Highlights of the week ahead in sports, both here and afar:
THIS WEEK’S BEST BET:
MLB: Dodgers vs. San Francisco, Wednesday and Thursday, Dodger Stadium, 7 p.m., Prime:
Over at Angel Stadium the other night, more than 40,000 red Lucha-Libre-inspired wrestling masks with a white halo “A” logo were given out to the crowd, and they set a supposed Guinness World Record by putting them on for 10 minutes between innings to become “the largest gathering of people wearing costume masks.” Quite a feat — and a promotion the Dodgers couldn’t even mask any interest in repeating. Not with the Giants back in town for the first time since opening weekend, after what happened to Bryan Stow in the Dodger Stadium parking lot on March 31. This is the first meeting back at Chavez Ravine for the NL West rivals since the Dodgers finally beefed up security. The inspiring news last week is that the 42-year-old Stow appeared ready for a transfer to a hospital closer to his Bay Area home, and billboards donated by local company have started going up around L.A. with the wanted posters of the two suspects.
MLB: Dodgers vs. Milwaukee, Dodger Stadium, 7 p.m., Prime:
By this point in his career, Brewers’ All-Star outfielder Ryan Braun should be primed for an endorsement deal yet with Brawny paper towels. We went so far as to check the company website to see if that Brawny Man guy on their wrapper is even real.
Their answer: “The Brawny Man was created in 1974 as a symbol of Brawny paper towels. Although the Brawny Man has worn many styles and faces over the years, he is not based on a real person.” There you go. And the former Granada Hills High standout wouldn’t even have to change his nickname. When Braun left a game last week with a bruised ankle — he crashed into the out-of-town scoreboard along the left field fence in Miller Park trying to chase down a fly ball — Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said: “Brauny was hurting. If he had to go back out there, then he would have.” You can’t get much tougher. He hit his NL-best 12th homer in a win Sunday and drove in four – that makes 11 RBIs in his last five games. Tuesday’s meeting (7 p.m., Channel 9) is a Clayton Kershaw bobblehead giveaway. After this, the teams don’t meet again until four games in mid-August in Wisconsin.
AP Photo/Jeff Chiu
Oakland Athletics right fielder Conor Jackson catches a fly ball hit by Chicago White Sox’s Carlos Quentin, which doubled up Paul Konerko on the bases in the eighth inning of Sunday’s game in Oakland.
MLB: Angels at Oakland, 7 p.m., Channel 13:
The .500 Athletics have put up nasty offensive numbers (25th in the major leagues with a .235 team batting average, 27th in on-base percentage) countered by some very nasty pitching (first in the big-leagues with a 2.74 staff ERA and second in quality starts). Former El Camino Real High standout Conor Jackson is hitting a team best .282 in 85 at bats, pushing for more starting time in right field. After this one, just one more on Tuesday (7 p.m., FSW).
NBA playoffs: Western Conference finals, Game 1: Oklahoma City at Dallas, 6 p.m., ESPN:
Psst. Something’s up with Mark Cuban. The Dallas Mavs owner didn’t offer up a peep during the recent sweep of the Lakers, and now that his team is one step away from the NBA Finals, he’s still avoiding interviews. Asked recently by the Associated Press recently if there was a reason for his low profile, he replied: “Nope.” He’s even been tame on Twitter. After the series, all he tweeted was, “i’m proud of our guys and the MFFL Nation. One game at a time. We believe” (MFFL stands for “Mavs Fan For Life,” which he has on his license plate.) Would he rather have faced Memphis than Oklahoma City in this round of the playoffs? He won’t say. Kevin Durant vs. Dirk Nowitzki is a tall order to fill. The series quietly continues Thursday (6 p.m., ESPN) and Saturday (6 p.m., ESPN).
NBA: Draft Lottery, 5:30 p.m., ESPN:
ESPN “Insider” Chad Ford has broken down the 2,184 potential lottery scenarios, and each time has the winning team taking Duke freshman guard Kyrie Irving. Except the Clippers. Even with their 32-50 record and missing the playoffs (again), they traded their pick to Cleveland with Baron Davis in the deal for Mo Williams and Jamario Moon last season. Minnesota (17-65) has the highest odds of winning this and claiming the rights to Irving when the actual draft takes place on June 23 — a week before the current collective bargaining agreement ends.
NHL playoffs: Eastern Conference finals, Game 2: Tampa Bay at Boston, 5 p.m., Versus:
Bow down to Sean Bergenheim, who had 14 goals in the regular season, but now has a league-best eight in the Stanley Cup playoffs after igniting the Lightning’s Game 1 victory and stealing home ice. Tampa is the site for Game 3 (Thursday, 5 p.m., Versus) and Game 4 (Saturday, 10:30 a.m., Channel 4).
MLB: Angels at Seattle, 7 p.m., FSW:
Just a quick in-and-out series against the Mariners, and the Angels, with Jered Washburn and Dan Haren, look to miss Cy Young winner Felix Hernandez and hard-throwing rookie Michael Pineda. The second game is Thursday (12:40 p.m., FSW). The Mariners had their games Saturday and Sunday rained out. Not unusual for Seattle? Both games were in Cleveland.
NBA playoffs: Eastern Conference finals, Game 2: Miami at Chicago, 5:30 p.m., TNT:
So what if the NBA had to work these two Bulls’ home games at the United Center awkwardly around the taping of the final two episodes of the “Oprah Winfrey Show.” We all know who runs the Windy City. The NBA should also realize that the United Center is already locked into a month-long creepy Cirque Du Soleil show starting June 30. By taking the opener of the series, the Bulls are in charge. Game 3 in Miami doesn’t come until Sunday (5:30 p.m., TNT). Did you hear what TNT’s Marv Albert had to say about LeBron James’ comments, where he said he picked Miami for the weather and schools: “LeBron had done a lot of intensive study and he liked the arts and crafts program.”
