April 2013 Sports Calendar
by Jonathan Zeller, 03/19/2013
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Sure, the ends of seasons are exciting—with the members of one team hoisting a trophy over their heads, covered in confetti—but, for our money, you can't beat the beginning, when everyone believes they have a shot at the big time. If you feel that way, too, no month in sports is better than April. We've got baseball's opening day, which this year sees the Mets and Yankees playing simultaneously at home for the first time ever; the start of the NBA Playoffs (the season that really counts) for the Knicks and Nets; and, if they can grab that eighth seed, the first face-off of the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the Rangers. April also brings the NFL Draft, when some teams will feel like they're ushering in new eras as they select the players they hope are the cornerstones for future success. And we'd be remiss if we didn't mention WrestleMania—which, although it doesn't mark the launch of a season of any kind, will draw 80,000 rabid fans of TV wrestling to MetLife Stadium. For more details on these and the rest of the month's sports action, read on.
Photo: ©New York Yankees
New York Yankees vs. Boston Red Sox (Plus More Yankees)
April 1, 1:05pm; Yankee Stadium
It was, for the most part, a quiet off-season in Yankeeland—no big, splashy acquisitions, at least—and the most controversial member of the team won't be suiting up for their opener against Boston. New PED accusations or no, A-Rod is injured and didn't even join Derek Jeter, C.C. Sabathia and the rest of the team at spring training. So, minus any off-field drama, that leaves a beautiful spring afternoon and an opening day in the Bronx featuring two baseball teams that don't like each other. (OK, maybe we will mention a little off-field drama in the form of the hilarious revelation that Red Sox marketing folk wanted to draw a greater share of female fans with more attractive players like Dustin Pedroia.) Today, the Bronx Bombers—who, we needn't remind you, have missed the playoffs only once since 1995—start playing games that count in the drive to win yet another World Series title, and Mariano Rivera begins his long farewell to baseball. For tickets to this and other Yankees games, visit ticketmaster.com or stubhub.com.
New York Mets vs. San Diego Padres (Plus More Mets)
April 1, 1:10pm; Citi Field
This off-season, Mets fans lost R.A. Dickey—the reigning National League Cy Young winner and one of the nicest guys in baseball—when he was traded to the Toronto Blue Jays. But there are reasons to hope. David Wright signed a long-term deal and will anchor the lineup once he returns from his spring injury. Ike Davis—who managed to slug 32 home runs in 2012 despite not hitting for average—is unlikely to start as slowly as he did last year. And Travis d'Arnaud and Noah Syndergaard, who came over from Toronto for Dickey, could contribute for years to come (though even d'Arnaud, who's farther along, probably won't play in Queens until at least May). With Matt Harvey, Johan Santana, Shaun Marcum and—eventually—Zack Wheeler, the team may have a competitive pitching staff on its hands. Sure, virtually every baseball pundit will tell you the team's outfield leaves much to be desired—but that's why they play the games. And on April 1, the Mets—like everyone else—will be tied for first place. If they beat the Padres, they'll stay there for at least one more day. Let's just hope Jordany Valdespin is wearing all relevant protective equipment. For tickets to this and other Mets games, visit mets.com or stubhub.com.
New York Rangers. © MSG Photos
New York Rangers Hockey (Including—Hopefully—the Playoffs)
Regular-season games April 1, 3, 10, 18, 21 and 27; playoffs begin on April 30; Madison Square Garden
After a long lockout, plenty of hockey fans were happy just to have a season. Still, there was particular urgency for the Rangers—this was supposed to be part of their window of contention after a trip to the Eastern Conference Finals last year. They've had an uneven campaign so far, and are currently locked in a tight battle for the last playoff spot—with the soon-to-be Brooklyn-based Islanders not too far behind. There's hope for Rick Nash, Henrik Lundqvist (the most stylish man in hockey) and the rest of the Blueshirts if they make it, though. Last year's Stanley Cup Champions, the Los Angeles Kings, were the eighth seed out west. For tickets, visit ticketmaster.com, or, probably, stubhub.com.
