Highlights of the week ahead in sports, both here and afar:
THIS WEEK’S BEST BET
MLB: 82nd All Star Game, 5 p.m., Channel 11:
A retractable roof. The swimmin’ pool in right field. And movie stars. Why can’t Kirk Gibson’s new house in Phoenix be a destination spot in the middle of July? Midwest snowbird Bud Selig has a air-conditioned place in Scottsdale, too. Yet, some say he may be sweating out how this is all going to play out.
Not so much about why this annual exhibition still determines World Series home field for the league that wins. There’s the unbearable heat. And those protests that will be outside the Chase Field about SB 1070, Arizona’s controversial immigration law. Arizona Republic columnist Dan Bickley wrote the other day: “Fortunately for Major League Baseball, the (political) climate in Arizona has improved dramatically, even if the weather remains perfectly awful. … So quit whining about the heat. And pray that another generator doesn’t go boom before the final pitch.” And that no one litters in the pool, even if they’re excited about seeing Andre Ethier take his spot there in right field.
MLB: Home Run Derby, 5 p.m., ESPN:
Time to grip it, rip it, raise the roof, turn up the heat and down some Cactus Cooler. Or go out and watch “The Zookeeper.”
The NL team (with the Bodog.com odds to win): Matt Kemp (7/1), Prince Fielder (7/2), Matt Holliday (4/1) and Rickie Weeks (12/1). The AL team: David Ortiz (7/2), Adrian Gonzalez (7/1), Jose Bautista (the 3/1 favorite) and Robinson Cano (15/2). Who’s not playing: Albert Pujols, Josh Hamilton, Lance Berkman, Mark Reynolds, Alex Rodriguez, Mike Stanton, Ryan Howard, Mark Trumbo, Jamie Carroll (just seeing if you’re paying attention), Ted Kluszewski (deceased), Rip Repulski (also deceased), Greg Luzinski (not eligible), Barry Bonds (not yet retired), Ryan Braun, Jay Bruce, Curtis Granderson and Mark Teixeira, the last of whom Ortiz says he wanted on the team, but the Yankees first baseman decided that since he wasn’t voted into the game, he’ll stay home instead. Slug it out, boys.
WNBA: Sparks at San Antonio, 5 p.m., Prime:
An elbow thrown by Sparks guard Kristi Toliver in a game last week at Phoenix that bloodied the eye of defender Ketia Swanier and led to her wobbling off the court was deemed a “cheap shot” on ESPN’s “Pardon The Interruption” last week — and downgraded from an “A” to a “B” by Tony Kornheiser because the Sparks didn’t win the game. In fact, they lost by almost 20. But it got the team some national exposure, right? The Sparks go at this one with a new head coach, Joe Bryant, and they end their roadie Friday in Tulsa (who also has a new coach) and then finally come home to take on Washington at Staples Center (Sunday, 5 p.m.).
Soccer: Women’s World Cup semifinals: U.S. vs. France, 8:30 am., ESPN; Japan vs. Sweden, 8:30 a.m., ESPN:
Name three players on the French women’s kickball team? Easy. Gaetane Thiney, Elodie Thomis and Corine Franco. Only because they posed nude in the German newspaper, Bild, earlier in the tournament, under the headline: “Is this how we should show up before you come to our games?” They said they did it to “raise awareness” of the womens’ game, but also in response to some German players posing in Playboy last month. “We wanted to provoke and to generate some discussion,” said Thiney. And then lost to Germany. They’re in the semifinals, though, after stunning England in the quarters, the same round where Japan upset Germany. France is all that’s left standing in the way of the Americans reaching the finale. That’s the naked truth.
Special: “The Curious Case of Curt Flood,” HBO, 9 p.m.:
Forty-two years ago, outfielder Curt Flood refused to be traded from St. Louis to Philadelphia — he was supposed to go with catcher Tim McCarver, outfielder Byron Browne and left-hander Joe Hoerner to the Phillies for first baseman Richie Allen, second baseman Cookie Rojas and right-hander Jerry Johnson. Flood petitioned commissioner Bowie Kuhn to declare him a free agent. Kuhn denied Flood’s request, citing baseball’s reserve clause that kept a player bound to his original team even when his contract expired. Flood sued baseball, saying he wanted to “give every ballplayer a chance to be a human being and to take advantage of the fact that we live in a free and democratic society and he should have some choice. That opened the flood gates. He sat out the entire 1970 season waiting for the Supreme Court to rule on it. Neither his career, nor his life, would be the same. HBO’s latest documentary project talks to Flood’s widow, Judy Pace Flood; his daughter, sister, friends and former teammates (including Joe Torre and McCarver), as well as historians, journalists, attorneys and players who benefited from his actions all these years later. More info: (linked here)
Series: “The Franchise: A Season With The San Francisco Giants,” 10 p.m., Showtime:
A documentary-worthy franchise, coming off their improbable World Series win, with a black-bearded relief pitcher and a former Cy Young winner who wonders if he can even keep his spot in the rotation (that’s Barry Zito, with personal trainer Alan Jaeger). We’ll see if Juan Uribe has a thumbs up or down after this first episode.
