Sports Calendar

October 1

Baseball playoffs begin

The postseason, for those who may have forgotten the playoff format first used last year, is now a three-stage process, beginning with four Division Series, followed by League Championship Series, and then the World Series, which opens Oct. 18. Despite a late-season slump, the pitching-rich Atlanta Braves have to be considered the favorite to defend their championship.

October 4

National Hockey League season opens

Wayne Gretzky is with a new team again, the Colorado Avalanche are the reigning Stanley Cup champions, and the Montreal Canadiens prepare to play their first full season in the Molson Centre, which has replaced the venerable old Forum. Gretzky, the league's all-time scoring leader, went from Los Angeles to St. Louis last season and now rejoins former Edmonton teammate Mark Messier with the New York Rangers.

October 5

Penn State versus Ohio State (football)

The two top-ranked teams in the Big Ten Conference clash in Columbus, Ohio. Despite the graduation of Heisman Trophy-winner Eddie George, the Buckeyes are only one place behind No. 3 Penn State in the latest AP poll and hungry to earn their way to the Rose Bowl, where they last appeared in 1974 (amazing!). They blew it last year, losing to Michigan in the season's final game to ruin a perfect season and open the door for Northwestern to play in Pasadena. Northwestern lost this season's opener to Wake Forest.

October 20

Head of the Charles Regatta

Rowers from around the world flock to Boston to dip their oars in the Charles River and participate in the largest rowing event held in the United States. Approximately 1,000 boats, from single sculls to eight-oared shells, will go off at timed intervals. About a quarter million spectators are expected.

Major League Soccer championship game

The new professional league, a legacy of the US-hosted 1994 World Cup tournament, is looking to end its first season the way it all began, with a full stadium viewing an exciting April 6 game between the San Jose Clash and Washington D.C.'s United. Since then each of 10 teams have played a 32-game regular season. All but two teams have qualified for the playoffs, which use a best-of-three-games format until the final in Foxboro, Mass., when it's one game for all the marbles. The Tampa Bay Mutiny would appear the favorite after securing the league's best record. The game will air on ABC.

October 24-27

The Tour Championship (men's golf)

Although not to be confused with the Players Championship held in March, this too is one of richest events on the PGA Tour, offering $3 million in prize money. Consequently, virtually all the top players will try to make sure their swings are well oiled upon stepping to the first tee in Tulsa, Okla.

October 31-November 3

Skate America International '96

The second annual Champions Series of Figure Skating kicks off in Springfield, Mass., with Bay State native Todd Eldredge joining fellow world champion Michelle Kwan on the event's marquee. The sport's international governing body began this series last year to offer cash rewards to skaters who want to retain their Olympic eligibility. After Springfield, many of the big names will continue their points race at events in Canada, Germany, Japan, and Russia.

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