Each week, The Reporters put their thumbs out to the good and the bad in the world of sports. This week, they discuss the NFL and replacement referees, Blue Jays first-round pick Marcus Stroman, Kim Clijsters and catcher-turned-broadcaster Bob Uecker.
Bruce Arthur, National Post: My thumb is down to the NFL, though that thumb may yet be called up by a replacement referee. But this is about a bigger bad call. An industry that generates $9 billion per year and rising, whose owners clawed back hundreds of millions of dollars from the players in a lockout last year, has decided that instead of paying a couple million per year to its officials to become full-time employees, it will lock out the men who give the games their structure, and are charged with so much health and safety on the field. It's incredible. It's disgusting. Its billionaires soaked in naked greed and gambling in a league so based on wagers with their own integrity.
Steve Simmons, Sun Media: My thumb is down to Marcus Stroman, the Blue Jays' first-round pick who makes his first real headlines as a pro ballplayer for being suspended for testing positive for a drug better known as DMAA. I'm not here to judge Stroman, who claims he is a victim of taking the wrong over-the-counter supplement. Only Stroman knows the circumstances of his personal setback. But the optics are horrible in this Blue Jays season gone wrong. Never mind the injuries to Jose Bautista and Brett Lawrie and most of the Jays' pitching staff. Never mind the likely last place finish. Never mind the absolute collapse of Ricky Romero. You wonder: what else can go wrong? And you get the answer when the first round pick, this close to a September call up, is set back for another year.
Michael Farber, Sports Illustrated: In lieu of a two-cheek kiss, my thumb is up to Kim Clijsters, retiring at the end of the US Open. She didn't go out the way she wanted, an early straight-set loss, but it was the way we wanted, with uncommon grace. Even more than four Grand Slam singles titles, Clijsters made an indelible impression because she was universally respected. Even beloved. In an era of swagger, Clijsters was a reminder that fierceness and generosity of spirit are not mutually exclusive. And she could do the splits like nobody's business. She retired once before, to have a daughter, but the Open is her final act. The show goes on, but tennis is poorer.
Dave Hodge, TSN: It's not the way to compliment the Milwaukee Brewers to say that a career .200 hitter is the most famous name in the history of the franchise, but thumbs up to that backup catcher-turned-broadcaster Bob Uecker. He was honoured by the Brewers this week with a statue outside Miller Park, honoured for his 42 years of service in the booth. Uecker was better known for appearing on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson more than 100 times than he was for appearing in six big league seasons, and he was much better known for his quips than for his hits. He said his way of catching a knuckleball was to wait until it stopped rolling and then pick it up. And he said of himself: "it's not hard to stay in the Major Leagues if you can play - to last as long as I did was a triumph of the human spirit." Lines like that have made the broadcasting career seem easy.