Play It Forward: July 25-31 on your sports calendar

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

THIS WEEK’S BEST BET

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X Games: Thursday through Sunday, at Staples Center, Nokia Theatre and L.A. Live:

The 17th annual action sports competition stays grounded, and consolidated, within the greater Staples Center local, with more than 200 athletes scheduled to avoid major medical health insurance claims while showing off their tricky moves.

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Of the eight motocross events inside Staples Center, the new twist this year is an Enduro X event for the Sunday night climax — men and women riders plow through sand, dirt, mud, logs, giant tractor tires and two-foot-wide rocks, while trying to steer clear of World Metta Peace’s locker-room stall. “It takes the most well-rounded rider to win that series,” said 2008 champion Ricky Dietrich. “You can’t be just a trials specialist and win it, or just an off road specialist. You have to have the best of all backgrounds.” That includes a little mountain goat DNA as well.

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There’s also a new downtown street circuit — no more tearing it up at the Coliseum or Home Depot Center in Carson — for the Rally Car racing on Saturday and RallyCross on Sunday. The six-turn, six-tenths of a mile run needs five million pounds of concrete barriers and 700 feet of dirt, including a 70-foot gap jump, to pull it off. They’ll have to close three streets, including Figueroa alongside the Staples Center, and 12th Street as it weaves around Gilbert Lindsay Plaza in front of the Convention Center. Think small-scale Long Beach Grand Prix. “Being in the car, ripping through streets, cranking the handbrake through intersections while door-to-door and jumping next to buildings is going to be truly epic,” said Tanner Foust, a three-time X Games rally gold medalist. Sounds a little carmagedden-ish all over again.

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X Games favorite Shawn White is listed as competitor in the skateboard vert, although there were rumors he might try rally racing, having signed a strange promotional deal with BFGoodrich Tires. “Entering the X Games race (in rally racing) would be insane,” White said. “But I want to have time to prepare. Maybe next year. Then again, maybe I’ll get into MMA instead. Isn’t that what everyone’s doing now?”

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Acting, too. He’s somehow in the new Justin Timberlake flick “Friends With Benefits” where he makes a pretty caustic cameo that will make the audience look twice to see if that’s really the same laid-back guy they’re used to seeing on TV. “They wanted me to lose it in this role, really flip out,” White told USA Today. “I was like, ‘OK, cool.’”

ABC, ESPN, ESPN2 will do 25 hours live over the four days, with 18 hours as well on ESPN’s 3D channel. So if White wigs out again, they’ll be all over it.

MONDAY

MLB: Dodgers vs. Colorado, Dodger Stadium, 7:10 p.m., Prime:

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The Rockies, considered preseason contenders for the NL West title, may be sellers at the trade deadline this week, facing a Dodgers team in a similar situation. They’re separated by a couple of games in the NL West, but it’s a battle for third place, double-digits behind the leaders. Ubaldo Jimenez, a Cy Young candidate a year ago who didn’t get on track this season until he shutout the Dodgers with a complete-game effort on June 1, could be the first to go. He misses this series having pitched Sunday. Clayton Kershaw, who has struck out 29 and walked only five during his last three consecutive victories, is scheduled to throw on Tuesday during a Fernando Valenzuela bobblehead night giveaway (7:10 p.m., Channel 9) leading to the finale on Wednesday (7:10 p.m., Channel 9).

MLB: Angels at Cleveland, 4:05 p.m., FSW:

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All-Star shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera has earned his keep, leading the Indians in every offensive category as they try to challenge Detroit for the lead in the AL Central. The Angels have already won four of six against Cleveland during two series in Anaheim back in April and May. This series includes Tuesday (4:05 p.m., FSW) and Wednesday (9:05 a.m., FSW).

TUESDAY

WNBA: Sparks at Minnesota, 5 p.m.:

This game isn’t being televised. Instead, Prime Ticket has room for something on this day in the 9:30 a.m. slot. It’s called “Perkier Boobs!” an infomercial that promotes a product that has “no more wires, hooks and adjusting straps. Discover comfort, discover great looks.” It’s the Genie Bra for those who are out of the loop and into the latchless. Maybe that will spark some interest. The latest road trip for Joe Bryant’s team includes games in Atlanta (Thursday, 4 p.m., NBA TV), Chicago (Saturday, 5 p.m.) and Indiana (Sunday, 3 p.m., NBA TV).

MLB: San Francisco at Philadelphia, 4 p.m., MLB Network:

A day after visiting the White House as the defending MLB champs, the Giants head to visit the Phillies with Tim Lincecum putting himself in front of the taunting crowd. (Matt Cain faces Cole Hammels in Wednesday’s game on ESPN at 4 p.m.)

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WEDNESDAY

MLS: All-Stars vs. Manchester United, 5:30 p.m., ESPN2:

A year ago, Manchester United trashed the MLS All-Stars 5-2, with Federico Macheda scoring the game’s first two goals. An injured David Beckham didn’t participate, but he’s been named to the MLS team this year, with Galaxy teammates Landon Donovan and Sean Franklin. Chivas midfielder Nick LaBrocca is also on the MLS squad. Man U is the
reigning English Premier League champions and 2011 UEFA Champions League runners-up, having just polished off the Galaxy in one of those friendly things at Home Depot Center on Sunday.

