What’s up on the sports calendar for the week ahead:
THIS WEEK’S BEST BET:
NFL WEEK 1:
Baltimore at Denver, 5:30 p.m. Thursday, Channel 4:
N.Y. Giants at Dallas, 5:30 p.m. Sunday, Channel 4:
Green Bay at San Francisco, 1:25 p.m., Channel 11:
Oakland at Indianapolis, 10 a.m. Channel 2:
We found out back in March that the NFL didn’t get its way, and the defending Super Bowl champion Ravens wouldn’t be opening the 2013 season at home, breaking a long-held tradition (going back to 2002). The reason: There’s a scheduling conflict with those who are already locked into filling the shared parking lot to attend the Baltimore Orioles’ home game on that Thursday. Well played by Denver to offer up its domain and play host to the embittered Ravens. But be careful what you wish for. The NFL has seemed to also irk the locals by marketing this “Kickoff Game” with large banners around the Broncos’ stadium of Baltimore quarterback Joe Flacco (not far from the one of Denver quarterback Peyton Manning).
Broncos fans have greeted the Flacco signage visible along Interstate 25 with car horns and screaming. One local TV sportscaster did a piece where he drew a Sharpie mustache on a Flacco banner that appeared in downtown Denver. “Who in Denver wants to drive to work in the morning and see a reminder of Joe Flacco?” asked The Denver Post’s Mike Klis. “I know it’s a unique situation where the defending Super Bowl champ opens on the road. But no circumstance will change the fact Denver belongs to the Broncos.” Maybe they just have a hard time forgetting that it was Flacco who killed any Super Bowl hopes for the AFC’s top-seeded Broncos. His 70-yard rainbow TD to Jacoby Jones to tie their Jan. 12 divisional playoff game with 31 seconds remaining set the stage for a 38-35 double OT win by the Ravens. At least those with Time Warner Cable in Baltimore have no fear of a blackout, and the Ravens fans are actually coming to grips with not being able to celebrate the way other teams have been afforded. Consider this twitter response from a ticket holder as published in the Baltimore Sun: “Now that I know the NFL celebrates opening wknd by putting Flacco MVP posters all over Denver, I’m not as upset about opening on the road.”
BEST OF THE REST
MLB: DODGERS at COLORADO, 1 p.m., Channel 9:
Clayton Kershaw, scheduled to pitch the day-time opener of this series on Labor Day, didn’t labor much in his previous two victories at Coors Field this season. He’s given up three runs in 14 innings with 13 strike outs as the Dodgers won both, including Kershaw’s 8-0 complete-game triumph on July 2.
The series continues:
Tuesday, 5:30 p.m., Channel 9
Wednesday, 5:30 p.m., Channel 9
MLB: ANGELS vs. TAMPA BAY, Angel Stadium, 6 p.m., FSW:
The Angels somehow took two of three against the Rays in Tampa last week proving Mike Scioscia’s superiority over Joe Madden. Something to look forward to as the series ends: The Angels will induct Bobby Knoop into their team Hall of Fame.
The series continues:
Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, 7 p.m., FSW
COLLEGE FOOTBALL: Florida State at Pittsburgh, 5 p.m., ESPN:
Not Monday Night Football, but an incredible simulation.
WNBA: SPARKS at MINNESOTA, 5 p.m., TWC SportsNet:
As the Sparks attempt to catch these Lynx to become the top seed in the Western Conference, they’re amidst a four-game, seven-day road trip.
Also this week:
Sparks at Atlanta, 3 p.m., Monday
Sparks at Tulsa, 5 p.m. Friday, TWC Sports
MLB: DODGERS at CINCINNATI, 4 p.m., Prime:
Chances are pretty good Yasiel Puig doesn’t slide into home plate if he hits another game-winning homer against the Reds (mostly because the Reds would eventually get their final at-bat). Cincinnati actually hasn’t been able to seek any retaliation against Puig’s antics, which capped the Dodgers winning three of four from the Reds at Dodger Stadium from July 25-28. His homer in the bottom of the 10th gave the Dodgers a 1-0 win in the last game of that series.
