April 2012 Sports Calendar
by Jonathan Zeller, 03/21/2012
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April 11 is opening night for Magic/Bird, a Broadway show based on the lives of NBA greats Magic Johnson and Larry Bird—but the Longacre Theatre isn't the only place you'll find drama this month in NYC sports. The Knicks, after plot twists galore, look to regain the good vibes of "Linsanity" as they commence life without coach Mike D'Antoni, while their Madison Square Garden roommates the Rangers hope the playoffs yield the happiest of endings: a Stanley Cup title. Football teams, meanwhile, gather at Radio City Music Hall for the NFL Draft in search of new leading men (the Colts' decision to forsake Peyton Manning in favor of Andrew Luck proved to be a tearjerker in Indianapolis). Finally, over in the Bronx and Queens, the curtain rises on another baseball season for the Yankees and Mets (whose offseason had its own fair share of intrigue). Let's just hope nobody in the starting lineup breaks a leg. For details about these and the rest of the month's show-stopping sports highlights, read on.
Previews ongoing; opening night: April 11; Longacre Theatre
Any Broadway production based on NBA players has the potential for a lot of aerial stunts, à la Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark. Alas, it seems this particular show is more focused on the human side of basketball legends, rivals and friends Magic Johnson and Larry Bird—mixing footage of classic games with dramatized scenes from the players' lives. Playwright Eric Simonson—who also wrote Lombardi—worked closely with the Lakers and Celtics stars in crafting the script. For tickets, visit telecharge.com.
Big City Classic Lacrosse
April 1, 1pm; MetLife Stadium
This college lacrosse triple-header features St. John's against Notre Dame, Syracuse vs. Duke and Johns Hopkins squaring off against North Carolina. Many of these squads traditionally find themselves nationally ranked, 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 Giants and Jets.
NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Championship
April 2, 9pm; TV sets everywhere
The Big Dance started with 68 teams; now it's down to two. Watch college basketball's best teams battle for one shining moment at one of NYC's fine sports bars.
New York Mets Home Opener vs. Atlanta Braves
April 5, 1:10pm; Citi Field
Jose Reyes has left town. Experts contend that the rest of the National League East has "won" the offseason with high-profile acquisitions. Mets general manager Sandy Alderson has taken to joking about the financial questions surrounding the team on Twitter. But if the right pieces fall into place, the Mets could fulfill Alderson's belief that they'll be competitive and fun to watch. Johan Santana hopes to complete his long road back from a shoulder injury to lead the rotation, while Ike Davis aims to return from his own medical setback to add some muscle to the lineup. If R.A. Dickey can maintain last year's form on the mound and David Wright and Jason Bay respond well to the new dimensions of Citi Field, this summer could turn out better than many pundits anticipate. If not? Well, we'll leave that brand of speculation to the tabloids. For tickets, visit mets.com.
New York Rangers vs. Ottawa Senators (Playoffs)
April 12, April 14 and April 21 (if necessary), 7pm; April 26 (if necessary), time TBA; Madison Square Garden
The Knicks have been grabbing most of the headlines, but the Rangers have been the more consistent winners at Madison Square Garden this season. The top-seeded Blueshirts' quest to capture their first Stanley Cup since 1994 begins with a first-round series against the Ottawa Senators. For tickets, visit ticketmaster.com, or, let’s be serious, go straight to StubHub.
New York Yankees Home Opener vs. Los Angeles Angels
April 13, 1:05pm; Yankee Stadium
In the movie Election, overachieving student Tracy Flick tells her teacher: "Coca-Cola's by far the world's number one soft drink, and they spend more money than anybody on advertising. I guess that's how come they stay number one." The Yankees are kind of like that. Again last year, they made the playoffs—as they have done in all seasons but one since 1995. But you know why they stay on top? Because of acquisitions like young ace Michael Pineda, whom they snagged from the Seattle Mariners. Bolstered by that addition and the return of pitcher Andy Pettite, Derek Jeter, A-Rod, Curtis Granderson and company look primed for another strong campaign. For tickets, visit ticketmaster.com.
NYC Mayor's Cup Outdoor Track & Field
April 13, 4–8pm; April 14, 9am–5pm; Icahn Stadium
In the NYC Mayor's Cup Outdoor Track & Field Championships, some of the most 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. For more info, visit the NYC Mayor's Cup Facebook page.
