Instant All-Stars

By Jason Klein

As Seen in Guestbook NY  – 2013

Click each individual thumbnail below to read the feature story, exactly as it appeared in the 2013 issue of Guestbook NY.

JK-GB2013-1JK-GB2013-2JK-GB2013-3JK-GB2013-4

 


JK-GBNY2013-AuthorPage

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Five Four a Perfect Fit For Emerging Athletes

By Jason Klein 

As Seen in In New York Magazine  – 4/26/12

When 22 year-old Michael Floyd marches across the Radio City Music Hall stage during tonight’s NFL Draft, he will officially shed his amateur status and transition towards life as a professional athlete.  The wide receiver out of Notre Dame – expected to go early in the first round – will hold up his new jersey, flash a smile and pose for pictures with NFL Commissioner, Roger Goodell.  He’ll do all of this while sporting a designer suit, custom made for the big event.

After all the pomp and circumstance, he’ll slip into something a little more comfortable – something tailor-made for his personal lifestyle rather than tonight’s gaudy Broadway spectacle.  Like many of today’s athletes, Floyd will throw on some clothing from Five Four.

NY Jets QB, Mark Sanchez, Wearing Five Four

It’s the hottest line of apparel you’ve likely never heard of.  Its reach covers a wide variety of entertainers, celebrities and athletes.  Jay-Z, Dr. Dre, Zac Efron and Larry King have all been spotted rocking Five Four.  Top players like Blake Griffin, Derrick Rose, Troy Polomalu and Mark Sanchez wear it too.

Their garb is everywhere, especially in the sports world.  I wanted to know why?  Why Five Four?  Why not Nike, Adidas, or some designer label?  When I asked Five Four Co-CEO/Founder Andres Izquieta, his response was simple.

“Our stuff is just cool,” says Izquieta.  “Athletes love our brand because it fits comfortably, no matter what size you are, its stylish, and it perfectly represents an athlete’s lifestyle.”

Izquieta and Dee Murthy started Five Four as 21 year-old students at the University of Southern California in 2002.  Since its inception, the modern, yet classic-looking “Lifestyle Brand” has been all about setting goals, dreaming big, passion, winning and success – all core values shared by up-and-coming athletes looking to make it on a professional stage.

“Athletes transitioning to the NFL are great ambassadors of the brand,” says Izquieta.  “They work so hard their entire life to get rewarded and take the next step.  That’s the kind of passion and drive we have at Five Four.”

It’s the reason Izquieta and Murthy teamed up with California-based football agency, Athletes First to create The Graduating Class.  It’s a 108-page book profiling twelve NFL prospects entering the 2011 Draft, and their transition from college to the NFL.  According to Izquieta, the book gives a stunningly personal look into each athlete, “chronicling their journey through fashion, art, and photography, while they are in the pursuit of achieving their lifelong dream.”

The book is filled with motivational phrases, philosophies, and great photography.  There are even hand-written bios from each player, revealing their fears, inspirations, and career goals.  Of course, I also noticed each athlete is draped in Five Four.  According to Izquieta, they wear the clothes “not because they have to, but because they truly want to.”

Often portrayed as superheroes in the media, The Graduating Classdelicately humanizes each player, peeking in on their insecurities and anxiety leading up to the biggest day of their lives – draft day.  Casually decorated in Five Four, each player comes off as a “regular guy” – a concept that helps readers relate to these larger-than-life figures.

The Graduating Class.

Notable members of The Graduating Class 2011 include Von Miller (Broncos), Jake Locker (Titans), and Scotty McKnight (Jets).  Five Four will feature twelve players from tonight’s draft, including Floyd, as part of the project’s second run – this time, packaged as part of an online campaign.  Other highlighted players include: Keenan Robinson (Texas), Melvin Ingram (South Carolina), Kellen Moore and Doug Martin (Boise State), Ryan Broyles (Oklahoma), Keleche Osemele (Iowa State), Alfonzo Dennard and Jared Crick (Nebraska), Harrison Smith (Notre Dame), Cyrus Gray and Jeff Fuller (Texas A&M)

Though Five Four is primarily a West Coast brand – their one retail location is in Los Angeles – their product is carried in over 400 stores nation-wide and is worn by athletes and celebrities everywhere.  This May, they will introduce Five Four Club, a men’s subscription service that will serve as a personal stylist for men.  They also plan to introduce a line of footwear this June.

Like many of the young players drafted tonight, you may have never heard of Five Four Clothing.  Projects like The Graduating Class are helping to spread the word, and expose it as a brand of choice among many athletes.

Especially players like Michael Floyd, a man who will realize his dream tonight.

When he does, his life will change forever.

His Five Four wardrobe won’t.

