May 2012 Sports Calendar
by Jonathan Zeller, 04/24/2012
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In May, the New York City sports scene is full of surprises. The Knicks, who looked like they were in trouble after losing their coach and point guard, made a stunning late-season run and now (probably) face LeBron James and the Heat in round one of the playoffs. Sports Illustrated readers nationwide were recently stunned to learn that, out of uniform, Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist is quite suave. And baseball fans may also be amazed to discover that the Yankees aren't the only baseball players to be found in the Bronx—there are also the old pros and up-and-comers in La Caribe League at Crotona Park. Then there are sports whose very existence is astonishing…championship Skee-Ball, anyone? For details about these and a surprising abundance of other May sports highlights, read on.
New York Rangers Playoffs
Dates and times TBA; Madison Square Garden
Goaltender Henrik Lundqvist, a dapper man-about-town underneath all that padding, had better stay locked in on the ice if the Rangers are to continue their run at a Stanley Cup in May. Stay tuned—if the Blueshirts advance, the Garden may be louder than it's been since Messier was the captain and Richter was in goal. StubHub will be your best bet for tickets.
New York Knicks Playoffs
Dates and times TBA; Madison Square Garden
The Knicks' regular season has been an exasperating, exhilarating, exhausting whirlwind. Now that it's time for the playoffs, who else could the 'Bockers be playing besides LeBron James and the Miami Heat (their most likely opponent)? It seems inevitable. Two off-seasons ago, Knicks fans dreamed of LeBron having the MSG spotlight in the postseason. Now they're hoping that his stay there is short. Again, go straight to StubHub for tickets.
Various dates and times; Yankee Stadium
The novelty of opening day has faded, and Yankees fans can now settle in for the long haul. In the early going, the Bronx Bombers' season has had its ups (like a hot start for Derek Jeter, perhaps not as old as some sportswriters think) and downs (i.e., a rough beginning for Phil Hughes, whose spot in the rotation may be in jeopardy). The Rays, among the Yankees' chief rivals for the AL East crown, are in town May 8–10. It should be a fun few days to grab a spot in the bleachers. For tickets, visit ticketmaster.com.
Various dates and times; Citi Field
The Onion recently ran a story titled "Every Team, Fan Base, Front Office Panicking," capturing the ultra-heightened sense of urgency surrounding many squads. After an eventful off-season, those hair-trigger reactions have been even more intense than usual for Mets fans in the early going. A 4–0 start? These kids are for real. A brutal doubleheader sweep at the hands of the San Francisco Giants? The critics were right; the wheels are falling off. The truth will reveal itself over the course of several months, but in the meantime, it should be fun to watch the team's young players settle in to their new roles (Kirk Nieuwenhuis, for example, an unknown quantity just weeks ago, has quickly become a fan favorite). Buckle up; the summer hasn't even started yet. For tickets, visit mets.com.
NYC Mayor's Cup Chess Championships
May 5, 10am; The William T. Harris School
In The Morals of Chess, founding father Benjamin Franklin offered the following advice: "Snatch not eagerly at every advantage offered by [your opponent's] unskillfulness or inattention; but point out to him kindly, that by such a move he places or leaves a piece in danger and unsupported; that by another he will put his king in a perilous situation, etc. By this generous civility…you may, indeed, happen to lose the game to your opponent; but you will win what is better, his esteem, his respect, and his affection, together with the silent approbation and goodwill of impartial spectators." We doubt that the young competitors at this event will follow such guidance, for this is a no-holds-barred battle to be named "Best in the City"—and NYC's most ferocious chess masters will take no prisoners in their quest for glory! For more information, visit the official NYC Mayor's Cup Facebook page.
New York Sharks Home Opener
May 5, 4pm; Aviator Sports and Events Center
New York City's resident women's tackle football team plays its first home game of the year at the Aviator Sports complex. While they may not be as well known as the Giants and Jets, these ladies play hard (and hit hard). On May 5, the Sharks take on the Philadelphia Liberty Belles; at $15 (or $8 for kids and seniors), admission costs a fraction of what you'd pay to see an NFL game. For tickets, visit nysharksfootball.com.
TD Five Boro Bike Tour
May 6, staggered start times; starting near The Battery
During the TD Five Boro Bike Tour, some 32,000 cyclists pedal their way through all five boroughs on a traffic-free 40-mile course. As its name suggests, the event is a tour, not a race—so resist the urge to channel your inner Lance Armstrong. A lottery was used to fill open spots during general registration, but you can still join in as a VIP or ride for a charity. For more info, visit bikenewyork.org.
Red Bulls Soccer
May 9 and 23, 7pm; Red Bull Arena
Thierry Henry is unstoppable. That's the current story line for the Red Bulls, who are off to a fine start thanks largely to the star's efforts—as of press time, Henry leads the league with eight goals. If he keeps up his stellar play, supporters may find themselves celebrating the club's first-ever MLS Cup this fall. For tickets, visit newyorkredbulls.com.
NHL Eastern Conference Finals: New York Rangers vs. New Jersey Devils
May 14, 8pm; May 16, 8pm; May 23, 8pm (if necessary); May 27, 8pm (if necessary); Madison Square Garden
For the first time since 1994—a year Rangers fans remember quite fondly—the Blueshirts and their cross-Hudson rivals face off for a ticket to the Stanley Cup Finals. As the Official Guide to NYC, our sympathy is squarely with the home team and their dapper goalie, Henrik Lundqvist. Strangely, the governor of New Jersey agrees with us. Not that we blame him. Fans seeking tickets should head straight for StubHub.
