The silly season in baseball is underway as trade talks are heating up around baseball. Two names to watch, according to SI.com's Jon Heyman, are Phillies slugger Jayson Werth and Astros ace Roy Oswalt. "One possibility would be to trade Werth to the Rays to acquire prospects they could then send to the Astros for Oswalt, whom the Phillies covet, according to someone familiar with the talks," writes Heyman.
Philadelphia apparently is having difficulty finding a match with Houston straight-up for Oswalt and is looking to involve a third team. The Phillies and Astros deal frequently, as Astros GM Ed Wade used to be the Phillies' GM and is close to Phillies GM Ruben Amaro, adding to the plausibility of such a scenario. The Phillies play in St. Louis this afternoon, one of the highlights (all times Eastern) on a relatively quiet day in sports:
- Phillies at Cardinals (2:15 p.m., Fox Sports Mountain West) St. Louis is looking to sweep the Phillies in a four-game series for the first time in 24 years. St. Louis is 8-0 since the All-Star break. Cardinals ace Adam Wainwright (14-5, 2.02) faces Cole Hammels (7-7, 3.63).
- WNBA, Sparks at Fever (7:00 p.m., ESPN2) The Sparks have struggled without star Candace Parker, who is out for the season with a shoulder injury. Indiana's Tamika Catchings is averaging 22.8 points and 9.0 rebounds in her last four games.
- Angels at Rangers (8:05 p.m., Fox Sports West) It's a huge series in the A.L. West as Los Angeles looks to cut into Texas's five-game lead. Rangers ace Cliff Lee (8-4, 2.59) faces Jared Weaver (9-5, 3.16).
BY THE NUMBERS
45,309 - Record number of fans who attended opening day yesterday at the Del Mar race track in Southern California.
7 - Current ranking for U.S. Open winner Juan Martin del Potro, who has not played since the Australian Open in January. Del Potro announced yesterday that he will play in the upcoming Thailand Open in September.
1 - Ivy League basketball player (Harvard's Jeremy Lin) to record 1,450 points, 450 rebounds, 400 assists and 200 steals. Yesterday, Lin became the first Asian-American player signed by the Warriors since 1947, a notable signing in an area with a large Asian population.
The Lakers claimed another NBA championship last night ‚Äď the team‚Äôs fifth title in 11 seasons and 16th overall ‚Äď but there‚Äôs plenty to look forward to this weekend (all times Eastern) including a smorgasbord of World Cup soccer and the U.S. Open golf championship.
-England vs. Algeria (2:30 p.m., ESPN2)
After Robert Green‚Äôs catastrophic goaltending blunder against the United States, England returns to the pitch in a game they must win. Algeria lost its opening match to Slovenia and sit at the bottom of Group C. With the likelihood of goal differential separating the top teams, England needs as many goals as possible. It also needs Green to have a clean game for his mental health.
The defending World Cup champions face Paraguay today in a fascinating meeting between an aging and talented European power (Italy, in case you forgot) and a young and rising South American squad. Paraguay won 10 games in qualifying, more than Argentina and Brazil. SI.com‚Äôs Georgina Turner calls it a ‚Äúchess game‚Äú that will likely result in another low-scoring contest. Closer to home, the biggest question facing the U.S. team (the Americans play Slovenia on Friday) is the health of goaltender Tim Howard, as SI.com‚Äôs Peter King examines. The sports schedule (all times Eastern) features World Cup play and a light night in baseball:
-Italy vs. Paraguay (2:30, ESPN)
The Italians will be without standout playmaker Andrea Pirlo until the final game of Group play but remain strong in the back with goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon and Giorgio Chiellini, the two-time reigning Defender of the Year in Serie A. Manchester City's Roque Santa Cruz is Paraguay's most dangerous striker. Keep one stat in mind: Paraguay‚Äôs World Cup record in opening games is 1-6.
