04.29.19: Five things you should plan for the week ahead based on unscientific evidence of guaranteed importance

black 1Who’s up for a little Vlad Guerrero Jr.?
He’s no so little anymore. The supersized son of the former Angels MVP headed into the Baseball Hall of Fame this summer finally got a call-up from the Toronto Blue Jays last weekend, and the 20-year-old Montreal-born third baseman already has three hits in his first 12 at bats during a three game series in Oakland.
Funny thing, but Junior isn’t even the youngest player on the Blue Jays roster. Elvis Luciano (born Feb. 15, 2000) is the first MLB player born this century to make it to this level.
Luciano never pitched above the rookie leagues when the Blue Jays picked him in the December Rule 5 draft, off the Royals’ roster. He threw an inning-and-a-third of scoreless ball on his debut and has an ERA of 4.50 with eight strike outs and five runs in 10 innings over eight appearances.
Luciano may be the answer to a trivia question someday. Considering the first MLB player born in the 1900s – a 19-year-old John Cavanaugh who came up to the Philadelphia Phillies in 1919 — struck out against the New York Giants in his only at-bat and never played in another big-league game.
How this week plays out for the Angels (12-17, last in the AL West):
* vs. Toronto at Angel Stadium: Tuesday (Griffin Channing vs. Clay Buchholz), Wednesday (Felix Pena vs. Marcus Stroman) and Thursday (Tyler Skaggs vs. Aaron Sanchez) at 7:07 p.m., Fox Sports West
* vs. Houston in Monterrey, Mexico: Saturday at 4:10 p.m., Fox Sports West, (Trevor Cahill vs. Wade Miley), Sunday at 1:10 p.m., ESPN, Fox Sports West (Matt Harvey vs. Justin Verlander)
How the week plays out for the Dodgers (19-11, first in the NL West):
* At San Francisco: Monday (Kenta Maeda vs. Jeff Samardzija), Tuesday (Walker Buehler vs. Drew Pomeranz) and Wednesday (Hyun-Jin Ryu vs. Madison Bumgarner) at 6:45 p.m., SportsNet LA
* At San Diego: Friday at 7:10 p.m. (Clayton Kershaw vs. Joey Lucchesi), Saturday at 5:40 p.m. (Rich Hill vs. Nick Margevicius), Sunday at 1:10 p.m. (Maeda vs. Chris Paddack), all on SportsNet LA

Also this week in college baseball:
* UCLA: At Pepperdine, Tuesday at 3 p.m.; at Arizona State, Friday at 7 p.m., Saturday at 3 p.m., Sunday at 2 p.m., all on Pac-12 Network
* USC: vs. Stanford at Dedeaux Field, Friday at 7 p.m., Saturday at 5 p.m., Sunday at 2 p.m., Pac-12 Network
* Loyola Marymount: At Long Beach State, Tuesday at 6 p.m.; vs. BYU at Page Stadium, Thursday and Friday at 6 p.m., Saturday at 1 p.m.
* Pepperdine: vs. UCLA at Malibu, Tuesday at 3 p.m.; at San Francisco, Friday at 3 p.m., Saturday and Sunday at 1 p.m.
* UC Irvine: vs. Cal State Fullerton, Tuesday at 6 p.m.; at Iowa, Friday at 4 p.m., Saturday at noon, Sunday at 11 a.m.
* Long Beach State: vs. Loyola Marymount at Blair Field, Tuesday at 6 p.m.; vs. UC Riverside at Blair Field, Friday at 6 p.m., Saturday and Sunday at 1 p.m.
* Cal State Northridge: vs. UC Santa Barbara at Matador Field, Friday at 3 p.m., Saturday and Sunday at 1 p.m.
* Cal State Fullerton: at UC Irvine, Tuesday at 6 p.m.; vs. UC Davis at Goodwin Field, Friday at 7 p.m., Saturday at 2 p.m., Sunday at 1 p.m.


black 2No real surprise, and likely all for the better of the sport, if the NCAA men’s volleyball championship at Long Beach State’s Walter Pyramid (Saturday, 5 p.m., ESPN2) ends up involving the host 49ers. It would be nicer, perhaps, to have it at a neutral site. But this was planned ahead of time.
The second-seeded Beach is already in the Thursday semifinals, also at home, against either third-ranked Pepperdine (22-6) or Princeton (they have a quarterfinal game Tuesday, 7:30 p.m.). Top-seeded Hawaii will be in the other semifinal, possibly against fourth-ranked USC (18-10), which faces Lewis in the other Tuesday quarterfinal at 5 p.m.
When Long Beach State (26-2) recently hosted Hawaii (27-2) at the Pyramid during the Big West regular season finale a few weeks ago, the 49ers got an inspired performance by senior T.J. DeFalco and prevailed with a pair of 3-2 wins, the last before a crowd of 4,674, a new facility record. Hawaii then took a 3-2 win over Long Beach State in the Big West championship on April 21 at Honolulu.
The undercurrent to this event is the decision announced last week that assistant coach, former 49ers star and 2008 Olympic gold medalist Scott Touzinsky has left the team during a sexual misconduct probe as to not “be a distraction during what is a critical time for the team.” Hawaii head coach Charlie Wade is also being investigated by the U.S. Center for SafeSport.
More info: www.ncaa.com

