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09.02.19: Five things for the week ahead based on unscientific evidence of guaranteed importance

NUMBER 1Without 2020 foresight, we’ve got no strong guess as to who will live it up in Super Bowl LIV this February in Miami. A Rams-Patriots rematch would be one thing. A Rams-Chargers strategy meeting prior to sharing a new stadium in Inglewood would be quite a Hollywood ending.
Then we have our friend, Norman Chad, declaring the Jacksonville Jags his “2019 Team of Destiny,” if only for the basic logic is that’s where Nick Foles is these days. The one-time Rams backup QB is taking over a team once led by Blake Bortles, now the current Rams’ backup to Jarred Goff. The Rams don’t face Jacksonville in the regular season, so there is no awkwardness to deal with. But honest to goodness, we didn’t even know the Jags were in the AFC South with Tennessee, Indianapolis and Houston until we just looked it up.
The Patriots and Kansas City Chiefs are actually the co 6-to-1 favorites to win the Super Bowl according to VegasInsider.com, with the Rams among four teams at 12-to-1 (with Chicago, New Orleans and Philadelphia.) The Chargers come in at 18-to-1. The Jags? The 13th favorite at 25-to-1.

Indianapolis, which just saw starting QB Andrew Luck shut it down, are now 60-to-1 coming into the season opener at the Dignity Health Park Center in Carson to meet up with the Chargers (Sunday, 1:05 p.m., Channel 2).
The Carolina Panthers, who are concerned about QB Cam Newton’s foot sprain, are 50-to-1 when they meet up with the Rams (Sunday, 10 a.m., Channel 11).
Does all this increase the odds of hearing more about betting lines and all those things as legalized sports gambling spreads more into different states? At CBS’ preseason thing the other day, Sean McManus hinted he might be willing to loosen up about their attitude talking about betting during coverage. NBC’s Al Michaels said last week: “I don’t know how this is going to turn out in the long run, because to me this is the great unknown. How to incorporate not only the gambling into the telecast, but how this whole thing will work as it probably gets [passed] in almost every state in the country. We will probably see the day when fans are going to sit in the stands with their mobile devices and bet whether we get a run or pass on third down. Maybe we’re going there. I don’t know. I think most people who have bet on the game don’t have to be told what the points spread is. … To me, the game is the thing. We’re there to report on the game. Maybe there will be a special side door gambling telecast. To me, football is great, sports are great because of the competition and the drama and the excitement. If you get overwhelmed about all this craziness about betting on a run or pass on third down, to me you’re just losing the essence of why you’re playing these games in the first place.”

Also in NFL Week 1:
Thursday:
* Green Bay at Chicago, 5:20 p.m., Channel 4
Sunday:
* N.Y. Giants at Dallas, 1:25 p.m., Channel 11
* Pittsburgh at New England, 5:20 p.m., Channel 4
Via NFL Sunday Ticket in L.A.:
In the 10 a.m. window:
* Tennessee at Cleveland; Baltimore at Miami; Buffalo at N.Y. Jets; Kansas City at Jacksonville; Atlanta at Minnesota
In the 1:05 p.m. window:
* Cincinnati at Seattle; Detroit at Arizona; San Francisco at Tampa Bay

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NUMBER 2Week 2 of the college football season – USC and Stanford are already in backup QB mode starting the Pac-12 schedule with a meeting at the Coliseum (Saturday at 7:30 p.m., ESPN) that is supposed to a ways into figuring out just how powerful the conference is or isn’t (depending on your narrative). By some flawed logic, this is the sixth straight seson and seventh in the last eight that the Trojans and Cardinal open league play against each other. Stanford is USC’s oldest rival, by the way, going back to 1905. This is also a match up of the St. Brown brothers — USC’s Amon-Rai St. Brown and Stanford’s Osirius St. Brown — are on the field together.
Earlier in the day, UCLA tries to get on track against visiting San Diego State at the Rose Bowl (Saturday at 1:15 p.m., Pac 12 Network)
Also this week in the Pac 12:
Conference games:
* Cal at Washington, Saturday at 7:30 p.m., FS1
Non-conference games:
* Sacramento State at Arizona State, Friday at 7 p.m., Pac 12 Net
* Northern Illinois at Utah, 10 a.m., Pac 12 Net
* Northern Colorado at Washington State, 2 p.m., Pac 12 Net
* Nebraska at Colorado, Saturday at 12:30 p.m., Channel 11
* Nevada at Oregon, Saturday at 4:30 p.m., Pac 12 Net
* Northern Arizona at Arizona, Saturday at 7:45 p.m., Pac 12 Net
* Oregon State at Hawaii, Saturday at 9 p.m.
Games of national interest:
Monday:
* Notre Dame at Louisville, 5 p.m., ESPN
Saturday:
* Cincinnati at Ohio State, 9 a.m., Channel 7
* Army at Michigan, 9 a.m., Channel 11
* New Mexico State at Alabama, 1 p.m., SEC Network
* BYU at Tennessee, 4 p.m., ESPN
* LSU at Texas, 4:30 p.m., Channel 7

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NUMBER 3Serena Williams had a very good day on Sunday, writes David Waldstein in the New York Times. “The weather was perfect, it was her daughter’s second birthday, and some potential traffic in her quest for a record-tying 24th Grand Slam singles title cleared out in front of her.” Second-seeded Ashleigh Barty and third-seeded Karolina Pliskova, both of whom were in Williams’s half of the draw, lost. Only No. 1 Naomi Osaka and No. 5 Elina Svitolina remain from the top five women’s seeds. So let’s see how this plays out.
More info: www.usopen.org

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NUMBER 4Tommy Lasorda turns 92 on Sept. 22, but the Dodgers have decided to honor him with another bobblehead on Wednesday, even though his birthday will fall on Fan Appreciation Day Sunday. Perhaps Wednesday is the day they officially clinch the NL West title, their seventh in a row, but our math could be way off. Whatever leads to Alanna Rizzo wearing a Dodgers cap, jersey and waving a pennant from her spot next to the dugout.
Meanwhile, the Angels get a day off on Labor Day. How does that happen?

