One of the few notes of discord coming out of the Mets’ spring training base of Port St. Lucie, Fla. is that Mets general manager Sandy Alderson is unhappy that John Santana did not report to camp in what the GM considers suitable pitching shape.
Alderson, who is known for his no-nonsense and realistic assessments, must have been delusional if he expected the onetime Mets ace, who missed the entire 2011 season with arm problems and then suffered from fatigue right after tossing the first no-hitter in Mets’ history last June 1 — when he threw an amazing 135 pitches in the effort — to be the Johan Santana of old.
The odds are Santana will be on the disabled list when the Mets’ season opens April 1, and you can bet anything Alderson says will be less than sanguine. Mets owner Fred Wilpon will certainly not be breaking into any smiles when he signs Santana’s paychecks, since he will be earning $25.5 million dollars this year.
The good news for the Mets accounting department is that Johan is in the last year of his contract. Alderson will be praying that his expensive southpaw will pitch decently enough by the July 31 trading deadline so that he can deal him to a contending team for inexpensive prospects that he can claim will one day be impact players in Flushing.
Aside from the obvious reasons, Alderson will want to trade Santana because he is the last of former general manager Omar Minaya’s big free-agent signings still on the Mets roster. As is usually the case in corporate America, new management likes to bring in its own guys and get rid of those from the old regime.
If you’re champing at the bit to get to Citi Field and can’t wait for Opening Day, catch the inaugural Metropolitan Lacrosse Classic this Sunday. It’ll feature a collegiate powerhouse doubleheader as Holy Cross will meet Navy at noon while Colgate and Michigan will battle it out at 3. Expect more offense from these four teams in one afternoon than you’ll get out of the Mets outfield this entire season.
Congratulations to the Christ the King boys basketball team for winning the CHSAA championship last Sunday.
Rafael Nadal, who had to withdraw from the 2012 US Open because he was recovering from knee surgery, looked like his old self at last Monday’s BNP Paribas Showdown, held at Madison Square Garden. He lost in straight sets to Juan Del Potro, but he moved with alacrity and did not appear to be suffering any discomfort. Barring any other injury between now and late August, Nadal should be back at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center the last Monday in August.
While Nadal appears to be over his knee problems, the Knicks are now being plagued by them.
Their star forward, Carmelo Anthony, nearly collapsed on the court in Cleveland when his right leg gave out from under him last Monday. Although fluid was found in the back of his knee, an MRI revealed no structural damage — let’s be thankful for that.
Meanwhile Amar’e Stoudemire, who missed a good chunk of this season recovering from surgery on his left knee, will now miss at least six weeks more recuperating from a surgical procedure on his right knee. Although it seemed as if he became an afterthought, given the way Anthony had carried the Knicks for the first half of the season, Stoudemire reminded everyone of his value as he helped lead the team to consecutive road victories over the Cavaliers and the Pistons last week, games Anthony was forced to miss.
Deron Williams has not come close to living up to the big contract that Brooklyn Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov lavished upon him last July. Last Friday night, Williams finally rewarded Nets fans as he hit on 11 three-point shots as the Nets beat the Washington Wizards by 17 points. But with all due respect to the Wizards, whose general manager is former Forest Hills High School star Ernie Grunfeld, they are not one of the NBA’s elite teams. Williams needs to prove that he can excel against better opponents.
The Barclays Center was rocking Saturday night as Bernard Hopkins regained the International Boxing Federation’s light heavyweight championship when he won a 12-round decision against Tavoris Cloud, who came into the bout with a perfect 24-0 record. What makes this a remarkable story is that Hopkins is 48 years old and can beat men nearly half his age.
After the fight was over Bernard showed a touch of Muhammad Ali as he jawed with fellow boxer Andre Ward, who was ringside doing commentary for HBO, as well as showing a quick wit with Ward’s HBO colleague, Max Kellerman. It would appear that Hopkins will be in the ring the day he receives his AARP membership card.
The biggest free agent the Yankees signed over the winter was former Indians first baseman Travis Hafner. The Yanks wanted the 35-year-old Hafner to serve as their designated hitter in 2013. Hafner claims he was told not to even bring a glove to the team’s Tampa training site. Now that slick-fielding Mark Texeira is going to miss at least six weeks with a tendon injury, it would be wise for the Yankees to have Hafner play a few innings at first base during the remaining days of spring training.