He was drafted No. 24 by the Lakers in 1996 as a 6-foot-1 senior guard from Arkansas-Little Rock, 11 picks behind Kobe Bryant. No one envisioned the big shots that would culminate his four championships with Los Angeles, and that they would keep coming two months from his 36th birthday. So writes SI.com‚Äôs Ian Thomsen of Lakers guard Derek Fisher, who finished with 16 points, including 11 in the fourth quarter in a Game 3 win over Boston. The Celtics and Lakers meet again tonight for Game 4, the highlight (all times Eastern) on a day that also features Phillies pitching ace Roy Halladay.
-World Cup Preview(7 p.m., ESPN2)
It‚Äôs a three-hour preview show (re-aired from earlier this morning) from ESPN‚Äôs studio location inside the International Broadcast Center (IBC) overlooking Soccer City in Johannesburg.¬† The program will feature all of ESPN‚Äôs FIFA World Cup studio analysts and analyze every Group as play kicks off Friday.
This weekend‚Äôs sports highlights (all times Eastern) offers plenty of championship action, from the courts of Paris to the ice of Philadelphia to the paddock at Belmont Park. The NBA Finals will also return on Sunday as the Celtics look to rebound following a dominating performance by the Lakers on Thursday night in Los Angeles:
Blackhawks at Flyers (8 p.m., Versus)
Philadelphia trails the Stanley Cup finals series 2-1 but gets another game at home following a Game 3 overtime win. Keep this stat in mind: The Flyers are 8-1 at home this postseason.
With the most heartbreaking missed call in baseball history, Jim Joyce gave official proclamation to the 2010 baseball season: welcome to The Year of the Umpire. So wrote SI.com's Tom Verducci on one of the most infamous nights on the diamond. After Tigers pitcher Armando Galarraga had seemingly thrown the 21st perfect game in baseball history - the third perfect game inside of four weeks - first base umpire Jim Joyce ruled the Cleveland Indians' Jason Donald safe on a play at first base. Video replay clearly showed the runner was out. "There is no polite way to say this," Verducci wrote. "Joyce blew the call."
The call will be water-cooler discussion throughout the day, overshadowing the retirement of Ken Griffey Jr., the Flyers win over the Blackhawks in Game 3 of the Stanley Cup finals and the beginning of a glamourous NBA Finals series between the Celtics and Lakers. The latter is the highlight on the day following one of the biggest blunders in officiating history.
The Memorial (Golf Channel, 3PM)
Tiger Woods returns to the course today in Muirfield Village, Ohio for the his first start since his injury withdrawal at the Players Championship. Questions abound about the health of Woods's neck, his mental focus, and whether he will be a factor with the U.S. Open coming in two weeks. Woods will tee off at 12:44 p.m.; Phil Mickelson is also entered in the tournament and will begin his round in the morning.
After a couple of yawn-inducing early rounds, the NBA playoffs have sizzled during the conference finals. Last night the Lakers won at the buzzer on a Ron Artest short follow of a Kobe Bryant miss. With Los Angeles leading 3-2 in the series, the teams move onto Phoenix for Game Six on Saturday night at 8:30 p.m. That critical game is part of a fantastic weekend (all times Eastern) in sports that includes the French Open and the start of the Stanley Cup finals.
Magic at Celtics (8:30 p.m., ESPN)
Can the Celtics hold Dwight Howard off for one more win? Or will this latest spurt of growth from the league's most imposing big man push Orlando to the biggest playoff comeback in league history? That is the question SI.com's Ian Thomsen is asking on the eve of Game Six of the Eastern Conference finals. The Celtics got a huge break on Thursday when the NBA announced that center Kendrick Perkins would be eligible to play in Game 6. The NBA said that one of the two technical fouls Perkins received in Game 5 was rescinded, thus not prompting an automatic suspension for accumulating seven technicals in the playoffs.
