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The Couch Potato Report: Sox, Softball, and Snooki

Snooki (Image from starcasm.net)

During the 2008 Presidential election, we heard both Barack Obama and John McCain use the rhetorical expression “you can’t put lipstick on a pig” multiple times as their respective campaigns waged on towards election day. One of my friends from across the pond has a different way of saying the same thing… “you can’t polish a turd.” I’m here to tell you that this weekend on TV… frankly, it’s a pig without make-up and a turd with no shine.

To say that the pickings for sports on TV this weekend are slim would be a gross understatement. When choosing which events to highlight this week, I had to sift through the likes of women’s softball, men’s volleyball, WWE wrestling, and the frickin’ WNBA. I even came close to making NASCAR’s Brickyard 400 event one of my top 5 this weekend, which if you’ve read previous “C.P.R.’s” before, you know of my intense hatred for all things auto racing. So while putting this article together each week has become a painstaking effort as we sit in the midst of the sporting world’s “dead zone,” I’ve made my best attempt at bringing you the best of what the television sporting world has to offer this weekend.

Ladies and gentlemen, I deliver to you this week’s edition of “The Couch Potato Report,” C.P.R. for your sports-lovin’ hearts. I hope your hearts are in good working condition, because really, there’s just not a lot of C.P.R. to go around this week. Here goes…

#1 Red Sox vs. Mariners

When Is It On & Where Can I Find It?

Friday @ 10pm, Saturday @ 10pm, and Sunday @ 4pm, all on NESN

Why Should I Watch?

Because I just told you, there’s nothing else on, that’s why!!! Anyway, the Sox are starting to get healthy again, so maybe if you watch, you’ll actually recognize the guys in the lineup now. Josh Beckett made his return to the hill Friday night after missing time, Clay Buchholz, Jeremy Hermida and Jed Lowrie have rejoined the team after extended stays at “Hotel Disabled List,” and Mike Lowell, Victor Martinez, and even Jacoby Ellsbury are beginning their rehab assignments in the coming days, hoping to make their returns soon. So while the Sox find themselves seven games behind the division-leading Yanks in the AL East, all hopes shouldn’t be lost for Sox Nation. Plus, if you needed another reason to watch this series, Jerry Remy, arguably baseball’s best color analyst, will broadcast his 3,000th game for NESN on Sunday. That’s historic… and don’t we all love history!?!

#2 National League Baseball

When & Where?

Saturday @ 4pm on FOX, Sunday @ 1:30pm on TBS and 8pm on ESPN

Why?

MLB’s “senior circuit” takes center stage this weekend, as all three national broadcasts this weekend will feature matchups from the National League. Saturday on FOX we’ll see a few teams that feature former Sox left fielders, as the Manny’s Dodgers take on Jason Bay’s Mets. Sunday afternoon, the National League’s last two World Series representatives face off in Philly, with the Phillies hosting the Rockies. Then on Sunday night baseball on ESPN, we get to watch the Midwest’s version of “the greatest rivalry in baseball,” as the Cardinals take on the Cubs at Wrigley. So tune in for the best in DH-less baseball.

#3 Men’s Slow Pitch Softball – “The Border Battle,” Canada vs. USA

When & Where?

Saturday @ 4pm on ESPN

Why?

Oklahoma City is the sight for this year’s “Border Battle,” featuring the best balding, overweight, “past their prime” guys from the United States and Canada, duking it out in a slow pitch softball game for all the marbles. While the women’s national team is busy playing in the World Cup of Softball (which can also be seen on ESPN all weekend long), the men will slug it out in this exhibition game against our neighbors to the north. I’m sure many of us out there play softball or have played softball back in the day, so tune in to watch grown men try to take a 30 mph lollipop pitch over the wall and feel manly about it.

#4 PGA’s Canadian Open

When & Where?

Friday @ 3pm on Golf Channel, Saturday & Sunday at 3pm on CBS

Why?

Canada is all over the tube this weekend, eh? Heck, if you want to see some Canadian Football League action too, on NFL Network you could tune in Saturday night to catch the Edmonton Eskimos take on Winnipeg. But if 110-yard football fields aren’t your thing, and Canadians are, tune in to watch countryman Mike Weir and dozens of other golfing greats try their hand at St. George’s Country Club in Toronto for the RBC Canadian Open. Americans are dominating the leaderboard after Thursday’s opening round, led by no-name Brent Delahoussaye, who shot a 62, earning him a two-shot lead over fellow Americans Vance Veazey and Brock Mackenzie. Ok, so you know how I called these guys “golfing greats” earlier? I consider myself to be a pretty big golf fan, but I have honestly never heard of the three guys I just mentioned… like, never. So maybe 110-yard football fields aren’t so bad.

#5 Tour de France

When & Where?

All weekend long on Versus, with final stage same-day taped coverage on CBS at 1pm on Sunday

Why?

Because it’s finally almost over! The final stages of the annual Tour de France will wrap up this weekend and for the first time in a long time, Lance Armstrong and Floyd Landis aren’t the story. At last check, Spain’s Alberto Contador enjoyed a slim lead over his closest competition, Andy Schleck from Luxemburg. Chris Horner is the highest American in the standings, currently ranked tenth, just over ten seconds behind the leader. Armstrong, who used to just own this event year after year, is back in the pack at 23rd, but still less than a minute behind Contador. So it all sounds like it’s shaping up to be a race that comes down to the wire… the race might not be won “by a nose,” but maybe “by a bike streamer” or by a “My Little Pony bike basket” instead.

This Weekend’s “Off the Field” Pick: Two Popular Shows Return This Week; “Mad Men” and “Jersey Shore”

When & Where?

Mad Men premieres Sunday @ 10pm on AMC; Jersey Shore returns Thursday @ 10pm on MTV

Why?

These two shows may be at the opposite ends of the spectrum in terms of classiness, but they run neck and neck when it comes to their level of popularity. “Mad Men,” the critically acclaimed, Emmy award-winning drama on AMC, returns to begin its fourth season, led by talented actor Jon Hamm and the beautiful January Jones. The show, set in 1960s New York, follows the lives of the ruthlessly competitive men and women of Madison Avenue advertising, focused on Hamm’s character, Don Draper, who while successful in the boardroom, is even more successful in the bedroom luring in the lovelies. Now all of that sounds all well and good, right? Well it might be interesting to some, but instead, I’m gearing up for the bigger season premiere of the week, the return of “Jersey Shore!” It might not be on this weekend, but hey, I’m excited about it so the hype must begin this weekend. Season 2 of the breakout sensation sends Snooki, J-Woww, “The Situation,” and the rest of the guidos and guidettes to South Beach, to see what kind of new levels of embarrassment they can push Italians everywhere to. So if you want to pretend you’re a classy dude with taste and sophistication, go ahead and tune in to “Mad Men” on Sunday night. But if you’re the kind of guy who’d rather throw sophistication out the window in favor of spray tans, poofy hair, and tramp stamps, start the countdown to Thursday night now, as we are just days away from the hilarity that will ensue when “Jersey Shore” returns to MTV.

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