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

black 1As much as UCLA has been dominant in softball and baseball, this week could mark celebration or disappointment.
For the Women’s College World Series, a matchup of No. 2 UCLA (54-6, 8-1 in the postseason) and No. 1 Oklahoma (57-4, 9-2 in the postseason)seemed to best work out on paper, and it did in reality as well, for a best-of-three final in Oklahoma City, Okla., that begins Monday (6:30 p.m., ESPN). It’s the first time in the sport’s history that the Nos. 1 and 2 seeds will meet in the tournament’s last act. Oklahoma is after its third WCWS title in four years and fourth title this decade. None of UCLA’s 12 NCAA titles have come since 2010, and the Bruins lost the 2018 title after losing twice to Florida State. UCLA qualified when Rachel Garcia’s walk-off homer in the 10th beat Washington 3-0 on Sunday. Garcia also threw 179 pitches and struck out 16 to earn the win. The winner Monday has the possible championship game on Tuesday (7:30 p.m., ESPN), with an if-necessary encounter to decide it on Wednesday (7:30 p.m., ESPN).
UCLA defeated Oklahoma, 7-1, in a tournament game in Palm Springs last February in a game where Garcia struck out 15 and gave up just four hits. Garcia (27-1) has pitched in 53 2/3 of UCLA’s 62 postseason innings. Giselle Juarez (28-2) has become the Oklahoma star pitcher. The Sooners’ loss to the Bruins earlier this season came with Mariah Lopez (19-1) on the mound.
More info on the bracket: www.ncaa.com
No. 1 overall UCLA (51-9), having fended off Loyola Marymount in the regionals, has to grab two out of three against Michigan back at Jackie Robinson Field in order to move onto the final eight at Omaha, Neb.
The schedule:
Game 1: Friday at 6 p.m., ESPN2
Game 2: Saturday at 6 p.m., ESPN2
Game 3: Sunday at 6 p.m., ESPN2 if necessary
More info on the bracket: www.ncaa.com


black 2The NBA season won end this week. Not as long as they only schedule two games per week, and space it out on account of players, officials and, sometimes, former president Obama and current rapper Drake, needing time to get between Oakland and Toronto with their security duty.
With the series tied at 1-1, and the ABC viewership down from last year (it’s not counting Canadian audiences, mind you), we march forward:
* Game 3 at Oakland, Wednesday at 6 p.m., Channel 7
* Game 4 at Oakland, Friday at 6 p.m., Channel 7
Note: Game 5 is June 10 in Toronto; Game 6 is June 13 in Oakland; Game 7 would be June 16 in Toronto.
An update on the Canadian audience via NBAPR: 10.6 million people in Canada watched all or part of Game 2 of the 2019 NBA Finals across simulcast coverage on TSN, CTV2 and RDS.  The game delivered a combined average audience of 4.3 million viewers in Canada, making it the country’s most-watched NBA game ever. Through two games, 35 percent of the Canadian population has watched all or part of the 2019 NBA Finals.



black 3If you’re talking blue states and Bruins states, there appears to be a rooting interest in not watching a Boston professional team celebrate another championship.
We can’t say we’re pulling for the Blues in this one at this point with the Bruins taking a 2-1 series lead and perhaps closing it out at home on Thursday. But … which team did Gretzky once play for?
NBC plans to play that Gretzky angle, as well as bring on St. Louis superfan Jon Hamm, for appearances during the first and second intermissions for Game 4. Because they can.
The series continues:
* Game 4 at St. Louis, Monday at 5 p.m., Channel 4
* Game 5 at Boston, Thursday at 5 p.m., Channel 4
* Game 6 at St. Louis, Sunday at 5 p.m., Channel 4, if necessary
Note: Game 7 is June 12 at Boston if necessary


black 4The Kentucky Derby had a DQ.
The Belmont Stakes had a horse buck its rider and then complete the race – ahead of two others.
NBC is even using that craziness to promote what could be the final twist in this final Triple Crown series event — the 151st Belmont Stakes, a mile and a half over the Belmont Park dirt near New York City? A year ago, it crowed a Triple Crown winner in Justify. Preakness champ War of Will is an early 7-2 choice, behind 2-1 pick Tacitus, who won the Wood Memorial and Tampa Bay Derby. Eleven horses in history failed to win the Kentucky Derby but won the Preakness and Belmont – the last was Afleet Alex in 2005.No odds yet for riderless Bodexpress, because he apparently won’t be entered here. NBC has the race with a post time of about 3:50 p.m.
Just FYI, the next major horse racing event after this: The 2019 Breeders’ Cup at Santa Anita on Nov. 2-3.


