All-American sports on America's birthday
2011 Nathan's Hot Dog Eating Competition: The 96th annual July Fourth International Hot Dog Eating Contest will take place today at Nathan's on Coney Island (Noon, ESPN). Four-time defending champion Joey Chestnut looks to be top dog once again. You have to like his chances to retain the mustard yellow belt without rival Takeru Kobayashi, who is still in the midst of a contract dispute with Major League Eating. For the first time, there will be a separate women's competition, taking place prior to ESPN's broadcast. Look for Sonya Thomas, the fifth-ranked eater in the world and last year's fourth place finisher, to hold off a challenge from Juliet Lee.
Major League Baseball: There's a full slate of America's pastime on this All-American holiday. The first pitch fittingly takes place in our nation's capital when the Nationals host the Cubs (1:05 p.m., Casey Coleman vs. Jordan Zimmermann). … Jose Bautista, the leading All-Star vote-getter, looks to hit a home run in his fourth straight game when the Blue Jays visit the Red Sox (1:35 p.m., Brandon Morrow vs. John Lackey).
Expect on-field fireworks when the Cardinals and Chris Carpenter host the NL Central rival Reds and Johnny Cueto. Cueto and Carpenter headlined an infamous on-field brawl last August which resulted in suspensions, fines and injuries (6:15 p.m.). … Derek Jeter, just six hits shy of 3,000 for his career, returns to the lineup after missing 18 games due to a calf injury when the Yankees take on Cleveland (6:35 p.m, A.J. Burnett vs. Josh Tomlin). Check your local listings for other games today.
Note: the Women's World Cup and WNBA both have off-days today.
Information from ESPN Stats & Information was used in this report.