How the week plays out for the Dodgers (with an NL-best 89-50 mark, 18 games up in the NL West, 52-18 at home):
* Vs. Colorado at Dodger Stadium (all on SNLA:
Monday at 5:10 p.m. (Peter Lambert vs. Walker Buehler)
Tuesday at 7:10 p.m. (Chi Chi Gonzalez vs. Kenta Maeda)
Wednesday at 7:10 p.m. (Antonio Senzatela vs. Hyun-Jin Ryu)
* Vs. San Francisco at Dodger Stadium (all on SNLA):
Friday at 7:10 p.m. (Jeff Samardzija vs. Tony Gonsolin)
Saturday at 6:10 p.m. (also on Channel 5) (Tyler Beede vs. Clayton Kershaw)
Sunday at 1:10 p.m. (Dereck Rodriguez vs. Ross Stripling)
How the week plays out for the Angels (65-73 in the AL West, 14 1/2 games back in the wildcard):
* At Oakland (all on FSW)
Tuesday at 7:07 p.m. (Jaime Barria vs. Mike Fiers)
Wednesday at 7:07 p.m. (Patrick Sandoval vs. Tanner Roark)
Thursday at 12:37 p.m. (Jose Suarez vs. Chris Bassitt)
* At Chicago White Sox (all on FSW):
Friday at 5:10 p.m. (Dillon Peters vs. Lucas Giolito)
Saturday at 4:10 p.m. (Andrew Heaney vs. Ross Detwiler)
Sunday at 11:10 a.m. (Jaime Barria vs. Dylan Cease)

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NUMBER 5The WNBA regular season ends Sunday, and the odd-structured playoffs launch right after that based on overall records. The Sparks have the second-best home record in the league at 12-2 if that matters when they play their final three:
How the week ends for the Sparks (19-12, a half-game back of Las Vegas in the Western Conference, with the No. 4 overall spot in the playoffs, four games back of Washington):
* Vs. Atlanta at Staples Center, Tuesday at 7:30 p.m., Spectrum SportsNet
* Vs. Seattle at Staples Center, Thursday at 7 p.m., CBSSN, SSN
* Vs. Minnesota at Staples Center, Sunday at 1 p.m., ESPN2

More
* In the MLS: LAFC at Orlando City SC, Saturday at 4:30 p.m., YouTube TV (as the Galaxy has a bye week)
* Soccer: Argentina vs. Chile friendly, Coliseum, Thursday at 7 p.m.

08.26.19: Five things for the week ahead based on unscientific evidence of guaranteed importance

NUMBER 1When the Associated Press college football writers’ poll came out last week – again, based on nothing except expectations and brand recognition, and a Top 25 that will not have any affect on eventual decisions based on bowl game selection when it’s said and done – USC and UCLA combined for one total vote.
The Trojans got that one vote, from blogger in Reno, and made it into the list, at the end, among the “Others Receiving Votes” category.
If there’s anything to it, Fresno State, the Trojans’ opponent in their opener at the Coliseum – Saturday, 7:30 p.m., ESPN, with Jason Benetti, Rod Gilmore and not Bill Walton – got eight votes.

This is the first time since 2001 – Pete Carroll’s first season there – the Trojans haven’t been in an AP Top 25 preseason ranking. That team finished 6-6 and lost the Las Vegas Bowl. In 2002, they were ranked No. 20 in the preseason, finished at No. 4, won the Orange Bowl, and all heck broke loose.
Which turns things to the incumbent, Clay Helton.
A 1-0 record under his watch in 2013. A 5-4 mark when he was interim again in 2015.
A 10-3 posting in 2016 at No. 3 in the final AP poll with freshman Sam Darnold, Adoree Jackson, JuJu Smith-Schuster, Ronald Jones.
An 11-3 finish in 2017, 9-1 in conference, 12th in the final AP poll, with sophomore Darnold, Jones, Uchenna Nwosu, Deontay Burnett … and conference title, and a loss to Ohio State in the Cotton Bowl.
A 5-7 record last year, losing five of their last six, including games at UCLA and against Notre Dame, with freshman quarterback JT Daniels, saw a No. 15 presason AP ranking slip to No. 17, to No. 22, and then disappear after a 1-2 start with losses to Stanford and Texas.
Helton says going into the ’19 campaign: “When you have a 5-7 season, you’re going to hear it. And it’s deserved. It’s well-deserved. I’ve never worried about the outside noise. “Having been in it for 25 years of college football, having seen my dad in it for 40 years in both NFL and college, it’s part of the game. As a leader and as a head coach, when you go win a Rose Bowl and a Pac-12 title, you go hand out the accolades to everybody else. When you have an off season, you have to own it.”