THURSDAY

MLB: Angels at Detroit, 10:05 a.m., FSW:

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In a four-game series where three of ‘em are under the sun, the Angels can’t shade themselves and hide from Justin Verlander (13-5, 2.24 ERA), even though he actually took a loss in Anaheim on July 5, 1-0, on a night when Dan Haren threw a two-hitter. Verlander is slotted to go Sunday (10:05 a.m., Channel 13), after games Friday (4:05 p.m., FSW) and Saturday (1:10 p.m., Channel 11).

Golf: U.S. Senior Open Championship, first round, noon, ESPN2:

From the Inverness Club in Toledo, Ohio, this comes less than a week after the Senior British Open wore the field out in Surry, England. Bernhard Langer defends his title. NBC has the final two rounds Saturday and Sunday (noon).

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Note: The official X Games breakdown for Thursday (ESPN, 4-8 p.m.; ESPN2 highlights, 10 p.m.):
BMX Park elimination, L.A. Live Event Deck, noon; Skateboard Park elimination, L.A. Live Event Deck, 2:30 p.m.; Moto X Step Up final, Staples Center, 4 p.m.; Skateboard Park final, L.A. Live Event Deck, 5 p.m.; Moto X Best Whip, Staples Center, 5:45 p.m.; Moto X Best Trick, Staples Center, 6:15 p.m.; BMX Big Air final, Staples Center parking lot 7, 7 p.m.

FRIDAY

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MLB: Dodgers vs. Arizona, Dodger Stadium, 7:10 p.m., Prime:

With giveaway weekend upon us for many MLB teams, a Kirk Gibson bobblehead night sometime during this series would have been swell timing. The Dodgers did honor him once with a ceramic statue. Vin Scully laughed when he first saw it because he said it looked like actor Stacey Keach. This one continues Saturday (7:10 p.m., Channel 9) and Sunday (1:10 p.m., Prime).

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Note: The official X Games breakdown for Friday (ESPN, noon-2 p.m.; 4-8 p.m.; ESPN2 highlights, 10 p.m.):
Skateboard Street Men’s Elimination & Womens Final, L.A. Live Event Deck, noon; 11 a.m.; Moto X Freestyle Round 1 and final, Staples Center, 4 p.m.; BMX Vert round 1, Nokia Theatre, 5 p.m.; Skateboard Big Final, Staples Center Parking Lot 7, 6:30 p.m.

SATURDAY

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Note: The official X Games breakdown for Saturday (ESPN, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., Channel 7, 1-3 p.m. ESPN2, 6-7 p.m.; ESPN, 8-9 p.m. ESPN2 highlights, 11:30 p.m.):
BMX Park Round 1 and final, L.A. Live Event Deck, 11:15 a.m.; Skateboard Street Men’s Round 1 & Final, L.A. Event Deck, 1:30 p.m.; Rally Car Racing final, Staples Center lot 7, 1 p.m.; Skateboard Vert Elimination, Nokia Theatre, 3:45 p.m.; Skateboard Vert Round 1 and final, Nokia Theatre, 7 p.m.; Women’s Moto X Racing Round 1 and Moto X Speed And Style Final, Staples Center, 7 p.m.:

SUNDAY

Tennis: Farmers Classic ATP tournament final, UCLA Tennis Center, 2 p.m., ESPN2:

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When I ruled the world, we had a tennis tournament with a Coldplay concert breaking out. Consider it done. The plan is for the group to play Wednesday night to get Westwood buzzing, and that will be a needed boost to the Kramer annual bash. The local heroes, and defending champs, won’t be causing much of a racket this time. Two-time winner Sam Querrey is out recovering from elbow surgery, leaving Mardy Fish as the top seed, and only player ranked in the ATP’s Top 10 in the event after he won last week’s tour event in Atlanta. He has a bye in the first round here. And newly minted Wimbledon doubles champs Mike and Bob Bryan say they need a week of rest, having just played Davis Cup and World Team Tennis. ESPN2 has a Friday quarterfinal (4 p.m.) and a Saturday semifinal (7:30 p.m), while Jimmy Kimmel is supposed to have some of the Coldplay performance on his late-night show (midnight, Wednesday night).

NASCAR: Brickyard 400, 10 a.m., ESPN:

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On the track, Jamie McMurray will try to defend his title. On the track infield, a Beach Bash hosted by a former Playboy Playmate AJ Alexander is planned, with all kinds of music, a bikini and “hot bod” contest hosted by Indianapolis Colts punter Pat McAfee, go-go dancers, beer pong and volleyball. Rev it up. An attendance slump has hit this track like a ton of bricks. There were 280,000 at the 2005 event, but just 140,000 last year. Or, the number of fans at Dodger Stadium in July.

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Note: The official X Games breakdown for Sunday (ESPN, 2-4 p.m.; ESPN2, 4-6:30 p.m., ESPN2 highlights, 10:30 p.m.):
Hometown Heroes skateboard street elimination and, L.A. Live Event Deck, 11 a.m.; RallyCross final, Staples Center parking lot 7, 2 p.m.; BMX Street Round 1 and final, L.A. Live Event Deck, 4 p.m.; Skateboard Game Of SK8, L.A. Live Event Deck, 5:30 p.m.; Moto Enduro X Round 1, last-chance qualifer, Womens Final, Mens Final, Staples Center, 6:15 p.m.

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