Networks announce Braves-Dodgers National League Division Series broadcast schedule. (Updated with start times)

Ernie Johnson will provide play-by-play, while retired players Ron Darling and Cal Ripken will provide the color commentary, for the TBS broadcasts of the National League Division Series between the Dodgers and Atlanta Braves.

TBS is broadcasting every game in the best-of-five series. Craig Sager, more famous for his suit choices than his in-game reporting, will be the in-game reporter.

The radio plan is as follows: On 570-AM, Vin Scully will call innings 1-3, followed by Rick Monday and Charley Steiner in innings 4-6, followed by Scully again in innings 7-9. Orel Hershiser and Dan Shulman will call the first-round series on ESPN Radio (710-AM in Los Angeles).

Here’s the first-round schedule again, in case you missed it. Start times for Games 3, 4 and 5 have yet to be announced:

Game 1    Thu Oct. 3, 5:37 p.m.    Dodgers at Braves
Game 2    Fri   Oct. 4, 3:07 p.m.    Dodgers at Braves
Game 3    Sun Oct. 6, (TBA)          Braves at Dodgers
Game 4    Mon Oct. 7*, (TBA)        Braves at Dodgers
Game 5    Wed Oct. 9*, (TBA)       Dodgers at Braves

*if necessary

Daily Distractions: Sizing up the umpires for the Dodgers-Atlanta Braves National League Division Series.

Marvin Hudson

Umpire Marvin Hudson (center) and Dodgers manager Don Mattingly (right) have met before. (Getty Images)

Major League Baseball assigned John Hirschbeck’s crew to the Dodgers-Atlanta Braves National League Division series and is comprised of Laz Diaz, Marvin Hudson, Bill Miller, regular season crew chief Tim Welke and Hunter Wendelstedt.

It’s inherent to the circumstances that these supposed to be some of the best umpires in MLB. If not, they would be relaxing at home while another crew umpired the series. That said, it’s easier to cherry-pick their flaws than their successes. This also makes for better blog reading.

Welke is responsible for one of the worst safe/out calls against the Dodgers you’ll ever see.

Wendelstedt’s strike zone has drawn heavy criticism in the past. Decide for yourself: The blog Strike Zone Maps allows you to compare umpires’ strike zones on certain days (To me, Wendlestedt’s appears to be more consistent, and less forgiving for pitches outside the strike zone, than many.) Baseball Heat Maps confirms that Wendlestedt’s strike zone doesn’t reward too many balls out of the rulebook-defined strike zone.

Miller ejected Dodgers manager Don Mattingly on Aug. 1, one of his three ejections in 2013 and one that happened so quickly I didn’t realize it at the time. (For comparison’s sake, Chad Fairchild led MLB umpires with eight.) Welke, Wendlestedt and Hudson have each ejected four players or managers this season.

These are all good talking points for a slow news day, but we might not hear their names again once the games begin — if they’re doing their jobs.

Some bullet points for a Botswanan Independence Day:
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San Francisco Giants third baseman Pablo Sandoval (flu) scratched for series finale against Dodgers.

Pablo Sandoval

Pablo Sandoval, who homered Wednesday in the Giants’ 6-4 win over the Dodgers, will miss the series finale with the flu. (Associated Press photo)

Giants third baseman Pablo Sandoval was a late lineup casualty Thursday because of flu symptoms, and he will miss the series finale against the Dodgers tonight at AT&T Park.

Sandoval is 6 for 13 in his career against Dodgers starting pitcher Edinson Volquez with a career .462/.462/.692 slash line. He’s batting .276 this season and clubbed his 14th home run in the Giants’ 6-4 win over the Dodgers last night. Nick Noonan, whose diving stop of a Hanley Ramirez ground ball ended Wednesday’s game, will replace Sandoval at third base.

For the second straight time, Tim Federowicz is catching Volquez. Volquez was sharp with Federowicz behind the plate last Friday in San Diego, allowing one earned run in 6 ⅓ innings. Another strong outing by Volquez will give the Dodgers a tough decision about who should take the ball in a potential playoff Game 4 after Ricky Nolasco struggled again Wednesday.

