trade show, Vision Expo East. O’Neal has licensed his name to Zylowear Eyeware which got its start in Long Island City before moving to Port Chester for larger space.

     I asked Shaquille O’Neal about the resignation of Turner Sports CEO David Levy in the wake of AT&T’s takeover of Warner Media of which Turner Sports is a subsidiary. “There will be a lot of changes coming,” he replied somewhat glumly.

     Hollis native and Bayside native Daymond John, who started the clothing line Fubu and is a panelist on ABC-TV’s “Shark Tank,” also made an appearance at Vision Expo East. He was there to announce an Fubu eyeglasses frames line with Eye Candy Creations out of Atlanta.

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