Play it forward: Sept. 20-26 on your sports calendar

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Highlights of the week ahead in sports, both here and afar:

MONDAY

NFL: New Orleans at San Francisco, 5:30 p.m., ESPN:

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The Super Bowl champion Saints have had 11 days off between their opener and this second game. Does that count as a bye week? Still, there was plenty of football news to come out of the Bayou over the last nearly two weeks — Reggie Bush giving back his Heisman (to the delight of LSU fans), the New Orleans VooDoo returning to the Arena Football League (the Bossier-Shreveport Battle Wings are relocating and snatching the name from the defunct franchise) and the city council of Mathews, Louisiana, which is about 20 miles southwest of New Orleans, decided not to impose an ordinance that would change Halloween trick-or-treating as a day-time event because having at night would conflict with the Saints’ game on Oct. 31. Ever since the Saints won the Super Bowl, isn’t it Christmas every day in New Orleans anyway? You know, aside from natural and man-made disasters.

MLB: Tampa Bay at N.Y. Yankees, 4 p.m., MLB Network:

The Rays took two out of three against the Yankees last week — even after Derek Jeter pretended to get hit by a pitch — and the top two left in the AL East have their last four head-to-head meetings starting today at Yankee Stadium, with the Yankees holding a half-game lead. As if it matters: It’s just for playoff seedings, since both will make it.

MLB: Angels vs. Texas, Angel Stadium, 7 p.m., FSW:

The Rangers will be scoreboard watching, waiting to find out if they face the Yankees or Rays in the first round of the playoffs. The Angels will be watching the scoreboard to see if they’re actually beating the Rangers. The rest of us will be watching “Hawaii 5-0.”

“Dancing With The Stars,” 8 p.m., Channel 7:

Former Laker forward Rick Fox and former NFL quarterback Kurt Warner are apt to embarass themselves in the season premiere. Or, set the stage to winning the whole stupid thing.

TUESDAY

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MLB: Dodgers vs. San Diego, Dodger Stadium, 7 p.m., Channel 9:

First 50,000 who crash the gate get an Andre Either fleece blanket. Insert your own jokes about getting fleeced this year. Or whether 50,000 will actually show up. Or if Either will be traded to the Boston Red Sox by this point. He and Dustin Pedroia need to give each other a big hug after this season.

MLB: Angels vs. Texas, Angel Stadium, 7 p.m., FSW:

Angels pitcher Ervin Santana, who used to be only effective on roadies, now has an ERA that’s more than a full point higher at home than away from Anaheim. The Rangers may know how to exploit that.

MLB: N.Y. Yankees at Tampa Bay, 4 p.m., MLB Network:

See Monday.

WEDNESDAY

MLB: N.Y. Yankees at Tampa Bay, 4 p.m., ESPN:

See Monday. And Tuesday.

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MLB: Dodgers vs. San Diego, Dodger Stadium, 7 p.m., Prime:

Ted Lilly, tonight’s scheduled starter, has actually lost three of his last four starts (with one no decision) after winning his first five appearances since he was traded to the Dodgers at the July 31 deadline. He beat the Padres, 2-1, in his first Dodger start on Aug. 3.

MLB: Angels vs. Texas, Angel Stadium, 7 p.m., FSW:

Checking back in with C.J. Wilson, the Rangers’ starter out of Loyola Marymount: He’s lost two of his last three starts after rattling off seven wins in a row since mid-July. He’s still ninth in the league in ERA (3.21).

NHL exhibition: Kings at Colorado, 6 p.m.:

Oct. 9 is the first real one. This is the first practice one.

THURSDAY

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Golf: PGA Tour Championship in Atlanta, first round, 10 a.m., Golf Channel:

Of the 30 players headed to East Lake, only the top five in points are guaranteed the FedEx Cup should one of them win this event: Dustin Johnson, Paul Casey, Matt Kuchar, Charley Hoffman and Steve Stricker have the best shot at the $10 mil bonus. “To have a shot to win it, you can’t ask for anything else,” said Johnson (right). “You know, that’s the goal coming into the playoffs. I knew I was in a good situation. You definitely want to be in that top five because if you win and you’re in the top five, then you get the $10 million. That would look nice in the bank account.” Or, in FedEx credit, depending on how much stuff you ship. Golf Channel has the first two rounds; rounds three and four are first on Golf Channel then on NBC Saturday and Sunday.

MLB: Dodgers vs. San Diego, Dodger Stadium, 7 p.m., Prime:

The final time this year the Dodgers can actually help the Giants by beating the Padres.

NHL exhibition: Kings vs. Phoenix, Staples Center, 7:30 p.m.:

The “Walk With The Dinosaurs” tour should have left Staples Center by now. The Kings also are sending a team to Phoenix to play the Coyotes on this night.