Other than Federowicz, the Dodgers’ lineup has a very playoff-ready look. The Giants have already clinched a win in the season series against the Dodgers, with 10 wins in the first 18 head-to-head games. However, the Dodgers are 36-36 this season against other National League West teams, with their final four games all coming against divisional opponents — the Giants tonight and the Colorado Rockies this weekend.

That’s a minor footnote, since the Dodgers won’t face any West teams in the playoffs. Cosmetically at least, a losing record within the division would look bad. As my father would say, it’s something to work on.

Here’s how both teams will line up:
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Clayton Kershaw wins 2013 Roy Campanella Award.

Clayton KershawPitcher Clayton Kershaw was named the winner of the 2013 Roy Campanella Award, an honor voted on by the Dodger players and coaches.

The award, instituted in 2006, is given to the “most inspirational Dodger,” and one who best exemplifies the spirit and leadership of the late Hall of Fame catcher.

Kershaw is 15-9 with a major league-leading 1.88 ERA in 32 starts this season as he attempts to become the first pitcher to top the big leagues in ERA in three consecutive seasons since Greg Maddux (1993-95). The award will be presented at Dodger Stadium on Saturday night by Joni Campanella Roan, Roy’s daughter.

Yasiel Puig had baseball’s third-most popular jersey in the second half.

Yasiel Puig fans

Sales of Yasiel Puig’s jersey ranked third among all MLB players since the All-Star break. (John McCoy/Staff Photographer)

New York Yankees closer Mariano Rivera, New York Mets pitcher Matt Harvey and Dodgers rookie outfielder Yasiel Puig had baseball’s three most popular jerseys since the All-Star break.

Dodgers pitcher Clayton Kershaw‘s jersey ranked sixth, and teammate Hyun-Jin Ryu’s jersey ranked 17th, according to the list of sales of Majestic jerseys from MLB.com/Shop, the official online shop of MLB.

Only the Dodgers and the Yankees (Rivera, Derek Jeter and Robinson Cano) had as many as three players on the list:
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Bud Selig formally announces his retirement. What’s next?

MLB Commissioner Bud Selig formally announced today that he will retire upon the completion of his current term, which runs through January 24, 2015.

Selig, baseball’s interim commissioner from 1992-98 before assuming his current title, had made similar statements in the past. Today’s announcement, though it comes as little surprise, is the most formal he’s made. It carries important implications for the future of the game.

Under Selig, Major League Baseball witnessed unprecedented financial growth while surviving a number of scandals — a players’ strike that wiped out the 1994 World Series, rampant performance-enhancing drug use that many believe tainted baseball’s record books, and a wave of PED-related suspensions just this year for a dozen players who never failed a drug test.

“No Commissioner has faced greater challenges in defending and growing the game, not even Judge Landis,” MLB historian John Thorn said, referring to Kenesaw Mountain Landis, baseball’s first commissioner from 1920-44.

Former Dodgers manager Joe Torre is an unlikely choice to succeed Selig, writes Yahoo! Sports’ Jeff Passan, though there is no clear-cut choice for baseball’s next commissioner. There’s a broad list of candidates that includes everyone from a former president (George W. Bush) to a former Dodgers public relations director (Derrick Hall, the Arizona Diamondbacks’ President).

The process of choosing the next commissioner has 15 months to play out.

Two suspects arrested in stabbing death of Dodgers fan in San Francisco. Update.

Colleagues Mark Gomez and Joshua Melvin of the Bay Area News Group are in San Francisco today. Click here to read their developing story.

Jonathan Denver

Jonathan Denver was the son of a Dodger Stadium Security guard. (Photo via NBCBayArea.com)

Two suspects are in the custody of San Francisco police following the stabbing death of 24-year-old Jonathan Denver on Thursday.

Denver was fatally stabbed around midnight last night near AT&T Park, after the Giants beat the Dodgers 6-4. An apprentice plumber who worked for North Coast Plumbing and Heating in Fort Bragg, Denver was wearing Dodgers gear at the time of the attack. One of the suspects was reported to be wearing a Giants hat.

The suspects’ names have not been released.