The 19th annual ESPY Awards, Nokia Theatre, 6 p.m., ESPN:
Sorry, too late to register a vote (linked here). Otherwise, we vote not to watch from L.A. Live. Even with Seth Meyers as the host again (it beats Tony Danza, Jeff Foxworthy or Matthew Perry, who’ve all tried it before). By the way, did you know that ESPYs actually stand for something: Excellence in Sports Performance Yearly. Yeah, that’s a real stretch.
Golf: The 140th British Open, first round, 4 a.m. to noon, ESPN:
Nice Claret Jug there, Bobby Jones. Which reminds us: The women’s tour has its own British Open. Yet, for the last six years, females have had every chance in the world to qualify for the “other” British Open, otherwise just known as The Open Championship. Why in the name of Mildred Ella “Babe” Didrikson Zaharias hasn’t it happened in the 100 years since she was born? Royal and Ancient Club Chief Executive Peter Dawson said recently he doubts he will see it. “It’s certainly gone off the agenda, hasn’t it?” said Dawson at the all-male Royal St. George’s Club, where this year’s championship takes place. “I don’t expect to see a woman trying to qualify in my lifetime, but the opportunity is there.” Rory McIlroy sees this as an opportunity to be the first since Tiger Woods in 2000 to win both the U.S. Open and the British Open in the same summer, going in as a favorite. “But it’s The Open championship because it’s very ‘Open,’” said McIlroy chum, Lee Westwood. “You get people that you don’t expect to win winning and you get the favorites winning. The weather is a bigger variable than at most other tournaments because the tide changes and things like that. But that’s part of the joys of an Open Championship.” ESPN has all four rounds continuing with Friday’s play at 4 a.m., the third round Saturday (6 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.) and the final round Sunday (5 a.m. to 10:30 a.m.)
2011 World Series of Poker, main event, Day 3, 1-4 p.m. and 8-11:30 p.m., ESPN2:
Shake your Moneymaker, from the Rio in Vegas: It’s the first time that the network will go with “live” unedited hole cards airing on a 30-minute delay. The network has six days in a row for all this, with Lon McEachern, David Tuchman and a new sideline reporter, Kara Scott. The actual delayed telecasts of the WSOP start on Tuesday, July 26 with McEachern, Scott and Norman Chad, for 16 consecutive weeks leading to the final nine on Nov. 8.
MLB: Angels at Oakland, 7:05 p.m., FSW:
They’ve snuck a double-header into this one, on Saturday (1:05 p.m., Channel 11, and then at about 4 p.m., FSN) — two games for the price of one. Sunday’s finale (1:05 p.m., Channel 13) features an MC Hammer bobblehead giveaway, honoring the team’s former batboy. Can’t touch that.
MLB: Dodgers at Arizona, 6:40 p.m., Prime:
Three Dodgers got to stick around in Phoenix for a couple of days after the All-Star game. Check their tan lines. The weekend retreat continues Saturday (5:10 p.m., Channel 9) and Sunday (1:10 p.m., Prime), with Clayton Kershaw set to throw in the opener, no matter how little the big league’s strike-out leader (tied with Justin Verlander) threw in Tuesday’s exhibition.
Soccer: Galaxy vs. Real Madrid, Coliseum, 7 p.m., ESPN2:
The World Football Challenge, not to be confused with the Women’s World Cup, pits Beckham and Donovan against Kaka and Ronaldo. Hopefully far enough from the freeway construction on the 405. Stay home and use the tele.
Soccer: Chivas vs. N.Y. Red Bull, Home Depot Center, 7:30 p.m., Prime:
Bad timing for a good L.A.-N.Y. meeting. Most local soccer fans will be closer to downtown.
Soccer: Women’s World Cup final, 11 a.m., ESPN:
It’s the part of the tournament where Brandi Chastain disrobes on the ESPN studio set in Frankfurt, Germany. The third-place game is on Saturday (8 a.m., ESPN2).