Hunt for Mr. October

Are you ready for some baseball? Not so fast, Red Sox and Braves.
The 2011 postseason opens Friday on TBS, with the American League playoffs. The Yankees, with the best record in the league, play Detroit at 8:37 p.m. Tampa Bay, winners of the wild card berth in the final inning on the final day of the season, head to Texas at 5 p.m.
The two National League series begin Saturday. St. Louis heads to Philadelphia at 5:30 p.m., while the Diamondbacks visit Milwaukee at 2 p.m. The second games of the American League series happen Saturday (7:30 on TNT from Texas and 8:30 p.m. from TBS in New York), then it’s off until Monday for Game 3.
Game 2 for the National League series are on Sunday – 4:30 p.m. in Milwaukee and 8 p.m. in Philadelphia – then back for Game 3 Tuesday.
October also means top college teams stop feasting on cupcakes and battle some real competition. ABC brings Nebraska’s Big Ten debut at Wisconsin Saturday at 8 p.m., while Virginia Tech meets unbeaten Clemson on ESPN2 at 6 p.m.
The weekend begins Thursday with a Big East contest between South Florida and Pittsburgh at 8 p.m. Both have played Notre Dame, with South Florida winning on the road and Pittsburgh losing at home last Saturday. Friday at 8 p.m., it’s a battle of Utah as Utah State hosts Brigham Young.
CBS has a big Saturday of football, starting at noon with Air Force visiting Navy. The SEC afternoon slot goes to Auburn’s meeting with South Carolina, and Alabama has a prime-time battle with Florida.
ABC has three choices in the late afternoon slot, with ESPN showing a second choice among Georgia Tech-N.C. State, Michigan State at Ohio State or Baylor against Kansas State.
ESPN starts the day with an future SEC matchup – Texas A&M vs. Arkansas – at noon while ESPN2 shows Northwestern at Illinois. In primetime, Notre Dame heads to Purdue on ESPN while ESPN2 follows the Hokies with Mississippi at Fresno State.
Comcast goes from coast to coast to show four games Saturday. The day begins at noon with Texas Tech heading to Kansas, then Maryland tries to bounce back against in-state rival Towson. Washington heads to Utah in a Pac-12 contest at 7 p.m., and UCLA-Stanford will be joined in progress at 11 p.m.
Boise State plays Nevada at 2:30 p.m. on Versus.
Which Ravens’ team will show up Sunday? The home crowd hopes for a reprise of the opener on the NBC stage, with the Jets visiting at 8:15 p.m.  Monday night, the Colts try for their first win of the season at Tampa Bay on ESPN.
The Redskins try to bounce back at St. Louis Sunday at 1 p.m. on FOX, while CBS has the doubleheader. Most of the country gets Pittsburgh-Houston at 1 p.m., followed by the Broncos’ visit to Green Bay.
Tony Stewart takes his points lead to Dover for the third race in NASCAR’s Chase for the Cup. ESPN has coverage Sunday at 2 p.m., after the Nationwide racers take the track Saturday at 3:30 p.m. on ESPN2.
The Indy Car racers roll into Kentucky Sunday at 2 p.m. on Versus.
The WNBA opens its championship series Sunday at 8:30 p.m., with Minnesota at Atlanta.
It’s the last weekend of the NHL preseason, and Versus shows the Flyers vs. Devils Thursday at 7 p.m.
D.C. United and Philadelphia take their battle for an MLS playoff berth to ESPN2 Thursday at 8 p.m.
Comcast offers ACC women’s soccer Thursday at 8 p.m., with Virginia visiting Duke. The Cavalier men play at Clemson Friday at 7 p.m.
For soccer across the pond, ESPN2 shows Real Madrid vs. Espanyol at 3:55 p.m.
There’s college volleyball Sunday at 2 p.m. as Michigan meets Nebraska on ESPN2.