The perversity of the NBA playoffs is that success begets pressure. The better you do, the more you need to keep doing it. If you relax, you lose. So writes SI.com's Ian Thomsen of the challenge facing the Boston Celtics, who currently hold a 3-0 lead over the Magic in the Eastern Conference finals. Boston has dominated Orlando over the first three games, reducing the league's most dominant big man, two-time Defensive Player of the Year Dwight Howard, to a non-factor. The Celtics can close the series out tonight at home in Game 4, one of the highlights on a busy sports day (all times Eastern).
–French Open (5:00 AM-3:00PM, Tennis Channel) Plenty of stars will be on the court at the French Open today including Serena Williams, Jelena Jankovic, Novak Djokovic, Andy Murray and France's own Gail Monfils. Murray meets Frenchman Richard Gasquet in what could be a tricky match for the fourth-seeded Murray.
–Canadians at Flyers (7:00 p.m., Versus) Philadelphia can advance to the Stanley Cup finals for the first time since 1997 with a victory in Game 5 at home.
–Red Sox at Rays (7:10 p.m., ESPN2) The Rays are the best team in the majors at 32-12, with the league's best start since Seattle won 33 of its first 44 in 2001. Strangely, Tampa Bay has been vulnerable at home (13-7) compared to a remarkable road record (19-5). Wade Davis (4-3, 3.35 ERA) starts for the home team against Boston's Clay Buchholz (5-3, 3.26 ERA).
–Magic at Celtics (8:30 p.m., ESPN) The Magic won 59 games during the regular season and its first eight games of the postseason before grinding to a halt against Boston, who are one game away from their second finals appearance in three years.
BY THE NUMBERS 46-42 career pitching record of Jose Lima, the former major league pitcher who died Sunday at age 37.
42 Points scored by Suns forward Amare Stoudemire last night in a 118-109 Game 3 win over Los Angeles. The Suns can pull even with the Lakers with a victory at home in Game 4 on Tuesday night.
29 points scored by Stoudemire in the second half.
18 Years between Stanley Cup finals appearances for the Blackhawks. Yesterday, Chicago advanced to the NHL finals with a four-game sweep of San Jose.
‚ÄúAfter the Lakers fell to the Celtics in the NBA Finals two years ago, and Pau Gasol finished his exit interview back at the team's headquarters, he walked down to the weight room that he so often ignored, and told the trainers he was committed to getting stronger,‚ÄĚ writes SI.com‚Äôs Lee Jenkins. ‚ÄúIf he ever saw Kevin Garnett and Kendrick Perkins in a similar situation again, he had to be ready. Gasol will not admit it, but he can see them coming right now.‚ÄĚ
It sure looks that way. The Celtics are up 2-0 on the Magic, the Lakers are up 2-0 on the Suns, and this weekend will go a long in determining whether the teams will once again meet in the NBA Finals, as they did in 2008. The NBA playoffs are part of a sports-packed weekend (all times Eastern) that includes first U.S. network telecast of the European Champions League final.
-Champions League Final: Bayern Munich vs. Inter Milan (Saturday, 2:30 p.m. Fox)
Plenty of stars on the field in Madrid including the managers ‚Äď Inter coach Jose Mourinho and Bayern Munich head man Louis van Gaal. The German squad is led by Dutch winger Arjen Robben, and midfielder Mark van Bommel and German national team stars Philipp Lahm and midfielder Bastian Schweinsteiger. The Inter duo of Esteban Cambiasso and Javier Zanetti did not make Argentina‚Äôs World Cup squad but are a club force, leading Inter to a fifth consecutive Series A title. Check out SI.com‚Äôs Jonathan Wilson's preview.