FRIDAY

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MLB: Dodgers at Arizona, 6:40 p.m., Channel 9:

Not to alarm anyone but The Onion fake newspaper reported recently (linked here) that the Diamondbacks organization apologized to fans, their families, and the community at large after more than 16,000 people attending the previous night’s game were killed by the poisonous Western diamondback rattlesnakes given out as part of Complimentary Rattlesnake Night.

“I feel terrible,” Diamondbacks general manager Jerry Dipoto told reporters as emergency personnel working out of temporary triage stations around Chase Field injected antivenom into the estimated 23,000 victims who survived the initial wave of snakebites. “All we wanted to do was give people something that was symbolic of the Diamondbacks, something they could take home and keep to remember the team by.”

(Now, look closely at the photo. To the left, the guy with the Dodger cap smiling. And off to the right, the “Dodgers Suck” sign. Maybe they had it coming).

MLB: Angels vs. Chicago White Sox, Angel Stadium, 7 p.m., FSW:

Rent-a-slugger Manny Ramirez’s influence on the White Sox charge to the AL Central title has been about as effective as . . . Manny Ramirez’s influence on the Dodgers for the first part of the 2010 season. It’s just Manny Being Uncanny.

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MLS: Galaxy vs. New York Red Bull, Home Depot Center, 8 p.m, ESPN2:

Oh, Henry. Oh, Becks. A matchup so attractive, ESPN has swiped it and moved it back so it’ll come after those watching TCU and SMU play college football are finished. How nice.

SATURDAY

College football: USC at Washington State, noon, Prime:

If Pullman, Wash., really was like the TV show “Cougar Town,” the Cougars might draw more recruits. Meanwhile, as the Trojans, in their Pac-10 opener, keep moving down in the AP Top 25 standings, you think they can afford another victory to improve to 4-0?

College football: UCLA at Texas, 12:30 p.m., Channel 7:

Not that anyone for the sixth-ranked Longhorns will be looking ahead to next Saturday’s game against Oklahoma . . . but the Bruins can hope that’s the case. Opponents are averaging just 12.7 points a game against Texas, coming off a 24-14 win over Texas Tech, despite three interceptions from QB Garrett Gilbert.

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College football: Boise State vs. Oregon State, 5 p.m., Channel 7:

Coach Chris Peterson and the third-ranked Broncos can use a win over the No. 24 Beavers to launch them into the rest of the season that most likely will be against no more ranked teams.

College football: Stanford at Notre Dame, 11:30 a.m., Channel 4:

If the game goes to OT, the Irish will be ready for the Cardinal’s educated fake.

MLB: Dodgers at Arizona, 5 p.m., Prime:

If the D’backs don’t want Kirk Gibson as manager any more, could he be Don Mattingly’s new hitting coach?

MLB: Angels vs. Chicago White Sox, Angel Stadium, 6 p.m., Channel 13:

Angels starter Scott Kazmir is only second in the league with 14 losses, one back of Baltimore’s Kevin Millwood (3-15).

Mixed martial arts: UFC 119, Indianapolis, 7 p.m., pay-per-view:

The main event: Frank Mir vs. Mirko Cro Cop. Yup, it looks like a marquee at a theatre where some of the letters got knocked off.

SUNDAY

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NFL: N.Y. Jets at Miami, 5:20 p.m., Channel 4:

Mark Sanchez lost twice to the Dolphins last season, and Miami DB Jason Allen picked Brett Favre off twice in Week 2. The buzz from last week’s win over the Patroits should be short lived.

NFL: San Diego at Seattle, 1 p.m., Channel 2:

The Chargers’ defense finally looks as if it has awakened. The Seahawks’ defense looks pretty wounded. Meanwhile, the network also has Indianapolis-Denver and Oakland-Arizona if that sounds more appealing.

MLB: Dodgers at Arizona, 1 p.m., Prime:

Two more weeks after this …

MLB: Angels vs. Chicago White Sox, Angel Stadium, 12:30 p.m., FSW:

Two more weeks after this …

MLB: N.Y. Yankees at Boston, 5 p.m., ESPN:

Like old times. Including the Red Sox with no chance of making the postseason.

NASCAR: AAA 400 from Dover, Del., 10 a.m., ESPN:

Dang, Clint Boyer wins one time this year, and he’s second in the Chase standings. If they rankings was by money earned, his $3.4 mil would be No. 20. But then, leading money winner Jamie McMurray ($5.4 mil) missed the cut of the final 12.

Series: “Eastbound & Down,” second season debut, 10:30 p.m., HBO:

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Kenny Powers drove away in the final episode of the first season, and we weren’t sure where the washed-up, ex-big league relief pitcher was headed. He didn’t have the tryout he thought was a lock. He left his girl friend at the gas station. And we know he has little common sense. As season two begins, we find him … in Mexico, where, according to the HBO press release, “he’s making a fresh start … where he can both nurse his wounds and bless the locals with his awesomeness.” He’s befriended by a Mexican family and a sultry bar singer named Vida. But his comeback dreams haven’t disappeared. Seven more episodes, each Sunday. Thanks to Danny McBride, and his new K-Swiss Tubes.

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