Connect With Jason

https://jasonklein24.files.wordpress.com/2016/11/instagram-circle.jpg?w=584

 

 

Peyton’s Not the Right Manning For New York

By Jason Klein

Originally Written For JetsTwit.com – 2/1/12

New York is only big enough for one Manning.

Baby brother, Eli, has already claimed Gotham as his own while playing for the Giants.  The Jets would be smart to avoid the temptation of signing his older brother, future Hall of Famer, Peyton.

I know, Peyton is a once-in-a-generation type of player, a Super Bowlchampion, and a 4-time league MVP.  He’s perhaps the greatest quarterback any of us will ever see.  It would be an absolute privilege watching him represent the city of New York on the field each week.

The Jets Would Be Wise to Pass on Peyton.

But…the Jets should not sign him.

This Sunday, Eli will lead his Giants in Super Bowl XLVI – his second trip to the big game as Big Blue’s general.  Meanwhile, after a disappointing 8-8 season, Rex Ryan’s Gang is Green with envy over the Giants’ success.  With a locker room in turmoil, and one Giant inferiority complex, Jets owner Woody Johnson might be eager to make a splash this offseason by signing Peyton.

Don’t do it, Woody.

It’s a mistake that could set the franchise back for years.  There is no guarantee the bold move would help the Jets take over anything more than the back pages of the local tabloids.  It would be a circus act reminiscent of Brett Favre’s failed attempt to sell PSLs in 2008.

Let’s be honest, Peyton Manning is 36 years-old and recovering from multiple neck surgeries.  Even if declared healthy enough to play, there is no way to know how he would physically hold up under actual game conditions.  If he did manage to navigate through the season unharmed, at best, he has 2-3 seasons left of service in him.

By contrast, the Jets would prematurely close the book on their 26 year-old franchise quarterback – with his entire career ahead of him – Mark Sanchez.  Yes, the “Sanchize” has taken tremendous heat this offseason for his poor production in 2011.  Media members, frustrated fans, and disgruntled teammates have also been quick to jump off his bandwagon.

Be fair though, he just completed only his third year in the league.  That’s it.  Just three seasons!  In that time, the Jets have won an impressive 28 games and played in back-to-back AFC Championship Games (2009, 2010).

Not bad.

Carrying both Peyton and Sanchez is not a feasible option.  It would be both financially irresponsible and a knock at Sanchez’s bruised ego.  Having Peyton play the role of teacher sounds like a smart plan on the surface, but it’s unlikely Mark would willingly defer his starting role without any lingering animosity towards the franchise.

This week, when asked what he would do if he were running the team, Jets legendary running back, Curtis Martin, declared he would immediately snatch up Peyton.  He called him “one of the best quarterbacks to ever play the game,” and as a result, would be “interested in taking that chance” despite his advanced age and questionable health.

Martin should go speak to Jim Irsay.

The Indianapolis Colts Owner told ESPN this week, “Your responsibility is to make sure you’re not making decisions on a sentimental aspect.  This isn’t fantasy football.”  The Colts are expected to cut the face of their franchise before forking over a $28M roster bonus on March 8.

But don’t expect Peyton to file for unemployment.  Despite the tremendous risk, there will be multiple teams looking to quickly scoop him up.  The Jets ownership will be very tempted to get in the mix and land a Manning of their own.

Proceed with caution.  This town’s already got a Manning, and he has a very big day ahead of him.

Even if healthy, Peyton’s best days are behind.

Connect With Jason

https://jasonklein24.files.wordpress.com/2016/11/instagram-circle.jpg?w=584

 

 

Here’s The Catch: Posada Should Receive #602 From Mo

By Jason Klein

Originally Written For Ed Randall’s Talking Baseball – 9/13/11

Mariano Rivera is about to catch Trevor Hoffman. When he does, Jorge Posada is the right man to catch Rivera.

The immortal Rivera is just one save shy of 600, two away from joining Hoffman atop the all-time career saves list with 601, and three away from passing him with 602.  After that, there will no doubt be more saves added to Rivera’s first-ballot Hall of Fame resume – the ageless closer currently has a 2.09 ERA, and at age 41, looks as good as he ever has.

Posada Should Hand Ball To Rivera for #602/Getty Images

Perhaps prospects like Jesus Montero or Austin Romine will backstop Rivera’s final career save, sometime in 2012 or beyond.  That’s for another day.  When Rivera collects his 602nd career save, probably sometime in the next week or so, it should be Posada receiving the record-breaking, and no doubt devastating, cutter.

There is no one more fitting to do the honors.

For 13 seasons, from 1998-2010, Posada was a mainstay behind the plate for the Yankees.  Although the switch-hitting catcher was always revered more for his abilities at the plate, rather than behind it, he certainly held his own defensively over the years.  With the acquisition of Russell Martin, and up-and-comers Montero and Romine on the way, Posada was relegated to DH in 2011, getting the occasional start at first base.