As for UCLA, which had no AP preseason poll votes: It opening opponent, Cincinnati, had 16 votes prior to this first matchup in Ohio (Thursday, 4 p.m., ESPN, Adam Amin, Matt Hasselbeck, Pat McAfee).
If we’re still counting, the Pac-12 had no team in the AP Top 10. Oregon (11), Washington (13), Utah (14), Washington State (23) and Stanford (25) kind of sums up the listings of the logos at this juncture. And Arizona already at this point has one loss, in Hawaii.
In the inaugural coaches’ poll – again, a complete crapshoot because we’re not even sure who fills out those ballots that also mean nothing of consequence – the Trojans had 47 also-ran mentions, and UCLA had two.

College Football Week 1:
In the Pac 12:
Kent State at Arizona State, Thursday at 7 p.m., Pac 12 Network
Utah at BYU, Thursday at 7:15 p.m., ESPN
Colorado State at Colorado, Friday at 7 p.m., ESPN
Oklahoma State at Oregon State, Friday at 7:30 p.m., FS1
Eastern Washington at Washington, Saturday at noon, Pac 12 Network
Northwestern at Stanford, Saturday at 1 p.m., Channel 11
UC Davis at Cal, Saturday at 3:30 p.m., Pac 12 Network
Oregon vs. Auburn in Arlington, Tex., Saturday at 4:30 p.m., Channel 7
New Mexico State at Washington State, Saturday at 7 p.m., Pac 12 Network

Nationally to watch:
Thursday:
Florida A&M at Central Florida, 4:30 p.m., CBSSN
Georgia Tech at Clemson, 5 p.m., ACC Network
South Dakota State at Minnesota, 6 p.m., FS1
Friday:
Rice at Army, 3 p.m., CBSSN
Tulsa at Michigan State, 4 p.m., FS1
Wisconsin at South Florida, 4 p.m., ESPN
UMass at Rutgers, 4:15 p.m., Big Ten Network
Utah State at Wake Forest, 5 p.m., ACC Network
Purdue at Nevada, 6:30 p.m., CBSSN
Saturday:
Florida Atlantic at Ohio State, 9 a.m., Channel 11
Northern Iowa at Iowa State, 9 a.m., FS1
South Alabama at Nebraska, 9 a.m., ESPN
Mississippi at Memphis, 9 a.m., Channel 7
Indiana vs. Ball State in Indianapolis, 9 a.m., CBSSN
Indiana State at Kansas, 9 a.m., FSW
Mississippi State vs. Louisiana in New Orleans, 9 a.m., ESPNU
Akron at Illinois, 9 a.m., Big Ten Network
Toledo at Kentucky, 9 a.m., SEC Network
Duke vs. Alabama in Atlanta, 12:30 p.m., Channel 7
South Carolina vs. North Carolina in Charlotte, N.C., 12:30 p.m., ESPN
Holy Cross at Navy, 12:30 p.m., CBSSN
Georgia State at Tennessee, 12:30 p.m., ESPNU
Idaho at Penn State, 12:30 p.m., Big Ten Network
Montana State at Texas Tech, 1 p.m., FSW
Portland State at Arkansas, 1 p.m., SEC Network
Boise State vs. Florida State in Jacksonville, Fla., 4 p.m., ESPN
Missouri at Wyoming, 4:30 p.m., CBSSN
Middle Tennessee State at Michigan, 4:30 p.m., Big Ten Network
Georgia at Vanderbilt, 4:30 p.m., SEC Network
Miami of Ohio at Iowa, 4:30 p.m., FS1
Virginia at Pittsburgh, 4:30 p.m., ACC Network
Louisiana Tech at Texas, 5 p.m., Longhorn Network
Sunday:
Houston at Oklahoma, 4:30 p.m., Channel 7
Bethune-Cookman vs. Jackson State from Atlanta, noon, ESPN2

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NUMBER 2A Dodgers road brings the laundry situation back to some normalcy, against their NL West foes, and interleague … is it finally over? It is not … But this week away from home will most likely feel like home games based on traveling crowds on vacation.
And finally, September arrives.
Meanwhile, the Angels get an attendance boost based on  weekend visit from the Boston Red Sox.

How the week plays out for the Dodgers (still an MLB-best 86-46 mark in the NL West, 20 games up, a magic number of clinching the division of 13 — really, we’re watching that? — and a 4-2 week that included a sweep of the Blue Jays and, despite losing two of three to the Yankees, keeping a No. 1 spot in the ESPN MLB Power Rankings):
At San Diego:
Monday at 7:10 p.m., SNLA (Dustin May vs. Eric Lauer)
Tuesday at 7:10 p.m, SNLA (Walker Buehler vs. Cal Quantrill)
Wednesday at 6:10 p.m., SNLA (Kenta Maeda vs. Chris Paddack)
At Arizona:
Thursday at 6:40 p.m., SNLA (Hyun-Jin Ryu vs. Merrill Kelly)
Friday at 6:40 p.m., SNLA (Tony Gonsolin vs. Zac Gallen)
Saturday at 5:10 p.m., SNLA, Channel 5 (Cleyton Kershaw vs. Robbie Ray)
Sunday at 1:10 p.m., SNLA (Dustin May vs. Alex Young)

