Highlights of the week ahead in sports, both here and afar:
THIS WEEK’S BEST BET
(AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)
New Jersey Devils’ Zach Parise puts the puck past Kings goalie Jonathan Quick in the first period during Game 5 on Saturday.
NHL Stanley Cup Finals: Kings vs. New Jersey:
Game 6: Monday at Staples Center, 5 p.m., Channel 4
If necessary: Game 7: Wednesday at New Jersey, 5 p.m., Channel 4:
OK, drama Kings. Break out the nicotine patches. Plenty of puckish experts picked the Kings to win this series in six, but that script seems to have taken some uncomfortable rewrites over the last couple of cross-country flights. Bottom line: Here’s one more chance to see the Stanley Cup lifted on the Kings’ home freezer, and perhaps Charlie Sheen will around to see it this time. He failed to adhere to the Staples Center rules that prevent patrons from leaving the arena to take a smoke break, no matter how curse words yelled at the red coat usher. The same applies to Kings’ goalies from leaving the front of the net to chase loose rubber behind the nets. In Sheen’s case, the Devils offered him tickets and a “smoking balcony” if he had wanted to come to Game 5 last Saturday in Jersey. He declined. As for Jonathan Quick, his Conn Smythe dreams may be snuffed out with another shaky game after his flaming-hot start. “There’s nothing to panic about,” says the Kings’ Rob Scuderi, who has won a Cup already in his career with Pittsburgh.
MLB: Dodgers vs. Angels, Dodger Stadium, 7:10 p.m., Prime, FSW:
A year ago, the Angels hijacked Fernando Valenzuela and let him throw out a ceremonial first pitch to help celebrate the team’s 50th anniversary. Granted, Fernando did pitch for the Halos after his Dodgers career was over. But really? When the three-game series continues Tuesday (7:10 p.m.), the Dodgers will honor longtime Angels manager Mike Scioscia with a bobblehead — not of him wearing the red and white skipper Spandex uni, but in his catcher’s stance, blocking the plate. Good thing he’s still employed. Dodgers starter Chris Capuano goes for his league-best ninth victory — seriously? — in the opener. Does he know the Angels have an 80-59 all-time record in road interleague games — the best ever in baseball?
NBA Finals Game 1: Miami at Oklahoma City, 6 p.m., Channel 7:
In the context of the aborted regular season, there’s nothing to gauge as to who’d have the upper hand. The Heat and Thunder split two games, winning on their home court. OKC’s 103-87 triumph on March 25 came via Kevin Durant’s 28 points, nine rebounds and eight assists. Ten days later, the Heat came back from a 10-point second quarter deficit as LeBron James had 34 points and 10 assists, Dwyane Wade scored 19 points, and Miami won its 17th in a row at home, 98-93. Durant had 30 points, but a career-worst nine turnovers. Russell Westbrook’s key contribution was pulling James down on a breakaway for a flagrant foul what James would call “a scary play. … a dangerous play,” and got Heat president Pat Riley out of his seat and Heat assistant coach Bob McAdoo got into it with some Thunder players. “Two very good teams,” Wade said afterward. “It was a playoff atmosphere here tonight. Good game, great for the fans and great competition.” From an L.A. perspective, the Thunder now have Derek Fisher as a backup guard and team leader, and the Heat roster includes former Laker Ronny Turiaf. Game 2 stays in the OKC (Thursday, 6 p.m.) with Game 3 in Miami (Sunday, 5 p.m.), both on ABC.
WNBA: Sparks at Connecticut, 5 p.m., ESPN2:
The 6-1 Sparks are off to their best start since 2003, and come off a 16-point win against Phoenix. So what if their opponents this season are a combined 3-17. This three-game road trip starts against the 5-1 Sun, led by Tina Charles (20.7 ppg, 11.2 rpg). t continues Friday in Atlanta (4:30 p.m.) and Saturday in San Antonio (5 p.m., KDOC).