The NBA Draft will be held on June 24 at Madison Square Garden in New York City but the silly season for projecting the picks is already underway. SI.com‚Äôs Ian Thomsen got into the act this week with the first version of his 2010 Mock Draft. Thomsen has Kentucky guard John Wall going to the Wizards followed by Evan Turner (Sixers), Derrick Favors (Nets), DeMarcus Cousins (Timberwolves), and Al-Farouq Aminu (Kings). The NBA won‚Äôt get back to playing until Saturday ‚Äď the Celtics and Lakers are both up 2-0 in their series - but there is baseball and an NHL playoff game tonight (all times Eastern):
Flyers at Canadians (7:00 p.m., Versus)
The Flyers are two wins away from their first Stanley Cup finals appearance since 1997 having won six straight games after losing the first three games of their previous series against Boston. The Canadians have yet to score a goal in the series as the best-of-seven series shifts to Montreal for Game 3.
The Phoenix Suns have not lost two games in a row since late January, but this week they face a challenge unlike any they‚Äôve seen in 2010: a seven-game series against the defending champion Los Angles Lakers. The NBA's Western Conference finals begins tonight in L.A. ‚Äď SI.com‚Äôs Britt Robson has the scouting report here - and promises to be a high-octane and exciting series. It's the highlight (all times Eastern) of the night in sports.
–Red Sox at Yankees (7:05 ESPN)
Baseball‚Äôs most storied rivalry comes to Yankee Stadium for a two-game series. Boston‚Äôs Daisuke Matsuzaka (2-1, 6.35) opposes New York‚Äôs Phil Hughes (5-0, 1.38)
-Suns at Lakers (9 p.m., TNT)
The Suns are the last Western Conference team to eliminate the Lakers from the playoffs. They defeated Los Angeles in both 2006 and 2007, but that was before the Lakers added Pau Gasol. Los Angeles is 7-2 against Phoenix since Gasol arrived in February 2008.¬† The Suns are the league‚Äôs hottest team, winning 36 of 45 games since Jan. 28.
Now the question is this: Has LeBron James played his last game for the Cleveland Cavaliers? Boston eliminated Cleveland last night in the Eastern Conference semifinals, the second straight season the No. 1-seeded Cavaliers were bounced prior to the NBA Finals. After the game (click here for full SI.com coverage), James gave little away about what uniform he will be wearing next season; he is eligible to opt out of his contract this summer. ‚ÄúI want to win,‚ÄĚ James said. ‚ÄúThat‚Äôs only my only concern. It‚Äôs all about winning for me. I think the Cavs are committing to that but at the same time I have given myself options to this point. Me and my team have a game plan that we will execute and we‚Äôll see where we will be at.‚ÄĚ
The team James was talking about wasn‚Äôt the Cavs, and speculation about the moves of LeBron James Inc. will be the talk of the sports world over the next few weeks. Of course, there are actual games to play in the immediate future and we highlight a few below (all times Eastern):
-Flyers at Bruins (7:00 p.m., Versus)
Philadelphia is the first NHL team since 1975 to force a Game 7 after losing the first three games of the series, and¬† can join the 1942 Toronto Maple Leafs, the 1975 New York Islanders and the 2004 Boston Red Sox as the only teams to win a series after losing the first three games with a victory tonight. But they‚Äôll have to do it on enemy ice.
After playing one of the worst games of his career Tuesday while passively settling for jump shots as his Cavaliers were surrendering their home-court advantage in an unfathomable 120-88 Game 5 loss to the Celtics, the league MVP must now galvanize Cleveland to win Game 6.
So writes SI.com‚Äôs Ian Thomsen of LeBron James, the Cleveland star who looked more MIA than MVP two days ago in Cleveland. Given James can be a free agent this summer and potentially change the course of two franchises, the game in Boston tonight has unlimited implications for the futures of many in the league. It is the five-star highlight for sports fans tonight, an absolute must-watch game.
-Cavaliers at Celtics (8 p.m., ESPN)
Over the past 24 hours James has faced a level of criticism unlike any he has seen in his athletic life. Even NBA legend Kareem Abdul Jabbar weighed in, saying James would have benefited from college and would have arrived in the NBA with "very polished" skills.
