Each week, The Reporters put their thumbs out to the good and the bad in the world of sports. This week they discuss the career of Adriano Belli, one of the worst rules in hockey, voters for the NBA awards and the worst team in baseball.
Dave Naylor, TSN: My thumb is up to Adriano Belli, the former Toronto Argonaut defensive tackle who celebrated his retirement this week with a tall ship party at Toronto harbour. Now, there are lots of things to like about Belli's 10-year-career. There was his ferocious play on the field, his engaging personality off it, and of course who could ever forget all those kisses. But what really stands out about Adriano Belli is how much fun he seemed to be having every moment of every day he was a football player - whether it was on the field or in the community. We've all encountered pro athletes for whom there seems no joy left in what they do. They could all take a lesson from Belli, who will be missed by everyone, except quarterbacks.
Steve Simmons, Sun Media: My thumb is down to just about the worst rule in hockey - the one that penalizes a player for slashing and breaking another player's stick. This might have been a good idea when everybody played with wooden sticks just not any more, not when almost everyone is using one of the very breakable composites. You look at a composite stick the wrong way, it might break. So what did we get in Game 7 of the brilliant San Jose-Detroit series? Two potential game-changing penalties in the third period over sticks that got broken. In the end, neither penalty factored in the final score but I don't know about you, I don't want a Stanley Cup game, or any game for that matter, decided on one of these unnecessary calls.
Bruce Arthur, National Post: My thumb is down to a tiny slice of the electorate that votes on NBA awards. Now, democracy's a messy business, and everyone has a right to their opinion. But when that opinion, as a professional NBA writer or broadcaster, is that Andrea Bargnani of the Toronto Raptors deserves two votes for the All-NBA third team - the same number as Chris Bosh, incidentally - well, then you've lost the plot. Yes, Bargnani can score. But if you understand basketball well enough to know that the term 'one-dimensional' is not a compliment, then this conclusion is just plain impossible to reach. There were other dubious votes cast, sure. There always are. But somewhere out there, there are two voters who need to defend voting for someone who doesn't know what defence means.
Dave Hodge, TSN: My thumb is down to the worst team in baseball, and sadly, for those who appreciate their usual level of consistency, that team is the Minnesota Twins. Saturday night's ghastly 11th inning against the Blue Jays was typical. The Twins are struggling to do anything right. They're scoring runs at a ridiculously low rate - just over three runs a game, which means the batters cross the plate fewer times than the pitchers miss it for walks - almost four a game. Injuries have claimed several players - most notably, Joe Mauer, who hasn't played in a month because of weakness in his legs. Mauer makes $23 million - it's almost as if the Twins are cursed by the money they're now spending. When they were the typical small-budget team, none of this bad stuff happened.