Highlights of the week ahead in sports, both here and afar:
THIS WEEK’S BEST BET
X Games 2012: Thursday through Sunday, Staples Center and vicinity, Channel 7, ESPN and ESPN2:
Not sure why, but we haven’t been sleeping well lately. There’s been this recurring dream — OK, call it one holy nightmare — where the giant Randy’s Donuts sign has snapped off its moorings over by the 405 in Inglewood, gained speed as it rolled way over to Staples Center and then somehow morphed into this spinning monster that chases cars all over the place. Add to that some toxic green waterfalls, death-dealing taco trucks and even a mythical kraken, and maybe we should stop watching promos for the latest X Games invasion into downtown L.A. after binge eating foot-long jalapeno dogs at Pink’s.
Now that would be a real natural disaster if it ever came alive.
Things are about to get real, the TV spots insist (linked here), but the real news is how early this 18th version of the Gen X never-ending docudrama – slash – “Jackass” free-for-all stunt show has decided to kick off in June for the first time. This thing is old enough to vote now, and many of the top competitors are exercising their right to be part of the U.S. Olympic movement — a residual effect of how far this has come to being accepted as a staple to the “legit” Olympics in London from late July to early August. This is the 10th straight year that ESPN has planted it ramps and crash barriers in our area code, and the kids are still talking about how a year ago, Travis Pastrana fell down bigtime trying to do a rodeo 720 (“the toilet paper roll”) in the motocross, Shaun White won a skateboard vert gold to break Pierre Luc Gagnon’s three-year winning streak, and Liam Doran drove off in the Rally Car event on his first try. This year, the Moto X Freestyle highlights the first day Thursday (6:30 p.m.) inside Staples Center, with the Skateboard Big Air final on Friday (6 p.m.) on Chick Hearn Court and the Skateboard Vert final on Saturday (7:30 p.m.) at the Nokia Theatre leading up to the final day’s highlights: Skateboard Street final on the event deck, the BMX Big Air final (6:30 p.m.) on Chick Heart Court, the Moto X Enduro (8:30 p.m.) in Staples Center, plus RallyCross final at Lindsay Plaza (3:30 p.m.). Here’s the complete schedule (linked here).
Yet, the thing that we’re anticipating most is the Hot Wheels Double Loop Dare in nearby Gilbert Lindsay Plaza from 11:20 a.m. to noon on Saturday. X Games RallyCross driver Tanner Foust and Hollywood stunt driver Greg Tracy will try to break a world record for racing two vehicles through a six-story double vertical loop. Breaking who’s record again? The two will get up to about 52 mph (seems kinda slow), drive into a 66-foot tall loop (seems kinda small) and hit seven times normal gravity as they drive through it (seems kinda stupid). It’s just like your Hot Wheels do on a daily basis, without a mini driver, on the new Double Dare Snare track set. We’re telling you, it’ll be boss.
Roger Federer (2009), Novak Djokovic (2011) and Rafael Nadal (2008) after winning at Wimbledon.
Tennis: Wimbledon, first round, 3:30 a.m. to 2 p.m., ESPN2:
On the men’s side, there’s Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer winning 28 of the last 29 majors. The top-seeded Djokovic is the defending champ here, Nadal won it twice and Federer has six Wimbledon titles among his 16. Sorry, but Andy Murray’s chance of winning Great Britian’s first Grand Slam title on its hallowed grounds since 1936 … can he at least get to the semifinals? Against Andy Roddick?
The women make it much more interesting — six different players have won the last six majors. Maria Sharapova (left) waltzes in as the shiny favorite, having lost the final a year ago to Petra Kvitova, who is ranked No. 4 these days. Venus Williams (five Wimbledon titles) is back and Kim Clijsters will make news in playing in what’s likely her last appearance here. ESPN takes over from NBC as carrying this event from start to finish — no more tape delays. Most weekday action will happen on ESPN or ESPN2 from 4 a.m. to 2 p.m. ABC will also have a three-hour review of the first week during the “middle Sunday” off day (noon) and re-air the men’s and women’s finals on July 7 and 8 at noon after ESPN carries them live. Chris Fowler, Mike Tirico, Cliff Drysdale and Hannah Storm will call matches and host in the studio, with John McEnroe, Patrick McEnroe, Darren Cahill, Cliff Drysdale, Mary Joe Fernandez, Brad Gilbert and Pam Shriver providing commentary.
