Tour de France
The world comes to France for soccer, so France escapes to Ireland for cycling. Today's prologue—a 5.6-kilometer training trek—travels through the streets of Dublin. How does the Irish toast go? "May the road rise up to meet you."... Then, before the Tour returns to the coast of Brittany on Bastille Day, the first two stages of this 23-day, 2,392-mile race (highlights of which will be telecast nightly on ESPN and ESPN2) will traipse the emerald Irish countryside, drawing curious onlookers the way John Wayne and Maureen O'Hara did in The Quiet Man. Defending champion Jan Ullrich (left) of Germany, not known for his climbing, should have the advantage on this year's relatively flat course.
? ESPN, 5:30 PM (TAPE-DELAY)
Padres at Dodgers
With apologies to the Madres and the Padres, er, Mamas and the Papas:
All-Star backstop's gone
He's catching games at Shea
Hideo, Claire and Russell
Have all been sent away
If I were Lasorda
I'd sorta 'void the fray
Is not a winner's way
What do you get when you cross a billionaire baseball ignoramus with the National League's proudest franchise? A Foxhole. At week's end Fox-owned Los Angeles was stuck in third place in the National League West while division rival San Diego, relishing the big bat (30 home runs, 74 RBIs) of Greg Vaughn (right) and closer Trevor Hoffman's 25 saves in 25 chances, was comfortably in first. Our advice to Glenn Hoffman, Trevor's brother and L.A.'s new skipper, comes straight from The X-Files: Trust no one.
?FX, 10 PM
World Cup Final
Cards best left unseen: Yellow card, warning. Red card, ejection. Green Card, Gerard Depardieu. The Frenchman, who overacts not half as badly as any fallen striker in this tournament, may well be cheering on his countrymen (who were to face the Croatian sensations in the July 7 semifinal) as they bid to become the first hosts to hoist the trophy since Argentina in 1978. The other half of the draw features the winner of what promises to be the most expertly played match of the Cup thus far: the July 8 semifinal pitting defending champion Brazil against the Princetonesque passers from the Netherlands, who are bidding to make this the first all-European final since 1982. The surprise team is Croatia, which did not even exist two Cups ago. Should the Croats advance, keep an eye on the leviathan leg of Croatian striker Davor Suker.
?ABC, 3 PM
Ironman Triathlon 20th Anniversary
The thinking man's reply to "No pain, no gain" is "No pain, no pain." You'll burn 3,000 calories just watching this one-hour retrospective on the granddaddy of triathlons. Eight-time champion Paula Newby-Fraser and six-time champions (and rivals) Mark Allen and Dave Scott provide candid interviews. Allen was so inspired by Julie Moss's courage during her failed attempt to finish the '82 Ironman—a denouement that is relived here—that he picked up the sport and later Moss herself (they wed in 1989). Ironman commentators, whose work is also shown, include Arthur Ashe and Arte Johnson. Arte Johnson? Verry interesting.
? ESPN, 5 PM
Spice Girls math: Two Become One and five become four. Tiger Woods could sure use that method of calculation on his scorecard. As befits his name, one of the game's longest hitters is the goods with woods, but this season he sputters with putters. Tiger might rank even higher than No. 5 on the Tour money list ($1,152,292 at week's end) if he was not No. 101 on the greens. Fellow youngsters David Duval, defending champ Justin Leonard (left) and Phil Mickelson are favorites this week on the wind-hewn Royal Birkdale course. Tom Watson, 48, is the dark horse—if you can so label a five-time British Open winner. Watson won the last of his eight majors at Royal Birkdale in '83.
? ESPN, THURSDAY AND FRIDAY, 9 AM