How the week plays out for the Angels (63-70 in the AL West, losing six of seven to AL West foes last week,13 1/2 back in the AL wild card, yet staying lethargically at No. 20 in the ESPN MLB Power Rankings but at least get two days off at home this week to skip some starting pitching spots):
Vs. Texas at Angel Stadium:
Tuesday at 7:07 p.m., FS1 (Mike Minor vs. Andrew Heaney)
Wednesday at 7:07 p.m., FSW (Ariel Jurado vs. Patrick Sandoval)
Vs. Boston at Angel Stadium:
Friday at 7:07 p.m., FSW (Nathan Eovaldi vs. Dillon Peters)
Saturday at 6:07 p.m., FSW (Brian Johnson vs. Jaime Barria)
Sunday at 1:07 p.m., FSW (Rick Porcello vs. Andrew Heaney)

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NUMBER 3Go track down the Sunday edition of the New York Times for about as complete a pre-tournament coverage as you can get for the U.S. Open, happening the next two weeks in Flushing Meadows. The main event on Day 1: Serena Williams against Maria Sharapova, 4 p.m. Monday at Arthur Ashe Stadium.  Williams, 37, and Sharapova, 32, who have met in the finals of the other three Grand Slam events, have never played each other here. But now the eighth-seeded Williams has drawn the unseeded Sharapova for a first-round matchup. Venus Williams has a first-round match against Zheng Saisai  (11:15 a.m., Louis Armstrong Stadium).
Coverage of the opening rounds to the round of 16 are all on ESPN and/or ESPN2 daily from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. and 4-to-8 p.m.
More info: www.usopen.org

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NUMBER 4Again these are simple exhibitions, and wagering is discouraged, even though this is the final week of the NFL fake schedule:
Thursday:
Rams at Houston, 5 p.m., Channel 2
Chargers at San Francisco, 7 p.m., Channel 7, NFL Network
Raiders at Seattle, 7 p.m., Channel 5
The NFL Network also has Pittsburgh at Carolina, 4 p.m.

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NUMBER 5Why can’t the MLS just schedule the LAFC and Galaxy to play games at least one a month. And rotate it to the Coliseum, Angel Stadium, Whittier College, a roped off area at the Will Rogers Polo Grounds in Pacific Palisades.
Twice a year robs the league, and the city, of something special that would not be watered down otherwise with repetition.
How the week now sets up for LAFC (19-3-5, a +46 goal differential, still atop the Western Conference):
Vs. Minnesota, Banc of California Stadium, Sunday at 7:30 p.m., YouTube TV
How the week sets up for the Galaxy (13-11-3, a -3 goal differential, fourth in the Western Conference, four points behind third place  Seattle):
At Seattle, Sunday at 3:30 p.m., FS1

Also:

More

  • For the eighth straight season, the Sparks already have a playoff spot locked down in the WNBA, so there’s that. And guard Riquna Williams, who was suspended 10 games on July 16 because of her involvement in an alleged domestic violence situation, came back and had 10 points, five rebounds and three assists in a 98-65 victory against visiting Indiana at Staples Center last week as a starter.
    How the week plays out for the Sparks (18-10, winners of three in a row, with the No. 4 overall spot in the rankings, a half-game back of Las Vegas):
    At Washington, Tuesday at 4 p.m., ESPN2
    At Indiana, Thursday at 4 p.m., WNBA League Pass
    At Las Vegas, Saturday at 7:30 p.m., NBA TV
  • The U.S. begins play in the FIBA World Cup in China, vs. the Czech Republic (Sunday at 5:30 a.m., ESPN+). More info: www.fiba.basketball/basketballworldcup/2019
  • The BIG3 title game lands at Staples Center (Sunday, noon, Channel 2). More info: https://big3.com
  • The AVP goes to Chicago for its regular Labor Day weekend for its season championship (Sunday, 11:30 a.m., NBCSN live). More info: https://avp.com

08.19.19: Five things for the week ahead based on unscientific evidence of guaranteed importance

NUMBER 1The Dodgers and Yankees won’t be tough to distinguish on the field for their three game series at Dodger Stadium.
The Dodgers will be in all white.
The Yankees will be in all black.
And you’ll be paying plenty of green to attend.
As part of the continually ridiculous MLB Players Weekend marketing thing, where players wear nicknames on their backs that could lead to some double entendres and little kids then buying the jerseys and wearing them to school, all teams will do the white-black contrast look. Far less colorful than the past, but now we’re making it easy for fans to see the good guys from those are bad, right?

So now the specialness of a Dodgers-Yankees regular-season historic logo-vs.-historic logo event goes sideways.
The two teams are ranked No. 1 and No. 2 in the ESPN MLB Power Rankings with nearly the same record – hey, the Yankees actually have a mark better than the Dodgers if you’re keeping track.
As for the color scheme issues: The Dodgers’ game earlier in the week – Wednesday against the Blue Jay of Toronto — will feature an “L.A. Bleeds Blue” cap giveaway. Yes, it’s against the Blue Jays.
Meanwhile, the Angels’ week in Texas trying to catch up in the AL wildcard includes an extra game against the Rangers – it’s the makeup contest from July 1 that was postponed after the death of Angels pitcher Tyler Skaggs.

