Highlights of the week ahead in sports, both here and afar:
THIS WEEK’S BEST BET
NFL season openers: New Orleans at Green Bay, Thursday, 5:30 p.m., Channel 4; Pittsburgh at Baltimore, Sunday, 9 a.m., Channel 2; Philadelphia at St. Louis, Sunday, 9 a.m., Channel 11; N.Y. Giants at Washington, Sunday, 1 p.m., Channel 11; Dallas at N.Y. Jets, Sunday, 5:20 p.m., Channel 4:
There’s the ceremonial opener in Green Bay to celebrate the new Super Bowl champs, where we can do without the pregame concert promised by Kid Rock, Lady Antebellum and Maroon 5. Then comes the full-throttle remembrance of Sept. 11, 2001, on the 10th anniversary, with a prime-time contest at the Meadowlands, and all the star power you could ask the league to provide. For many, it’s the start of Fantasy Football Leagues, three months of Sundays planting themselves on the couch, and, in L.A., five guaranteed TV games per weekend, and DirecTV’s “Sunday Ticket” expanding its service to be watched through PlayStation 3 video game consoles. God Bless America. And bless the company that has created a remote control, that has a beer bottle opener built right in. Find “My Clicker” (find it here). Just $24.99. A worthy investment.
MLB: Dodgers at Washington, 10 a.m., Prime:
More than a year – 368 days, in fact – since he left to have some Tommy John surgery, Stephen Strasburg makes his return in Game 2 of this four-game set in D.C. (Tuesday, 4:05 p.m., Channel 9). The 23-year-old from San Diego State finished 5-3 with a 2.91 ERA in 12 games last season after his June debut, striking out 92 in 68 innings and sparking talk of an All-Star appearance. Some have already called this the “Strasurrection.” The series continues Wednesday (4:05 p.m., Channel 9), with Dana Eveland earning another start for the Dodgers, and ends Thursday (10:05 a.m., Prime) under much calmer conditions.
MLB: Angels vs. Seattle, Angel Stadium, 6:05 p.m., FSW:
When he made his big-league debut for the Mariners last time in Anaheim, Trayvon Robinson had a homer and a home-run saving catch. Last week, he went 0-for-8 with seven strikeouts in the recent four-game series that the Angels and Mariners split in Seattle. This series continues Tuesday and Wednesday (7:05, FSW both games).
College football: Miami at Maryland, 5 p.m., ESPN:
An early Hurricane warning along the Eastern seaboard, with NCAA compliance officials watching with a closer eye than usual. Some Miami impact players aren’t there because of suspension. Maryland has had to suspend a few, too.
MLS: Galaxy at Kansas City, 3 p.m., Fox Soccer Channel:
Sporting K.C. is the team that gave Chad Ocho Cinco some kind of fake tryout during the NFL lockout last March. On a scale of uno to diez, he was muy malo.
WNBA: Sparks vs. San Antonio, Staples Center, 7:30 p.m., Prime Ticket:
For the second season in a row, the Sparks are trying to lock up the final Western Conference playoff spot with a losing record. Their last three are at home, starting here and including Friday (vs. Tulsa, 7:30 p.m.) and Saturday (vs. Chicago, 7:30 p.m.) before coach Jelly Bean Bryant knows whether he has the rest of the fall off.
Soccer: U.S. men at Belgium, 11:30 a.m., ESPN:
Jurgen Klinsmann’s men play its first match in Europe since 2009 against the second place team in Group A qualifying for the 2012 European Championships. These two countries haven’t met since 1998. The Galaxy’s Landon Donovan won’t be with this squad, staying home to play the MLS schedule.
Horse racing: Del Mar season closes:
The 37-day meet comes to an end with the “One Last Taste of the Track” special (linked here): A $25 ticket gets you in when the gates open at noon, the racing starts at 2 p.m, a two-hour buffet featuring 15 restaurants put out there stuff, the Del Mar Futurity, and then a concert by Super Diamond at 7 p.m. We’re a believer.
College football: Arizona at Oklahoma State, 5 p.m., ESPN:
It smells like a Sun Bowl matchup this December. Mark our words.
MLB: Angels vs. N.Y. Yankees, Angel Stadium, 7:05 p.m., FSW:
If looks mean anything, the Angels’ last 19 games over the next 20 days sure seem to be more appealing than what the Rangers have to mess with. Yet eve with Mike Scioscia’s success rate against the Yankees over the years, the Angels have already lost four of six to the Yankees during two series this year at Yankee Stadium. The series continues Saturday (6:05, Channel 13) and Sunday (12:35 p.m., FSW).
