Play It Forward: Aug. 18-24 on your sports calendar — Who’s playing possum in the AL West?

THIS WEEK’S BEST BET:

MLB: ANGELS AT OAKLAND
Details/TV: Friday-Sunday, FSW and ESPN:
For whatever reason, the Angels continue to believe the magic of their Rally Monkey, going on more than a decade. Lately, the Oakland Athletics may have a stronger tie to their own new Rally Possum. Back on August 4 at the decrepit Oakland Coliseum, a place where sewage often backs up in the dugouts and rats hold conventions, a small possum appeared scurrying around on the warning track by the A’s bullpen. It held up the game, tied at 2-2 in the 10th inning, before vanishing under the stands just as the A’s Sam Fuld was coming to the plate. Fuld got a hit. Two more batters walked. And then with two outs and two strikes on him, Derek Norris pulled off the game-winning hit to beat Tampa Bay. Within minutes, fans were tweeting about the #RallyPossum.
080914_oak_possum_twitter_tiyozfoeFive days later, the possum made another sprint onto the warning track, just the A’s were amidst defeating the Twins, 9-4. Coincidence? “We’ll get behind anything,” said A’s first baseman Brandon Moss. “I love that kind of stuff … but then again, I’m kind of ADD … If the people in Anaheim aren’t sick of that rally monkey, I guess nothing gets old.”
mockup1Jeff Smardzija, obtained by the A’s from Chicago on July 4 to bolster Oakland’s staff, has benefited most from the possum appearances during his outings. “He knows when to show up – at the down times in the game. He must have a little ego on him, which I don’t mind. We’re going to have to give him a name, get him a jersey. We’ve got to keep feeding him.”
The Angels are hardly playing possum in the AL West race, finally catching up last weekend with some 40-odd games to play. The A’s have already won six of the first nine meetings, and there are four more to play in Anaheim at the end of this month, plus three more in Oakland in late September to really make this interesting. For this series, the climax on Sunday should put the A’s latest star pitching acquisition, Jon Lester, up against the Angels’ Jered Weaver. The series goes Friday (7 p.m.) and Saturday (6 p.m.) on FSW and Sunday (5 p.m.) on ESPN.

Before that, the Angels have to take a red-eye to Oakland after playing four in Boston. The Dodgers have a home series against San Diego and the New York Mets this week. The rest of the time we’ll see a Clippers Fan Fest on Monday, the conclusion of the 75th Little League World Series on Sunday, and in between, the Sparks start the WNBA playoffs, the Pacific Classic runs at Del Mar and the movie “When The Game Stands Tall” comes out about the Concord De La Salle football team, starring Jim Caviezel, below right, as coach Bob Ladouceur, left. Here’s a link to everything else.

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