Three-fourths of MLBâ€™s league championship series is set.
The Giants are on to the NLCS for the first time since 2002 as they beat the Braves 3-2, ending their division series in four games. They also ended the 29-year career of retiring Braves manager Bobby Cox, who has spent 25 years in Atlantaâ€™s dugout. Itâ€™s a farewell that truly marks an end of an era, writes SI.comâ€™s Joe Lemire.
The final piece of the postseasonâ€™s next round will fall into place tonight as the Rangers and Rays meet in Tampa. Itâ€™s just one of the canâ€™t-miss events of a schedule that includes NHL, NBA preseason, tennis and soccer. Here are a few highlights, all times Eastern.
Rangers at Rays, 8:07 p.m. (TBS). The Rangers failed in their previous two chances to finish the Rays and reach the ALCS for the first time. Can they seal the deal with ace Cliff Lee on the mound, or will 19-game winner David Price lead Tampa to a date with the Yankees?
While four other teams failed to clinch either a division title or a playoff spot Monday night, Philadelphia delivered, writes SI.com's Joe Lemire. The Phillies wonÂ their fourth consecutive East crown as they beat the Nationals 8-0 behind the strength of ace Roy Halladay's 21st win of the season.
But while the NL East is wrapped up, three divisions and both wild cards remain undecided as the final week of the MLB season ticks away. Baseball's hunt for October leads Tuesday's sports schedule, while soccer and tennis are also on the docket.
Here are a look at the day's key baseball races, all times Eastern.
Yankees at Blue Jays (7:07 p.m., MY9, SNET) The Yankees and Rays are both one win away from clinching postseason berths, while the Red Sox need a win and a Bronx Bombers' loss to keep their own hopes alive.
Rafael Nadal has his career Grand Slam.
The Spaniard claimed his first U.S. Open title, overcoming a rain delay and Novak Djokovic 6-4, 5-7, 6-4, 6-2 to become the seventh player to win all four majors (Australian, French and U.S. Opens and Wimbledon) in their career. Heâ€™s also the first player since Rod Laver in 1969 to win three consecutive Slams in a calendar year.
Watching Nadal blister serves, volley as well as anyone in the field, defend peerlessly and win anything resembling a big point, you have to wonder if anyone or anything can stop Nadal right now, writes SI.comâ€™s Jon Wertheim.
The worldâ€™s No. 1 ranked player now has nine Slams to his credit and SI.com takes a look back at Nadalâ€™s major accomplishments.
With the U.S. Open in the books, we focus our attention on baseballâ€™s pennant races, the WNBA finals and soccer. Here are a few of Tuesdayâ€™s highlights, all times Eastern.
Rangers at Manchester United (2:45 p.m., Fox Sports Network). Wayne Rooney is set to return to the starting lineup as the Red Devils open Champions League Group C play at Old Trafford. Rangers heads into the game an underdog despite beginning Scottish Premier League play on a four-game winning streak.
Itâ€™s only one game, but the conversation is sure to begin. No. 3 Boise State has its sights on becoming the first team from outside the power conferences to play for college footballâ€™s national championship in the BCS era.
The Broncos opened their potentially historic quest in typical Boise State fashion, writes SI.comâ€™s Stewart Mandel, stringing together a game-winning drive in the final minutes as they beat No. 10 Virginia Tech 33-30 in Landover, Md.
With college footballâ€™s opening week in the books, all eyes will be on the U.S. Open, baseballâ€™s pennant races and soccer. Here are a few highlights, all times Eastern.
Samantha Stosur vs. Kim Clijsters, U.S. Open quarterfinals (7 p.m., ESPN). Clijsters, the defending champion, is seeking a breakthrough. She has made it to the final weekend of two Grand Slam events this year, but has yet to win. Belgium's star will look to make the semifinals as she faces Stosur, the fifth seed, who Clijsters is 3-0 against all-time.
Manny Ramirez is gone, but the circus remains very much a part of the Dodgers, writes SI.comâ€™s Lee Jenkins.
The mercurial slugger is now with the White Sox after being picked up off waivers, and while â€śMannywoodâ€ť made its share of headlines, including testing positive for a female fertility drug, Jenkins says that after the McCourts divorce trial â€śRamirez will look down-to-earth by comparison.â€ť
The trial, which began Monday in downtown Los Angeles, has both sides arguing over ownership of the team and is expected to be among the most expensive in the history of California. Many are speculating it could result in the franchise being sold.
While the McCourts wage their battle in the courtroom, thereâ€™s plenty of on-field action, with the U.S. Open, baseball and soccer. Here are a few highlights, all times Eastern.