Baseball in the Bronx
April 13–May 13; The Bronx Museum of the Arts
April 13 is opening day in the Bronx—not just for the Yankees, but also for this exhibit chronicling amateur baseball in the borough from the 1940s through today. Through baseball, the show will demonstrate demographic changes in the Bronx—and the shots of sandlot games will certainly stir nostalgia for anyone who grew up playing the sport. For more info, visit bronxmuseum.org.
NYPD vs. FDNY Hockey
April 14, 1pm; Nassau Coliseum
Generally content to fight fires and bad guys, once a year New York's Bravest and Finest 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 three-year winning streak. For more info, visit fdnyhockey.com.
New York Red Bulls Soccer
April 14, 7pm; April 28, 3:30pm; Red Bull Arena
San Jose and New England visit Red Bull Arena this month. It's early yet, but Thierry Henry, Rafa Marquez and company want to get off on the right foot and work toward a better finish than last season's first-round playoff exit against the Los Angeles Galaxy. Putting together a solid regular season and earning a better seed would certainly put them in a more favorable position to do just that. For tickets, visit newyorkredbulls.com.
New York Knicks vs. Miami Heat—and, Maybe, the NBA Playoffs
April 15, 1pm; playoffs: dates and times TBD; Madison Square Garden
The NBA's playing a shortened slate this season—but it doesn't feel that way for Knicks fans, who have been through numerous acts of dramatic highs and lows. Most recently, the ecstasy of "Linsanity" was put on hold by a losing streak, internal discord and the resignation of coach Mike D'Antoni, all while the squad struggled to regain its grip on the last playoff spot in the East—and then, of course, the team went ahead and ran off a few wins under new skipper Mike Woodson. Add LeBron James' only visit of the season into the mix, and there are bound to be heightened emotions in the building for this one (although by the time game night arrives, the Knicks will probably have been through a few more Homeric epics' worth of plotlines). Also this month: a visit from the Bulls and, if the basketball gods will it, postseason games at the Garden. For ticket info, visit ticketmaster.com.
Various dates and times; Prudential Center
It's your last chance to catch the New Jersey Nets in action at the Prudential Center. Just a few more games to close out this season, and Deron Williams and friends will make their way to Brooklyn and the shiny new Barclays Center. For now, there are some ridiculous ticket deals to be had on StubHub (some games have gone for less than a dollar, and we've even seen seats against the Heat for around $20). That's not much to pay for highlights like this. You can also find tickets at ticketmaster.com.
Tribeca/ESPN Sports Film Festival
April 18–29, various locations
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. Last year, subjects included 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 (Fire in Babylon, about 1970s and '80s cricket in the West Indies); and the challenges of sex reassignment (Renée, which tells the story of tennis star Renée 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. For more info, including this year's slate when it's released, visit tribecafilm.com.
April 21; events begin at 6pm, screening begins at approximately 8:15pm; World Financial Center Winter Garden
Tribeca Drive-In Outdoor Cinema hosts the premiere of Knuckleball!, a documentary focused on the careers of Tim Wakefield and the Mets' own R.A. Dickey—who is now the only knuckleballer in the major leagues. The screening begins at sundown, but there will be family-friendly entertainment beforehand, including pitching clinics with the stars. For more info, visit tribecafilm.com.
April 26, 8pm; April 27, 7pm; April 28, noon; Radio City Music Hall
Professional football teams choose the best college prospects at this event. The Jets pick 16th, while the Super Bowl champion Giants pick 32nd. The first two picks, for Indianapolis and Washington, are exceedingly likely to be used on quarterbacks Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III. For more information, visit nfl.com.
Wildlife Conservation Society Run for the Wild
April 28; registration opens at 7am, first race begins at 8am; Bronx Zoo
Proceeds from this 5K race at the Bronx Zoo will help to protect endangered lions in Africa. Organizers stress that walkers are also welcome, and there' s a Family Fun Run for those with kids. For more info, visit bronxzoo.com.
NYC Mayor's Cup Table Tennis
April 28, time TBA; Chinese Community Center of Flushing
Table tennis players of all levels, from kindergarten through 12th grade, compete to be able to call themselves "Best in the City" in this, the latest in the NYC Mayor's Cup series of youth sporting events. Not merely a relaxing summer camp activity, serious table tennis can be lightning fast and thrilling to watch. On a related note, it has also become a popular NYC nightlife activity, as documented by this very website. For more info, visit the NYC Mayor's Cup Facebook page.