September 07, 2009

Every Monday, Bryan Armen Graham previews the big events of the upcoming week.

1. Baseball on Labor Day

Twenty teams play day games on the symbolic last day of summer, including five of the six division leaders. Over the past decade, 49 of the 62 teams in first place on Labor Day ended up with division titles, with four others falling back on the Wild Card. Can this year's first-place clubs avoid the ignominious fate of the '03 Astros, '03 Cardinals, '03 White Sox, '04 Athletics, '07 Mets, '07 Padres, '08 Diamondbacks and '08 Mets -- recent Labor Day frontrunners who missed the playoffs?

2. Miami-Florida State in prime time

The annual grudge match between Florida universities -- once a bellwether for the national championship -- has lost some juice as the teams have slipped from national prominence. But it's still one of college football's vintage rivalries and it's played again Monday in Tallahassee (8 p.m. ET, ESPN). The Hurricanes own a 30-23 edge in the all-time series, but the Seminoles have won three of the past four.

3. OB4CL2 hits shelves

The most anticipated rap album of the summer drops Tuesday when Only Built For Cuban Linx... Pt. II hits shelves. The sequel to Raekwon's seminal mid-'90s solo debut -- nearly a decade in the making -- is already gathering monster buzz since a copy leaked to the Internet last week. (We heard.) Another triumph for one of Wu-Tang Clan's sharpest swords.

4. Beatlemania 2K9

Sure, The Beatles: Rock Band comes out Wednesday. But why drop $250 on a video game when EMI Music is re-releasing the band's entire 14-album back catalogue -- remastered from the original recordings for the first time since their initial release on CD in 1987?

5. Yankee Stadium hosts Pacquiao-Cotto presser

Haven't been to Yankee Stadium yet? Looking to check out the $1.5 billion palace on the cheap? Pound-for-pound kingpin Manny Pacquiao and welterweight champion Miguel Cotto launch the press tour for their Nov. 14 megafight with a noon press conference Thursday morning at the Yankees' new digs -- and it's open to the public with free admission. (Fans can enter through Gate 4 at 11 a.m.) Should be interesting to see the crowd demographic at this one: Pacquiao is one of boxing's few transcendent superstars with a true global following -- but Cotto is a cult hero among Puerto Ricans, who comprise almost a quarter of the population in the Bronx.

6. NFL season kicks off

The pro football season kicks off Thursday when the Steelers host the Titans (8:30 p.m. ET, NBC) in a delicious clash between AFC heavyweights. The action continues Sunday on opening day proper, with Redskins-Giants and Bears-Packers among the high-profile matchups.

7. Basketball Hall of Fame induction ceremony

The Hall of Fame enshrines what may be it's highest-profile class Friday (6:30 p.m. ET, ESPN) in Springfield, Mass. This year's inductees include a whole quarter of the Dream Team -- Michael Jordan, David Robinson, John Stockton -- along with longtime Rutgers women's coach C. Vivian Stringer and Jazz patriarch Jerry Sloan, the longest-tenured active coach in North American pro sports.

8. English Premier League twinbill

Forget the pub. A basic cable subscription gives you a front-row seat in your living room for two of the most decorated teams in English soccer. First, Liverpool tries to rebound from a rocky start against stingy upstarts Burnley (10 a.m., ESPN2). Next, reigning champions Manchester United head to London with designs on spoiling Tottenham's perfect start (12:30 p.m. ET, FSC).

9. Super Saturday at the U.S. Open

If you only choose one day to watch the season's last Grand Slam, why not pick the coolest and most action-packed day on the tennis calendar? The U.S. Open is the only major to schedule both men's semifinals and women's final for the same day (12 p.m. ET, CBS) -- and the inevitable logjams of thrilling, historic matches through the years have seldom disappointed.

10. USC-Ohio State at the Horseshoe

They're expecting more than 105,000 fans to pack the Horseshoe for Saturday night's showdown between No. 4 USC and No. 6 Ohio State (8 p.m. ET, ABC). Can the Buckeyes exact revenge for that 35-3 drubbing suffered at the hands of the Trojans last year at the Coliseum?

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