U.S. Open (11 a.m, ESPN). Top-seeded Rafael Nadal and Caroline Wozniacki are in action, along with Maria Sharapova, Novak Djokovic as first-round play continues in Flushing Meadows.
The No. 1 overall pick in the MLB Draft is signed, sealed and delivered â€“ though the process wasnâ€™t without its drama.
Bryce Harper, the 17-year-old power-hitting phenom, reached a deal with the Washington Nationals just before Mondayâ€™s midnight deadline.
While the negotiations went down to the wire, SI.comâ€™s Joe Lemire says not getting the deal done was just too much of a risk for both sides.
In the end, Harper received a $6.25 million bonus and $9.9 million in guaranteed money on a five-year deal, eclipsing the previous record for a position player (Mark Teixeira received $9.5 million in 2001).
Thereâ€™s plenty of on-the-field action filling the sports docket on Tuesday with baseball, soccer and tennis. Here are a couple highlights (all times Eastern).
NFL training camps are in full swing and SI.com's Don Banks checks in from the Minnesota Vikings' camp, where the annual Brett Favre watch isn't the biggest storyline.
Banks says it's the status of an injured wide receiver that's the more pressing concern. He also talks to Adrian Peterson about his goal of a fumble-free season, and on the topic of Favre, finds a restaurant that's offering the future Hall of Fame quarterback all he can eat if he shows up for camp.
You can find all of SI.com's training camp postcards and scheduled stops here.
As for the sports in full swing, baseball, soccer and tennis are all on today's schedule. Here are a few highlights (all times Eastern).
Know where you'll be in 17 years? Ilya Kovalchuk does.
The high-scoring Russian left wing has agreed to a $102 million deal with the Devils that will keep him in New Jersey though the 2026-27 season.
Where does the deal rank in the annals of NHL history? SI.com takes a look at how Kovalchuk's new contract stacks up.
Kovalchuk's staggering deal has made headlines, but there's plenty of attention-grabbing action on the field as MLB, tennis, soccer and the Tour de France highlight the sports dockets.
Here are some of the day's can't-miss events (all times Eastern).
Tour de France, Stage 16. (6:30 a.m., Versus) Defending Tour champ Alberto Contador has regained the yellow jersey from Andy Schleck, but can he keep it as the riders continue their run through the Pyrenees, cycling 124 miles from Bageres-de-Louchon to Pau?
Phillies at Cardinals (8:15 p.m., myphl17, FS-M, ESPN) - The streaking Cardinals will go for their seventh straight for the first time since July 7-16, 2006 as they host the Phillies. St. Louis will put its chances on Chris Carpenter, who is 4-2 with a 5.73 ERA in eight appearances vs. the Phillies, whom has hasn't faced since 2006.
Angels at Yankees (7:05 p.m., FS-W, MY9) - Alex Rodriguez stands two home runs from becoming the seventh player in MLB history to reach the 600-homer plateau as the Yankees host the Angels, who are 2-8. They will play at the new Yankee Stadium in the Bronx.
By The Numbers
11 - The Texas Rangers snapped an 11-game losing streak at Detroit's Comerica Park as Nelson Cruz's 14th-inning home run lifted the Rangers to an 8-6 win.
21,111 - Points by Dirk Nowitzki, the Mavericks' all-time leading scorer who signed his new contract which will reportedly pay the German more than $80 million over four years.
David Ortiz has officially put a season-starting slump behind him.
Hitting just .143 with one home run in April, the Red Sox designated hitter went from â€śfirst-month chump to Home Run Derby champ,â€ť writes SI.comâ€™s Joe Lemire as Big Papi topped the Marlinsâ€™ Hanley Ramirez 11-5 in the finals; Ortiz finished with 32 total home runs.
With the MLB All-Star Game prelude in the books, all eyes will be on the 81st Midsummer Classic in Angels Stadium of Anaheim as the National League tries to break through for its first win in 13 years (8 p.m. FOX).
College footballâ€™s biggest offseason drama is over. Texas decided to turn down the Pac-10â€™s offer and is remaining in the Big 12. Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and Texas A&M followed suit and will also stay in the conference. So how did the Big 12 go from near-extinction to being safe and sound? At the end of the day, it was all about Texas and money, writes SI.comâ€™s Andy Staples. The Longhorns wanted to pave the way for their own TV network, which the Pac-10 wasnâ€™t willing to allow.
With the biggest pieces of the realignment puzzle staying put, we turn our attention to a heavy sports schedule that includes the World Cup, the NBA Finals, baseball and tennis. Here are a few highlights (all times Eastern).
Celtics at Lakers (9 p.m., ABC). Paul Pierce turned back the clock to pull the Celtics within a win of an 18th title, says SI.comâ€™s Lee Jenkins. With their backs against the wall, will Kobe Bryant and the Lakers force a Game 7? Recent history is on L.A.â€™s side, with the game being played at Staples Center, where the Lakers are 9-1 this postseason.
