Highlights of the week ahead in sports, both here and afar:
THIS WEEK’S BEST BET:
(AP Photo/Michael Conroy)
During a photo shoot at the Indianapolis 500 starting grid last October, 33 cars driven to victory in the race are put on display to celebrate the Speedway’s 100th anniversary. The front row, from right, is the 1911 Marmon Wasp driven by Ray Harroun, the 2010 car driven by Dario Franchitti (center), and the No. 1 1961 roadster driven by A.J. Foyt 50 years ago to win his first of four Indianapolis 500s.
IRL: Indianapolis 500, 9 a.m., Channel 7:
We hope we have as much tread left on our tires when we reach 100 years old. The Brickyard, celebrating its centennial anniversary, may put as much pressure on this field as it did for Ray Harroun to win the first one in 1911.
“It’s a great pressure to have. I wouldn’t want it any other way,” said Ryan Hunter-Reay, the only American to win an IndyCar race since April 2008, in the middle of last week. “It’s part of history, part of American history.” And now, he’s history, having failed to make the field during Sunday’s “Bump Day.” Danica Patrick pushed her way into the ninth row, while while Brazil’s Helio Castroneves, who could become the first foreign-born four-time race winner, starts inside the sixth row. Marco Andretti also put himself back in the field after he was bumped by England’s Alex Lloyd.
Tennis: French Open, first round matches: 3-to-11 a.m., Tennis Channel:
Who’s there: Novak Djokovic, and his phenomenal streak. And Maria Sharapova. Who isn’t: Defending doubles champs Serena and Venus Williams. And Andy Roddick. Which may explain how, for the first time in 40 years of computer rankings, no U.S. tennis player — man or woman — is ranked among the world’s top 10. Save it for Wimbledon. ESPN2 continues Tuesday-Friday from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., and Channel 4 has third-round play on Saturday and Sunday (9 a.m. to noon).
NBA playoffs: Western Conference finals, Game 4: Dallas at Oklahoma City, 6 p.m., ESPN:
Which Russell Westbrook shows up on the Thunder home court this time? The one who had a team-best 30 points in Game 3? Or the one from Game 2 sitting on the end of the bench in the fourth quarter? The former UCLA standout has been one of the most scrutinized players this post season, trying to will his team back from a 2-1 deficit against the Mavs. Fact is, Dallas can wrap this up at home by Game 5 (Wednesday, 6 p.m., ESPN), with a Game 6 at Oklahoma City (Friday, 6 p.m., ESPN) and a Game 7 in Dallas (Sunday, 6 p.m., ESPN) if needed.
MLB: Dodgers at Houston, 5 p.m., Channel 9:
The most exciting thing to happen at an Astros game in Minute Maid Park this year was a week ago, when a fan celebrating his 27th birthday ran onto the field in the top of the 9th inning, sprinted from the right-field corner across the outfield, used that crazy grass slope out there behind the center-field flag pole to easily climb over the fence away from security in pursuit, then lifted himself up on another couple of sections and escaped through one of the arches. All while the fans in the stands stood and cheered. He was caught — turns out, he’s a former local college baseball player, and fans of the Astros know his name better than any of the team’s current starting pitchers. If the new ownership of the NL Central basement-dwelling Astros, who have the worst record in the league, has any marketing savvy, they’d sign him to a minor-league contract. The series moves on with games Tuesday (5 p.m., Channel 9) and Wednesday (11 a.m., Prime).
MLB: Angels vs. Oakland, Angel Stadium, 7 p.m., Channel 13:
Former Angels closer Brian Fuentes might actually get a round of applause if he makes an appearance for the A’s. He’s 1-5 with an ERA above four after his last outing against the Giants. Meanwhile, Jered Weaver, 0-4 after a 6-0 start, tries to right the ship for the Angels. Tyler Chatwood, responsible for giving up seven runs in two innings during a 14-0 loss to Oakland last week, must be relieved that he’ll miss appearing in this four-game set that continues Tuesday and Wednesday nights (7 p.m., FSW) and Thursday afternoon (12:35 p.m., FSW).
NHL playoffs: Eastern Conference finals, Game 5: Tampa Bay at Boston, 5 p.m., Versus:
All tied up at two, without much rhyme, reason or rhythm, the Lightning and Bruins are now immersed in a best of three. A winner can be determined in Game 6 back in Tampa (Wednesday, 5 p.m., Versus) with a Game 7 if needed back in Boston (Friday, 5 p.m., Versus).
NHL playoffs: Western Conference finals, Game 5: San Jose at Vancouver, 6 p.m., Versus:
Two-man advantages seem to fit the Canucks well. They’re up, 3-1, in this series with a prime opportunity to close it out at home tonight. If we need a Game 6, it’s in San Jose (Thursday, 6 p.m., Versus) with a Game 7 in Vancouver (Sunday, 5 p.m., Versus).
