Highlights of the week ahead in sports, both here and afar:
THIS WEEK’S BEST BET
Pro Football Hall of Fame induction ceremonies, NFL Network, 1 p.m.:
Congrats to enshrinees Ed Sabol, Shannon Sharpe, Marshall Faulk, Richard Dent, Chris Hanburger and Deion Sanders get the Century 21 yellow jacket treatment in Canton, Ohio, without the exhibition game the next day to preen about. For our money, though, we’d prefer to focus a little less on them and little more on Les Richter, maybe the least known of the seven going in by today’s NFL fan.
The Rams’ 6-foot-3 linebacker from 1954-’62 came to L.A.. after 11 players were traded to the expansion Dallas Texans to get him. Then the Rams had to wait two years while he served in the military. When he arrived, he made eight Pro Bowls in nine seasons, collecting 16 interceptions, but also played some center, and handled the placekicking duties earlier in his career, leading the team in scoring in ’55 and ’56.
He never missed a game in his 112-game career, despite taking 14 stitches after being hit in the head with a helmet during a skirmish in Baltimore, playing with six preseason games and all 12 regular season games with torn cartilage in his knee in 1958, and twice playing with a broken cheekbone in ’61. “It’s always puzzled me why Les was not in the Hall of Fame,” said Frank Gifford. “I don’t know any linebacker in that era who even compared to him. When you prepared to play the Rams, Les was the guy that you really game planned for. He was their defense. He was successful in business, he was successful in life and was a great person.”
Before he died a year ago at age 79, Richter was also the first president of Riverside International Raceway and then a NASCAR executive. He was on the list of 25 nominees under consideration for the NASCAR Hall of Fame’s Class of 2012. Again, well deserved for a man who made his mark with his own Richter scale.
MLB: Dodgers at San Diego, 7:05 p.m., Prime:
With Comic Con come and gone, what’s the catch here? The somewhat superhero performance of Clayton Kershaw (12-4), of course. Having just racked up four wins in July, he could use four more in August and September to reach 20 — and there’s a great chance he can win two this week alone. He hasn’t faced the NL West-trailing Padres yet this year, but he comes in walking far fewer than he’s striking out, a huge problem even earlier this season before he made the All-Star team. Unless you fit in a trip to Del Mar on the way down, plan for a letdown in games Tuesday and Wednesday (both 7:05 p.m., Channel 9), no matter who’s been traded away by then.
NFL: “Ed Sabol: King of Football Movies,” NFL Network, 5 p.m.:
An hour-long documentary on the man who created the way you see the NFL today. With repeats (tonight, 9 p.m., as well as Saturday at 11 a.m. and 11 p.m.)
MLB: Angels vs. Minnesota, Angel Stadium, 7:05 p.m., Channel 13:
It’s a banner day for Ervin Santana — a shot at going Johnny Vander Meer on the baseball world, following up on his freaky no-hitter last week in Cleveland by facing a Twins team that he hasn’t met up with season and is only 2-3 in his career, allowing a .283 batting average. The banner they’re giving away, by the way, commemorates the team’s 50th anniversary, with pictures of some 15 Angels on it. None of whom are Santana.
After the middle game Wednesday (7:05 p.m., FSW), they’re giving away a plaid O.C. skater hat (Thursday, 7:05 p.m., FSW). One with a flat bill. Like how Santana does it.
MLB: St. Louis at Milwaukee, 5 p.m., MLB Network:
That Cardinals shortstop looks familiar. But it’s not David Eckstein.
Swimming: ConocoPhillips National Championships, at Palo Alto, Calif.:
The event at Stanford University’s aquatic center will have Olympic gold medalists such as Jason Lezak, Ryan Lochte and Peter Vanderkaay in the field. Universal Sports has coverage today and Wednesday, while NBC has it Saturday (1-3 p.m.) and Sunday (2-3 p.m.)
MLS: Galaxy at Portland, ESPN2, 7:30 p.m.:
Ask Becks if he knows “The Lumberjack Song.” And will he be humming it tonight. The Timbers, in their first season with the league, actually have this guy as their mascot.
