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Queens Chronicle

Piazza’s book a must read

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Posted: Thursday, February 21, 2013 10:30 am

It will be interesting whether Mike Piazza’s just-published autobiography, “Long Shot” (Simon & Schuster), will sway some of the crotchety members of the Baseball Writers Association of America who did not vote for him for the Hall of Fame to do so next year.

Mike states that he did indeed take supplements but they were completely legal at the time. It is hard to criticize an athlete who wants to perform better for purchasing products at the local GNC that anyone else can get. He categorically states that he has never taken an illegal performance enhancing drug.

While his detractors will dismiss his denials, Mike has always had a keen knowledge of how everything that you put into your body has either a harmful or beneficial impact in the long run, based on my conversations with him over the years. I learned about the benefits of wheat grass from him and he discusses health foods in his book.

Piazza admits that he is still tortured about not slugging it out with Roger Clemens after getting beaned by him in a regular season game and then infamously having a broken bat tossed at him by the Rocket in the 2000 World Series. In a bit of self-deprecating humor, Mike writes “Roger is a big guy and I did not want to have my ass kicked in by him.” Mike, of course, is a pretty big guy in his own right but what I think he was getting at is that he did not want to risk a career-threatening injury in a fight.

He nicely pokes fun at the baseless rumors about his sexuality by saying that if he were gay, he’d be gay all the way and not hiding behind Baywatch babes and Playboy playmates.

While Clemens, steroids and, of course, the gay rumors are what will fascinate lazy sports talk show hosts and sportswriters, Piazza’s book peels back the curtain on life in the big leagues probably as well as any former player since Jim Bouton wrote “Ball Four” and “Glad You Didn’t Take It Personally.”

He gives fascinating insight into the O’Malley family’s final days, and the Fox Corporation’s earliest, as owners of the Dodgers and how those coincided with his demands for a new contract, which got him dealt to the Marlins and a week later to the Mets. He also writes about how Lenny Dykstra and other members of the Phillies were willing to cave in to the owners’ demand for a salary cap during the 1994 baseball strike.

On a lighter note, Mike talks about a bizarre breakfast he had with Fabio during his Dodgers days, as well as how a girl named Christina broke his heart when he first came up to the big leagues.

I get the feeling that even if the Mets could have signed centerfielder Michael Bourn without forfeiting a first-round pick in the 2013 draft, they still wouldn’t have done it.

The NHL season really is underway now that the Islanders are back to their losing ways.

Life and style

The recent American International Toy Fair, the annual four-day Javits Center trade show of all things play, had a nice retro feel in a lot of ways. In a high-tech world where everyone is on a computer or some mobile device seemingly 24/7, old-school toys and games such as Slinky, Etch-A-Sketch, Booby Trap, Fiki Football and Monopoly were attracting a lot of attention from retail buyers and the media.

Techno-Source and Fremont Die were showcasing competing board games, NFL Rush and NFL Game Day. Poof was exhibiting its Pro Gold Football, which, while made of foam, more closely resembles the traditional pigskin than it does a Nerf product.

Mets fans who want to kick something in frustration may want to order the oversized wastepaper basket with their favorite team’s logo from Fremont Die.

Mattel is getting ready for Wrestlemania at MetLife Stadium with its latest line of action figures of such World Wrestling Entertainment stars as CM Punk, John Cena, Paul “Big Show” Whyte and The Miz, as well as past WWE greats including Shawn Michaels and the late Randy “Macho Man” Savage.

Mattel is also bringing out a line of plastic figures from the classic baby-boomer 1966 ABC TV camp comedy action series, “Batman.” Adam West is still the only Caped Crusader who counts in my book.

Two fun board games introduced at the Toy Fair were Cover Your Assets (a tongue-in-cheek nudge at 1 percenters) and a tough trivia game, Kwizniac.

A San Diego company, Wow Wee, came up with the clever idea of turning an iPad into an easel with the cleverly named Artsee, which allows you to unleash your inner Picasso.

Kate Upton once again graces the cover of the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue. For some reason, SI editors decided that they had to send her to Antarctica for a bikini shoot. It’s good to see my Time Warner stock dollars at work.

Two weeks ago SI held its annual New York launch so that the models could appear on CBS’ “Late Show with David Letterman” and meet with members of the media.

One was Katherine Webb, the reigning Miss Alabama, who achieved greater fame when ESPN announcer Brent Musburger seemed to pay more attention to her than to her boyfriend, Alabama QB A.J. McCarron, during the 2013 BCS Championship Game.

Webb told me that she was upset that Musburger diverted attention from the Crimson Tide’s back-to-back championships, but clearly she was a beneficiary of his obsession. Webb refused to answer my query as to whether Musburger spoke to her after the brouhaha. A flak whisked her away when I followed up with her thoughts about whether good looks run counter to the American fantasy of egalitarianism, where ability, and not genetics, should determine success.

Jessica Perez, who received a degree in psychology from Hunter College and worked in a biopsychology research lab, was clearly the most educated swimsuit model. She would like to pursue an acting career but admits that her dad wants her to go to grad school.

Alyssa Miller was a high school soccer player in the LA suburbs and told me that she was a tomboy growing up. Alyssa got off the best quip of the night: “I always thought that I would appear in Sports Illustrated as a player, not a swimsuit model.”