This particular Cleveland team was built to win a title and a second-round loss would be frankly inexcusable. It will also create even more of a cottage industry for speculation on what James will do as this summer as he becomes a free agent after the 2010 NBA playoffs.
For now he and his teammates have more immediate concerns: How do they stop the Celtics at home in an elimination game?
"When you look at Cleveland, you know you've got to stop LeBron," Celtics star Paul Pierce told SI.com following Game 5. "With us, we've got four or five guys who can lead using scoring, from me, Rondo, Ray, KG. You never know where it's going to come from and that's what makes us so dangerous."
"It's hard to remember anyone crashing into America's sports consciousness quite like Dallas Braden - FIRST gaining some brand of fame for talking, and THEN backing up his talk¬†in the most dramatic way," writes SI.com's Joe Posnanski¬†of the A's pitcher, who hurled the 19th perfect game in major league history on Sunday. Braden first earned some brand of fame for his very-public disdain of Alex Rodriguez after the Yankee star walked across the pitching mound in a game on April 22.
The NBA‚Äôs biggest story these days might be LeBron James‚Äô right elbow, the most examined joint in Cleveland sports history which even has its own Twitter account (@LeBronsElbow). (Watch CNN's Sanjay Gupta talk about the injury.) The Celtics and Cavs play Games 3 and 4 in their Eastern Conference semifinals this weekend, the highlights for a busy weekend in sports (all times Eastern):
-Cavaliers at Celtics (ESPN. 7:00 PM) How will the three days of rest affect LeBron‚Äôs health? He‚Äôs been diagnosed with a bone bruise and strain in his right elbow and the series outcome will likely come down to how hard he can go with the pain. Game 3 is tonight. The series is tied at 1-1.
A little more than 24 hours after receiving his second MVP trophy in his hometown of Akron, Cavs star LeBron James returns to the court tonight for Game 2 of the Eastern Conference semifinals against the Celtics. James had 35 points, seven rebounds and seven assists in a come-from-behind win in the opening game. That series highlights (all times Eastern) a playoff-heavy day of sports in the NBA and NHL.
-Flyers at Bruins (7:00 pm, Versus) and Canucks at Blackhawks (9:00 p.m., TNT)
Boston won at home in overtime to take a 1-0 lead in its series while the Canucks stole Game One in Chicago on Saturday, making tonight‚Äôs Game 2 a must-win for the Blackhawks.
-Celtics at Cavaliers (8 p.m., TNT)
"We don‚Äôt like them, they don‚Äôt like us,‚ÄĚ Cavaliers guard Mo Williams said prior to Game One. That usually makes for great theater. Cleveland 101-93 took Game One in what should be an entertaining series.
Tiger Woods (yes, him again) returns to the golf course today, his first competitive round since his fourth-place finish at The Masters earlier this month. Golf.com¬†will have all the action, including Woods's post-round comments, from The Quail Hollow Club in Charlotte. Along with Woods, Masters champion Phil Mickelson and rising star Anthony Kim are entered in the field. The tournament is one of the sports highlights (all times Eastern) on a day that includes a pair of NBA Game 6 playoff games.¬†
– Mavericks at Spurs (8 p.m., TNT) -¬†The basketball battle of Texas¬†turns to San Antonio, with the Spurs up 3-2 in the series. The Mavs have been the NBA's best road team this season and they'll have to draw on that success tonight in order to force a Game 7 Saturday in Dallas. Keep in mind: Only eight teams in NBA history have rallied from a 3-1 deficit.¬†
–Red Wings at Sharks (9 p.m., Versus) - The Sharks, the top team in the Western Conference this season, have never won a Stanley Cup while the Red Wings have defined such success over the past 10 years. Tonight, the two teams meet in the opening game of a Western Conference second round series. The Sharks lost to the Red Wings in this round in 2007.¬†
– Suns at Trail Blazers (10:30 p.m., TNT) The Suns can wrap up the series tonight following an emphatic 107-88 Game 5 victory in Phoenix. It won't be easy, though. Trail Blazers star Brandon Roy says he'll start tonight. He averaged 21.5 points during the regular season but has suffered from a torn meniscus in his right knee since the end of the regular season.¬†
BY THE NUMBERS¬†
$35,000 - Magic center Dwight Howard was slapped with a $35,000 fine for criticizing NBA officials on his blog. The Magic star was not happy about the officiating in Orlando's series sweep over Charlotte.¬†
143 - Average number of RBIs¬†over the past four years for Phillies first baseman Ryan Howard. He has 17 RBI this season.¬†
35 - Number of college football bowl games¬† expected to be played in 2011.