Monday, the Nationals took Bryce Harper with the No. 1 pick in the MLB draft. Today, the most important 48 hours since the franchise moved to Washington in 2005 continues, writes SI.comâ€™s Joe Lemire, as Stephen Strasburg makes his debut. The top selection in last yearâ€™s draft, Strasburg flew threw the minors, going 7-2 with a 1.30 ERA and 65 strikeouts in 55 innings in Double-A and Triple-A.
Heâ€™ll take the Nationals Park mound for the first time against the Pirates (7 p.m., MLB Network) in what locals are dubbing â€śStrasmas.â€ť D.C.â€™s baseball holiday headlines Tuesdayâ€™s sports docket, but itâ€™s far from the only thing going on in the sports world. Here are a couple more highlights (all times Eastern).
Lakers at Celtics (9 p.m., ABC). The Celtics stole home-court advantage away from the Lakers to even The NBA Finals at 1-1 and set the stage for an epic finish, writes SI.comâ€™s Chris Ballard. (http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2010/writers/chris_ballard/06/07/lakers.celtics.game2/index.html). Boston will try and seize the upper hand at home, where theyâ€™re 7-2 this postseason.
Before all the French Open news you could want...We give you LeBron James. Or, Larry King will give you LeBron James. King interviewed the two-time MVP TuesdayÂ just as the basketball superstar is on the cusp of free agency.Â The interviewÂ will air on Friday on CNN. Check out Sports Illustrated's Lebron watch.
On the courts,Â Roger Federer is 12-0 lifetime against Robin Soderling, and Soderling has won all of two sets in those meetings - but there's reason for Federer to be worried in their 13th clash as the two play with a spot in the French Open Â semifinals on the line (8 a.m.-noon, Tennis Channel; noon-3 p.m., ESPN2).
It was Soderling that ended Rafael Nadal's reign in Roland Garros last season, ousting the Spaniard in the fourth round, and it was Soderling that beat Federer earlier this season in an exhibition in Abu Dhabi.
Federer may have dismissively called Soderling's win "exhibition play," but a win is a win and now the Swede goes into their latest meeting believing he can go toe-to-toe with the world's top-ranked player.
Can Soderling end Federer's streak of 23 straight Grand Slam semifinals, which dates back to 2004, or will Federer make it 13 in a row in their matchups? It's just one of the highlights on a sports slate that includes baseball and soccer friendlies (all times Eastern).
In other French Open news, Nadia Petrova vs. Elena Dementieva (8 a.m., Tennis Channel). These Russians have a history, playing 14 times in their careers with each winning seven times. Dementieva will be going for her first trip to a Grand Slam semifinal in her 10-year career, while Petrova is seeking her third semis berth.
Phillies at Braves (7:10 p.m., ESPN). Remember April? Back then Phillies were12-3 and the Braves suffered through a nine-game losing streak. Fast-forward to June and it's Atlanta that sits atop the National League East and it will try to extend that lead as it continues its series with the defending NL champs, who have lost seven of their last nine games.
Reds at Cardinals (8:15 p.m., FS-Ohio, FS-Midwest). The Cardinals handed the Reds their second straight loss Monday, creating a tie atop the NL Central. Cincinnati will try to get back on track with the ball in the hands of Johnny Cueto, winner of his last four starts?
By The Numbers
$2.8 million. Dario Franchitti received his payday for winning the Indianapolis 500 during Monday's annual victory dinner. It was part of an overall purse of $13,592,815. Franchitti won $1,645,233 when he won the 500 in 2007.
20. Alex Rodriguez hit his 20th career grand slam in the Yankees' 11-2 win over the Indians. His 20 slams are the third in baseball history behind Lou Gehrig (23) and Manny Ramirez (21).
0.78. ERA of the Rockies' Ubaldo Jimenez, the best in the majors. Jimenez won a duel with the Giants' Tim Lincecum for his league-leading 10th win of the season.
The NBA playoffs have been full of sweeps and blowouts. But could we actually have a series on our hands? SI.comâ€™s Chris Ballard says the Suns planted a seed of possibility in cutting the Lakersâ€™ lead to 2-1 but can they pull out another win in Phoenix and even up the Western Conference finals (9 p.m., TNT)? Itâ€™s worth noting that only 14 teams in NBA history have come back from a 2-0 deficit to win the series.
The NBA playoffs, French Open, baseball and soccer are all on todayâ€™s sports docket. Here are a few canâ€™t-miss events (all times Eastern).