Swimming: U.S. Olympic trials from Omaha, Neb., 3:30 p.m., NBC Sports Network:
Michael Phelps is scheduled to compete in seven events, with rival Ryan Lochte entered in 11. Whether they actually follow through is another story. “It’s safe to say he’s entered in more events than he’ll actually swim,” Bob Bowman, Phelps’ coach, told the USA Today. The rivals could go head to head in six events, starting with today’s 400 meter IM, a gruelling race that the 27-year-old Phelps set a world record at the 2008 Bejing Games but has vowed not to do again. Over the next eight days, we could see Phelps and Lochte also compete in the 200 IM (Lochte is the current world-record holder), the 100 and 200 freestyle, 100 fly and 200 backstroke. On the womens’ side, Natalie Coughlin is entered in five events, including today’s 100 fly. She and 45-year-old Dana Torres are in the 50 free (that final isn’t until Monday, July 1). The drama of the weekend will be if 40-year-old Janet Evans can be one of the eight qualifiers in the women’s 800 free semifinals on Saturday (Channel 4, 8 p.m., delayed) to reach the Sunday finals (Channel 4, 7 p.m., delayed) and finish in the top two. “It’s fair to call her a long shot,” said her coach, Mark Schubert. Evans was sixth in her final tuneup meet last month, an 8 minute, 49.36 second time that was 15.71 seconds behind the winner. She was sixth at an April meet in 8:46.89.
MLB: Dodgers at San Francisco, 7:15 p.m., Prime:
The Dodgers, who won two of three from the Giants in L.A. back in early May, may come home from this roadie six games up in the NL West, or tied for the lead. The most interesting pitching matchup comes in the finale Wednesday (12:45 p.m., Prime) when San Francisco’s Tim Lincecum (2-8, 6.07), who hasn’t won since April 28 and gave up four runs in five innings when losing to the Dodgers on May 9, faces Chad Billingsley (4-6, 4.15), who couldn’t hold a 5-0 lead against the Angels in his last start.
College World Series final, Omaha, Neb., Game 2: Arizona vs. South Carolina, 5 p.m., ESPN:
If they need one more to decide this thing — which could be the Gamecocks’ third straight title — then Game 3 is Tuesday (5 p.m., ESPN).
MLB: Angels at Baltimore, 4:05 p.m., Prime:
The Angels already won two of three against the Orioles back in April, and the capper to this strange two-game set (Wednesday, 4:05 p.m., Prime) puts 7-1 Jered Weaver against 8-2 Jason Hammel.
WNBA: Sparks at Tulsa, 5 p.m.:
Also: Thursday at San Antonio, 9:30 a.m.
(AP Photo/Jon Super)
Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo does an overhead kick by Czech Republic’s David Limbersky during the Euro 2012 quarterfinal match between Czech Republic and Portugal in Warsaw lastThursday.
Soccer: Euro 2012 semifinals: Portugal vs. Spain, 11:30 a.m., ESPN:
Defending champion Spain, trying to win a third-straight major title, expect a tougher test from Cristiano Ronaldo and Portugal in this one than it got in the quarterfinals against France. Winner takes on either Italy or Germany (Thursday, 11:30 a.m., ESPN) in Sunday’s final from Kiev, Ukraine (11:30 a.m., ESPN).
MLB: Dodgers vs. N.Y. Mets, Dodger Stadium, 7:10 p.m., Prime:
The Eric Karros bobblehead giveaway –and if only Ross Porter was there to make that announcement — marks the opener of this four-game series that seems to have everyone’s attention in the baseball world, because after R.A. Dickey throws his knucleball at the Dodgers on Friday (7:10 p.m., Prime), the series moves to Fox on Saturday (4:15 p.m., Channel 11) and then to ESPN on Sunday (5 p.m.).
