April 2011 Sports Calendar
by Jonathan Zeller, 03/30/2011
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April 2011 feels like a mid-1990s revival in NYC sports. Madison Square Garden is readying itself for both Knicks and Rangers playoff games. Labor strife threatens to delay the start of a pro league's season (we're crossing our fingers that the players chosen in this month's NFL Draft will begin their careers on time). And pending the outcome of his extended spring training, pitcher Jason Isringhausen—he of the vaunted "Generation K"—may even end up back on the Mets, who start their 2011 home campaign on April 8 against the Washington Nationals. Yes, everything old is new again. So throw on a flannel shirt, pop Weezer's debut album into your Discman and check out the rest of the month's sports highlights, below.
NYC Mayor's Cup Basketball All-Star Games
April 3, 1 and 3pm; Nat Holman Gymnasium, City College of New York
Come see the best players in the Public Schools Athletic League (PSAL)—which has produced its fair share of NBA and WNBA legends—play an all-star doubleheader as part of the NYC Mayor's Cup series of sporting events. The girls start at 1pm, the boys at 3. We have a feeling fans are going to see some awesome dunks. And tickets are free at the door!
Big City Classic
April 3, 1pm; New Meadowlands Stadium
This college lacrosse triple-header features St. John's against Rutgers, Johns Hopkins vs. North Carolina, and Syracuse squaring off against Duke. The latter two matchups showcase all nationally ranked squads, and lower-level seats start at $25—perhaps the least you'll ever pay for admission to the state-of-the-art home of the New York Jets and New York Giants.
Golden Gloves Boxing Finals
April 7, 7pm; April 8, 7:30pm; The Theater at Madison Square Garden
Riddick Bowe and Floyd Patterson are among the fighters who have slugged it out in the Golden Gloves amateur boxing tournament before winning professional titles. The competition, now in its 84th year, is one of New York City's proudest sports traditions, and boxers endure 10 weeks of elimination bouts to reach the finals at The Theater at Madison Square Garden.
New York Mets Home Opener
April 8, 4:10pm; Citi Field
It's fair to say that the Mets have faced plenty of adversity in the past couple of years—but this afternoon marks the first home game of a fresh season, and hopes are high for new manager Terry Collins and his revitalized squad. If José Reyes stays healthy, David Wright and Jason Bay swing their bats effectively, and starters Mike Pelfrey and R.A. Dickey continue their improvement from 2010, fans of the Amazins may be in for an enjoyable summer. Plus, the first 25,000 through the gates on April 8 receive a Mr. Met bobblehead doll. See the Mets' schedule for details on other April home games.
NYC Mayor's Cup Outdoor Track & Field Championships, Plus More Track & Field Events
NYC Mayor's Cup Outdoor Track & Field Championships: April 8, 4pm; April 9, 9am;
New York Relays: April 15, 3pm; April 16, 8:45am; April 17 (Youth Challenge Series), TBD;
Howard Richter Outdoor Track Invitational: April 23, 9am;
In the NYC Mayor's Cup Outdoor Track & Field Championships, more than 5,000 talented athletes from New York City public, Catholic and independent schools will try to prove they're the best in the City at running, jumping and throwing. The free event takes place at Icahn Stadium, where in 2008 Usain Bolt ran the 100-meter dash in a then-world-record 9.72 seconds. Later this month, more young competitors will hit the same track in the New York Relays and the Howard Richter Outdoor Track Invitational.
FDNY vs. NYPD Hockey Game
April 9, 1pm; Nassau Coliseum
Generally content to fight fires and bad guys, on April 9, New York's Bravest and New York's Finest venture outside City limits to Long Island, where once a year they battle one another for the title of New York's Most Proficient at Ice Hockey. A $20 general admission ticket allows you to sit anywhere in the arena where there's an open seat, although it's advisable to arrive early for the best vantage point—the Coliseum fills up fast. On the ice, expect a good old-fashioned intense game of hockey between rivals, perhaps complete with fisticuffs, as the NYPD aims to break the FDNY's two-year winning streak.
