Sports Beat “Dickey deserved it”

Mets pitcher RA Dickey was a silver lining in yet another dark cloud of a season for our Flushing heroes. With little else to cheer for, Mets fans and the local media spent most of the second half of the 2012 season obsessing over Dickey’s chances winning the Cy Young Award, the honored bestowed by the Baseball Writers Association of America (BBWAA) to the best pitcher in the National and American Leagues.

Despite winning 20 games, Dickey faced formidable obstacles with respect to receiving baseball’s highest pitching honor. The BBWAA is a conservative body and they traditionally give out their season-ending prizes to personnel from winning teams. In addition, no  knuckleball pitcher had ever won the Cy Young Award. Too many sportswriters in the past believed that the knuckleball was a gimmick and that only traditional pitchers should be recipients of the Cy Young trophy.

It’s a credit to the BBWAA that they were able to overcome those old biases and come to the realization that RA Dickey winning 20 games for the Mets was the equivalent of a pitcher winning 30 games on a decent team.

RA not only helped his contract negotiations with the award but his publishing career as well. Last winter his autobiography, “Wherever I Wind Up” (Blue Rider Press) received great reviews and wound up on the New York Times best sellers list. In September I saw Dickey and his co-author, New York Daily News sportswriter Wayne Coffey, chatting by the Gil Hodges entrance of Citi Field. Dickey told me that they were discussing additional material for the paperback release slated for this coming March. Dickey’s 2012 dream season should make for a good addendum.

It wasn’t a pleasant homecoming for Indiana Pacers point guard Lance Stephenson and not just because he scored only four points and turned the ball over three times last Sunday at Madison Square Garden as the Knicks easily beat his team 88-76.

Lance was a high school star at Coney Island’s Abraham Lincoln High School and he led his team to a couple of PSAL titles. Coney Island sadly was not spared from Superstorm Sandy. “Yesterday I went to my aunt’s house where I grew up. Although the house sustained serious damage, it is habitable. I spent the day talking with FEMA officials and filling out paperwork with her,” he told me somberly in the Pacers locker room before the game.

Is it my imagination or does it seem as if Linsanity took place a decade ago? The Knicks 7-1 start certainly has quelled the consternation among the Knicks’ faithful about the team’s decision not to re-sign last season’s folk hero, Harvard alum Jeremy Lin. By the same token, whatever happened to the concern about the Knicks losing their star forward, Amar’e Stoudemire, for two months as he recovers from knee surgery?

Mets pitcher Johan Santana and team chief operating officer Jeff Wilpon were in Coney Island a few days before Lance Stephenson got there handing out supplies and food as part of the Sandy relief effort. The Mets’ NY-Penn League team, the Brooklyn Cyclones, play at Coney Island’s MCU Park. While there was significant flooding, the ballpark is structurally sound and should be ready for the 2013 season.

Nearly every New York sports team has contributed to relief and recovery efforts in our area. The Yankees made a $500,000 donation last week. Cablevision and Madison Square Garden Entertainment CEO James Dolan doubled that amount.

On a smaller yet still significant effort, the New York Islanders opened up the Nassau Coliseum and allowed fans to skate on the ice if they donated cash and/or food and supplies. The Islanders also held online auctions of memorabilia and fan experience packages (assuming the National Hockey League lockout gets resolved). Former Knicks public relations director Sammy Steinlight, who now his own PR firm in Manalapan, New Jersey, has started a website, www.jerseyshorerelief.com, whose mission is to help restore the Garden State’s coastal towns that were devastated by Sandy.

The Major League Baseball Alumni Association held their annual fund-rasing event to benefit youth baseball programs last week at the Marriott Marquis. Hall of Famer and Yankees great Dave Winfield reminisced about singing Rodgers and Hart’s “Manhattan” at the 1981 Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. “I grew up in Minnesota but standing on that float lip-synching the lyrics was as cold as I’ve ever felt in my life,” said Winfield.

Dale Murphy was one of baseball’s most feared hitters in the 1980s and he was the National League’s Most Valuable Player in 1982 and 1983. Murphy finished his career with 398 home runs. I asked him if he ever thought of trying to make a comeback to get two more home runs. “It did cross my mind for a second! The sportswriters do look to benchmarks for electing players to the Hall of Fame and 400 does have a nice ring to it. I am hoping that the Veterans Committee will select me in the future,” said the always upbeat Murphy.

“The hardest part of an athlete’s life comes after he retires and is looking for direction. My company helps athletes cope when their playing careers come to an end. It’s a rough adjustment for many who don’t know what it’s like to earn a living outside of sports or to now have to spend more time than they’re used to with their families,” onetime Mets pitcher and Dartmouth alum Mike Remlinger told me.

Yes, there have been countless stories about athletes who wind up blowing their fortunes. Last month ESPN broadcast “Broke,” a documentary that had its debut at the 2012 Tribeca Film Festival that featured NFL wide receiver Andre Rison and others who couldn’t manage their money. Athletes who take their education as seriously as they do their sports can prosper when their careers are over.