National Invitation Tournament
April 2, 7pm; April 4, 9pm; Madison Square Garden
Some naysayers dismiss the nation's second-oldest postseason college basketball tournament—created just a year after the NAIA tournament and a year before the NCAA tournament—but savvy fans know that's a mistake. There are around 350 Division I college basketball teams, and only 100, not even a third of them, compete in either the NCAA tournament (68) or the NIT (32). This means that the NIT field, which generally includes a few regular-season conference champions, is bound to be strong. Plus, well-known MSG heroes (Walt Frazier) and villains (Reggie Miller) actually starred in the NIT long before making their marks on Knicks history. For tickets, visit ticketmaster.com.
Brooklyn Nets Basketball (Including the Playoffs)
Regular-season games April 4, 6, 9, 15 and 17; playoffs begin on April 20; Barclays Center
The Nets' first season in Brooklyn has to be rated as a success so far. They managed to re-sign Deron Williams and bring in Joe Johnson to join him; they sold tons of black-and-white merchandise with "Brooklyn" emblazoned across the front; and, oh yeah, they'll almost certainly play in the postseason for the first time since 2007. But we get the feeling that owner Mikhail Prokhorov—who canned Avery Johnson not too long after he had been named Coach of the Month for November—expects the team to make some noise once they get there. For tickets, visit ticketmaster.com or stubhub.com.
Amar'e Stoudemire, who Knicks fans hope will return for the playoffs. Photo: © Madison Square Garden
New York Knicks Basketball (Including the Playoffs)
Regular-season games April 5, 9, 14 and 17; playoffs begin on April 20; Madison Square Garden
The Knicks are going to make the playoffs, that much is (virtually) for sure. At times this season, they've looked like they could challenge the Miami Heat for Eastern Conference supremacy—in fact, the 'Bockers have beaten Miami in two out of three meetings. At others, though—including during a recent four-game losing streak—they've had their issues. As expected for the NBA's oldest team, injuries have been a problem; key players battling physical issues of various severities include Carmelo Anthony, Tyson Chandler, Rasheed Wallace, Kurt Thomas and Amar'e Stoudemire, the latter of whom fans can only hope returns for the postseason. Still, there's nothing like a Knicks playoff game, and the Garden is going to be loud. If the veteran roster turns up the intensity and hits its stride, they could find themselves playing in June. For tickets, visit ticketmaster.com or, more realistically, stubhub.com.
NYC Mayor's Cup Basketball All-Star Game
April 5, 5pm; Baruch College
For the first time in recent memory, all-star teams of seniors from New York City's public and Catholic high schools square off in boys' and girls' contests. The event, part of NYC & Company's series of scholastic sporting events, is a noteworthy occasion for the City's high school hoops junkies. This dunk-tastic promotional video demonstrates just how skilled these players are—they're high-flying, elite competitors, many of whom will be representing top college programs next year. Also worth checking out: the PSAL Championships at Madison Square Garden on March 16. For more info, and to watch streaming video of the all-star games, visit the official NYC Mayor's Cup Facebook page.
April 7; MetLife Stadium
World Wrestling Entertainment's fans really, really like it, and you can expect a full house when TV-wrestling's biggest event comes to East Rutherford, New Jersey. To go along with the pay-per-view bash, there is a full week of New York–area events—officially known as WrestleMania Week. In New York City proper, there's the WWE Hall of Fame induction ceremony at Madison Square Garden, taking place on April 6. Inductees include Mick Foley, Bob Backlund and Trish Stratus. For tickets to the ceremony, visit ticketmaster.com. And for way more info on all things WrestleMania-related, visit nycgo.com/wrestlemania.
NYC Mayor's Cup Outdoor Track & Field
April 12–13; 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 on the NYC & Company event, visit the NYC Mayor's Cup Facebook page.
Jordan Brand Classic
April 13; Barclays Center
Many of the nation's top high school players—guys like Duke recruit Jabari Parker and number one prospect Andrew Wiggins—showcase their skills on the Barclays Center court. NBA stars like Carmelo Anthony, Kevin Durant and Dwight Howard have played in past editions of the event. For tickets, visit ticketmaster.com.