MLB: Dodgers at San Francisco, 7:15 p.m., Prime:
The Dodgers can have a giant say in who wins the NL West — of their last 19 games, 12 are against either the Giants or D’backs. The series continues Saturday (6:05 p.m., Prime) and Sunday (1:05 p.m., Prime).
College football: Missouri at Arizona State, 7:30 p.m., ESPN:
It smells like a Holiday Bowl matchup this December. Mark our words.
MLS: Galaxy vs. Colorado, Home Depot Center, 8 p.m., Fox Soccer Channel:
Without Landon Donovan or David Beckham, the Galaxy throttled the defending champion Rapids 3-1 back in June, helped by an own-goal.
Movie: “Warrior,” PG-13, in theatres nationwide:
One fights for his country. The other fights for his family. And Nick Nolte is their dad. A Lionsgate film about two brothers who end up in an MMA title fight. They’re calling it the “Rocky” of this genre, with the trumpets blaring, and way better than “The Wrestler.” From Gavin O’Connor, the director of the 1980 U.S. Olympic hockey team story “Miracle,” the word “miracle” is thrown around alot in the dialogue just based on the trailer. Maybe it’s the perfect double-date flck for the Klitchkos to take in.
College football: USC vs. Utah, Coliseum, 4:30 p.m., Versus:
Norm Chow will know which press box booth to plant himself when he returns with another team to the Coliseum, but maybe Lane Kiffin could use his knowledge instead. That Barkley-to-Woods play should be fairly easy to predict at this point. The Utes may not have as great a challenge in their Pac-12 opener as they once thought.
College football: UCLA vs. San Jose State, Rose Bowl, 7 p.m., FSW:
The Spartans are a welcome guest, no matter who the Bruins use at quarterback this week. San Jose State lost to Stanford by 54 points last week — somehow scoring three points. It’ll be closer this time.
College football: Alabama at Penn State, 12:30 p.m., Channel 7; Notre Dame at Michigan, 5 p.m., ESPN; South Carolina at Georgia, 1:30 p.m., ESPN; BYU at Texas, 4 p.m., ESPN2:
There’s probably a booth at the L.A. County Fair where you can sit and watch all these games while hamming down some deep-fried butter sticks.
Tennis: U.S. Open women’s final, 5 p.m., Channel 2:
The Tennis Channel ran a recent special about the U.S. Open’s creation of “Super Saturday” back in 1984, where anyone who’s willing to sit in the main stadium from 11 a.m. to about 11 p.m. could be in for a tennis marathon of legendary proportions. It caused one writer in the piece to comment, however: “The schedule at the U.S. Open is — how can i put this politely — a bit messed up.” Meaning, there’s a volley overload. Sloane Stephens, the 18-year-old who splits her time in Los Angeles and Ft. Lauderdale, left her mark on the first week of play. But now, the heavyweights take over, with the semifinals set for Friday (9:30 a.m., Channel 2).
Tennis: U.S. Open men’s final, 1 p.m., Channel 2:
If Rafa Nadal muscles his way to the end against either Roger Federer or Novak Djokovic, it means that U.S. component will have long gone from this event. Not even the Bryan brothers, dumped in the first round of the doubles competition, are near here today. The semifinals are Saturday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., Channel 2.
Rugby World Cup: U.S. vs. Ireland, 10 a.m., Channel 4:
The tournament, which started Friday, becomes your alternative NFL coverage from New Plymouth, New Zealand through Oct. 23.
MLB: Chicago Cubs at New York Mets, 5 p.m., ESPN:
More 9/11 remembrances for those who want to spend the time in a New York sports facility, with the Yankees all the way over in Anaheim.
Golf: Walker Cup, noon, ESPN2:
From the Royal Aberdeen Golf Club in Scotland, officially the sixth oldest course in the world, the 10-man match of the world’s top amateurs pits a U.S. team against one combined from Great Britain and Ireland every two years. UCLA 19-year-old Patrick Cantlay will be on the American team along with Kelly Kraft, who upset him in the U.S. Amateur men’s championship recently. This is a two-hour recap of the event (televised by the BBC) which has a alternate-shot foursome and singles matches format starting on Saturday.