WNBA: Sparks vs. Connecticut, Staples Center, noon, NBA TV:
This is the first of six in a row at home is the annual summer camp day promotion, hoping to get as many kids into the joint. The home run continues against Maya Moore and Minnesota (Sunday, 5:30 p.m., NBA TV), which is a Gospel Night post-game concert with Tye Tribbitt.
Golf: WGA Bridgestone Invitational in Akron, Ohio, first round, 11 a.m., Golf Channel:
Tiger Woods’ 11-week layoff apparently ends, since he says on his website he’s fit enough to join the field for the $8.5 million event that he won seven times in a previous lifetime. A year ago, though, he was just 78th in the 80-man field. By missing the last three months, including the last two majors, Woods has fallen from No. 81 to No. 133 in the FedEx Cup standings, and only the top 125 players qualify for the opening round of the PGA Tour’s four weeks of playoffs. This is really a test run for the PGA Championship next week in Georgia. Where, if the organizers really wanted to make things fun, they’d pair him up with Adam Scott (and caddie Steve Williams). Golf Channel has the second round Thursday (11 a.m.) while CBS has the final two rounds (Saturday, 11 a.m., and Sunday, 10 a.m.). The rest of the PGA has an open invite to the $3 million Reno-Tahoe Open.
MLB: Angels vs. Seattle, Angel Stadium, 7:05 p.m., FSW:
It’s our understanding the these Mariners recently ended a 17-game losing streak, where they went from a 43-43 record to 43-60. Four of the losses in that stretch came against the Angels in Anaheim between July 7-10. They’ll have seven more to play against each other after this series that goes through Saturday (6:05 p.m., FSW, followed by a concert from Ludacris) and Sunday (12:35 p.m., FSW). Felix Hernandez will likely miss his turn, but the Angels should meet fellow AL All-Star Michael Pineda, the rookie who they tagged for seven earned runs in five innings of a 9-3 win on July 9.
MLB: Dodgers at Arizona, 6:40 p.m., Prime:
Because a snake-bit team can never face a swarm of Diamondbacks too many times in one stretch. A three-game series in Phoenix right after the All-Star break netted two losses, and this past weekend at Dodger Stadium was another non-joy ride. This three-game framework back in the desert continues Saturday (5:10 p.m., Prime) and Sunday (1:10 p.m., Prime).
MLS: Galaxy vs. Dallas, Home Depot Center, 7:30 p.m., Prime Ticket (delayed at 8:30 p.m.):
The Galaxy doesn’t do enough trading players. This game, they’re handing out Upper Deck trading cards to the paying customers. After this, the boys have a couple weeks off before their next MLS game on Aug. 20.
Mixed martial arts: UFC 133: Tito Ortiz vs. Rashad Evans, 6 p.m., PPV:
The Huntington Beach Bad Boy and (perhaps) former beau of Jenna Jameson (who had twins with him a few years back), and one of the sport’s bigger names years ago once turned down this match in Philadelphia as the fill-in for the injured Phil Davis, who was in for the injured Jon Jones. Turns out, another fighter held out for money cash, which UFC president Dana White turned down, so Ortiz came back on board. Maybe to get some cash so he could repair the Rolls-Royce he banged up recently.
U.S. Open of Surfing, Huntington Beach Pier, final day:
The mainland’s greatest show in surf ends on this day after a two-week run as the “summer’s biggest youth culture festival” with skating, BMX, music and artists. Kinda like the X Games, when it had surfing at the Huntington pier. More than 500,000 will be there on the 14-acre stretch of sand to watch John John Florence, Carissa Moore and Miguel Pupo. More info: http://www.usopenofsurfing.com/
Tennis: WTA Mercury Insurance Open, Carlsbad, final, 2 p.m., ESPN2:
They could use some insurance that top-name players are not just in the event, but make it to the finish line.
NASCAR: Sprint Cup, Pennsylvania 500, Long Pond, Pa., 10 a.m., ESPN; IRL: Honda Indy 200, Lexington, Ohio, 11 a.m., Versus:
Two hot summer vacation spots for motoring enthusiasts. Make sure the Winnebago has ample air conditioning and sewage restrictor plates.