Highlights of the week ahead in sports, both here and afar:
NFL DRAFT, first round, 5-8 p.m. Thursday, ESPN, NFL Network:
Kevin Costner, Denis Leary Frank Langella and Jennifer Garner have been cast in an NFL comedy film produced by Ivan Reitman called “Draft Day.” Start the laugh track. Costner plays Sonny Weaver, Jr., the general manager of the Cleveland Browns, scrambling to trade up for the No. 1 pick while dealing with Leary (as the team’s head coach), Langella (the team owner) and Garner (a Browns’ front-office exec and love interest). Somehow, there’s got to be a role for Drew Carey.
Why it matters here — the thing probably won’t come out until late next year — is that filming will actually begin in New York this weekend during the “real” NFL Draft at Radio City Music Hall. They’ll try not to disrupt the proceedings, but part of it includes giving ESPN and NFL Network people roles “as themselves” in the flick. So if during the live draft, you see Costner run to the podium, interrupt NFL commissioner Roger Goodell and claim the team had changed its mind – now it wants USC quarterback Matt Barkley – there’ll be some context.
According to those who are in the know, Barkley and teammate Robert Woods aren’t supposed to go in this real draft until somewhere in the second round. After the Manti Te’o drama ends. UCLA tailback Jonathan Franklin? Probably around Round 4. As for Khaled Holmes, Nickell Robey, T.J. McDonald and Joseph Fauria? They’ll take the fifth.
Otherwise, the Kansas City Chiefs are on the clock at No. 1 in the now annual three-day ordeal and strongly hint they’ll be scooping up some Texas A&M offensive tackle (yawn) named Luke Joeckel – no joke. At the very least, we know he can lift Johnny Football to the heavens.
That’s supposed to start a run on that position. And keep viewers glued to the screen? Someone who hopes to eventually run past all of them (and perhaps tackle Barkley again) is UCLA defensive end Datone Jones.
The ESPN draftniks are using all the right jargon to call him the real sleeper – but does that me he should be all dressed up on Thursday or Friday. “I love his versatility,” gushes Todd McShay of Jones. “He can play left defensive end in a 4-3. He can play a five technique in a 3-4. He shows up at the Senior Bowl kinda unheralded, but he was the most dominant player every single day in practice going up against Eric Fisher, Lane Johnson, the best of the best, getting it done. Highly productive. His football character is exceptional. (He) belongs in the first round but I’m hearing it won’t be until the middle of the second.” Adds Mel Kiper Jr.: “I agree, wholeheartedly. This is a kid with power and quickness. And they already have a nickname for Jones – Da-Tone Setter. Jon Gruden loves this kid. I think late first, early second round is where he comes off the board.”
The tone set in this thing usually emotes from the gut of Chris Berman, unless you’re smart enough to watch on the league-owned channel. That’s there you’ll find plenty of upside. Especially if Garner is taking up the draft cards.
Rounds 2-3 goes Friday (3:30-to-5 p.m.) with rounds 4-7 on Saturday (9 a.m.-to-5 p.m.)
BEST OF THE REST:
CLIPPERS vs. MEMPHIS, Western Conference quarterfinals
Game 2: 7:30 p.m. tonight, Staples Center, TNT:
These two really shouldn’t be allowed in the same playoff cage year after year. First, they’re hardly geographically near each other. Second, we’re just tired of seeing Marc Gasol do so well.
Game 3: 6:30 p.m. Thursday at Memphis, TNT
Game 4: 1:30 p.m. Saturday at Memphis, TNT
ANGELS vs. TEXAS, 7 p.m., FSW:
The Angels lost two of three at Texas in the first week of the season, with the only spark coming from a two-homer game by Albert Pujols in the finale. There’s hardly the same venom directed at Josh Hamilton this time, either. Unless he’s come to look at Anaheim as a football town by now. Just look at Joe Blanton. Easily, a miscast offensive tackle.
The series goes Tuesday and Wednesday, both at 7 p.m. on FSW.
DODGERS at N.Y. METS, 4 p.m., Channel 9:
What are the odds of Hanley Ramirez coming back for this series? Gotta hand it to him. He does recover well. Clayton Kershaw is on schedule to throw in this opener at Citi Field, with Ted Lilly likely to get into the rotation sooner rather than later.
The series goes to Wednesday (4 p.m., Channel 9) and Thursday (10 a.m., Prime)
LAKERS vs. SAN ANTONIO, Western Conference quarterfinals
Game 2: 6:30 p.m. Wednesday at San Antonio, TNT:
The Spurs decided to age-up and add Tracy McGrady to the post-season roster against the Lakers. Wouldn’t David Robinson and Artis Gilmore have been better choices against Gasol and Howard?
Game 3: 7:30 p.m. Friday, Staples Center, ESPN
Game 4: 4 p.m. Sunday, Staples Center, TNT
ANGELS at SEATTLE, 7 p.m., FSW:
Expect to see Felix Hernandez sometime during the weekend. When no one’s ready for him. But then, Kendrys Morales should be hanging out every night.
The four game series continues Friday (7 p.m.), Saturday (6 p.m.) and Sunday (1 p.m.) all on FSW.
DODGERS vs. MILWAUKEE, 7 p.m., Prime:
So why isn’t Nyger Morgan on the Brewers’ roster any more? The backup outfielder, aka Tony Plush, took his act to the Japanese League, where he’s playing for the Yokohama DeNA BayStars. For 150 million Japanese yen. Wonder if he’s figured out the conversion rate yet. Check out his Twitter feed — @TheRealTPlush — for updates. As for Francisco Rodriguez, the Brewers just signed up the former Angels reliever to return to their bullpen. Just five years removed from his record 62-save season in Anaheim. How time flies.
They finish it up Saturday (6 p.m.) and Sunday (1 p.m.), both on Prime.
KINGS vs. SAN JOSE, 7:30 p.m. Staples Center, NBC Sports Net
DUCKS vs. PHOENIX, 7 p.m. Honda Center:
It’s moving day as the lockout-shortened regular season grinds to an end. Now that you’ve seen how the sausage is made again, the Kings and Sharks can make this potential first-round playoff match up a best-of-eight if they want to front load it. Or they can just pretend it has no bearing on the post-season. Going back to last week, the Sharks’ 3-2 shootout win over the Kings in San Jose kind of proves this could be something of a tight-laced tussle.
The Kings’ schedule leading up to this takes them on a back-to-back march through Minnesota (Tuesday, 5 p.m., Prime) and Detroit (Wednesday, 4:30 p.m., NBC Sports Net).
The Ducks’ schedule keeps them in Edmonton (today, 6:30 p.m., Prime) for the second of a back-to-back and then to Vancouver (Thursday, 7 p.m., Prime)
UCLA SPRING GAME, 5 p.m., Rose Bowl, Pac-12 Network:
Just to make sure we’re on the same page: Anthony Barr doesn’t do some arm-bar slam to force Brett Hundleyto tap out just to prove he belongs in the NFL, OK? After this, the next target date: Keeping the QB healthy for opening day at the Rose Bowl, Aug. 31, vs. Nevada.
NEW YORK at BOSTON, Game 4, 10 a.m., Channel 7
MIAMI at MILWAUKEE, Game 4, 12:30 p.m., Channel 7
DENVER at GOLDEN STATE, Game 4, 6:30 p.m., TNT:
You already know the Lakers could be at wit’s end by the time this day rolls around. Same with the Celtics. The Bucks could stop here. And Steph Curry may have run out of gas by now.