How the week plays out for the Dodgers (82-44 in the NL West, 18 ½ games up after a 3-3 road trip):
vs. Toronto at Dodger Stadium:
*Tuesday at 7:10 p.m., SNLA (Sean Reid-Foley vs. Clayton Kersshaw)
*Wednesday at 7:10 p.m., SNLA (Jacob Waguespack vs. Walker Buehler)
*Thursday at 7:10 p.m., SNLA (Trent Thornton vs. Kenta Maeda)
vs. New York Yankees at Dodger Stadium:
*Friday at 7:10 p.m., SNLA (James Paxton vs. Hyun-Jin Ryu)
*Saturday at 1:05 p.m., FS1 (CC Sabathia vs. TBA)
*Sunday at 4:05 p.m., ESPN (Domingo German vs. Clayton Kershaw)

How the week plays out for the Angels (62-64 in the AL West, 11 ½ back of the wildcard, with a 0.1 percent probably of making the playoffs according to the latest ESPN standings projection):

At Texas:
*Monday at 5:05 p.m., FSW (Dillon Peters vs. Kolby Allard)
*Tuesday at 11:05 a.m., FSW (Andrew Heaney vs. Brock Burke)
*Tuesday at 5:05 p.m., FSW (TBA vs. Joe Palumbo)
*Wednesday at 4:05 p.m., FSW (Patrick Sandoval vs. Mike Minor)
At Houston:
*Friday at 5:10 p.m., FSW (Jose Suarez vs. Zack Greinke)
*Saturday at 4:10 p.m., FSW (Griffin Canning vs. Wade Miley)
*Sunday at 11:10 a.m., FSW (Dillion Peters vs. Aaron Sanchez)

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NUMBER 2There is plenty of baggage to unpack for a LAFC-Galaxy meeting.
For the previous meeting this season in Carson, a 3-2 outcome by the team a bit lower in the standings was all the result of a Zlatan Ibrahimovic hat trick. It also means the Galaxy has never lost to the expansion team in four meetings. In this version of El Trafico at  Banc of California Stadium (Sunday at 7:30 p.m., FS1), LAFC (18-3-4, with a 16-point lead over second place Minnesota and 17 points up over the 13-11-2 Galaxy) may be pumping the breaks having already secured a playoff bid, or enlivened by their crowd to do something they haven’t done yet.
Also this week:
* LAFC vs. San Jose, Banc of California Stadium, Wednesday at 7:30 p.m., UniMas
* Galaxy vs. Cruz Azul in MLS/LigaMX Leagues Cup match, Dignity Health Sports Park in Carson, Tuesday at 7:30 p.m.

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NUMBER 3The timing of the PGA’s Tour Championship is odd, yes. It’s not a major, but only the conclusion of the shifted FedExCup playoff run. Then, it’s done. “For all the bellyaching, the season basically ends three weeks earlier – not a big deal,” Alan Shipnuck wrote recently in Golf.com. There’s a reason for that – the playoff doesn’t get buried in the NFL season. The goofiest part of this event (Thursday-Sunday, Golf Channel, Channel 4) is the FedExCup leader, Justin Thomas, who won last week at Medinah, will start at 10 under, and Long Beach native Patrick Cantlay, who is second, is 8 under. Then Brooks Kopeka is at 7 under …. So the lowest 72-hold scorer won’t necessarily win. Masters champ Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson and Jordan Spieth didn’t make the 30-player cut. Woods won this tournament last year.

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NUMBER 4It’s called Week 0, but there’s hardly zero interest in the launch of the CIF Southern Section and City Section prep football seasons. A match up of Mater Dei and Centennial Corona at the Santa Ana Bowl (Friday, 7:30 p.m. Prime Ticket) highlights a night where the network’s Prep Zone will also stream Oaks Christian-Chaminade, Sierra Canyon-Westlake, Rancho Cucamonga-Roosevelt and Downey-Corona Del Mar. Other games Friday: Alemany at Gilbert (Arizona) Higley, Bakersfield at Calabasas, JSerra at Salt Lake City East and Mission Viejo at Kealakekua (Hawaii) Konawaena. Thursday includes Long Beach Wilson vs. Mayfair at Bellflower.

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NUMBER 5The Sparks’ back-to-back losses at Dallas and Chicago last week were a bit of a setback after a five-game wins streak. They still have an eight-game win streak at home and meet their national nemesis, the Minnesota Lynx, whom they knocked off 89-85 in Minneapolis on June 8 behind Riquna Williams’ 25 points and 21 from Chelsea Gray. This time, Williams isn’t available, still serving a 10-game WNBA suspension for a domestic violence incident.
How the week plays out for the Sparks (15-10, two back of Las Vegas in the Western Conference, with nine games left in the regular season):
*Vs. Minnesota, Staples Center, Tuesday at 7:30 p.m., Spectrum SportsNet
*Vs. Indiana, Staples Center, Thursday at 7:30 p.m., CBS Sports Net, Spectrum SportsNet
*Vs. Connecticut, Staples Center, Sunday at 2 p.m., Spectrum SportsNet

More

== Again Week 3 of the NFL exhibition season still implies they aren’t real games, so wagering is discouraged:
*Rams vs. Denver, Coliseum, Saturday at 6 p.m., Channel 2
*Chargers vs. Seattle, Dignity Health Sports Park in Carson, Saturday at 7 p.m., Channel 7, NFL Network
*Raiders vs. Green Bay in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, Thursday at 5 p.m., Channel 5
Also:
*Jacksonville at Miami, Thursday at 5 p.m., Channel 11
*Buffalo at Detroit, Friday at 5 p.m., Channel 2
*Arizona at Minnesota, Saturday at 10 a.m., NFL Network
*Houston at Dallas, Saturday at 4 p.m., NFL Network
*Pittsburgh at Tennessee, Sunday at 5 p.m., Channel 4