Red Sox and Yankees warm up for postseason

It’s the last weekend of the major league season – plenty of opportunities to see the teams you’ll see more of next week.
The Yankees and Red Sox, closing in on postseason berths, battle Saturday on FOX and Sunday afternoon on TBS. And they will likely be playing next Friday when the American League Division Series starts, unless Tampa Bay has a great final week.
TBS gets a second game in the late Sunday afternoon, bringing the Giants’ game at Arizona at 4:10 p.m.
The Orioles face AL Central champion Detroit in a four-game series on MASN2. The Nationals take on two teams aiming at the postseason – at Philadelphia Thursday and the Braves at home over the weekend on MASN.
The Redskins get Sunday off, facing the Cowboys Monday night on ESPN for the first road game of the year. NFC East rivals New York and Philadelphia play Sunday at 1 p.m. on FOX, while the Packers and Bears battle in the late afternoon slot. CBS in Washington shows the Ravens’ 4:05 p.m. game in St. Louis.
NBC’s Sunday night game features the floundering Colts hosting the Steelers.
The college football weekend begins Thursday with North Carolina State heading to Cincinnati at 8 p.m. Friday, Central Florida goes to Brigham Young at 8 p.m.
ABC has another tripleheader Saturday. Notre Dame kicks off the day by facing Pittsburgh at noon, followed by either Oklahoma State vs. Texas A&M or Colorado-Ohio State at 3:30 p.m. (the other game will be on ESPN2 in your area). The primetime matchup brings LSU to West Virginia.
CBS has a top 20 battle between Arkansas and Alabama at 3:30 p.m.
Comcast gives fans Conference USA and Virginia football Saturday. The C-USA matchup between SMU and Memphis starts the day at noon, followed by Southern Mississippi heading to Charlottesville to play the Cavaliers. At 7 p.m., James Madison visits William & Mary.
The ACC network gives fans Temple at Maryland Saturday at 12:30 p.m. What uniform combinations will the Terps wear this week?
ESPN has two ACC games in the afternoon. North Carolina goes to Georgia Tech at noon, then Florida State heads to Clemson. It’s SEC in primetime with Florida meeting Kentucky, then the nightcap brings Southern Cal at Arizona State at 10:15 p.m.
ESPN2 has Eastern Michigan’s contest with Penn State at noon, then Vanderbilt plays at South Carolina at 7 p.m. Oregon travels to Arizona at 10:15 p.m.
Versus offers three games Saturday, starting with Cornell-Yale at noon. Florida A&M meets Southern at 3:30 p.m., followed by Nebraska’s game at Wyoming at 7:30 p.m.  FX has a Big 12 (for now) game between Missouri and top-ranked Oklahoma.
Tony Stewart takes his lead in the Sprint Cup chase to New Hampshire this weekend. The race coverage starts Sunday at 2 p.m. on ESPN.
The PGA closes its FedEx playoffs with the Tour Championship this weekend on NBC. The top 30 golfers of the year – Tiger who? – compete for the title, with coverage starting at 2 p.m. Saturday and 1:30 p.m. Sunday.
The WNBA conference finals start Thursday on ESPN2. Indiana hosts Atlanta at 7 p.m., followed by Phoenix at Minnesota at 9 p.m. Game 2 of those series are Sunday afternoon.
Comcast offers ACC women’s soccer Thursday at 8 p.m., with Boston College taking on Maryland. Friday, it’s ACC volleyball with North Carolina traveling to Maryland at 7 p.m.