A pair of former Mets, first baseman Mark Johnson and pitcher Frank Seminara, are making more money in the world of finance than they did as major leaguers. Johnson, like Remlinger is a Dartmouth grad, and is a securities broker in tony Greenwich, Connecticut for Weeden & Company after having worked for Goldman Sachs after being released by the Mets in 2002. Seminara, a Columbia alumnus, is a financial adviser for Morgan Stanley’s private wealth division in Florham Park, New Jersey located just a stone’s throw from the Jets training facilities. Seminara went to work for Smith Barney after getting released by Cubs at the end of spring training in 1996. The Mets ownership would have been wise to have turned to their former players for investing advice instead of a certain infamous Far Rockaway-born financier.

Nearly all of us will be stocking up on bottled water in the aftermath of Hurricane Irene. According to Anthony Fiorello, a marketing manager for Hint Water, a zero calorie-flavored

water brand, bottled water can be stored for up to five years without any health worries. “If it’s in a glass bottle it can stay for 20 years,” he added.

Now that the holiday season is upon us, look for the major department stores to launch television ad blitzes that will make us nostalgic for the political campaign ads of the just concluded election season. A recent marketing tactic for retail stores is to have celebrities front house clothing and jewelry lines. Kohl’s is using the former husband and wife team of Marc Anthony and Jennifer Lopez as well as former MTV reality star Lauren Conrad while Kmart is countering with “Modern Family” star Sofia Vergara and former Disney star Selena Gomez. Kmart is still using one of the first actresses to lend her name to clothing line, Jaclyn Smith of “Charlie’s Angels” fame. Not to be outdone, Macy’s has Jessica Simpson and Madonna and her daughter, Lourdes, for a dress line called, what else, Material Girl.

These days, shoes seem to be the new celebrities as Macy’s has spent a fortune in ads touting that it has the world’s largest shoe floor.

Jose Reyes must be glad that he rented an apartment in Miami instead of buying a place. Reyes was one of the big names traded from the Marlins to the Toronto Blue Jays last week as Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria, decided to dump every big contract that he could after the Marlins’ horrible 2012 season. The Marlins were so awful that they finished behind the Mets in the NL East standings.

New York’s Carlton Hotel, located on Madison Avenue & 29th Street, has just renovated a number of their suites to attract high rollers. Its penthouse suite has a Texas-sized biggest pool. The late Minnesota Fats would be proud.

At the annual International Hotel, Motel & Restaurant Show held at the Javits Center last week, the two major satellite television providers, DIRECTV and DISH Network, were competing for the business of lodging chains. The former was promoting its NFL Sunday Ticket package that allows a viewer to see every out-of-market game while the latter was playing up its extensive movie library.

Posted under Abraham Lincoln, Baseball Writers Association Of America, Bbwaa, Best Sellers List, Contract Negotiations, Cy Young, Cy Young Award, Decent Team, Dream Season, Gil Hodges, Indiana Pacers, Knuckleball Pitcher, Lance Stephenson, Lloyd Carroll, Madison Square Garden, Mets Fans, New York Mets, New York Times Best Sellers, New York Times Best Sellers List, Paperback Release, Ra Dickey, Top Story

Sports Beat 4/1/11

Rip Van Winkle would have loved the Yankees based on their Opening Day roster. Seeing the names of Bartolo Colon and Freddy Garcia on their pitching staff makes you feel as if you have been asleep for 20 years and have just woken up. Andy Pettitte has to be wondering if he retired too soon when he sees their names on a major league roster.

Things are picking up where they left off for the Mets. Jason Bay started off the year on the disabled list after straining his rib cage during batting practice in Port St. Lucie.

The Mets may not have the best starting pitching staff but they certainly have the brightest. Only 26% of major leaguers possess college degrees. Chris Young (Princeton), Chris Capuano (Duke), RA Dickey (University of Tennessee) and Mike Pelfrey (Wichita State) all have their sheepskins.

It is too soon to tell how the Carmelo Anthony trade will work for the Knicks but his presence has certainly helped the local economy around Madison Square Garden. An employee at the Borders bookstore adjacent to the Garden told me that business is way up since Carmelo came to the Knicks. Of course we don’t know things will be next year when the Knicks drastically raise ticket prices assuming that the NBA does not lock out its players.

Former Knicks forward Malik Rose, now an MSG Network commentator, has shown that he is unafraid to criticize his old mates after bad losses.

The stars of the WWE visited the Hard Rock Café in Times Square at the end of March to kick off attention for Wrestlemania XXVII. Mike “The Miz” Mizanin showed why he has the charisma and mike skills to be the biggest WWE star since Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson was in his heyday.

Paul “Triple H” Levesque told me last month that he is moving away from being in the ring to taking a more active role in WWE business affairs (he is, after all, Vince McMahon’s son-in-law). Levesque claims that Wrestlemania provided Atlanta a $50 million economic stimulus, and that cities now bid for the annual WWE extravaganza the way they do for political conventions and Super Bowls.

Don’t look for Wrestlemania to ever return to the New York area anytime soon. “We are committed to doing Wrestlemania the first Sunday in April and we are using football stadiums. Weather is a factor so we’ll either use outdoor ones in warm weather climates (such as Miami Sun Life Stadium in 2012 ) or domed ones in colder climates,” Levesque said.