= College football starts with Miami vs. Florida in Orlando (Saturday at 4 p.m., ESPN) and Arizona at Hawaii (Saturday at 7:30 p.m., CBSSN)

= Little League Baseball’s 2019 tournament  in Williamsport, Pa., will finish up Sunday. More info: www.littleleague.org

 

08.12.19: Five things for the week ahead based on unscientific evidence of guaranteed importance

NUMBER 1So we’re a year out from the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo, and if Simone Biles decided to switch from gymnastics to beach volleyball …
Who represents the U.S. at the beach volleyball venue will likely be on display at this AVP annual trip to Manhattan Beach. Those who are in town for the 59th Manhattan Beach Open, complete with the ceremony honoring the winners with plaques on the iconic pier, know the value of the sixth of eight stops on the 2019 schedule, less than a month removed from Hermosa Beach, with events in Chicago (Aug. 30-Sept. 1) and Hawaii (Sept. 20-22) to cap it off.
A year ago, Nick Lucena and Phil Dalhausser pulled off the men’s title and April Ross with Alix Klineman were victorious on the women’s side. All but Klineman have Olympic experience, while the 29-year-old out of Mira Costa High in Manhattan Beach has experience with the U.S. women’s national indoor team year ago before joining the beach scene in 2017.
Lucena-Dalhausser ended up winning four of the eight 2018 events, and Ross-Klineman won three as they worked in several overseas events. Lucena-Dalhausser have won once in ’19, in New York, from the No. 2 seeded spot. Ross-Klineman have won twice this year, in New York and Huntington Beach. Ross has played nine AVP events with the 6-foot-5 Klineman, winning six, as well as winning 11 of 27 overall when overseas are included, including the FIVA Itapema Open last May. They were runner-up in the 2019 World Championships in Hamburg recently.
More info: avp.com

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NUMBER 2With 42 games left, and needing only to play .500 to win 100 games, how brave are the Dodgers taking their highly successful home show (a 48-16 record) onto the road (a 31-25 mark) in Atlanta against the leaders in the NL East, and against a team that shored up its bullpen at the trade deadline? The Braves picked up Shane Greene, Mark Melancon and Chris Martin for the stretch run, but Greene has had a rough start of it after coming over from Detroit and actually, they’re still trying to sort it all out. Still. The Braves (.263) and Dodgers (.259) rank seventh and eighth in MLB team batting average. They are fifth (Dodgers, with 648) and sixth (Braves, with 647) in runs scored. They are fifth (Dodgers, at .466) and sixth (Braves, at .460) in slugging percentage. Team pitching is where the Dodgers hold several advantages to date, starting with No. 1 ERA (3.29) in all the MLB, with 13 shutouts. And Hyun-Jin Ryu is apparently A-OK.

How the week plays out for the Dodgers (an MLB-best 79-41 record, 19 games up in the NL West, but falling to No. 2 in the ESPN Power Rankings after a 5-1 week with their only loss in extra innings? Yup):
At Miami:
* Tuesday at 4:10 p.m., (Clayton Kershaw vs. Jordan Yamamoto), SNLA
* Wednesday at 4:10 p.m. (Dustin May vs. Elieser Hernandez), SNLA
* Thursday at 12:05 p.m. (Walker Buehler vs. Caleb Smith), SNLA
At Atlanta:
* Friday at 4:20 p.m. (Kenta Maeda vs. Mike Soroka), SNLA
* Saturday at 4:20 p.m. (Hyun-Jin Ryu vs. Mike Foltynewicz), SNLA
* Sunday at 10:20 a.m., (Clayton Kershaw vs. Max Fried), SNLA

How the week plays out for the Angels (58-61 in the AL West, two wins in a row after eight straight losses, 11 games back in the wildcard and slipping to No. 20 in the ESPN Power Rankings):
Vs. Pittsburgh at Angel Stadium:
* Monday at 7:07 p.m. (Mitch Keller vs. Jose Suarez), Fox Sports West
* Tuesday at 7:07 p.m., (Trevor Williams vs. TBA), FSW
* Wednesday at 5:07 p.m., (Chris Archer vs. TBA), FSW
Vs. Chicago White Sox at Angel Stadium:
* Thursday at 7:07 p.m. (Reynaldo Lopez vs. Andrew Heaney), FSW
* Friday at 7:07 p.m., (Lucas Giolito vs. Patrick Sandoval), FSW
* Saturday at 6:07 p.m., (Dylan Cease vs. Jose Suarez), FSW
* Sunday at 1:07 p.m. (Ivan Nova vs. Dillon Peters), FSW

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NUMBER 3.pngAloha to the NFL exhibition season. Not yet meaning we’re saying good bye after one week. But we’re saying hello to Hawaii, where the Rams and Cowboys have decided to take things for Week 2 of the league’s pretend games.
Again, wagering is not only discouraged, but will cause us a huge eye roll:
* Thursday: Raiders at Arizona, 5 p.m., ESPN, Channel 5
* Saturday: Rams vs. Dallas at Aloha Stadium in Hawaii, 7 p.m., NFL Network, Channel 2
* Sunday: Chargers vs. New Orleans, Dignity Health Sports Park in Carson, 1 p.m., Channel 2
Also:
* Chicago at N.Y. Giants, Friday at 4:30 p.m., NFL Network
* Cleveland at Indianapolis, Saturday at 1 p.m., NFL Network
* Kansas City at Pittsburgh, Saturday at 4:30 p.m., NFL Network
* Seattle at Minnesota, Sunday at 5 p.m., Channel 11