ESPN will be getting a very worthy competitor this coming August as Fox Sports 1 will take over the cable channel currently owned by News Corp.’s Speed Channel. Fox Sports 1 will be showing live events such as UFC mixed martial arts shows, Major League Baseball games, NASCAR and college football. The word in the TV biz is that Fox Sports 1 will sign a contract for broadcast rights to the reconstituted Big East Conference, one of whose schools is St. John’s.
The biggest surprise at Fox Sports Media Group’s press conference on March 5 was the announcement that Regis Philbin will be returning to daily television, as host of “Rush Hour,” a sports-themed interview show that will air at 5 p.m. on weekdays.
Fox Sports Media Group President Randy Freer wisely counseled reporters that it will take at least a few years until Fox Sports 1 approaches ESPN as a primary destination for sports fans. That means that Fox won’t be asking cable operators for inordinate subscriber fees, something that has been key to ESPN’s profitability.
In the current issue of Playboy, Jimmy Kimmel talks about how the Sunday afternoon NFL viewing parties that he held at his home attracted Hollywood A-list celebrities such as Tom Cruise and Jon Hamm, at a time when Kimmel himself was a blip on the late-night TV talk show radar screen. There is little question that kind of networking helped propel him into the 11:30 spot, where he now competes with nemesis Jay Leno and old friend David Letterman.
Speaking of viewing parties, the upcoming NCAA Basketball Tournament ranks just behind the Super Bowl when it comes to watching sports with friends. That may be why there have been a number of food-oriented trade shows in New York lately. Obviously a lot of food and beverage makers are hoping that sports fans might be more willing to sample healthy fare that is also tasty.
At the annual Health & Nutrition Showcase held last month at the Marriott Marquis, Sunkist was promoting its blood-red oranges; Laughing Cow presented its Mini Babybel mozzarella pieces; Muller Yogurt, a division of Pepsi, was introducing its low-fat and low-sugar varieties; Del Monte offered samples of its Fruit Natural Snacks; and, finally, Queens’ own Garden Lites was enticing attendees with its pizza souffles and carrot muffins. A week later at the International Restaurant & Food Service Expo, held at the Javits Center, upstate New York’s Red Jacket Orchards quenched the thirst of attendees with its array of cold-pressed apple juice and cider varieties. Red Jacket products are sold at the weekly Forest Hills Greenmarket.
Speaking of the Javits Center, former NFL player Wade Davis spoke at the annual GLBT Expo last weekend, where he talked about the fear that he had of ever letting on that he was a gay athlete when he was playing. Ironically, while Americans are more accepting of gay marriage than ever, sports still remain a bastion of homophobia. There are some positive signs, however. At the NYC Gay Basketball and Hockey Leagues booth, a spokesman told me that approximately half the players are heterosexuals who simply want to take part in competitive sports and couldn’t care less about their teammates’ or opponents’ sexual orientation.
Wrestlemania, the World Wrestling Entertainment’s Super Bowl, will take place April 7 at MetLife Stadium. One of the WWE’s stars, Mike “The Miz” Mizanin, has just starred in his first film, the direct to DVD “The Marine 3.” Mizanin’s “The Miz” character is a braggadocio who likes to get off a good insult even more than a physical blow to opponents in the ring.
Mizanin is the traditional man-of-few-words action hero in this movie. “I wanted to get away from my WWE persona,” he told me over the phone, “but I would not be averse to doing a ‘Miz’ film in the future.”
“The Marine 3” was shot in 20 days in British Columbia, and it shows. The plot is ludicrous, although the actors are game and give it their all. Neal McDonough, who was terrific as an intellectual villain in a previous WWE flick, “12 Rounds,” matches that performance as a populist who has gone off the deep end.
A lot has been written about NBC’s primetime ratings woes. Ironically, “Community,” a cult favorite that NBC Entertainment President Bob Greenblatt did not have on his network’s fall schedule, has returned to Thursday nights, and it’s funnier than ever. The show stars Joel McHale and a very talented cast who portray students in a fictional Southern California community college. Considering the quick failures of “Do No Harm” and “Deception,” Greenblatt would be wise to renew this very likable and inexpensive half-hour comedy.