May 19, 7am; starting near Prospect Park
Starting near Prospect Park and ending at Coney Island, the Brooklyn Half-Marathon sports some of the best scenery of any NYC road race. If the thought of running 13.1 miles doesn't appeal to you, you can line the streets and cheer on the participants (at the very least, it's a nice excuse to get out to the boardwalk). For more info, visit nyrr.org.
NYC Hear the Ball
May 19, noon; Central Park
The Long Island Bombers take on a team representing WFAN 660 in a game of beep baseball. Beep baseball, in short, is a baseball game in which blind and vision-impaired athletes keep track of a ball that beeps and bases that buzz. If you're interested in a fun, free afternoon in the park, come by and watch these competitors dive for grounders, smack line drives and motor from base to base, aided by some sounds of the game above and beyond the crack of the bat and the roar of the crowd. For more info, visit nyc.gov/parks.
New York Liberty vs. Connecticut Sun
May 19, 4pm; Madison Square Garden
New York's WNBA team tips off its season at Madison Square Garden against the Connecticut Sun. After the opener, they'll head across the Hudson to play home games at the Prudential Center during MSG's renovation. The Libs, led by veteran Cappie Pondexter, hope that this is the year they bring home their first title. For tickets, visit ticketmaster.com.
Brewskee-Ball National Championships ("The BEEB")
May 25–27, 1:30pm; Knitting Factory
Yep, there is such a thing as competitive Skee-Ball. Come see 64 of the nation's top players compete for the national crown, and also enjoy a wide selection of food, beer, live music and the assorted wonders of the "Rollympic Village." These guys aren't out for tickets to be redeemed for little plastic soldiers and bouncy balls—they want glory. For tickets, visit knittingfactory.com.
Soccer: Mexico vs. Wales
May 27, 3pm; MetLife Stadium
The Mexican national soccer team's US tour makes a stop at MetLife Stadium, as El Tricolor takes on Wales ahead of its World Cup qualifying matches against Guyana and El Salvador. New York City is home to a considerable Mexican American population—319,263 as of 2010—so expect a large, vocal turnout for this one. For tickets, visit ticketmaster.com.
The Great British Run
May 31; Festivities at 6:30pm, race at 7:30pm; Central Park
The British consulate hosts a 6k run to celebrate the Queen's 60 years as the symbolic leader of England. In addition to the race itself, there will be a rugby skills challenge and, naturally, a performance by a Beatles tribute band. For more info, visit active.com.
La Caribe League Baseball
All month long; Crotona Park
On Saturday and Sunday afternoons, up-and-comers and former pros play spirited games that prove the Yankees aren't the only baseball team worth catching in the Bronx. Merengue music blasts between innings, and the players—largely of Dominican descent—produce blasts of their own at the plate as fans watch from the concrete bleachers.
NYC Mayor's Cup Lacrosse All-Star Games
June 2–3, venue and times TBA
All-star high school lacrosse players from public, Catholic and independent schools compete for bragging rights and hardware. 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. For more info, visit the official NYC Mayor's Cup Facebook page.
Tour de Brooklyn
June 3, time TBA; starting at Commodore Barry Park
This 18-mile bike tour is much shorter than the French version, and there's another important difference—it's a friendly ride, not a race (as the organizers put it, the pace is "slow"). Participants stop in the middle of the tour for rest and refreshments. For more information and to register, visit tourdebrooklyn.org.
June 9, first post at 11:35am, Belmont Stakes at approximately 6:30pm; Belmont Park
The final leg of horse racing's Triple Crown, and by far the area's biggest horse-racing event, takes place in Elmont (yes, that's Elmont, just east of Queens—not Belmont, the Bronx neighborhood), New York. The main attraction doesn't start until a bit after 6:30pm, but you can arrive before noon for a full day of races. For more information, visit belmontstakes.com.
Adidas Grand Prix
June 9, 1pm; Icahn Stadium
International track-and-field stars David Rudisha, Carmelita Jeter, Kelly-Ann Baptiste and a slew of other elite athletes compete for glory and prize money on Randalls Island. It's a day of professional events, including the 100-meter dash, the pole vault and our personal favorite, the steeplechase. Plus, some lucky youngsters will compete for the title of Fastest Kid in New York. For tickets, visit ticketalternative.com.
Soccer: Brazil vs. Argentina
June 9, 3pm; MetLife Stadium
After dispatching the US national team in a game here last season, the Brazilian side returns to MetLife Stadium for a match against Argentina. The game is being promoted as a "Clash of the Titans," and it's hard to argue with that notion. Brazil and Argentina are two of the world's most imposing soccer teams—Brazil has won a record five World Cups, and Argentina has won two. Their rivalry is among the most storied in sports, and they'll write another chapter with the NYC skyline as their backdrop. For tickets, visit ticketmaster.com.
Upcoming Summer Sporting Events:
June 10: NYC Mayor's Cup Softball, venue TBA
June 15: NYC Mayor's Cup Baseball, venue TBA
June 18: Brooklyn Cyclones Home Opener, MCU Park
June 19: Staten Island Yankees Home Opener, Richmond County Bank Ballpark
June 23: NYC Mayor's Cup Cricket, venue TBA
June 28: NBA Draft, Prudential Center
July 4: Nathan's Famous Fourth of July Hot Dog Eating Contest, Nathan's Famous
July 28: Trophée des Champions, Red Bull Arena (tdf-nyc.com)
July 31: Red Bulls vs. Tottenham Hotspur, Red Bull Arena