Yankees at Red Sox
- Friday at 7:10 ET/4:10 PT on MLB Network(Bob Costas, Cal Ripken, Sam Ryan)/MY9/NESN
- Saturday at 4:10 ET/1:10 PT on FOX (Kenny Albert, Tim McCarver)
- Sunday at 8 ET/5 PT on ESPN (Dan Shulman, John Kruk, Curt Schilling, Buster Olney)
Ugh. I really hate doing this. Not comfortable with it at all. Joe and I are nowhere near fans of either team, the Yankees are in third place in the division. There are just so many reasons to make an effort to not pay attention to this series. And yet. And yet, we know that it’s one of the biggest rivalries in the world (though obviously some of that is just media hype). And the Yankees are playing better (sort of…) and the Red Sox may be the best team in the American League (somehow). The series has star power as always, with A-Rod and Soriano returning to the Bronx Bombers in recent weeks, and Ortiz and Pedroia representing the Red Sox. Offensively, it’s not much of a surprise that viewers should key on Ortiz and Robinson Cano, who are both among the Top 10 in the American League in OBP, OPS and RBI.
If I could though, however, I would encourage you to watch Saturday’s game at the least, on mute. Tim McCarver is one of the worst in the world of sportscasting. I guess this would allow us to establish a scale something like Tim McCarver – Vin Scully (obviously ignoring their different roles). Sunday will include Schilling and Kruk, which isn’t much better. But the MLB Network will feature this game as one of their “Showcases”, and not only am I particular to Bob Costas, but I don’t believe I’ve heard him with Ripken before, so that should be interesting.
Indians at Athletics (Friday at 10 ET/7 PT, Saturday at 9 ET/6 PT, Sunday at 4 ET/1 PT; all games broadcast locally and on MLB.TV.
This battle between Cleveland and Oakland at the Coliseum pits two of the top teams in the AL against each other, with both teams second in their respective divisions. Heading into Friday’s action, the A’s are 1.5 back of Texas in the West and hold the second Wild Card spot, while Cleveland trails Detroit by 6.0 games in the AL Central and Oakland by 3.0 games in the Wild Card race. For Oakland, Josh Donaldson has put together a stellar season with a .297/.375/.485 line, 26 doubles, 17 HR and 64 RBI. The one-time Chicago Cub – acquired for Rich Harden back in 2008 – ranks sixth in the AL in WAR for position players at 5.0 For Cleveland, their success has come in part thanks to All-Star Jason Kipnis (.293/.372/.483, 28 doubles, 15 HR, 69 RBI, 21 SB). Kipnis is also in the Top 10 in WAR for position players, ranking ninth at 4.9.
Also noteworthy: Diamondbacks at Pirates, a 3-game tilt between Arizona (5.5 back in the Wild Card and riding a three game winning streak) and Pittsburgh (clinging to a two game lead in the Central but with a fantastic record at home of 41-20).
This is it! The opening week of the Premier League, which means the real new chapter for Soccer in America, as NBC Sports gets us started with…
Liverpool vs. Stoke City (Saturday, 7:45 AM ET/4:45 AM PT, NBCSN
The first game of the season pits Brendan Rodgers and the boys from Merseyside against Mark Hughes and his Stoke City side. With Tony Pulis out after serving since 2006 and having established Stoke as a respectable midtable side, Hughes has his work cut out for him, especially considering his very rough spell at QPR. The Potters have failed to stay out of the news lately – with Cameron Jerome fined for a betting violation and the signing of Juan Agudelo from MLS – but they’ll look for Jonathan Walters and Peter Crouch to be the headline makers after scoring a combined 15 league goals last season. For Liverpool, the return to the pitch for official action provides the opportunity to get away from all of the distractions of one Luis Suarez. Suarez will not feature as he’s still serving his suspension from last season (Biting. He bit a guy. Ugh) so Liverpool will look to Daniel Sturridge (10 league goals last season) to pick up the pieces with the phenomenal Simon Mignolet in goal.
Arsenal vs. Aston Villa (Saturday, 10 AM ET/7 AM PT, NBCSN)
Arsenal starts the season off again not title contenders and again without a big name addition…or any addition, really. Wenger’s boys, including the likes of Wilshere, Wolcott and Oxlade-Chamberlain will look to score against U.S. International Brad Guzan, as Villa attempt to bounce back from a season that saw them finish in 15th, only 5 points shy of the relegation zone. Villa though have a star of their own in Christian Benteke, who scored 19 goals in league play last season and recently signed a contract extension to stay at Villa Park. Also look out for one of the great names of the EPL, Gabriel Agbonlahor (9 goals and 3 assists in League play last season).
Swansea City vs. Manchester United (Saturday, 12:30 PM ET/9:30 AM PT, NBC, Arlo White & Lee Dixon)
The final game of NBC Sports’ tripleheader is the crown jewel, with their ace broadcaster Arlo White on the call for what is believed to be the first EPL game aired live on US free-to-air television. Viewers in the states will have the chance to see the defending League Cup champs with Michael Laudrup at the helm and their star man Michu take on the defending Premier League champions, Manchester United. Though Moyes and co. have failed to make a big name acquisition and have had to deal with an ongoing saga involving Wayne Rooney all summer, the Red Devils are still heavily favored, not only to win this game but also to finish among the Top 2 or 3 in the EPL this season.
New York Red Bulls vs. Philadelphia Union (Saturday, 8 PM ET/5 PM PT, NBCSN, John Strong & Kyle Martino)
Thierry Henry and the second place Red Bulls play host to Philadelphia Union and their star young striker Jack McInerney. The Red Bulls are on a decent run of form, taking 8 points out of their last 15 possible and rising in the Eastern Conference standings, while Philadelphia have kept pace, taking 10 points out of their last 15 possible. The home side has won each of the two prior meetings this season, with Philadelphia taking the last match 3-0 behind two goals off the foot of veteran Conor Casey.
Crystal Palace vs. Tottenham (Sunday, 8:30 AM ET/5:30 AM PT, NBCSN)
Newly promoted Crystal Palace play host to fellow London side Tottenham in the first game of a doubleheader on NBCSN. It’s still not fully known whether or not Gareth Bale is truly injured, but AVB will still have new additions Paulinho and Roberto Soldado at the ready, joining Jermaine Defoe as Spurs attempt to defeat the Eagles, who have a couple new additions of their own. Marouane Chamakh has joined on from Arsenal and Campana was brought in about a month ago from Sevilla to join Kevin Phillips as the featured players in Palace’s first season back in the top flight.
Chelsea vs. Hull City (Sunday, 11 AM ET/8 AM PT, NBCSN)
The final game of the weekend touches off from Stamford Bridge as the reigning Europa League champions – led by the returning Jose Mourinho – return to the pitch to take on the “Tigers” (that’s what they want us to call them). Chelsea are the pick of many to win the league this year, and it’s not hard to see why, so we’ll be watching to see if things get off to the start that the Blues are hoping for. For Hull City, anything but a complete drubbing would be a welcome result.
And remember, as long as your Cable or Satellite provider has struck a deal with NBC Sports, all EPL games are available to be watched by visiting www.nbcsports.com or utilizing the NBC Sports Live Extra App for iOS and Android devices.