FDNY vs. London Metropolitan Police Department
April 12; Resorts World Casino
Nonito Donaire vs. Guillermo Rigondeaux
April 13; Radio City Music Hall
April 18–19; Barclays Center
Danny Garcia vs. Zab Judah
April 27; Barclays Center
If you're a boxing buff, a fight fan or a pugilism appreciator, you'll have a full card in April. Radio City Music Hall is set to host just its second fight ever—the first was in 2000, a Roy Jones, Jr. vs. David Telesco bout—as Nonito Donaire touches gloves with Guillermo Rigondeaux and tries to take his WBA Super Bantamweight title. And Barclays Center will be the site of the storied Golden Gloves boxing tournament's championships along with a rescheduled match between Danny Garcia and Zab Judah for Garcia's various super lightweight titles. Meanwhile, on April 12, first responders from both sides of the pond will duke it out in Queens.
New York Red Bulls Soccer vs. Sporting KC and New England Revolution
April 17, 7:30pm; April 20, 7pm; Red Bull Arena
The season is still young for Thierry Henry, Tim Cahill and the Red Bulls, but there's already been plenty of drama. In their first three games, Red Bulls fans saw new coach Mike Petke beef with Portland skipper Caleb Porter, watched as a winnable game against San Jose slipped away—partially due to an encroachment penalty by Roy Miller and pulled out their hair as their team outshot D.C. by twenty but had to settle for a tie. Don't fret, though: there's every reason to believe that the talented team will be on its feet by the time of its April home matches against Eastern Conference opponents Kansas City and New England. For tickets, visit newyorkredbulls.com.
NYC Mayor's Cup Table Tennis
April 20; Chinese Community Center of Flushing
Young table tennis players of all levels, from kindergarten through 12th grade, compete to be able to call themselves "Best in the City" at this, the latest in NYC & Company's series of youth sporting events. Not merely a relaxing summer camp activity, serious table tennis can be lightning-fast and thrilling to watch. For details, visit the NYC Mayor's Cup Facebook page.
Tony Hawk: Rad Science
Through April 22; New York Hall of Science
The way air resistance makes a curveball break; the geometry of the cuts that make the Princeton offense work; distance runners' battles against lactic-acid buildup in their own bodies: science is part of all the sports we love. This exhibition at the New York Hall of Science examines the role of physics in extreme sports like skateboarding and cycling. One of the minds behind the show is none other than Tony Hawk, one of the best-known skaters ever. Visitors can practice tricks on a stationary skateboard, roll through a simulated skate park in a video game and, at a camp that runs March 25–29, even build their own skateboards. For more info, visit nysci.org.
April 25–27; Radio City Music Hall
Professional football teams choose the best college prospects at this event. The Jets pick ninth and the Giants pick 19th. Unlike last year, when Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III were the consensus top prospects, the top of the board is wide open. Also, public service announcement: did you know that admission to all three days of the draft is free? It's true. For more information, visit nfl.com.
Run for the Wild
April 27, 8am; Bronx Zoo
Funds from this 5K race will be used to protect elephants in their natural habitat. The scenic route runs through the zoo itself, and walkers are welcome. For more info, visit wcs.org.
May 4: NYC Mayor's Cup Chess Championships, PS 11
May 5: TD Five Boro Bike Tour, Citywide
May 18: Brooklyn Half-Marathon, Prospect Park
May 25: Adidas Grand Prix, Icahn Stadium
May 31: New York Liberty home opener, Prudential Center
June 2: Honduras vs. Israel (soccer), Citi Field
June 8: Belmont Stakes, Belmont Park
June 17: Staten Island Yankees home opener, Richmond County Bank Ballpark
June 18: Brooklyn Cyclones home opener, MCU Park
July 8: CONCACAF Gold Cup, Red Bull Arena
July 16: Major League Baseball All-Star Game, Citi Field
February 2, 2014: Super Bowl XLVIII, MetLife Stadium
March 2014: NCAA Tournament, Madison Square Garden