Small Balls: Friday June 20, 2008

La première étoile: Justin Leonard. The real Justin Leonard. The 24th best golfer on the planet is Number 1 when it comes to busting drug-addicted fraudsters. After a tip from a post office employee, Leonard’s people alerted the FBI to Joel Bridger, a 30-year-old Texas man who allegedly stole Leonard’s identity and used his famous name to apply for credit cards and a cell phone. When will these thugs ever learn? If you’re going to impersonate a PGA Tour pro, stick with the generic names. Like Chris Smith. Or Steve Jones

Two minutes for … being a big fat tease. To the Toronto Blue Jays, who, after being no-hit through seven innings in Milwaukee last night, staged a heart-pounding, seven-run comeback in the final two frames—only to fall short by one measly run. Shame on you, Blue Jays. For weeks, your fans (and I use the plural lightly) have come to accept the sad fact that three hits a game—maybe four, if you’re playing the Mariners—is all they’re going to see. So why lead them (him) on like that? Instead of just packing it in when the Brew Crew was up 8-0, you had to string them (him) along, fill their (his) little brain with false hope, and then do what you planned to do all along. Lose. By the way, you can forget about Reds slugger Adam Dunn joining the lineup anytime soon. Make that ever.

Who’s got tickets? Notre Dame Stadium. Oh wait, you don’t need tickets. NBC Sports has signed a five-year extension with the Fighting Irish, guaranteeing that every home game will appear on national television until at least 2015. Not bad for a struggling football program that went 3-9 last season…Now, if you’re looking for something to watch today, don’t miss the Stampede Poker Classic at 3 p.m. on The Score. Just kidding, soccer fans. Turkey vs. Croatia kicks off at 2:45 on Rogers Sportsnet.

Fun police: Barry Bonds deserves none of your sympathy. He’s out of work because he’s a jerk, and he’s in court because he’s a liar (excuse me, alleged liar). But as much as we’ve enjoyed watching the home run king devour his just desserts, U.S. authorities are now toeing their own ethical line in the pursuit of justice. Prosecutors were desperate to convince Greg Anderson, Bonds’ former trainer, to turn state’s evidence and testify, but he refused to co-operate. Thirteen months behind bars wasn’t even enough to change his mind. But according to this morning’s New York Times, the government is now putting the heat on Anderson’s wife, Nicole Gestas, in the hopes of muscling her husband onto the witness stand. Makes you wonder just how strong the Crown’s case really is.

Extra bases: First Willie Randolph, now John McLaren. John Gibbons better watch his back…Speaking of coaches, Lakers bench boss Phil Jackson is now the official fall guy for Kobe Bryant’s awful play in the NBA Finals. Maybe if Number 24 spent more time playing defence, and less time repairing his public image, L.A. would be hosting the parade…Kobe and Phil and every other pampered American athlete should be thanking their lucky stars they don’t live in China. Playing through pain isn’t just an expression over there…Column of the week, from Gwen Knapp of the San Francisco Chronicle. The lede says it all: “Tiger Woods is an idiot. A mesmerizing, peerless, incandescent idiot.” Don’t expect Gwen to land the exclusive, post-surgery interview.