black 5The weather at Wrigley Field in Chicago on Monday: 61 degrees, 0 precipitation. It matters because the last time the Angels tried to finish a three-game series against the Cubs there, it snowed. As a result, the Angels have to circle back to Chicago for a Monday 1:05 p.m. contest to make it up, extending their 24 games in 24 days mess, and then come back to Anaheim.
How it lays out this week for the Angels, 29-30, 10 ½ back in the AL West, ranked No. 20 in the ESPN MLB Power Rankings after a 5-2 road trip:
* At Chicago Cubs, Monday (Cam Bedrosian vs. Jon Lester) at 1:05 p.m., FSW
* Vs. Oakland, at Angel Stadium, Tuesday (Frankie Montas vs. Griffin Canning) at 7:07 p.m.; Wednesday (Daniel Mengden vs. Felix Pena) at 7:07 p.m.; Thursday (Mike Fiers vs. Tyler Skaggs) at 7:07 p.m., all on Fox Sports West
* vs. Seattle, at Angel Stadium, Friday (Marco Gonzales vs. Andrew Heaney) at 7:07 p.m.; Saturday (Wade LeBlanc vs. Trevor Cahill) at 7:07 p.m.; Sunday (Yusei Kikuchi vs. Griffin Canning) at 1:07 p.m., all on Fox Sports WestHow it lays out this week for the Dodgers, 41-19, leading the NL West by nine games, back to being ranked No. 1 in the ESPN MLB Power Rankings after winning five in a row, nine of their last 10 and coming off a 6-1 homestand:
* At Arizona, Monday (Walker Buehler vs. Robbie Ray) at 6:40 p.m., Tuesday (Hyun-Jin Ryu vs. Taylor Clarke) at 6:40 p.m., Wednesday (Kenta Maeda vs. Jon Duplantier) at 12:40 p.m.; SportsNet LA
* At San Francisco, Friday (Clayton Kershaw vs. TBA) at 7:15 p.m., SNLA; Saturday (Rich Hill vs. Jeff Samardzija) at 4:15 p.m., Channel 11; Sunday (Walker Buehler vs. Madison Bungarner) at 1:05 p.m., SNLA

* The MLB Draft’s first two rounds take place Monday (4 p.m., MLB Network and MLB.com, through round 40 on Wednesday). Baltimore has the No. 1 choice. The Angels have the 15th pick overall and one MLB.com draft has them taking Chula Vista third baseman Keoni Cavaco (also a San Diego State commit). The Dodgers have the 25th and 31st pick (the later, as compensation for failing to sign 2018 first-rounder J.T. Ginn). The top prospects are said to be Oregon State catcher Adley Rutschman, Cal first baseman Andrew Vaughn and Texas high school shortstop (and University of Oklahoma commit) Bobby Witt Jr., the son of former MLB pitcher Bobby Witt, the No. 3 overall pick out of the University of Oklahoma in 1985.


* The Women’s World Cup starts in France with the host facing the Korean Republic (noon, FS1, Telemundo) and the U.S. kicking off its games on June 11.
Also in play: Saturday: Germany vs. China, 6 a.m., FS1, Telemundo; Spain vs. South Africa, 9 a.m., Channel 11, Telemundo; Norway vs. Nigeria, Fox Universo, noon.
Sunday: Australia vs. Italy, 4 a.m., FS1, Telemundo; Brazil vs. Jamaica, 6:30 a.m., FS1, Telemundo; England vs. Scotland, 9 a.m., Channel 11, Telemundo.
More info: www.fifa.com/womensworldcup

* Meanwhile, the French Open comes to a dusty conclusion as the country just gets its soccer shoes dirty. The second week leads to the finals:
Women: Saturday, 6 a.m., Channel 4
Men: Sunday, 6 a.m., Channel 4
Semifinals: Women, Thursday at 6 a.m., Tennis Channel (repeated at 11 a.m., Channel 4); Men, Friday at 3:30 a.m., Tennis Channel (repeated at 11 a.m., Channel 4). More info: www.rolandgarros.com

* Gennady Golovkin (38-1-1) takes on Steve Rolls (19-0) in a super middleweight bout at Madison Square Garden in New York (Saturday, 6 p.m., DAZN). More info: dazn.com

* UFC 238: Henry Cejudo vs. Marlon Moraes headlines the card in Chicago (Saturday at 4 p.m.) More info: www.ufc.com

* The WNBA’s Sparks start a four-game road trip that goes to New York (Tuesday, 8 a.m., at the Westchester County Center in White Plains, N.Y.), Connecticut (Thursday, 4 p.m., Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Conn., Spectrum SportsNet) at Minnesota (Saturday, 12:30 p.m., Target Center in Minneapolis, Channel 7). More info:  sparks.wnba.com

* Beach volleyball’s AVP Tour hits its third stop of the season: The New York City Open at Hudson River park, with a final Sunday, 1:30 p.m., Channel 4. More info:  avp.com

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