NHL playoffs: Western Conference finals, Game 2: San Jose at Vancouver, 6 p.m., Versus:
The Canucks don’t sell green body suits in their team store. Thankfully. Sully and Force, sit down and keep your pelvic gyrations to yourselves. We’ll change venues to San Jose for Game 3 (Friday, 6 p.m., Versus) and Game 4 (Sunday, noon, Channel 4).
Golf: PGA’s Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial, Fort Worth, Tex., first round, noon, Golf Channel:
Zack Johnson won the plaid jacket last year at Hogan’s Alley with a tournament record 21-under 259, the seventh career tour win for the former Masters champ. Golf Channel has round two Friday (noon), with CBS on the weekend (noon on Saturday and Sunday).
MLB: Dodgers at Chicago White Sox, 5 p.m., Prime:
At last, the interleague portion of the schedule. Because we can’t relive that ’59 World Series enough. This set on the South Side continues Saturday (11 a.m., Channel 9) and Sunday (11 a.m., Prime).
MLB: Angels vs. Atlanta, Angel Stadium, 7 p.m., FSW:
First baseman Freddie Freeman was taken by Atlanta in the 2007 draft out of El Modena High in the O.C. Save his family some seats. This continues with games Saturday (7 p.m., FSW) and Sunday (12:35 p.m., FSW).
Horse racing: The 136th Preakness, 1:30 to 3:30 p.m., Channel 4 (post time: 3:05 p.m.):
As poet Ogden Nash wrote: “The Derby is a race of aristocratic sleekness, for horses of birth to prove their worth to run in the Preakness.” Animal Kingdom outslicked 18 others to win the Kentucky Derby two weeks ago, but no one gives him much of a chance for Triple Crown honors. Robby Albarado, who was taken off Animal Kingdom the day before the Derby and replaced by John Velazquez, returns to ride King Congie in this one. Mucho Macho Man, who finished third at the Derby, should be back in this one again and could be a betting favorite. The other events during the wek include the Preakness Classic (Friday, 1 p.m., Versus), the Black Eyed Susan Stakes (Friday, 2 p.m., Versus), and Saturday’s pre-race show (10:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., Versus) and wrapup show (3:30 to 4 p.m., Versus).
Boxing: Bernard Hopkins vs. Jean Pascal, 7 p.m., HBO:
The 46-year-old Hopkins, attemptiing to become the oldest to ever win a major boxing title, had to accept a controversial draw against last December against Pascal, 18 years his junior. Pascal knocked Hopkins down in two of the first three rounds, but in the last eight rounds, Hopkins roared back. “If we glean one lesson (from that match) it’s that Hopkins still has something left in the tank,” wrote Sports Illustrated’s Chris Mannix. “Hopkins outclassed a young lion. He took Pascal into deep waters and exposed him as a fraud, a five-round fighter whose chiseled physique pretties up magazine pages but doesn’t yet have the stamina to be a true champion.” The draw necessitates this WBC-mandated rematch — which will be Hopkins’ 59th career pro bout. Hopkins has two more fights on his HBO contract after this one, a light-heavyweight bout taking place in Montreal. Hopkins could eventually meet up with Andre Ward, who outlasted Arthur Abraham at Home Depot Center last Saturday to keep his WBA middleweight title belt.
MLS: Galaxy vs. Chivas USA, Home Depot Center, 7 p.m., ESPN2:
The Galaxy (5-2-5), four points ahead of Real Salt Lake in the West, has taken the last four meetings in the so-called SuperClasico (or El Clasico Angelino, or L.A. Derby). David Beckham was limping around after the Galaxy’s win over Kansas City, but said he should be ready for this one. “It’s only a dead leg,” he said, “but sometimes those are the most painful ones.”
Red Bull Soapbox Race, Grand Ave. and 5th Street in downtown L.A., 1 p.m.:
A follow-up to the 2009 event that captured the energized hearts and minds of Angelenos, they say gravity and imagination are the only two requirements for this non-motorized race, according to the official website (linked here). Some 40 cars are already entered, with five-people teams usually involved (as the pit crew). Among the sports-related entries are “Lakers FanWagon” from East L.A., the “Southern California Bobsled Team” from the Theta Xi fraternity at USC, and “Chivas!” from San Bernardino — in honor of the soccer team, spurred on by drums and vuvuzelas. The winners get (and this is real) a NASCAR experience, touring the pits, meeting the Red Bull Racing drivers and a chance to “enjoy the race up close and personal in true Red Bull fashion.”
Cycling: Amgen Tour of California, Stage
8 7: Santa Clarita to Thousand Oaks, 3:30 to 6 p.m., Versus:
Latest look at the Doppler shows no snow expected for this last leg for Levi Leipheimer (left) and his friends, but it wouldn’t be out of the norm. The race, now cut from 763.8 miles to 645.1 after the Stage 1 storm, concludes after what could be a treacherous trip to Mt. Baldy on Saturday (4-to-6 p.m.). On this final 80-mile stage starting out on Highway 126, there’s a steep climb up Balcolm Canyon, through Moorpark and up the Norwegian Grade before a downhill sprint and a four-mile circle through Thousand Oaks. Training wheels optional. The network coverage is live Monday through Friday from 2 to 4 p.m.