Update: 8 a.m. TUESDAY:
How the sports week lays out moving forward, locally and nationally:
THIS WEEK’S BEST BET:
NL DIVISIONAL SERIES:
Game 1: Dodgers at Atlanta, Thursday at 5:30 p.m., TBS
Prior to the first game of their regular-season ending series against Colorado, the Dodgers’ official Twitter account released a photo with Kenley Jansen and Jerry Hairston Jr. posing next to a new logo on the Dodger Stadium outfield wall commemorating their NL West championship. Except the tweet came with the wording: “The National League Champions are finally home! #ITFDB” (The hashtagged initials stand for: It’s time for Dodger baseball). Kind of a big whiff there — it was eventually corrected to “National League West.” By then, it had already been captured, distributed and ridiculed on the Internet machine. Whether the Atlanta Braves’ followers were following along, we’ll soon see.
The Dodgers start with Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke in the first two road games of the playoffs in Atlanta against a Braves’ team that may head the NL in home runs (180, to the Dodgers’ 138), but they also seem to enjoy swinging and missing.
Atlanta led the league with 1,379 whiffs, led by Dan Uggla (171, pictured right), Justin Upton (161) and B.J. Upton (151), who rank third, fourth and fifth in the league. Kershaw led the NL in inducing strike outs with (232). With Matt Kemp out, and likely Andre Ethier, the burden falls heavily on the Dodgers’ pitching. The Dodgers have a 71-4 record when leading this year after the sixth inning. They’re 4-51 if they’re trailing at that point. And the Braves have the best bullpen in the league.
TBS has put Ernie Johnson (play-by-play), Ron Darling and Cal Ripken (analysts) with Craig Sager (reporter) on this one. They must think it’s important.
Game 2: Dodgers at Atlanta, Friday at 3 p.m., TBS
Game 3: Dodgers vs. Atlanta, Dodger Stadium, Sunday, time to be determined, TBS or MLB Network
BEST OF THE REST:
AL TIE-BREAKER GAME: Tampa Bay at Texas, 5 p.m., TBS:
When they play Game 163, throw out all the record books. Thanks to the Angels’ inability to knock off the Rangers, now we have this.
NFL WEEK 4:
MIAMI at NEW ORLEANS, 5:40 p.m., ESPN:
Last time the Dolphins started 3-0 was in 2002, but they’ve done it again with second-year quarterback Ryan Tannehill. But the 3-0 Saints have had eight 300-yard passing games in a row by Drew Brees, and a ninth here would tie his own NFL record. He has also won eight straight “MNF” starts with a 120.6 passer ratings in those games (24 TDs, 5 INTs).
NL WILDCARD: Cincinnati at Pittsburgh, 5 p.m., TBS:
Didn’t they just play three in Cincinnati to decide something. The NL Central runners-up were a whisker away from winning the division and having the best record in the NL. Now they’re reduced to this? Seems unfair.
AL WILDCARD: Tampa Bay at Cleveland, 5 p.m., TBS:
The Indians had to win 10 in a row to close the season and get to this point. Terry Francona looks like a keeper, eh?
NHL: DUCKS at COLORADO, 6:30 p.m., Prime:
Teemu Selanne’s final season – we’re told – is underway. Expect an avalanche of coverage, starting against these Avs.
Ducks at Minnesota, Saturday at 5 p.m., Prime
Ducks at Winnipeg, Sunday at 5 p.m., Prime
NHL: KINGS at MINNESOTA, 5 p.m., NBC Sports Net:
Jonathan Quick, Anze Kopitar, Dustin Brown, Mike Richards, Jeff Carter and Drew Doughty are among the 16 players back in black from the 2012 Stanley Cup winning roster. Who’s missing: Rob Scuderi, Dustin Penner and Jonathan Bernier. Can Willie Mitchell come back and make up the difference? Will Matt Frattin be effective on left wing? Time to start finding out with a Wild beginning.