He was also embarrassed twice, on national TV.  First he was dropped to 9th in the line up on May 14th, and then he lost his DH job on August 7th – both prior to games with the Red Sox.

Iroinically, when injuries claimed Martin and back up Francisco Cervelli, Posada was thrown behind the plate for the first time all season on September 10th.   However, the Yankees were so disenchanted with the 40-year-old catching, they called up the 22-year-old Romine the next day to take over.

Posada has lost a step, and this will most likely be his final season in pinstripes, but he deserves the opportunity to be a part of history with his battery mate, Rivera.

On July 9th, Posada was the first one to congratulate his long-time teammate Derek Jeter at home plate following his 3,000th career hit.  For 13 seasons, Posada was the first to toast his closer, dropping the ball in his mitt, save after legendary save.  He’s certainly capable of catching one more inning – the ninth of course – during the record-breaking affair.

It’s the right thing to do for a franchise obsessed with history and magical storylines.  There’s no question, the moment will belong to Rivera, but Posada should get to play a small part in the festivities.

“Enter Sandman” will fill the air as Rivera makes his iconic trot to the hill, in hot pursuit of history.  The flashbulbs will be popping that night.  It’s only fair that Posada’s glove is popping too.

Connect With Jason

https://jasonklein24.files.wordpress.com/2016/11/instagram-circle.jpg?w=584

 

 

No “Cap” on Pondexter’s Abilities On or Off The Court

By Jason Klein

Originally Written For IN New York Magazine – 7/25/11

Cappie Pondexter is a dominating force in the WNBA.  In just her sixth season in the league, the scrappy New York Liberty Guard has one of the most lethal jump shots in the league, and is among the leaders in most statistical categories.  The superstar baller has already won two championships (2007, 2009) and one Finals MVP Award (2007), and was recently nominated by ESPN for the 2011 ESPY Award honoring the best player in the WNBA.

Pondexter Drives To The Hoop at MSG/Getty Images

At 28 years old, the former Rutgers University standout is in the prime of her professional career and showing no signs of slowing down.  As a celebrity athlete in New York City, she seemingly has the world at her fingertips.  However, that doesn’t stop her from looking forward and thinking about what’s next.

“I’m preparing for my future after basketball,” says Pondexter.  While I’m playing in the WNBA, I can use that platform to help build awareness for my company.

The company she speaks of is 4Season Style Management, a full-service consulting firm that specializes in helping clients develop their public image.  Pondexter started the company in 2010, acting on a lifelong fascination with fashion trends and personal style development.

According to Pondexter, 4Season Style Management helps clients with everything from wardrobe selection, hair and makeup to website and logo design, ultimately creating a personal brand.

It all starts with a simple 30-minute introductory phone consultation and the creation of a “Style Profile” to nail down specific shopping habits, personal sizing and existing wardrobe trends.  Each individual client enjoys the same personal attention to ensure a custom evaluation and plan of attack.

Although such detailed care can be rather time consuming, Pondexter takes great pride in her ability to find a balance with her busy schedule on the court.

“I am very involved in the day-to-day operations,” says Pondexter.  “Whether it’s researching new designers, assisting with customer service, or reaching out to our clients, I make sure I take a hands on approach.”

Perhaps, running a company is a natural fit for such a competitive person like Pondexter, used to performing in front of thousands under the scorching lights of Madison Square Garden.

“There are a lot of similarities between the two,” admits Pondexter.  “In basketball, and in business, you have to have a game plan.  In both situations, I want to win and I strive to be the best.  I push my team, and my clients, to be the best they can be.”

With that sort of passion and preparation, Pondexter will continue to succeed, and always stay ready for what’s next.

For a complete look at some of New York’s most successful athlete/entrepreneurs, check out Jason Klein’s full article in the August 2011 Issue of IN New York Magazine.

Connect With Jason

https://jasonklein24.files.wordpress.com/2016/11/instagram-circle.jpg?w=584

 

 

4,000 Career Hits Within Reach for Jeter

By Jason Klein

Originally Written For Ed Randall’s Talking Baseball – 7/9/11

One thousand hits to go.

Derek Jeter will get to 4,000 hits. Guaranteed.  No joke.

Sure, his much celebrated 3,000thhit, a home run off David Price of the Tampa Rays, was only written into the record books earlier today, but there’s no need to let the ink dry before looking ahead.  There are still plenty of base-knocks left in his clutch bat – at least one thousand more to be exact.

4,000 Hits Within Reach for Jeter

That’s how the Captain of the New York Yankees has always operated – good or bad, the past is the past and he will reflect back when his career is over.

Mr. 3,000 now.  DJ4K then.

