Sunday, March 18, 2007

The New York Post

March 18, 2007 -- Pacers be warned Johnny Sack's coming to see you


Ever since Vince Curatola, aka Johnny Sack of "The Sopranos," judged the NETSational Seniors dance tryouts in November, he's become a regular in the front row at Nets games. In fact, the night after the HBO hit's new season premieres at an invitation-only screening in Manhattan March 27, Curatola (pictured at a Nets-Magic game last month) will be at the Meadowlands again to catch the Nets-Pacers game.


"I'm really looking forward to this one," Curatola said. "It would be a real shame if some of the Pacers suddenly had an unfortunate situation regarding their knee caps." The NETSational Seniors, by the way, will perform live on "The Early Show" on CBS tomorrow at 8:30 a.m.


Give him a pair of skates


Tiki Barber is retired from football, but not from the New York sports scene. Last Sunday, he could be found in the Rangers' locker room hobnobbing with Jaromir Jagr (below) following the Blueshirts' OT win over Carolina.


Everybody has to have an NCAA tournament pool, even hockey players who think "The Rim" refers to the play when you shoot the puck around the boards. "Not too many guys here are into it that much," said Rangers pool organizer Jed Ortmeyer, "but hey, it's March Madness, so what the ..."


"I'm the only guy who had VCU. Pruchs [Czech winger Petr Prucha] picked Davidson to win it all."


NASCAR truck driver once rode Hoyas' bench


NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series driver Brendan Gaughan (No. 77 South Point Resorts Chevrolet) was Allen Iverson's backup at Georgetown when the Hoyas made two Sweet 16s and one Elite Eight appearance. "I was there - I got to play it, I got to live it - so for me, for the rest of my life it will be a big part of every March," Gaughan said. "Whether I'm racing or not, I'll be watching the games - yelling for the Hoyas and loving the Cinderella stories. And when I'm at home in Las Vegas, you'll find me sitting in front of 10 TVs at a sports book at the South Point watching every game."


Knicks bowl 'em over


The Knicks' annual Bowl-a-thon at Chelsea Piers last week raised $180,000 for the children's charity, Garden of Dreams Foundation. Malik Rose and Eddy Curry were the highest-scoring bowlers for the Knicks. Stephon Marbury and supermodel Petra Nemcova shared a table, signing autographs.


As part of the Garden of Dreams Foundation "Week of Giving," Marbury and Channing Frye will host a pizza party for patients and families at the Ronald McDonald House. Marbury and Frye will deliver the toys collected at arenas and the NBA Store. Each child will pick out a new toy and receive autographs from Marbury and Frye during their private party. Jared Jeffries and John Starks will visit Hackensack University Medical Center in Hackensack Wednesday to visit with patients and deliver toys.


Must-Sea boxing museum


Boxing has never been the sport for those with a weak stomach, but an exhibit that opened at the South Street Seaport Friday takes the cake for the macabre. With St. Patrick's Day yesterday, the show - called the Fighting Irishmen: Celebrating Celtic Prizefighters 1820-Present - runs through New Year's Eve and is a collection of boxing photos and artifacts. There is John L. Sullivan's fur coat, Jack Dempsey's blazer and a heavy bag from Gene Tunney's training camp. But by far the weirdest exhibit figures to be the mummified right arm of former great Dan Donnelly. That's right, we said an arm. Nobody can say Donnelly didn't give his right arm for boxing.


KEA Boxing, which has staged shows in New Jersey in recent years, is heading south. An April 11 card is planned for The Citadel in Charleston, S.C., headlined by former heavyweight champion Bruce Seldon. Call (973) 931-8812 for info.


Party time in Tampa


What began years ago with two six packs of beer and a package of hamburgers has developed into the premier spring training party in Tampa that last night attracted a galaxy of stars who feasted on first-rate food and vats of booze, beer and wine at the Chase Suites Hotel.


The event, sponsored by New York marketing gurus Bobby Cerullo, Tim O'Neill and Andrew Levy, draws 150 people and features some of the biggest names in Yankees history. On hand last night were Hall of Famers Yogi Berra and Reggie Jackson. Former Yankees great and current bench coach Don Mattingly was on the invite list. Ron Guidry and Goose Gossage were joined by Don Zimmer, Jim Leyland, David Cone, Graig Nettles, Mickey Rivers, Tino Martinez and Darryl Strawberry. Since it was St. Patrick's Day, those serving lobster, steaks and drinks were attired in green Yankees jerseys.


Emily's Isles Capades


The fans had all left Nassau Coliseum last Saturday night after watching the Islanders defeat the Capitals when a single skater took the ice. It was Great Neck's Emily Hughes, practicing her routine for this week's World Championships. Hughes spent her night perfecting her jumps and spins while a few curious members of the Coliseum cleaning staff watched from the stands. The 2006 Olympian is looking to improve on last year's eighth-place finish at the Worlds.


The Islanders are auctioning off a chance to sit with Christie Brinkley (and Mike Bossy, too) as part of a Dream Seat Experience for their March 25 game against the Rangers. The high bidder, whose generosity will benefit the Islanders Children's Foundation and Project Hope, will receive a pre-game locker room tour, a pre-game Zamboni ride, complimentary food and beverage service at the seat, plus luxury car service to and from the game.


It's baseball-book season


Michael Morrissey reports that two baseball books from opposite ends of the spectrum are coming out in the next few weeks. Joe Garagiola's "Just Play Ball," which seeks to accentuate the positive aspects of the national pastime, will be published in April. Morrissey received an advance copy, along with a note from Garagiola saying, "To me, baseball is a collection of memories and friends. I'm lucky to have been around long enough to have plenty of both."


Dave Winfield's "Dropping the Ball: Baseball's Troubles and How We Can and Must Solve Them," will be out Tuesday. According to his publisher, Winfield "believes that baseball's problems go far beyond steroids - the distant relationship between [The Players Association] and MLB, the lack of player initiative to give back to the communities they come from, the dwindling representation of African-Americans on teams and in the stands, and the lack of positive examples set by parents and coaches in youth leagues are but a few of those issues."