Update (2:45 p.m.): According to the Dodgers, Denver is the son of a Dodger Stadium security guard.

The team released the following statement:

“The Dodgers are shocked and saddened to learn of the death of Jonathan Denver, who is the son of one of our security guards.

“There is no rational explanation for this senseless act which resulted in Jonathan’s death. The pain that this has caused his family and friends is unimaginable. Words are not enough to describe our sadness. Our thoughts and prayers are with him and his family during this extremely difficult time.”

Update (3:05 p.m.): NBC Bay Area reported that one of the two suspects in custody will be charged with Denver’s murder.

Update (4:55 p.m.): The Dodgers will observe a moment of silence for Denver prior to tomorrow’s home game against the Colorado Rockies.

Daily Distractions: Don Mattingly’s job seems safe.

Don Mattingly

Don Mattingly’s contract expires at the end of the season. He and the Dodgers have not discussed extending it to 2014. (Associated Press photo)

Apparently it’s time to talk about Don Mattingly‘s job security again.

ESPN.com’s Buster Olney told Steve Mason and John Ireland on 710-AM yesterday that “If they [the Dodgers] lose to the Braves in the first round or lose to the Cardinals in the first round, I don’t think he’s going to survive. … I think they would make a change.”

Olney’s prediction was based on how the industry regards Mattingly’s in-game managerial skill. In that area, there’s room for criticism (or improvement, depending on how you choose to look at it). But room enough to not renew Mattingly’s contract?

FoxSports.com’s Jon Morosi wrote that Matt Kemp is “sure” that Mattingly will be back next year no matter what.

Our Tom Hoffarth caught up with team president Stan Kasten recently, and Kasten offered nothing less than a ringing endorsement. “I’m glad we had him at the start, glad we had him in the middle and glad we have him now,” Kasten said of Mattingly.

If there is any uncertainty about Mattingly’s future with the Dodgers, Kasten and general manager Ned Colletti are doing a tremendous job hiding it from players and the media. While that might be the case, it seems unlikely that Mattingly’s job depends on the Dodgers’ playoff performance.

There are skills that go into the manager’s job that can’t be taught. As Morosi points out, Mattingly’s background as a player and his demeanor as a person fit almost perfectly with the Dodgers’ roster as currently constructed. That will count for a lot. In-game strategy? That can be learned in time, and it’s reasonable to guess the Dodgers will give Mattingly more time.

Some bullet points for a New Zealand Dominion Day:
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San Francisco Giants 6, Dodgers 4

Ricky Nolasco

Ricky Nolasco has allowed 17 earned runs in his last 12 innings, spanning three starts. (Associated Press photo)

If you looked beyond the final score, beyond Ricky Nolasco‘s struggles, you might have noticed the difference between the playoff team and the non-playoff team Wednesday night at AT&T Park.

San Francisco starter Barry Zito was removed from the game, likely his last as a Giant, after pitching five solid innings with the Dodgers trailing 5-2. Zito did not allow a hit until the fourth inning and he did not react well to being removed in the fifth.

A KCAL camera followed the left-hander as he stomped from one end of the dugout to another. Zito appeared to swipe at a water cooler and hastily discard a paper cup, nothing too crazy and nothing that was too difficult to comprehend. After signing a 7-year contract worth $126 million back in 2007, Zito mostly underperformed (ERA-plus of 86) while his teammates won the World Series twice. Wednesday night might have been his last chance to do something right in a Giants uniform; after 77 pitches, he was done.

Nolasco was Zito’s opposite. He labored through a 24-pitch second inning in which the Giants scored three runs, all on a bases-loaded triple by former Dodger Tony Abreu that might have been a grand slam elsewhere.

A two-run home run by Pablo Sandoval in the fourth inning, and an RBI double by Abreu in the sixth, stuck Nolasco with six runs (all earned) in 5 ⅔ innings. He was allowed to throw 95 pitches and pitch into the sixth inning, and it didn’t raise an eyebrow.

For Zito, there was nothing to be gained by his excellence beyond the moment, while giving Nolasco a chance to pitch out of his struggles meant something to the Dodgers, even if they ultimately lost.
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