Which New York sports nemesis would make the best comedy bad guy?

To me, Shooter McGavin from Happy Gilmore was the perfect comedy bad guy. Talented, lame, pompous, enviable and manipulative, Christopher MacDonald’s character made an ideal nemesis for Adam Sandler’s goofy, immature, capricious hockey-goon-turned-golfer.

MacDonald also played a classic comedy bad-guy part in Dirty Work, for what it’s worth, but he’s hardly the only actor who does it well. The EPA guy in Ghostbusters, Ted Knight’s judge in Caddyshack, Biff Tannen in Back to the Future, the local police chief in Super Troopers, basically the entire jock fraternity in Revenge of the Nerds, Craig Kilborn’s character in Old School, I could go on. It’s a cliched archetype: usually good-looking, always entitled and generally snively.

I’ve been thinking about comedy bad guys a lot lately because of how Bill Belichick and Tom Brady seem such perfect foils for the brazen, obnoxious, fat, freaky Rex Ryan. Brady, handsome star quarterback that clearly takes himself too seriously, could easily be cast as the bad guy in every single 80s teen movie.

But I have previously compared A-Rod to Shooter McGavin, specifically after the way he dismissed Dallas Braden in basically every sense after their mound incident and Braden’s perfect game.

So I’m wondering now which New York sports nemesis would make for the best comedy bad guy. I’ve included A-Rod on the list because even though he plays for a New York team, he seems to count as a nemesis for both Mets fans and a large portion of Yankees fans alike. Same thing for Sean Avery.

[poll id=”15″]

Because it came up in conversation today

Strikes me that some of you are probably too young to remember Craig MacTavish. Crash, as he was known, was the last helmetless player in the NHL by like a lot. I became conscious of hockey around 1991 or so, and I’m not sure I remember any other helmetless players ever. And MacTavish played without a helmet until 1997. It was the type of thing that seemed really awesome when I was 15 but strikes me as less awesome and more senselessly dangerous now.

To the Quebecois coming to Nassau Coliseum tomorrow

Dear Sirs and Madams:

I hope you read English because my French is quite limited. I support your efforts to return NHL hockey to Quebec. I don’t know any of the politics or economics behind it, but to me it’s b.s. that the Nordiques even left in the first place, because obviously Canada is for hockey (and vice versa), and because the Nordiques had a sweet logo that I have on a t-shirt somewhere. I don’t follow hockey much, but I’ll admit it’s a pretty sweet sport. And I know that the Islanders suck and don’t draw well, and that often when I turn on an N.H.L. game I see teams I’ve never heard of before. Has Columbus, Ohio really had a professional hockey team since 2000? Did I just miss that entirely?

Anyway, on behalf of Long Island, Nassau County and the Town of Hempstead, my longtime home, I welcome you to Uniondale. My advice to you is to spend as little of your time in the area in Uniondale, though inevitably you will spend hours on your way into and out of the Nassau Coliseum’s parking lot,  no matter how few people attend the game. I think more people park there than actually go inside. No one can really explain it.

You’ll probably want to eat while you’re in the area. If you have access to a car, drive west down Hempstead Turnpike and gawk at our amazing array of fast food fried-chicken purveyors. But resist the temptation to stop at the Popeye’s, the first KFC, the Kennedy Fried Chicken or the second KFC, and drive all the way down to the very end of the Chicken Strip. There you’ll find Wings N’ Things, the best option for a truly local experience. If you’ve got enough friends with you, I recommend their 80-piece bucket, which is actually on the menu.

And if you’re really looking to sample the best of local cuisine, take a left on Henry St. and proceed south. (I should note now that the drinking age in the United States is 21, so if you have anyone younger than that interested in purchasing alcohol, you might want to stop by Henry Street Liquors, a strange pocket of apparently independent territory where those restrictions are not enforced. You’ll see the big yellow sign.)

Henry Street becomes Baldwin Road and eventually Grand Avenue. On your left, you’ll see a shopping center with an Associated Supermarket. There’ll you’ll find Ferring Deli, one of the area’s very best, plus a good pizzeria and Jamaican bakery. Enjoy. If you pass another KFC, you’ve gone too far.

Enjoy your stay on Long Island, and feel free to take the Islanders with you.


Islanders making the Knicks look like the Yankees

With a little more than a quarter of the season gone, the Islanders have the fewest points in the N.H.L. and have fired their coach, Scott Gordon. Attendance at the Coliseum — one of the oldest arenas in the N.H.L. — has averaged 10,773, down 11 percent from last season, as fans react to the team’s poor play and management’s decision to raise ticket prices almost 20 percent this season. Only the bankrupt Phoenix Coyotes have drawn fewer fans.

The Islanders continue to be weighed down by misguided draft picks and bloated contracts. Their highest-paid player, Rick DiPietro, has struggled with injuries since signing a 15-year deal in 2006. Josh Bailey, their first-round draft pick in 2008, who has scored just 26 goals in 159 N.H.L. games, was sent to the minors last week.

Off the ice, the Islanders have no president or chief of amateur scouting. They revoked the credentials of a popular blogger who covers the team, and their television announcer, Howie Rose, was inadvertently caught on a broadcast venting about the team’s poor play. This season, the team decided to have its games broadcast on a college radio station.

Ken Belson and Dave Caldwell, New York Times.