The series continues:
Saturday, 10 a.m., Channel 11
Sunday, 5 p.m., ESPN
MLB: ANGELS vs. TEXAS, Angel Stadium, 7 p.m., FSW:
These two still have four more to play to close out the regular season, and the AL West leading Rangers surely look forward to that. Yu Darvish, who has two of his 12 wins this season against the Angels, will miss this series.
The series continues:
Saturday, 6 p.m., FSW
Sunday, 12:30 p.m., FSW
HORSE RACING: Fairplex in Pomona, opening day, 1 p.m. first post:
With the Del Mar meet finishing up Wednesday, the L.A. County Fair rolls into motion at the five-eighths mile oval through Sept. 22. Wednesday’s events start at 4 p.m. and the track is dark Monday and Tuesday.
COLLEGE FOOTBALL: Wake Forest at Boston College, 5 p.m., ESPN:
The B.C. Eagles come to L.A. next week. Watch and learn.
USC vs. WASHINGTON STATE, Coliseum, 7:30 p.m., Fox Sports 1:
The Trojans’ path to the 2012 Sun Bowl surely came about because they avoided the wrath of Mike Leach’s Cougars last year with the new unbalanced Pac-12 schedule. Oh, not this time. Whether it’s Wittek, Kessler or some walkon who emerges as the quarterback during a closed practice in the meantime, after the opening victory at Hawaii proved there needs to be more Marquis Lee. WSU didn’t have such a cushy opener – the Cougars were at Auburn for Week 1.
Other key games today:
Florida at Miami, 9 a.m., ESPN
South Carolina at Georgia, 1:30 p.m., ESPN
Oregon at Virginia, 12:30 p.m., Channel 7
Texas at BYU, 4 p.m., ESPN2
Notre Dame at Michigan, 5 p.m., ESPN
Hawaii at Oregon State, 5 p.m., Pac-12 Network
San Jose State at Stanford, 8 p.m., Pac-12 Network
Arizona at UNLV, 7:30 p.m., CBS Sports Net
MLS: GALAXY vs. COLORADO, Stub Hub Center, 7:30 p.m., TWC Sports Net
SOCCER: WORLD CUP QUALYFING: U.S. at Costa Rica, 7 p.m. beIN SPORTS:
Landon Donovan and Omar Gonzalez are back with Team America for something far more important. “The Costa Rica game is the biggest game in 2013 for all of us because we want to win there,” said coach Jurgen Klinsmann. “We want to qualify as soon as possible for the World Cup in Brazil.” Back in March, the U.S. team outlasted a deluge of snow and wind to outlast Costa Rica 1-0 in Colorado on Clint Dempsey’s goal. This is a precursor to a U.S.-Mexico match on Sept. 10 in Columbus, Ohio.
34th AMERICA’S CUP FINAL, in San Francisco, Oracle Team USA vs. Emirates Team New Zealand, opening races, 1 p.m., Channel 4:
It’s still the first to nine wins in a best-of-17 series – one that the MLB may consider to do some day – that can run until Sept. 22. The controversial safety issues concerning the AC72 catamarans used will likely draw a lot more attention during the course of the event as well.
Day 2 is Sunday with two more races, 1 p.m., Channel 4.
TENNIS: U.S. OPEN, in Flushing Meadows, N.Y., women’s final, 1:30 p.m., Channel 2:
It all funnels into the storyline: Not only will Serena Williams be around to defend her title, but what might she be wearing, at whom may she be swearing at, and how daring will the weatherman be in predicting nice sunny skies over Arthur Ashe Stadium?
Women’s semifinals: 9:30 a.m. Friday, Channel 2
Men’s semifinals: 9 a.m. Saturday, Channel 2 (men’s final is on Monday, Sept. 9)