New Orleans’ next big event following the Super Bowl will be the annual New Orleans Jazz Festival, scheduled for the first week of May. MSG Entertainment and Cablevision CEO James Dolan and his band, JD and The Straight Shot, are among the headliners.

One has to wonder how badly the breakdown of Carnival’s ironically named ship, the Triumph, will hurt not only Carnival, but the overall cruise line industry which has had to deal with a drop-off in passengers because of a sluggish economy the last four years. The opening skit of NBC’s “Saturday Night Live,” which poked fun at not just the Triumph disaster but also at Carnival staples such as the Blue Iguana Lounge and Punchliners Comedy Club, had to sting. The Cruise Line International Association, the trade organization of the passenger ship industry, is going to have to work pretty hard to convince a lot of folks to get on a boat in the near future.

Fashion Week Recap

What’s technically called Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week is starting to resemble Super Bowl week. Just as football is almost an afterthought during the week leading up to the NFL’s big game, so it is that designers showing off their latest wares for the marketplace are a minuscule part of the Fashion Week proceedings.

It was not so long ago that global sports, fashion and media firm IMG and its chief corporate sponsor, Mercedes-Benz, were synonymous with Fashion Week, particularly when Bryant Park was the epicenter of the action. But since the organizers moved their tent uptown to Lincoln Center, they’ve lost some of their mojo.

IMG and Mercedes-Benz used to give out vouchers for sizable goody bags to journalists when they would pick up their credentials. That perk ended over a year ago. The end result is that a lot of writers who used to refer to the semiannual seven-day celebration of New York couture as Mercedes-Benz Week now call it New York Fashion Week. Frankly, I can’t blame them.

This has certainly delighted a bevy of corporations who want to be identified with the latest in style but did not want to pay IMG’s asking price for the honor of showing their goods at Lincoln Center.

Not that anyone has to hold a fundraiser for IMG. The global fashion, sports and media firm was still able to hold onto such longtime sponsors as DHL, Fiber One snack bars, Maybelline, TREsemme, Fiber One and American Express. The credit card and financial services company nicely offered complimentary organic juices and bags of dried fruit to visitors to the big tent at Lincoln Center.

Whitestone-based Glaceau cut a deal with IMG to have SmartWater replace Diet Pepsi as the official beverage. Among the other new exhibitors on 62nd and Columbus were creative greeting card manufacturer Papyrus, electronics giant Samsung and cable’s Style Network.

The Daily Front Row is the oversized glossy that is printed just for Fashion Week. The DFR, which to its immense credit covers Fashion Week with a much-needed sense of humor, celebrated its 10th anniversary with both a bash at the Hudson Hotel and by hosting the two-day Daily Style Sessions at the chic Stone Rose Lounge at Columbus Circle’s Time Warner Center.

The Daily Style Sessions had a more varied mix of corporate exhibitors than IMG had at Lincoln Center. Former Bravo reality star Jill Zarin showcased her line of jewelry, while Flutter, an optical company, was displaying its line of fashionable reading glasses. It was one of the rare times at Fashion Week that an older demographic was recognized.

Food and drink were a big part of the Daily Style Sessions. Yoplait Yogurt smartly used the event as a way of launching its 100-calorie Greek yogurt line, while Lyfe Kitchen, an LA-based high-quality frozen meals purveyor, gave out samples of its soups and entrees.

Coconut water has become a popular drink because it’s not very caloric and yet is very tasty. Vita Coco is the Coca-Cola of the industry and it wants to say that way. That’s why the company is a New York Fashion Week fixture, and gave out free sample containers of its various flavors.

Robyn Youkilis, whose first cousin is new Yankees third baseman Kevin Youkilis, is a well-known nutritionist, and she was promoting her Bella Nutripro juicer by letting guests try vegetable tonics she prepared using it.

For those wanting a little alcohol, Disaronno-based cocktails were served.

The Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau hired a pair of massage therapists to give complimentary 10-minute sessions for attendees. The Miami CVB was smartly promoting the fact that many of its spas give great discounts during summer when tourism slows down there.

Nolcha, a company that promotes smaller designers, held its lounge at Yotel, the hip hotel just on the periphery of Times Square at 42nd Street and 10th Avenue. Among the brands that were present were Kind snack bars, Foco coconut water (it seems like every week there is a new coconut water company), and Rusk hair-care products. HOH Watches, a company that makes high-quality timepieces at affordable prices, and was founded by Forest Hills High School alum Lawrence Leyderman, also had a booth at Nolcha.

Even technology companies capitalized on New York Fashion Week. Both Dell and Hewlett-Packard took over suites at Lincoln Center’s Empire Hotel to show visitors their latest line of laptops whose screens could be detached and used as tablets. HP also threw a party honoring the cast of Lifetime’s “Project Runway,” whose designers use its laptops.

Duracell’s Powermat is a flat charging device that can refresh batteries for numerous smartphones all at once. A company spokesman said that it will have a new Powermat in April that will be able to charge Apple’s iPhone 5.

In this age of full-service Internet shopping websites such as Amazon and Ideeli.com, it makes sense that there should be a site dedicated to selling luxury goods at prices well below those of most brick-and-mortar retailers. LXR & Co. executives were at the Empire Hotel to explain how they are able to sell slightly used or imperfect upscale products at bargain prices on Lxrco.com.

Welcome to the discussion.