As for that other ring sport, 46 year-old Bernard Hopkins returns to action on May 21 as he takes on Quebec native son Jean Pascal at Montreal’s Bell Centre. Hopkins will probably still be boxing when he is forced to collect social security.

Speaking of boxing, there are few outlets devoted to the world of pugilism. Boxinginsider.com is a terrific website that features some of the best writers in the business such as our own Rich Mancuso.

If anyone doubts that it makes a difference for an athlete plays here, consider this: Crain’s New York Business had Amar’e Stoudemire on its cover two weeks ago while Derek Jeter is on the front of this month’s GQ.

Two books that should whet your tennis appetite are Wimbledon by David Green (Stewart, Taboori & Chang) which recalls in breathtaking photos the great matches that have taken place in that venerable London stadium, and Bud Collins Encyclopedia of Tennis (New Chapter Press) in which the most famous tennis commentator of all-time provides a who’s who of the sport.

Expect to hear a lot about the Indy 500 this year as “The Brickyard” will be celebrating its centennial. Indycar driver, and past “Dancing with the Stars” winner, Helio Castroneves came into New York last week to promote the fact that he is hoping to get his fourth victory at Indy this Memorial Day weekend. That would tie him with AJ Foyt, Rick Mears and Al Unser for most career wins there.

Bicycling is a fun way not only to get from points A to B but it’s a terrific way to exercise as well. Schwinn and Cannondale recently unveiled their line of new bikes to the media just in time for the warmer weather. If you are a serious cyclist who likes to go up and down big hills and look forward to the Tour du France and the Amgen California Tour, then Cannondale’s Quick CX 2 is your baby. If you’re like me and haven’t ridden a bike in years then you should go with Schwinn’s Trailway and Avenue lines which have sturdy frames, wide tires with good tread, and most importantly, easy-to-find brakes that stop on a dime!

This is a smart time to visit Florida. The weather is great, it’s less crowded, and the prices drop considerably even at the toniest resorts as well as on always inexpensive JetBlue. If you want to sharpen your tennis game, spend a long weekend at the Boca Raton Resort which is known for its teaching pros. If you’re a golfer, the pros at the PGA National Resort in Palm Beach Gardens will work on all aspects of your game. Finally if you want to devour low-calorie gourmet food, enjoy spa treatments, and exercise with top-notch personal trainers, the Pritikin Longevity Center in Miami located next door to the Doral Country Club (yes, you can play golf there as well) makes for a productive getaway.

At the annual Search Engine Strategies trade show, a rep from Sedo, a Boston-based domain hosting service, told me that websites devoted to buying and selling tickets are incredibly popular but warns web entrepreneurs to stay away from anything resembling corporate names to avoid lawsuits. For example, if you want to buy or sell Yankee tickets, work off a name resembling “Bronx Baseball” as opposed to the famous team that plays there.

David Paterson may not have been a great governor but he has proven to be a pretty good entertainer. He nicely poked fun of himself last year in a “Saturday Night Live” skit with his doppelganger played to perfection by Fred Armisen. Om March 28, Paterson nicely handled his hour segment hosting a call-in show on WFAN. He knew his stuff even if he went a bit over the top in his monolog telling Mets fans why they should be optimistic about the 2011 season.

Unilever’s Dove brand has always been synonymous with women but last year the company started to go after guys with its “Men + Care” line of deodorants, soaps and body wash products. Among the endorsers for Dove on their “Journey to Comfort” TV ad campaign are Joe Girardi, Albert Pujols, Magic Johnson and Bobby Hurley.

Olympic snowboarding gold medalist Shaun White is getting into the clothing design business for Target. Ironically, the winter games athlete is creating flip-flops, graphic T-shirts, denim shorts, hoodies, and sneakers for the Minneapolis-based retailers.

Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches are an American staple. If want to enjoy a dessert-like treat, substitute Lotus Bakeries’ Biscoff Spread, which contains gingersnap, for the Jif or Skippy.

Drinking red wine has proven to have benefits for heart health. A fun new wine that made its debut at the Choice Eats food festival at the Lexington Avenue Armory last month was Wines That Rock. The company’s gimmick is that the labels feature the artwork from classic albums such as the Police’s “Synchronicity” and Pink Floyd’s “Dark Side of the Moon.” The grape quality is pretty good too given its fairly low sales price.

The New York International Auto Show gets underway at the Javits Center April 22. I can tell that the economy is improving. While I still can’t afford to even rent a Porsche for an hour, I can at least afford to buy Carrera sunglasses this year!

Posted under Andy Pettitte, Bartolo Colon, Borders Bookstore, Carmelo Anthony, Dwayne The Rock Johnson, Economic Stimulus, Jason Bay, Lloyd Carroll, Madison Square Garden, Major Leaguers, Malik Rose, Mike Pelfrey Wichita State, Mike The Miz Mizanin, Msg Network, New York Mets, Paul Triple H Levesque, Ra Dickey, Rip Van Winkle, Sheepskins, Top Story

This post was written by Lloyd Carroll on April 1, 2011

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