And the race is on

It’s time for NASCAR’s Chase for the Cup – also known as Jimmie Johnson season.
Twelve racers begin the chase for the cup Sunday at 2 p.m. at Chicagoland. ESPN has the coverage.
Johnson has won the past five Cups, dominating the last 10 races of the season. With only one win so far this season, Johnson starts the 2011 Chase in fifth place. Throughout the changes in point structure over the past few years, Johnson still manages to find the top spot.
The Nationwide race goes Saturday at 3:30 p.m. on ESPN2.
The Indycar drivers are across the Pacific, racing in the Japan 300 Saturday at 11:30 p.m. on Versus.
Michael Vick returns to Atlanta for NBC’s Sunday night game, bringing the Eagles to battle the Falcons at 8:15 p.m. The Rams travel to New York for ESPN’s Monday night game.
The Redskins host Arizona Sunday at 1 p.m. on FOX, forcing WUSA to leave the timeslot empty. CBS has the late afternoon contest, with the Chargers in New England.
CBS starts its run of SEC football Saturday at 3:30 p.m., with Tennessee heading to Alabama.
ESPN kicks off the weekend in the SEC, with LSU traveling to Mississippi State Thursday at 8 p.m. Friday, Boise State visits Toledo on ESPN at 8 p.m. while Iowa State takes on Connecticut on ESPN2.
ABC has three contests throughout the day Saturday. Auburn visits Clemson at noon, then the 3:30 p.m. features either Texas at UCLA or Washington meeting Nebraska (the game ABC doesn’t show in your area appears on ESPN). Primetime brings top-ranked Oklahoma taking on Florida State.
There’s an ACC doubleheader on Comcast Saturday, starting with Kansas taking on Georgia Tech at 12:30 p.m. Virginia Tech hosts Arkansas State at 4 p.m. The ACC Network offers Duke at Boston College at 12:30 p.m.
Notre Dame tries to get a win Saturday at 3:30 p.m., taking on Michigan State on NBC.
At noon Saturday on ESPN, Penn State battles Temple while ESPN2 has Pittsburgh-Iowa. ESPN’s Primetime coverage has Ohio State going to Miami at 7:30 p.m., followed by Stanford-Arizona. ESPN2 goes with Navy at South Carolina at 6 p.m. before Utah tackles Brigham Young.
Versus heads west at 3:30 p.m., with Texas Tech taking on New Mexico. FX goes with Southern Cal’s game with Syracuse at 8 p.m.
MASN has MAC football Saturday at noon, with Central Michigan meeting Western Michigan.
Tampa Bay, trying to stay in the playoff hunt, meets Boston Saturday on FOX and Sunday afternoon on TBS. FOX also offers the Mets vs. Braves, while ESPN goes with the Cardinals heading to Philadelphia.
The Nationals have an afternoon contest in New York Thursday on MASN, then play the Marlins at home on MASN2. The Orioles have a weekend series with the Angels on MASN.
The PGA tour has the third week of its four-week playoff round, with the BMW Championships. NBC has coverage Saturday at noon, with the final round starting Sunday at 2 p.m.
The WNBA playoffs begin Thursday with a doubleheader on ESPN2. New York heads to Indiana at 8 p.m., followed by Phoenix taking on Seattle. Game 2 of the other series get airtime Sunday, with Connecticut at Atlanta at 3 p.m. followed by San Antonio-Minnesota.
D.C. United heads to Seattle Saturday at 9 p.m., facing the Sounders on Comcast.
Comcast offers ACC women’s soccer Thursday at 8 p.m., as Florida State plays Wake Forest.
ACC volleyball gets coverage Friday at 7 p.m. as Duke visits Wake Forest.

Block outs, not lockouts

The NFL’s labor war is over, and now it’s time to play.
The 2011 season kicks off Thursday at 8:30 p.m. when Super Bowl XLV champion Green Bay hosts Super Bowl XLIV champion New Orleans on NBC.
NBC goes again Sunday night, with the Cowboys hosting the Jets. ESPN has its doubleheader on the opening Monday night – New England at Miami at 7 p.m. followed by the Raiders at Broncos.
FOX has the doubleheader games Sunday afternoon – Philadelphia heads to St. Louis in the early game, with the Giants taking on the Redskins at 4:15 p.m. Locally, CBS features the main national game between the Steelers and Ravens at 1 p.m.
The college football weekend kickoffs off with a pair of PAC12/Big 12 showdowns – which might become conference rivalries shortly. Arizona checks out the stadium at Oklahoma State Thursday at 8 p.m. on ESPN, while Missouri heads to Arizona State Friday at 10:30 p.m. Is there room for Mizzou out west?
ESPN starts the night with Louisville hosting Florida International at 7:30 p.m.
Saturday, ABC has the big battle between Alabama and Penn State at 3:30 p.m. ESPN starts the day at noon with Oregon State heading to Wisconsin. South Carolina goes between the hedges at 4:30 p.m., followed by Notre Dame’s night game at Michigan.
ESPN2 shows Tennessee-Cincinnati at 3:30 p.m., then BYU takes on Texas.
Versus has a doubleheader – TCU taking on Air Force at 3:30 p.m. before Utah meets new conference foe Southern Cal at 7:30 p.m.
The ACC network offers Rutgers’ visit to North Carolina Saturday at 12:30 p.m.
Comcast opens Saturday with Iowa facing Iowa State at noon. This rivalry had a trophy attached, but it and the replacement were mercifully replaced. The Hokies head to East Carolina at 3:30 p.m., followed by a Conference USA matchup between UTEP and SMU.
MASN2 shows West Virginia taking on Norfolk State Saturday at 1 p.m. May the rain be gone this weekend.
FX adds Nevada’s visit to Oregon at 3:30 p.m.
The U.S. Open closes its run, hopefully Sunday afternoon with the men’s final at 4:30 – weather permitting. ESPN2 shows play Thursday starting at 11 a.m., with the night session at 7 p.m. CBS brings Friday’s play beginning at 12:30 p.m.
Super Saturday is scheduled to have the two men’s semifinals starting at noon, with the women’s final set for 8 p.m. Sunday, the men have their championship after ESPN2 shows the women’s double final at 1 p.m.
It’s the final race before NASCAR’s Chase for the Cup. ABC shows the action from Richmond Saturday at 7:30 p.m., after the Nationwide racers hit the track Friday at 7:30 p.m. on ESPN2.
FOX sticks with the American League Saturday afternoon, offering Indians vs. White Sox, A’s at Rangers and the Twins taking on the Tigers. TBS has the Phillies’ visit to Milwaukee Sunday afternoon, while ESPN’s Sunday night game offers the Cubs at Mets.
Hurricane Irene forced the Orioles and Yankees into a Thursday makeup game. They play at 1 p.m. on MASN2, while the Nationals close out a series with the Dodgers on MASN. The Nationals host the Astros on MASN this weekend, while Baltimore visits Toronto on MASN2.
D.C. United heads to the west coast, facing Chivas USA Saturday at 10:30 p.m. on Comcast.