There will be skeptics.  Many will claim he is slowing down, his skills are diminishing, and that the end is near.  Go ask Yogi, he’ll tell you when it’s over.  Despite what critics say, Jeter will continue to push forward.  That’s all he knows how to do.

He’ll celebrate number 3,000, as he should.  It’s a remarkable achievement – one that only 27 other men in the history of the game can share with him.  He is also the first Yankee to ever reach the milestone.  But Derek Jeter has made a career out of achieving greatness without losing focus.  This will be no different.

When it happens, Jeter will join the only other two players in baseball history to reach the 4,000 hit mark: Pete Rose (4,256) and Ty Cobb (4,189).  It’s easier to compare Jeter with Rose than it is with Cobb.  Widely regarded as one of the greatest players of all-time, Cobb had a 3-year head start on both Jeter and Rose, breaking into the big leagues at age 18.  As a result, he collected his 3,000th hit as a youthful 34 year-old in 1921.

By contrast, both Jeter and Rose broke in as 22 year-old rookies (at age 21, Jeter did play 15 games in 1995, but didn’t qualify as a rookie until 1996).  Also, both players reached career hit number 3,000 at age 37 – Rose got his on May 5, 1978.  Rose went on to play another 8 years, but it only took him 6 more seasons to eclipse 4,000, turning the trick on April 13, 1984 – one day before his 43rd birthday.

Currently, Jeter has 74 hits in 2011, giving him an even 3,000 for his career.  If he collects another 100 hits over the next few months, he will finish the season at 174, and 3,100 for his career – very doable for a player who has averaged 194 hits per year over the last 15 seasons.  Under those very realistic pretenses, Jeter would only have to average 150 hits per year, over the next 6 years, to reach 4,000 by the age of 43 – just like Rose did.

Still don’t think Jeter can do it?  Consider this: he has never failed to reach 150 hits in a single season.  The closest he came was in 2003, a year he lost significant time to a shoulder injury.  He only played 119 games that season, and still had 156 hits.  True, those productive campaigns all came from a much younger Jeter, and he is bound to take a step back as he continues to age, but it won’t be significant enough to prevent one of the most consistent players of all-time from reaching Club 4K.

As Jeter battles both opposing pitchers, and Father Time, en route to 4,000 hits, there are four concessions he must make:

He has to change positions.  Making the move to the outfield, and spending more time as the designated hitter, will make Jeter a more flexible piece within the Yankees plans.  He could even see time in a third base/DH platoon with Alex Rodriguez.  Sure, as a shortstop, he won his fifth Gold Glove Award in 2010 at the age of 36, and continues to prove doubters and statistical analysis wrong, but he won’t be able to keep that up as he gets into his forties.

He must take a pay cut.  Prior to the 2011 season, the Yankees gave Jeter a new contract that takes him through his 40th birthday – the final year is an option year.  The financial terms of the deal were very aggressive for a player of his skill level and age.  However, he got paid, in large part, for his intangibles and his legacy with the franchise.  When this current deal expires, he will need a new three-year deal to reach 4,000 hits.  Jeter will not be able to command the same dollars then.  While money is never an issue for the Yankees, they will have little interest in giving a 40-43 year-old Jeter the same $15-$17M annually that they gave him at age 37.  If Jeter wants to preserve his legacy and collect his monumental 4,000th hit in pinstripes, he has to take less money.

He has to stay healthy and smart.  Jeter, the definition of consistency, has only missed significant time twice in his career – the aforementioned shoulder injury in 2003, and this latest DL stint for a bum calf.  Throughout his career, he has made a habit of playing through injury and shrugging off any suggestion that he might need to take a rest.  For him to successfully make it through the next six seasons, he will need to avoid any major injuries and be smart about which minor ones he decides to play through.  His body will heal slower as a forty-year-old.  He must understand this and not push the envelope and risk further damage and missed time.

He needs to chase a personal goal for once.  Forget Charlie Sheen, Derek Jeter is all about #winning. The unselfish Jeter has never been about personal statistics.  Instead, he focuses all of his efforts towards the team’s mission statement: World Series championships.  That has to change, slightly, during his quest for 4,000 hits.  No doubt, the opportunity to add additional rings to his collection will motivate Jeter to continue playing, but his statistical contribution to the common cause will start to diminish.  He must accept this, check his pride at the door, and be willing to play a few seasons below the “Jeter standard of excellence” in order to compile the necessary hits he needs.

If he can do the four things mentioned, and make 4,000 hits a priority, there is no doubt he will achieve it.  After all, when has Derek Jeter not succeeded at something he set his mind to?

One thousand hits to go.  No joke.

Mr. 3,000 now.  DJ4K then.

Connect With Jason

https://jasonklein24.files.wordpress.com/2016/11/instagram-circle.jpg?w=584