La première étoile: Rick Reilly. The man who will always be synonymous with the back page of Sports Illustrated makes his ESPN debut today. His five-year, $17-million deal includes a bimonthly column for ESPN The Magazine, a biweekly column on the website and regular appearances on SportsCenter, the network’s flagship show. For the record, we at “Balls” offered Reilly a new golf bag and a six-month Maclean‘s subscription, but for reasons that remain unclear, our phone never rang.
Two minutes for … snitching. To New England Patriots offensive tackle Nicholas Kaczur. According to published reports, the Brantford, Ontario, native helped U.S. authorities bust a big-time drug dealer in Massachusetts. The Boston Globe says that after police caught Kaczur with a stash of prescription painkillers back in April, the 315-pound lineman agreed to wear a wire and secretly record three transactions with his alleged supplier. Note to teammates: don’t tell Nick about your steroids problem.
Who’s got tickets? Mellon Arena, Pittsburgh, Game 6 of the Stanley Cup final. What else are you planning to watch tonight? French Open reruns? (Shameless plug here: be sure to check “Balls” for Charlie Gillis’ random thoughts on the action—both on and off the ice. He’ll be updating all day from Pittsburgh.)
Fun police: Sorry Junior. We know you’re on the brink of a milestone and everything, but forgive us for not paying much attention. After nine injury-riddled seasons in Cincinnati, watching you hobble your way to 600 dingers is about as exciting as watching Bonds juice his way to 756. Enjoy the moment, though. It’s not like you ever won—or will win—a World Series ring.
Extra bases: Olympic gymnast Kyle Shewfelt won’t be carrying the Canadian flag during the opening ceremonies in Beijing. John Smoltz and his inflamed right shoulder won’t be carrying anything, either. And if Toronto Raptors G.M. Bryan Colangelo has his way, T.J. Ford will be carrying his bags—and his me-first attitude—to a different N.B.A. city.