Indy comes to Baltimore

Twenty-seven years ago, the Baltimore Colts moved to Indianapolis.
This weekend, Indy cars come to Baltimore.
Versus has coverage of the inaugural Baltimore Grand Prix Sunday at 2 p.m. The road course travels past Oriole Park at Camden Yards and near Ravens Stadium before heading to the Inner Harbor. And back again. And again.
NASCAR spends Labor Day weekend in Atlanta, with ESPN at the Sprint Cup race Sunday at 7:30 p.m. ESPN2 has the Nationwide race Saturday at 7:30 p.m.
Labor Day means the midway point of the U.S. Open. CBS has coverage Saturday, Sunday and Labor Day starting at 11 a.m. ESPN2 shows the action Thursday and Friday, with afternoon coverage at 1 p.m. and prime time at 7 p.m.
College football kicks off on Thursday, and ABC has a big top-five game to Saturday – Oregon at LSU at 8 p.m. Thursday, UNLV visits Wisconsin on ESPN at 8 p.m., then Friday it’s TCU taking on Baylor at 8 p.m. on ESPN.
Saturday at 3:30 p.m., the country has a choice of Minnesota at Southern Cal or Western Michigan at Michigan – one will be on ESPN2 and the other on ABC. ESPN starts the day at noon with Akron taking on Ohio State, while ESPN2 has Utah State-Auburn.
Notre Dame opens its season Saturday on NBC, facing South Florida at 3:30 p.m.
ESPN goes with BYU-Mississippi at 4:45 p.m., followed by Boise State’s visit to Georgia at 8 p.m. ESPN2 closes the night with Colorado at Hawaii at 10:15 p.m.
FX gives top-ranked Oklahoma coverage, meeting Tulsa at 8 p.m.
Comcast has James Madison visiting North Carolina Saturday at 3:30 p.m., after Miami of Ohio takes on Missouri at noon. The conclusion of Louisiana Tech vs. Southern Mississippi airs at 10:30 p.m. Sunday, SMU takes on Texas A&M at 7:30 p.m.
The weekend continues with Marshall facing West Virginia Sunday at 3:30 p.m. on ESPN, and the ACC takes the stage when Maryland plays Miami Monday at 8 p.m.
The final weekend of the NFL preseason means no national games, but the Redskins play Tampa Bay Thursday at 7:30 p.m. on Comcast and the Redskins’ network – including NBC29 in Charlottesville.
There’s high school football from Pennsylvania Sunday at 2 p.m. on ESPN2, with Archbishop Wood taking on Pittsburgh Central Catholic.
ESPN2 has the Tigers meeting the White Sox Sunday at 8 p.m., while the Rangers meet the Red Sox on TBS Sunday at 1:30 p.m. FOX on Saturday afternoon offers games between those sets of games, along with Cincinnati at St. Louis.
The Orioles have a Thursday afternoon contest with Toronto on MASN before going to Tampa Bay on MASN2 for the weekend. The Nationals take on Atlanta Thursday, then host the Mets on MASN Friday, Saturday and Sunday afternoon.
The PGA has a rare Friday through Monday tournament, with the Deutsche Bank Championship. NBC has coverage Sunday and Monday at 3 p.m.
ESPN2 shows an international friendly between the United States and Costa Rica Friday at 11 p.m.
As the WNBA season winds down, Connecticut takes on the Mystics Sunday at 4 p.m. on Comcast.