June 5, 2015

Power ranking this weekend’s sports events

by Dan Bilicki In: Baseball, Basketball, Football, Golf, Ice Hockey, Soccer

You wouldn’t really think that the first weekend of June would be stacked with two days of some great sporting events, but that is in fact the case. With so much going, we might as well break down what to watch, since your time is well worth it. After all, it’s June – we should all be outside enjoying the nice weather, right?

Well, if it rains or if you just feel like having a lazy old time here are the power rankings from worst to first.

FIFA U-20 World Cup

Let’s face it: Though the players here are the future of the sport and it can be exciting to watch the young guns grow before our eyes, the timing is terrible. Because it’s in New Zealand, games are starting at midnight. There’s also a bunch of teams like Myanmar, which aren’t exactly at the top of the rankings.

UFC Boetsch vs. Henderson

The last weekend without a UFC event was May 2-3. The next weekend off: July 4-5. This sport is getting so watered down you have to wonder how much interest is still in these smaller events. But, after all, I’m sure they wouldn’t be putting on as many events as they if they weren’t successful. It probably goes hand-in-hand with paying the fighters peanuts. As for the main event, 44-year-old Dan Henderson comes in having lost five of his past six fights and Tim Boetsch has lost four-of-six – sounds like a barn burner.

X Games Austin

I used to love the X Games. Now, it’s hard to get fired up over it as the event has lost some lustre despite still being pretty big in the main stream. The events don’t really have the cache of seeing the big names of the past hit the half pipe or street course. If you are planning on catching one event, it’s Moto X Big Air. Those guys have been getting bigger and badder on bikes by the year and it’s always a treat to watch them pull off insane airs. Skateboard big air is also especially insane.

Astros at Blue Jays

I’m sure we’re all surprised at how well Houston is doing, but tuning in for some mid-season baseball isn’t exactly at the top of the priority list. Now, if you can get down to the Rogers Centre and the dome’s open, well that’s another story.

NLL Championship

OK, we’re cheating on this one a bit here because Game 2 of the final is on Friday night. But, if the Edmonton Rush can take care of business at home against the Toronto Rock, it’ll be crowned champions. Of course, we all wish that if the Rock win, we’d get another mini-game for the title, but alas, that was only for the semis. If Toronto evens it up – which is our bet – Game 3 is next week.

TFC vs. DC United

Sure, it’s just a regular-season MLS game, but there’s a big, little reason to watch: Sebastian Giovinco. As our TFC reporter Kurtis Larson would gladly tell you, the Atomic Ant is the best player in MLS and all will agree, he’s worth tuning in for.

Women’s World Cup opener

The opening ceremonies themselves won’t be much, but host Canada’s most important game will probably be its first. In front of an expected 53,000 fans, Team Canada can’t stumble against China.

F-1 Canadian Grand Prix

Lewis Hamilton is only 10 points up on teammate Nico Rosberg after that terrible decision by the Mercedes bosses at Monaco two weeks ago. It will be interesting to see if there’s any aftermath in Montreal this weekend. With Sebastian Vettel looking great for Ferrari, that’s just another threat for Team Mercedes to watch for too. Also, it should be noted that Daniel Ricciardo won here last year, a rare defeat for Mercedes in 2014.

Stanley Cup final Game 2

Let’s just all admit it: Game 1 wasn’t that great. It wasn’t an exciting game and defensive duels don’t make for good TV. Sure, with the great offensive players on both sides, anything is possible, but you know both sides won’t want to give an inch. Also, it’s going to be 32C in Tampa on Saturday – exactly the type of weather that makes you think “ice hockey.”

Belmont Stakes

Could we actually see a Triple Crown winner? American Pharoah bids to become the first horse to take that title since Affirmed in 1978. Sure, the chase usually ends in disappointment as everyone else in the field will be working against the colt, but if he can do it, that’s one of the rarest moments in sports.

NBA Finals Game 2

Game 1 was a classic, with LeBron James doing everything he could to keep his team in the game, only to miss a game-winning buzzer-beater and then lose in overtime. Stephen Curry was no slouch either, leading the Warriors to the win. While some expected Golden State to take the game handily, it never happened. James should have an even bigger weight on his back for Game 2, after Kyrie Irving hobbled off the court late on Thursday. The only downside: You have to pick between Game 2 or Game of Thrones on Sunday night.

Champions League final

Soccer’s Super Bowl. Some will argue that it’s even better than the World Cup final. And Barcelona is playing. I’m not the biggest Lionel Messi fan, but you can’t help but respect his transcendent talent. Tune in to watch Messi, Neymar and Luis Suarez try to tear apart the stout defence of Juventus, who will go all out to score a massive upset and grab the big win that Italian football hasn’t seen in years.

Didn’t make the list: The PGA Memorial, Manulife LPGA Classic in Cambridge, Ont., NASCAR Sprint Cup Axalta ‘We Paint Winners’ 400, IndyCar Firestone 600.

Follow me on Twitter @danbilicki

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