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NUMBER 4.pngA day after Team USA basketball suits up to face Spain in an exhibition leading into the World Championships, Honda Center in Anaheim puts on UFC 241 (Saturday, 7 p.m.), which gives Daniel Cormier and Stipe Miocic a second chance of making a first impressions. They met in UFC 226, when Cormier moved up from light heavyweight to take on Miocic and ended it in about four-and-a-half minutes with a right hand over the top to floor Miocic. The 40-year-old Cormier has since defended his title against Derrick Lewis last November and was targeting Brock Lesnar, but Lesnar retired in May. The main card has five events, with the preliminary card on ESPN holding four more and UFC Fight Pass staging three, including women’s strawweight and flyweight.
More info: https://www.ufc.com/event/ufc-241

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NUMBER 5A Galaxy slate of two-games-in-one-week deal awaits those wondering if and when the team will pull out of a three-game losing streak, and four of the last five. At least Zlatan Ibrahimovic is back pitching it. LAFC (17-3-4, 55 points), with wins over defending champion Atlanta, a hot New England team and defending Supporters Shield-winning N.Y. Red Bulls, continues to pull away from the Galaxy (12-11-1, 36 points) in the Western Conference after the two were dominant Nos. 1-2 for a while.
The schedule this week:
* LAFC at Real Salt Lake, Saturday at 7 p.m., YouTube TV, KVMD
* Galaxy vs. FC Dallas, Dignity Health Sports Park in Carson, Wednesday at 7:30 p.m., Spectrum SportsNet
* Galaxy vs. Seattle, Dignity Health Sports Park in Carson, Saturday at 7 p.m., ESPN2

More
= The NBA announces its 2019-20 regular season schedule, including an anticipated Lakers-Clippers game on Christmas Day, during a NBA TV show Monday at noon.
= The second stop in the PGA Tour’s FedEx Cup finale to the season goes to the BMW Championship at Medinah Country Club in Illinois (Thursday-Sunday, Golf Channel, Channel 4).

= The U.S. Amateur Golf Championship goes to Pinehurst, N.C., runs from Monday through the final twosome on Sunday (12:30 p.m., Channel 11)
= How the week plays out for the Sparks (15-8 in the Western Conference): At Dallas, Wednesday at 5 p.m.; At Chicago, Friday at 5 p.m., Spectrum SportsNet
= Little League Baseball’s 2019 tournament  in Williamsport, Pa., will start Thursday and conclude on Aug. 25 on ESPN and ESPN2. More info: www.littleleague.org

 

08.05.19: Five things for the week ahead based on unscientific evidence of guaranteed importance

black 1Remember when the Angels pummeled the Dodgers a couple of weeks ago? Twice?
A tale of two teams, within one city logo, continues on divergent paths that leaves one to forget that even happened.
The Cardinal sin for the Dodgers as they enter the last two months of the regular season is believing they can coast into the playoffs. The two-time NL champion and six-time NL West winner face St. Louis, probably a surprise leader in the NL Central, for three games that could be one of those playoff preview kind of things. Note the Cardinals swept four from the Dodgers in early April, including a 4-0 shutout thrown by six Cardinals pitchers. We then reach a point where the Diamondbacks make their last visit to Dodger Stadium for the season, where they’ve already lost in five of their six L.A. games and don’t have Zack Greinke in the rotation any more. The key talking points this week will be when and where Hyun-Jin Ryu comes off the IL after his 10-day stint should end, and how many more starts Dustin May might make.
The Angels, meanwhile, get no breaks with injuries and are forced to take  another uneventful interleague required series in Cincinnati before heading to Boston:

How the week plays out for the Dodgers (an MLB-best 74-40 mark in the NL West, 17  games up, still No. 1 in the ESPN Power Rankings):
Vs. St. Louis at Dodger Stadium:
Monday at 7:10 p.m., (Tony Gonsolin vs. Michael Wacha), SNLA
Tuesday at 7:10 p.m., (Clayton Kershaw vs. Miles Mikolas), SNLA
Wednesday at 12:10 p.m. (Dustin May vs. Jack Flaherty), YouTube.com
Vs. Arizona at Dodger Stadium:
Friday at 7:10 p.m. (Walker Buehler vs. Alex Young)
Saturday at 6:10 p.m. (Kenta Maeda vs. Robbie Ray)
Sunday at 1:10 p.m., (TBA vs. Merrill Kelly)

How the week plays out for the Angels (56-57 in the AL West, 17 back from the lead, nine back in the wildcard, losers of four in a row and eight of their last 10):
At Cincinnati:
Monday at 4:10 p.m. (Patrick Sandoval vs. Luis Castillo), Fox Sports West
Tuesday at 4:10 p.m., (Jose Suarez vs. Anthony DeSciafani), FSW
At Boston:
Thursday at 4:10 p.m. (Dillon Peters vs. Chris Sale), FSW
Friday at 4:10 p.m., (TBA vs. David Price), FSW
Saturday at 1:05 p.m., (Jamie Barria vs. Rick Porcello), FSW
Sunday at 10:05 a.m. (TBA vs. Andrew Cashner), FSW Continue reading “08.05.19: Five things for the week ahead based on unscientific evidence of guaranteed importance”