What an embarrassment. Read the whole Times article, there was no one excerpt I could choose to fully convey how damning it is. And I guess I shouldn’t rip the Islanders if I ever hope to get press credentials at the Nassau Coliseum, but the way it is now, I can’t imagine any situation in which I’d want to go watch the Islanders anyway.

It’s a shame because technically the Islanders are my favorite hockey team. And for a while I thought I might get into hockey. I do really appreciate the sport, I loved playing roller hockey on the street in high school, and the Islanders play about a ten-minute drive from where I grew up.

When I moved back home after college, my friends and I had almost nothing to do, so we would occasionally go to Islanders games. Problem was they sucked then, like they suck now, and yet the tickets were still way too expensive, even for the cheap seats. They had student discounts on Tuesday nights, but even then the Coliseum would be empty.

According to the article, the Islanders are keeping two former players on the payroll just to meet the league’s salary minimum. I hadn’t heard that. That’s crazy. You play in New York. Yes, your arena is a hole and the traffic sucks and there’s no way to get there on the LIRR, but it’s situated within walking distance of two colleges and there are 800,000 people in the Town of Hempstead alone.

Islanders pull blogger’s credentials

The NHL has left it up to the teams to determine their own policies on bloggers, and the Islanders are using that wide breadth of a policy to make a determination on Botta. The other problem for Botta, or any writer in the Nassau press box that runs afoul of team management, is that the Islanders’ press credentials clearly indicate the team has the right to pull them at its discretion.

And Botta is a journalist, in the estimation of the PHWA, which has gone to bat for him in this dispute. Sure, there may have been complaints about Botta by the Islanders that go beyond content and speak to behavior or some violation of decorum. (We’ve heard Botta’s speaking to players outside of designated interview areas was an issue raised, which is by no means a credential-losing sin.)

Those problems are minor, and could be hashed out without a “nuclear option.” So this is essentially an issue of censorship, of undermining an important voice in the Islanders media and fan communities.

Greg Wyshynski, Puck Daddy.

I don’t want to delve too deeply into this since it’s far from settled, Chris Botta is a member of the SNY.tv family, and I don’t want to ruffle any more feathers than have already been ruffled. But a couple of people have asked me why the press hasn’t shown more outrage over this, and I’m not sure that it’s even necessary.

No coverage of the dispute portrays the Islanders in a favorable light, because it’s difficult to see how they’re not shooting themselves in the foot by shutting him out. Botta provides better coverage of the Islanders than anybody. Denying him access to the club only further alienates an already-withering fanbase.

The actual job part of my job includes a decent amount of advocating to get professional bloggers credentialed. I have had no role in Botta’s issue with the Islanders, but I’ve spent plenty of time trying to convince media-relations departments to allow our bloggers to cover their teams from the inside. To me, as long as the content is professional, there should be no distinction between a “blogger” and a “columnist,” since those are just words.

Some teams are way cooler about it than others. The Knicks, for example, have been extremely obliging.

Drafting fictional players

The 1974 NHL Amateur Draft was an example of these tactics coming to a head. The draft was conducted ahead of schedule and via secret conference call in order to prevent leaks. The system, however, had a significant downside — it was tediously slow. And for the first time ever, an NHL team drafted a Japanese player. With the 183rd pick in the draft, George “Punch” Imlach, general manager of the Buffalo Sabres, announced his team’s selection: Taro Tsujimoto, the star center of the Tokyo Kitanas….

A few weeks into training camp, Tsujimoto had still not shown his face in Buffalo. Disgraced by the mocking? Visa troubles? Nope. Tsujimoto hadn’t arrived because Imlach had made him up; the byproduct of a bored general manager frustrated by the league’s cloak and dagger draft.

– Dan Lewis, Now I Know newsletter.

Cool. I think drafting fictional players and hyping them up is something I’d definitely be tempted to do if I were running a professional sports franchise. You need a good endgame, though, because otherwise you’re just going to end up with an empty roster.

Anyway, this tidbit from Lewis’ newsletter reminded me of a couple points: First, late in the 2010 season, Chan Ho Park earned his 124th win to pass Hideo Nomo as the winningest Asian-born pitcher. It’s weird; I think I’ve come to associate Park so closely with his big contract in Texas, his brutal one-start stint with the Mets and his diarrhea kerfuffle from earlier this season that I forget he was actually the first Major Leaguer in the recent wave of imports from the Far East. He actually tossed two innings at the beginning of the 1994 season, a full year before Nomomania set in.

Second, now seems like a good time to pop Lewis’ newsletter, which is awesome. It’s basically one random bit of trivia a day, and it’s a breeze to read. You can subscribe here.

Islanders forging new ground in hockey team/cupcake relations

The New York Islanders announced today the addition of a new corporate partner in the unique sponsorship category of cupcakes. The Islanders have signed an agreement to designate Cupcake Gourmet, Inc. as the official cupcake supplier of the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum and the New York Islanders Hockey Club.

“To be the official cupcake supplier of the Islanders and Nassau Coliseum is huge to me,” Amy Brady, Owner of Cupcake Gourmet, Inc. said. “I fell in love with the team when I moved to Long Island 15 years ago and to be a part of their world feels great.”

Justin Johnson, Senior Vice President of Corporate Partnerships & Marketing for the Islanders said: “We are thrilled to launch this partnership with Amy and Cupcake Gourmet as we continually enhance the everyday menu board for our fans.”

– New York Islanders press release.