With the NFL Draft in the rearview mirror ‚Äď check out SI.com‚Äôs Peter King for an extensive recap column ‚Äď the immediate focus of sports fans turns to the NBA and NHL playoffs. The Monday schedule for the NHL is particularly terrific. The highlights (all times Eastern):
Capitals at Canadians (7:00 p.m., Versus)
Montreal has lost its last six games at home but has stayed alive by beating top-seeded and Presidents‚Äô Trophy-winning Washington on the road including a huge 2-1 win in Game 5. The Caps lead the series 3-2.
Sabres at Bruins (7:00 p.m., CBC)
The Bruins lead the series 3-2 and can eliminate the Sabres tonight. Boston has won its last four home games, including two in the playoffs.
It‚Äôs Day 2 of the NFL Draft following a trade-filled opening night that saw Florida star Tim Tebow land with the Denver Broncos with the No. 25 pick of the first round. ‚ÄúHindsight being 20-20 and all that, Denver would seem to be an ideal spot for Tebow to serve his NFL apprenticeship,‚ÄĚ said SI.com's Don Banks. ‚ÄúFor one, the Broncos already have two quarterbacks in Kyle Orton and the newly acquired Brady Quinn (who might be the night's real loser, come to think of it). That should give Tebow time to work on his game without even being asked to serve as an NFL backup as a rookie, let alone a starter.‚ÄĚ
While Tebow is gone, Notre Dame quarterback Jimmy Clausen and Texas quarterback Colt McCoy are among those who could be selected today when the draft resumes at 6:00 p.m. on ESPN and NFL Network. (Rounds 2 and 3 will take place on Friday night.) Other sports highlights (all times Eastern) include:
Celtics at Heat (7:30, ESPN)
Kevin Garnett is back for Boston after a one-game suspension for elbowing Quentin Richardson, which isn‚Äôt good news for the Heat who lost the first two games of the series. Tonight‚Äôs game in Miami is a must win for the home team. No team has ever rallied from an 0-3 deficit in NBA playoff history.
It is the offseason Super Bowl, a (now) three-day event where franchises are rebuilt or destroyed. The NFL Draft begins today at 7:32 pm - the St. Louis Rams are on the clock - and to provide you with a quick primer on what to expect in Round One, SI.com‚Äôs Peter King offers his 2010 Mock Draft. The draft is the glamour event on a night (all times Eastern) that includes NHL and NBA playoff games.
-NFL Draft, Round One (7:30 pm, ESPN and NFL Network)
King says the person under the most pressure on draft weekend is St. Louis general manager Billy Devaney, who holds the top pick in the draft. ‚ÄúAnd not only because he's on the verge of bypassing two franchise defensive tackles at No. 1 when his team doesn't have even a borderline Pro Bowl DT on the roster now,‚ÄĚ King says. ‚ÄúDevaney has to take (Oklahoma‚Äôs) Sam Bradford if he feels Bradford's a franchise quarterback, and this team does feel he has the kind of star quality on and off the field the Rams can build around. But the pressure will be on the Rams to turn around a franchise with a league-worst 6-42 record over the past three years. That begins by spinning gold out of the first pick of day two of the draft, the 33rd overall.‚ÄĚ