MLB: Angels at Toronto, 4:07 p.m., FSW:
The split four games in Anaheim back in May, and that included the Angels’ Jerome Williams registering a 4-3 win against the Blue Jays. Williams, on the 15-day DL and unable to return until after the Fourth of July, will throw a simulated game while the team is in Baltimore has he tries to recover from leaving during his last start with shortness of breath and a lot of anxiety. This four-game schedule continues Friday (4:07 p.m., FSW), Saturday (10:07 a.m., FSW) and Sunday (9:07 a.m., FSW).
NBA Draft, in Newark, N.J., 4:30 p.m., ESPN:
After the league-owned New Orleans Hornets take Kentucky’s Anthony Davis with the No. 1 overall pick — and that’s no reach, even for a 6-foot-11, 19-year-old shotblocker — then it’s up to Charlotte to nab Wildcats teammate Michael Kidd-Gilchrist at No. 2. Or not. Or the Bobcats bob and weave and snatch up Kansas’ Thomas Robinson. Will the Celtics trade up to get Austin Rivers?
Gymnastics: U.S. Olympic trials from San Jose, 2:30 p.m., NBC Sports Network:
Three members of the women’s 2008 Olympic Team have qualified to compete in this one — All-around champion Nastia Liukin (left), who won five medals in Beijing; Alicia Sacramone, the 2010 world vault champion, and Bridget Sloan, the 2009 World all-around champion. The men’s field of 15 includes 2012 U.S. all-around champions John Orozco and Jordyn Wieber as the four-day competition concludes on Channel 4 on Saturday (1 p.m.) and Sunday (9 p.m., delayed)
Golf: PGA AT&T National at Bethesda, Md., first round, noon, Golf Channel:
Tiger Woods, K.J. Choi, Jim Furyk and defending champ Nick Watney are in the field at the Congressional Country Club. Channel 2 has the final two rounds Saturday and Sunday.
MLB: Philadelphia at Miami, 4:10 p.m., MLB Network:
Trade rumors around Phillies starter Cole Hamels (10-3, 3.03) will only heat up if he’s sharp, as usual, in this anticipated match up against the Marlins’ Josh Johnson.
Allyson Felix, right, competes against Carmelita Jeter in the women’s 100m semis at the U.S. Olympic Track and Field Trials last Saturday.
Track and field: U.S. Olympic trials in Eugene, Ore., 9 p.m., Channel 4 (delayed):
Allyson Felix can’t allow any photo finish to determine whether she’ll represent the U.S. again in the women’s 200 meters. After that Kodak moment in the women’s 100 last week, where she tied for the final spot with Jeneba Tarmoh and they still haven’t figured out how to decide it, the former L.A. Baptist and USC star knows there are two Americans quicker than her over 200 this season — but only the first three again here will be running this for the Americans in London later in July. She’s won three individual world championship gold medals, but her only Olympic gold is in the 4×400 meter relay in 2008. “Of course I want the individual gold, but I’m at a place right now where I don’t let the sport define me,” she has said. “I know I’ll be OK if it didn’t happen…but I want it really bad so I’m going to do everything I can to make it happen.” Tarmoha is in the field again. Meanwhile, Channel 4 also has Sunday’s final day at 7 p.m. (delayed).
MLS: Galaxy at San Jose, 7 p.m., ESPN2:
It shouldn’t be news when the Galaxy (6-8-2) racks up a three-game win streak, piles up nine points in seven days, and climbs into fifth place in the Western Conference. But that’s what they’ve got to grab onto these days heading into the so-called California Classico.
Cycling: Tour de France, Stage 1: 5 a.m., NBC Sports Network; 1 p.m. (delayed), Channel 4:
They’ve made defending champ a favorite, with Bradley Wiggins a close second. Tour of California champ Robert Gesink is right on their tails.