USC (28-4), coming off a 3-2 win over UCLA (31-3) last Saturday, goes into the NCAA women’s beach volleyball championships in Gulf Shores, Ala., as the new top seed, pushing the Bruins to the second seed as they are in a new bracket that could lead to their championship bracket meeting (Friday, 1 p.m., ESPN2), and then into the overall final  Sunday (11 a.m., ESPN). USC opens against Stetson (Friday, 7 a.m., ESPNU), while UCLA starts against Hawaii (Friday, 9 a.m., ESPNU). Pepperdine needs to knock out LSU (Friday, 8 a.m., ESPNU) to advance to a possible meeting with USC in the championship bracket (Friday, 1 p.m., ESPNU). If anyone loses in the first round, there’s always a way to come back through the consolation bracket. The championship semifinal is set for Saturday (1 p.m., ESPN2).
More info: www.ncaa.com


black 3The start of the pro beach volleyball season has been a Huntington Beach fixture, and that’s how the AVP serves it up again.
A year ago, it was a combined AVP and FIVB co-branded event that left a team from the Netherlands, Alexander Brouwer and Robert Meeuwsen, the 2016 Olympic bronze medalists, as the men’s winner.  Brazil’s Barbara Siexas and Fernanda Aleves took the women’s title. This time, it’s just an AVP event that kicks off a Cinco de Mayo weekend with the main draw and opening rounds Thursday (8 a.m. to 7 p.m.) and Friday (9 a.m. to 6 p.m.), elimination rounds Friday (9 a.m. to 6 p.m.) and final rounds that lead to championship matches at 2 p.m. and 3:30 p.m. (NBCSN carries one of them at 8 p.m. delayed Sunday).
This is the first of eight AVP events that go through September.
More info: www.avp.com


black 4The 145th Kentucky Derby can’t turn a blind eye toward the issues faced at Santa Anita Park leading into this first Triple Crown race. Roadster, a Bob Baffert-trained colt with 7-2 odds to win the Kentucky Derby comes off a Santa Anita Derby win, albeit by outrunning a small field. Omaha Beach, who beat Improbable by a length in the Arkansas Derby, is also 7-2 after opening at 3-1. A year ago, Justify came off his Santa Anita Derby win and sloshed to a win over Good Magic at Churchill Downs by 2 ½ lengths and went onto an historic Triple Crown. So in light of the problems at Santa Anita, Churchill Downs announced initiatives it hopes will improve safety protocols, as well as an $8 million investment to backside improvements that includes an equine medical center and quarantine facility and the installation of 24-hour surveillance cameras in every barn, stall and common area. “All of us in the industry care deeply about the safety and well-being of race horses, and we know how much they mean to the people who love and care for them,” said Bill Carstanjen, CEO of Churchill Downs Incorporated. “As the host of the Kentucky Derby and a key leader in the racing industry, Churchill Downs has a heightened responsibility to implement the world’s best practices for caring for racehorses at our facilities. We also have a responsibility to educate and advocate so that others do so as well.”
NBC coverage Saturday begins at 11:30 a.m., with a 3:50 p.m. post time.
More info: www.kentuckyderby.com


black 5If your impression of the LAFC is that it’s been setting the MLS on fire tin this, its second season —  atop the Western Conference at 7-1-2, 23 points and by far leading the league with 26 goals after its first 10 games – then the tepid Chicago Fire (2-4-3) is next in line to be extinguished at Banc of California Stadium (Saturday at 7:30 p.m., YouTube TV, KVMD). Meawhile, the second-place Galaxy (7-1-1, with 22 points, second overall in the MLS to the LAFC) goes to play at New York Red Bulls (Saturday at 11 a.m., ESPN)


If you’re still following the NBA playoffs, the series move forward thusly:
Western Conference
* Portland at Denver, Game 2, Monday at 7:30 p.m., TNT
* Houston at Golden State, Game 2, Tuesday at 7:30 p.m., TNT
Eastern Conference
* Philadelphia at Toronto, Game 2, Monday at 5 p.m., TNT
* Boston at Milwaukee, Game 2, Tuesday at 5 p.m., TNT

If you’re still following the NHL playoffs — sorry, again, Canada — the series move forward thusly:
Western Conference
* St. Louis at Dallas, Game 3, Monday at 5 p.m., NBCSN
* San Jose at Colorado, Game 3, Tuesday at 7 p.m., NBCSN
Eastern Conference
* Boston at Columbus, Game 3, Tuesday at 4 p.m., NBCSN
* N.Y. Islanders at Carolina, Game 3, Wednesday at 4 p.m., NBCSN

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