NBA playoffs: Eastern Conference finals, Game 4: Chicago at Miami, 5:30 p.m., TNT:
C’mon, just look at Pat Riley. He doesn’t want to be back on the bench again? They’re going back to Chicago after this for Game 5 (Thursday, 5:30 p.m., TNT), but will there be a need for a Game 6 in Miami (Saturday, 5:30 p.m., TNT) or a Game 7 on Memorial Day in Chicago (5:30 p.m., TNT)?
MLS: Galaxy vs. Houston, Home Depot Center, 7:30 p.m., Prime:
London is calling David Beckham again – but not for a royal wedding. He wanted to participate in a “testimonial game” Tuesday for his retiring former Manchester United teammate and close friend Gary Neville. More power to him. His plans would be to leave old England later in the week to meet up with the squad for Saturday’s game at New England (5 p.m., FSW).
Golf: 72nd Senior PGA Championship, Valhalla Golf Club, Louisville, Ky.; first round, 9 a.m., Golf Channel:
Not to be confused with the Senior Open Championship (July 21-24 in Surrey, England), the U.S. Senior Open Championship (July 28-31 in Toledo, Ohio) or the Senior Players Championship (Aug. 18-21 in Harrison, N.Y.). Tom Lehman, with three wins in eight Senior Tour events this year, is the Senior PGA Championship defending champ. Golf Channel has the second round Friday, while NBC has the weekend (Saturday and Sunday, noon.). Meanwhile, on the PGA Tour, Justin Day defends his title at the Byron Nelson Championships (first two rounds on Golf Channel; final two on CBS).
MLB: Dodgers vs. Florida, Dodger Stadium, 7 p.m., Prime:
The Marlins won two of three against the Dodgers in Miami back in late April — only giving in on the last game of the series in extra innings. Marlins’ 21-year-old right fielder Mike Stanton, the former Notre Dame of Sherman Oaks standout who has yet to put in a full big-league season, leads the team to this point in homers and runs scored. The bigger news: Marlins ace Josh Johnson, with an MLB-best 1.64 ERA, is on the DL with a sore right shoulder and could be out until early June. The series concludes with games Saturday (7 p.m., Prime) and Sunday (1 p.m., Prime).
MLB: Angels at Minnesota, 5 p.m., FSW:
The day before this series, the Twins will have held a memorial service at the ballpark for the late Harmon Killebrew. Maybe that’s a blessing — taking away any attention from the fact that the franchise has the worst record in baseball to this point and is last among the 30 teams in scoring runs. The series ends Saturday (4 p.m., Channel 11) and Sunday (11 a.m., FSW).
MLS: Galaxy at New England, 5 p.m., FSW; Chivas at Columbus, 4:30 p.m., Prime:
Why leave the Home Depot Center vacant on a Saturday night?
Soccer: UEFA Championships League final: Barcelona vs. Manchester United, 11 a.m., Channel 11:
Barcelona might be the best kickball team in the world, and Man-U is probably the most popular and valuable franchise in the world. Let’s meet up at Wembley Stadium for a rematch of the ’09 game in Rome, won by Barcelona. Winner gets the European Cup and a shot at Europa League champ Porto in the Super Cup in Monaco in August.
MMA: UFC 130: Rampage Jackson vs. Matt Hamill, 6 p.m., pay-per-view ($44.95):
When Rampage Jackson (31-8) steps into the octogon at the MGM in Las Vegas against Matt “The Hammer” Hamill (10-2), it’ll look as if he forgot to put the lock on his bicycle. What’s up with that heavy-duty chain around the neck?
If you’re local Pep Boys store doesn’t carry the steel links, go ahead and buy your own souvenir Rampage chain for $12.95 at the UFC online story (SKU ID #290283). There’s one review of the chain posted on the site from “so cool sewell” of Raleigh, N.C., who says it has “good length” and is “stylish,” and “I love to wear it and make friends laugh during fights. its great but just wish you had rampage’s name on it.” The bottom line: “No, I would not recommend this to a friend.”
NASCAR: Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway, 3 p.m., Channel 11:
The traditional second act to the day-long motorsports extravaganza, and Carl Edwards (below) has more incentive to add onto his All-Star win Saturday. Last year, Kurt Busch became one of the few who’ve won both the NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race and this Coca-Cola 600 in the same season at Charlotte, collecting $1.4 million for the two wins. The others: Kasey Kahne (2008), Jimmie Johnson (2003), Jeff Gordon (1997), Dale Earnhardt (1993), Davey Allison (1991) and Darrell Waltrip (1985).