Small Balls: Thursday June 19, 2008

La première étoile: Daryl Katz. After several failed bids, the billionaire finally received approval from the NHL board of governors yesterday to buy his hometown Edmonton Oilers for a cool $200 million. That’s chump change for a guy who is worth $2.4 billion and runs his family’s pharmaceutical empire. He has indicated that he will spend any amount of money to ensure that the team wins, and has already pledged $100 million for the construction of a new arena. Katz is primed to bring the Oilers back to their glory days. Thank God.

Two minutes for … Wanging it. The Yankees are furious that their ace, Chien-Ming Wang, will be sidelined until September after spraining his Lisfranc ligament and tearing a tendon in his right foot while running the bases in an interleague game against the Astros. Hank Steinbrenner blamed the injury on the National League’s archaic rules that require a pitcher to hit. “The National League needs to join the 21st century. They need to grow up and join the 21st century.” So what your saying, Hank, is that in this century pitchers can get so out of shape that they should be wheeled around the diamond as to not harm their delicate bodies? If David Wells got his ass around the bases without a heart attack, it seems reasonable to suggest that your pitchers should get in 21st-century shape.

Who’s got tickets? Today’s Euro 2008 quarter-final match between Portugal and Germany. With the Germans considered underdogs to Cristiano Ronaldo and the rest of the Portuguese’s sublime attack, this has all the makings for a great game. But watch out, the Germans have a tendency to surprise cocky opponents and Portugal always falls short when the chips are on the table.

Fun police: Lots of NHL players are rumoured to be on the move leading up to this weekend’s entry draft in Ottawa. Ryan Malone, Patrick Marleau and Olli Jokinen are just a few of the names being thrown about. Maybe the Leafs could dump half their roster. Oh wait, sorry, forgot that JFJ gave them all “I-won’t-play-for-any-other-team-or-on-any-other-continent-and-you-can’t-make-me-try” clauses.

Extra bases: Why does Rafael Nadal continue to bite the trophy after he wins a tournament? Does he think it’s a giant Hershey Kiss with some tasty chocolate in the middle? It’s freaky.