Kings at Winnipeg, Friday at 5 p.m., FSW
UCLA at UTAH, 7 p.m., Fox Sports 1:
The 3-0 Bruins shifted into their “school is in session” mode – meaning, practices at 7 a.m., go to class, then circle back for meeting at 4:30 p.m. The team had all of last week’s bye in the schedule to get used to it. So then, why break up the routine with a weekday contest? The only loss for 3-1 Utah was a 51-48 decision against Oregon State in overtime. Quarterback Travis Wilson has thrown for nine TDs and run for five.
NFL WEEK 5:
BUFFALO at CLEVELAND, 5:25 p.m., NFL Network:
The Brian Hoyer story continues, now in prime time.
NL DIVISIONAL SERIES:
Game 1: NL wildcard winner at St. Louis, 2 p.m., TBS:
The Cardinals deserved this spot, but not having to face their NL Central rival again, whether it be Pittsburgh or Cincinnati.
Game 2: At St. Louis, Friday, TBS or MLB Network
Game 3: At Cincinnati or Pittsburgh, Sunday, TBS or MLB Network
AL DIVISIONAL SERIES:
Game 1: Detroit at Oakland, 6:30 p.m., TBS
Game 1: AL wildcard winner at Boston, TBS or MLB Network:
Miguel Cabrera could only manage the ‘single crown’ this year — another batting title, his third in a row. His stats are actually better this season than when he won the AL MVP a year ago. Last year he batted .330 with 44 homers and 139 RBIs. This year he had 44 home runs and 137 RBIs with a .348 average. Repeat?
PRESIDENTS CUP, at Dublin, Ohio, final day, 9 a.m., Channel 4:
Murfield Village Golf Club in Dublin, Ohio is home course for Fred Couples’ Team America, which includes the usual suspects: Led by No. 1 Tiger Woods and No. 3 Phil Mickelson, there’s also Brandt Snedeker, Matt Kuchar, Keegan Bradley, Hunter Mahan and Riviera winner Bill Haas on the 12-man roster for the biennial event. But no Bubba Watson? And no Jim Furyk, who had a perfect 5-0 record for the U.S. during the 2011 event in Australia but wasn’t a Couples pick after he barely missed qualifying in the top 10? Furyk, up to No. 13, is ranked higher in the world than anyone on the International team except for Masters champ and No. 2 Adam Scott. The visiting team (the rest of the world, except Europe, since they’re exclusive to the Ryder Cup) also has Charl Schwartzel, Ernie Els and Angel Cabrera. Woods has a 20-14-1 record in this event, and seems to do well with Steve Stricker as his partner (despite how they did in the last Ryder Cup). The Americans have not lost this event since 1998 and only lost once since it was created by the PGA Tour in 1994 (with one tie, in 2003).
Golf Channel has Day 1 Thursday foursomes (9 a.m. to 3 p.m.) and Day 2 Friday four-ball (10 a.m. to 3 p.m.). Channel 4 has Day 3 on Saturday foursomes and four-ball (5 a.m. to 3 p.m.) and Day 4 singles.
NFL WEEK 5:
HOUSTON at SAN FRANCISCO, 5:30 p.m., Channel 4
SAN DIEGO at OAKLAND, 8:35 p.m., NFL Network:
They almost moved this Chargers-Raiders game to a Monday night, but decided they could get it in Sunday night, seven hours after the original 1:25 p.m. on Channel 2. The A’s need the home field for the MLB playoffs, and won’t finish up their game Saturday night against Detroit until after 8:30 p.m.. So it’s now a double-header prime-time affair in the Bay Area, and we’re not even talking about an America’s Cup sail-off.
CHIVAS USA vs. GALAXY, Stub Hub Center, 2 p.m., TWC SportsNet:
The “Super Clasico” is now “presented by Degree Men.” Not men who have a college degree. Those who go to the nth-degree to make sure they smell good. Whatever transpires, there’s only three games in the MLS regular season after this.