French Open (5 a.m. to noon, Tennis Channel, noon-6:30 p.m., ESPN2). First-round play continues with Rafael Nadal, a four-time winner, Roland Garros and Andy Roddick in action on the menâ€™s side, while Dinara Safina and Maria Sharapova both open up play on the womenâ€™s side.
Jaroslav Halak was the hottest goaltender in the Stanley Cup playoffs (emphasis on â€śwasâ€ť), until the Flyers chased the Canadiens star after allowing four goals in the first 13 shots he faced in Game 1. Can Halak and Co. rebound after being shellacked 6-0 to open the Eastern Conference finals or will streaking Philadelphia continue its Cinderella run as the two meet Tuesday at the Wachovia Center (7 p.m., Versus)?
Habs-Flyers is just one of the dayâ€™s main attractions as the NHLâ€™s West finals, NBA playoffs, baseball, soccer and tennis are all in action. What else garners â€ścanâ€™t-missâ€ť status? Here are a few other highlights, all times Eastern.
The Celtics pushed the reset button on their Eastern Conference semifinal with the Cavaliers, rebounding from an embarrassing loss thanks to a performance for the ages by Rajon Rondo to turn the series into a best of three.
How will MVP LeBron James and Co. respond as the series shifts back to Cleveland for tonightâ€™s Game 5 (8 p.m., TNT)? It could all depend on how they deal with Rondo, who has exploited the Eastâ€™s top-seed to the tune of 21.8 points, 13 assists and 8.3 rebounds per game, including a 29-18-13 game in Bostonâ€™s Game 4 win.
The assignment of slowing down the Celticsâ€™ one-man show could fall on James. Cavs coach Mike Brown has hinted he may use LeBron, who was voted onto the NBA all-defensive first team for the second straight year, on Rondo as Cleveland tries to avoid a 3-2 deficit heading back to Boston.
The NBA and NHL playoffs take center stage, while baseball, soccer and tennis are also on the schedule. Here are the rest of todayâ€™s highlights, with all times Eastern.
*Blackhawks at Canucks (9:30 p.m., Versus). The Canucks stayed alive in the Western Conference semifinal series, taking Game 5. Now comes the hard part, at least in this series: winning at home. Both teams have two road wins, with Chicago winning Games 3 and 4 by a score of 12-6.
What will Kobe Bryant do for an encore? After scoring 11 points in the final minute to lead the Lakers past the Jazz in Game 1 of their Western Conference semifinal, Bryant and the NBAâ€™s defending champions host Utah in Game 2 tonight at Staples Center (10:3 p.m., TNT).
The NBA and NHL playoffs top the sporting schedule, while baseball, soccer and tennis also on the docket. Here are some of the day highlights (all times Eastern).
Hawks at Magic (8 p.m., TNT). Will Dwight Howard and Co. be rusty? Itâ€™s been eight days since the Magic completed their sweep of the Bobcats, while the Hawks are coming off a series vs. the Bucks that lasted seven games. SI.comâ€™s Britt Robson says the key to the series is how Atlantaâ€™s frontcourt manages against Howard, the reigning defensive player of the year.
Chalk it up to being too young to know any better. The Thunder, the youngest team in the NBA with an average age of 23.1, have taken two straight over the defending champion Lakers to even their first-round series. Can the leagueâ€™s leading scorer Kevin Durant and his band of playoff newbies put Kobe Bryant and Co. on the ropes as the series shifts back to Los Angeles? Itâ€™s just one of the dayâ€™s canâ€™t-miss games as the NHLâ€™s Stanley Cup playoffs, baseball, soccer and tennis fill a full sports dance card (all times Eastern).
Heat at Celtics (7 p.m., NBA TV). Dwyane Wade saved the Heatâ€™s season with 46 points in Game 4. It may take another Herculean effort to keep Miami afloat; no team NBA team has ever come back from a 3-0 deficit to win a playoff series.
Thunder-Lakers is tonight at 10:30 on TNT.
Kevin Garnett is out and the Celtics may be in trouble. Despite losing all four games vs. Boston this season, SI.comâ€™s Ian Thomsen believes KGâ€™s suspension for a flagrant elbow in the opening game could be exactly what the Heat need to steal homecourt and avoid a two-game deficit as their first round Eastern Conference series continues tonight at 8 p.m. ET.
Along with the NBA playoffs, the Stanley Cup playoffs, baseball, tennis and soccer round out the sports docket. Here are some of todayâ€™s highlights (all times Eastern).
Coyotes at Red Wings (6:30 p.m. TSN). The pressure is on the Red Wings if they hope to keep their bid for a third straight trip to the Stanley Cup Finals alive, trailing the Coyotes 2-1 as the series shifts to Detroitâ€™s Joe Louis Arena, where the Wings were 25-10-6 on the season.