07.29.19: Five things for the week ahead based on unscientific evidence of guaranteed importance

 

black 1Under the new MLB rules, the last day for teams to make a deal is Wednesday. “Our front office has shown that if there’s a need, we have no problem trying to address and line up on a deal,” says Dodgers manager Dave Roberts. “But it’s got to be right for both clubs, too. I think that the history points to if something could happen or should happen, we’ll make it happen.”
Yeah, but …
The Dodgers’ history going forward will likely hinge on the acquisition of bullpen help (Pirates closer Felipe Vazquez?) and they could use first aid right away with another three games in Colorado that ends up as a fire drill for pitching staffs just trying to survive. Dodgers Cy Young candidate Hyun-Jin Ryu (11-2, 1.74 ERA, 0.96 WHiP) saw his last trip in Colorado on June 28 end up pretty upside down – giving up a season-high seven runs and nine hits (three homers) in four innings and taking the loss in a 13-9 decision. But his ERA went up only from 1.27 to 1.83. And the Dodgers have won his last four games since then. Ryu will pitch the Dodgers’ last game of July on Wednesday – he is 2-0 this month with a 1.35 ERA in four starts.

How the week plays out for the Dodgers (an MLB-best 69-36 mark in the NL West, 14 1/2 games up, after just a 2-3 week and still No. 1 on the ESPN MLB Power Rankings where they have been for seven straight weeks, since Week 9/May 27, plus Weeks 4-5-6, plus Week 1):
At Colorado:
Monday at 5:40 p.m. (Kenta Maeda vs. Jon Gray), SportsNet LA
Tuesday at 5:40 p.m. (TBA vs. Kyle Freeland), SNLA
Wednesday at 12:10 p.m. (Hyun-Jin Ryu vs. German Marquez), SNLA
Vs. San Diego at Dodger Stadium:
Thursday at 7:10 p.m. (Joey Lucchesi vs. Clayton Kershaw), SNLA
Friday at 7:10 p.m. (TBA vs. Walker Buehler), SNLA
Saturday at 6:10 p.m. (Chris Paddack vs. Kenta Maeda), SNLA
Sunday at 1:10 p.m. (Dinelson Larnet vs. TBA), SNLA

How the week plays out for the Angels (55-52 in the AL West, 13 back of the lead and 5 back in the AL wildcard, sticking to No. 15 in the ESPN MLB Power Rankings after two home wins against the Dodgers but just a 3-3  week after a walkoff win Sunday to avoid getting swept in four by the lowly Orioles):
Vs. Detroit at Angel Stadium:
Monday at 7:07 p.m. (Jordan Zimmerman vs. Jaime Barria), YouTube.com
Tuesday at 7:07 p.m. (Drew VerHagen vs. Griffin Canning), FSW
Wednesday at 1:07 p.m. (Daniel Norris vs. Jose Suarez), FSW
At Cleveland:
Friday at 4:10 p.m. (Felix Pena vs. Mike Clevinger), FSW
Saturday a 4:10 p.m. (Jaime Barria vs. Trevor Bauer), FS1
Sunday at 10:10 a.m. (Griffin Canning vs. Shane Bieber), FSW Continue reading “07.29.19: Five things for the week ahead based on unscientific evidence of guaranteed importance”

07.15.19: Five things for the week ahead based on unscientific evidence of guaranteed importance

black 1The 148th version of The Open golf tournament, from Northern Ireland for the first time since 1951 in the seaside town of Portrush, puts the magnificent scenery in the sunlight more than anything else. All other 146 versions of this event have been in England or Scotland, so it’s far overdue. Defending champ Francesco Molinari won at Carnoustie in Scotland a year ago, but Northern Ireland native Rory McIlroy will be the real looker, having set the record at the Portrush Royal Golf Club with a round of 61 in 2005, when he was 16. The course has been rerouted a bit since then. Graeme McDowell is another countryman proud to be here, getting an entry because he won the RBC Canadian Open recently. Tiger Woods has three Open championships among his 15 majors.
The TV schedule:
Wednesday night: Golf Channel, 10:30 p.m. to 1 a.m. Thursday
Thursday night: Golf Channel, 10:30 p.m. to 1 a.m. Friday
Saturday morning: Golf Channel, 1:30 a.m. to 4 a.m.; Channel 4, 4 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.
Sunday morning: Golf Channel, 1:30 a.m. to 4 a.m., Channel 4, 4 a.m. to 11 a.m.

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black 2As we try to retain some of our soccer high from the recent Women’s World Cup activities, and the U.S. loss to Mexico in the Gold Cup, we come upon what we still believe should be called El Trafico – your LAFC heading down the Harbor Freeway and cutting up the 91N to Dignity Health Sports Park for one of two regular-season MLS meetings against the Galaxy for what’s also being called The Los Angeles Derby – Friday, 7 p.m., ESPN. Not so much because it’s a battle of the two top teams in the Western Conference.
The next Galaxy-LAFC meeting happens Sunday, Aug. 25, at Banc of California Stadium.
Also: The International Champions Cup goes to Dignity Health Sports Park for a Arsenal-Bayern Munich matchup, Wednesday at 8 p.m. Continue reading “07.15.19: Five things for the week ahead based on unscientific evidence of guaranteed importance”