NYC Mayor's Cup Lacrosse Invitational
April 9–10, 9am; Randalls Island
High school lacrosse squads from across the New York City metropolitan area converge on Randalls Island in pursuit of team bragging rights and individual awards. The spirited competition is sure to be fun to watch—and a great chance to see just how much the sport has grown in New York City. Girls' teams play on Saturday, with boys playing on Sunday.
New York Rangers in the NHL Playoffs
April 15 and 17, 7:30pm; April 23, 3pm (if necessary); Madison Square Garden
Henrik Lundqvist and the Blueshirts have rebounded from a rough 2009–2010 season, when they missed the playoffs, and hope to make a run at the Stanley Cup—even in the absence of injured star Ryan Callahan, who's out with a broken leg. They may start from a low seed, but recent history suggests that needn't be much of an impediment—last year, the Philadelphia Flyers, the seventh seed in the East, reached the finals before being vanquished by the Chicago Blackhawks.
New York Yankees vs. Texas Rangers
April 15, 7:05pm; April 16, 1:05pm; April 17, 8:05pm; Yankee Stadium
Alex Rodriguez, Mark Teixeira, recent GQ cover star Derek Jeter and the Bronx Bombers seek revenge on the team that last season ended their quest for back-to-back titles. Of course, if you can't make it this weekend, the Yankees play a full complement of home games throughout April.
Gotham Girls Roller Derby
April 16, 8:30pm; Schwartz Athletic Center, Long Island University
The competitors of Gotham Girls Roller Derby skate fast and hit hard. You may not enter the gym knowing what a jammer, a blocker or a pivot are, but longtime fans will tell you that the Manhattan Mayhem and Brooklyn Bombshells are bound to make learning the positions and rules worthwhile. Furthermore, the event features spirit-boosting "jeerleaders" and takes place in one of NYC's most interesting sports venues: the Schwartz Athletic Center, which was formerly the Paramount Theatre and still sports many of the splendorous design details that made the movie palace famous. For details, visit gothamgirlsrollerderby.com.
ESPN Sports Film Festival
April 21–30; check tribecafilm.com for full schedule.
The ESPN Sports Film Festival is part of the Tribeca Film Festival, and the movies composing the sports-centric sub-event aren’t much different from those populating the rest of the affair. Subjects include society’s tendency to seek scapegoats when things go wrong (Catching Hell, which chronicles the struggles of Chicago’s Steve Bartman, who interfered with a play during a crucial Cubs playoff game); nations finding themselves in the wake of new independence (Fires of Babylon, about 1970s and 1980s cricket in the West Indies); and the challenges of sex reassignment (Renee, which tells the story of tennis star Renee Richards, born Richard Raskind). It’s not just about sports—through the games so many people love to watch, the festival captures an immense range of human experience.
Of course, sometimes it’s really just about the game—and on April 30, the ESPN Sports Film Festival culminates in the free Tribeca/ESPN Sports Day, during which kids can meet famous athletes and mascots, throw baseballs, shoot basketballs and hockey pucks, and more.
New York Knicks in the NBA Playoffs
April 22, 7pm; April 24, 3:30pm; April 29 (if necessary), TBD; Madison Square Garden
There have been struggles for Amar'e Stoudemire, Carmelo Anthony and company, sure. For every stirring win over Memphis or Miami, there's been a dispiriting loss to Indiana or Cleveland. And the team's electrifying offense is sometimes offset by ineffectual defense. Still, the Knicks are more exciting than they've been since Patrick Ewing was NYC's municipal hero and Reggie Miller was the official bad guy—and whatever happens in the playoffs, the Knicks are there for the first time since 2004. Hopefully they can gel and make it a long stay.
April 28, 7:30pm; April 29, 6pm; April 30, 11am; Radio City Music Hall
Usually a festive occasion for pro football fans, this year's NFL Draft may carry a different vibe as rooters worry that labor strife could sack all or part of the upcoming season. Regardless, this is still the event where teams will choose their next stars from the top of the college ranks—even if the Players Association doesn't want them walking across the stage—and whenever the league does restart play, they will make their marks on the field.