Golf: Men’s 112th U.S. Open, first round, noon-to-2 p.m., Channel 4; 2 to 7 p.m., ESPN:
There’ll be plenty of time for glowing shots of the Golden Gate Bridge on its 75th birthday, references to Johnny Miller’s Northern California golf career and linking the Olympic Club in San Francisco to NBC’s coverage of the London Olympics next month. But it starts here with the USGA’s marketing brainstorm to put Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson and Bubba Watson in a first- and second-round group — a redo of the 2008 event at Torrey Pines. “I know what I would do on Thursday and Friday,” said ESPN analyst Curtis Strange. “I would Tivo that group and watch somebody else, because you’re not going to see a damn thing trying to watch these three guys. There are going to be so many people out there watching one group, it’s going to be phenomenal. I think, if anything, Bubba will be probably a little bit uncomfortable. But he’s played many times with both of them as well. Not on this stage, but between Tiger and Phil now, I think it’s much like the old Jack and Arnie era. I think the one thing they have to watch themselves over is trying too hard to beat that guy and just playing the game, playing their round, and in the first two rounds of the U.S. Open. That’s what I would be aware of, and I’m sure they are.”
There’s a lot of history on this track, having hosted the event four times previously, including Billy Casper draining a 25-foot putt on the 11th green for a birdie 3 during a playoff against Arnold Palmer in 1966 (pictured here). The final round coverage is scheduled to end Sunday at 7:30 p.m. — or way into East Coast prime time. Same with the third round on Saturday (1-to 7 p.m.). Channel 4 and ESPN share the first two rounds.
The Associated Press
College World Series at Omaha, Neb.: Opening games, 2 p.m. and 6 p.m., ESPN2:
John Savage’s UCLA (47-14) squad, without a senior but with plenty of experience from its last CWS title-game trip in 2010, goes into the final eight having won all five games in its regional and super regional and nine in a row overall. The brackets (linked here) show that five of the eight are in — including longshot Stony Brook, which upset LSU at Baton Rouge, La., in last weekend’s reginals. Pac-10 companions Arizona is in as well, and Oregon could join them if the Ducks knock out Kent State on Monday. Early-round games continue Saturday (ESPN) and Sunday (ESPN2) both at 2 and 6 p.m.
MLB: Dodgers vs. Chicago White Sox, Dodger Stadium, 7:10 p.m., Prime:
This one goes through to a Father’s Day duffle bag giveaway and a catch on the field set for Sunday (1:10 p.m., Prime).
MLB: Angels vs. Arizona, Angel Stadium, 7:05 p.m., FSW:
This one goes through to a Father’s Day BBQ oven mitt/potholder giveaway on Sunday (12:35 p.m., FSW).
Special: “Megastunts — Highwire Over Niagra Falls Live!,” 9 p.m., Channel 7:
Back in the days of “Wide World of Sports,” it was Evel Knievel trying to conquere the Snake River Canyon. Now, Nik Wallenda decides to cross the largest of the three falls that make up Niagra Falls. On a tightrope, not a rocket jet/motorcycle. It’s a two-hour special done specifically in the dark. Will it actually be live? Not here. So if something crazy happens, and you read about it on Twitter first, don’t tell us. Or we’ll fall for it. Knievel will no doubt be part of the one-hour “pre-walk” show, entitled “Countdown to Niagra: The Greatest Megastunts of All Time” (8 to 9 p.m., Channel 7). CBS will counterprogram (seriously) with “CSI: NY.”
MLB: Boston at Chicago Cubs, 4 p.m., Channel 11:
The Red Sox and Cubs, from Wrigley Field, and it’s not even Turn Back the Sport day.
(AP Photo/The News & Observer, Travis Long)
Galaxy goalie Bill Gaudette bobbles a ball kicked by Carolina RailHawks’ Brian Shriver for the winning goal during the second half of their third-round U.S. Open Cup soccer match on May 29, in Cary, N.C. The RailHawks won 2-1.
MLS: Galaxy vs. Portland, Home Depot Center, 4 p.m., KDOC-Channel 56:
Our defending MLS champions, who’ve slumped to 3-8-2, were eliminated from the U.S. Open Cup last week after squandering a lead against some club team in North Carolina called the Railhawks. Even without Beckham, Donovan, Keene and with Buddle on the bench, that’s simply embarassing. If it matters, the Galaxy, playing its first MLS game in about three weeks, has already knocked off the expansion Timbers 3-1 at Home Depot Center back in April (they’ve got another matchup in Portland in mid-July.)
NASCAR: Michigan 400, 10 a.m., TNT:
If pops wants to start his day watching this instead of “Meet The Press,” you can’t argue.
MLB: N.Y. Yankees at Washington, 10:30 a.m., TBS:
Why not make more comparisions with Bryce Harper and Mickey Mantle.