Small Balls: Thursday June 12, 2008

La première étoile: Despite the fact that he ruined the summer of ’94 for me when he captained the Canucks to a five-game romp over my beloved Maple Leafs in the Western Conference Final, Trevor Linden deserves a huge round of applause for his leadership, longevity and commitment to the game of hockey. Thanks for a wonderful 19 seasons Trevor.

Two minutes for nose diving. Former world cycling champion Tom Boonen has been barred from this year’s Tour de France for testing positive for cocaine. Apparently the Belgian icon somehow justified that it was better to get wicked high and jeopardize his entire career than to just say “no” and have a couple of brown pops.

Who’s got tickets? This weekend’s 108th U.S. Open at Torrey Pines has all the ingredients to be a tourney for the ages. Tiger’s back from surgery, Phil’s playing well—and looks like he’s finally stopped eating those tasty Twinkies—and the course is in pristine shape. Let’s hope these two are paired in the final grouping come Sunday.

Fun police: I know it’s only June and I should probably stick this comment in a sack, but if Chipper Jones continues to hit the cover off the ball he might become the first player to hit over .400 since Ted Williams’s legendary campaign in 1941. The 1999 National League MVP definitely has the grit and hitting acumen to keep this dream season afloat.

Extra bases: I want you to try something this weekend. On Sunday, grab a six-pack of your favourite brew, plop yourself in front of the TV at 12:30 p.m., and watch the LifeLock 400 NASCAR race at the Michigan International Speedway. Then come back to this posting and explain to me what the hell is so damn exciting about a sporting event that appears to consist of nothing more than a giant left turn that lasts five hours.

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