Each week, The Reporters put their thumbs out to the good and the bad in the world of sports. This week, they discuss poor injury alibis, the cutting of Michael Sam, MLB rosters and the NFL preseason.
Bruce Arthur, Toronto Star: My thumb is down to Josh Shaw: USC cornerback, NFL prospect, and raconteur. As dutifully published by the official USC football web site, Shaw explained his two sprained ankles by saying he leapt from a balcony to save a drowning nephew. He was hailed as a hero right up until the story turned out to be fake, at which point Shaw lawyered up, and there may be a darker explanation coming. Now, what have we learned?
First, state media in sports is about what you'd expect. And two, at USC, somebody needs to teach “Alibis 101”. What happened to saying you got hurt on a dare? Or while drunk? Instead, your excuse is: “Sorry, guys, I was just an incredible hero.” That, like Josh Shaw leaping from a balcony, was never going to fly.
Steve Simmons, Sun Media: My thumb is down to ESPN for its ludicrous and somewhat insulting coverage of Michael Sam. We all know the story by now; How Michael Sam became the first openly gay athlete to try out for an NFL team. We also know that as of yesterday, he didn't make the St. Louis Rams and may end up on the club's practice roster.
But what ESPN did earlier in the week, having since apologized for it, is air a story with a reporter asking players about Sam's showering habits, whether he showers alone or with any of his teammates, as if any of that matters. This sent veteran Rams coach Jeff Fisher into a deserved lather but the best response regarding the situation saw came from Chris Long of the Rams, who tweeted: “Dear ESPN, everyone but you is over it."
Michael Farber, Sports Illustrated: My thumb is down to Major League Baseball, which insists on playing with different sets of rules. No, this is not a rehash of the DH argument or a lament about separate trade deadlines, waiver and non-waiver. My line in the sand is the annual September 1 roster expansions, when teams can add as many as 15 players.
Of course, there's value in extra arms and a few bench guys, but it remains absurd that MLB has not harmonized September roster sizes so a team with, say, 28 players isn't facing one with 34. At the biggest time of the season, a league that prides itself on parity legitimizes imbalance.
Dave Hodge, TSN: My thumb is down to Thursday night of this week, the part that saw 32 NFL teams reach the end of their horribly boring and meaningless pre-season schedules, the goal of which, according to Atlanta Falcons' wide receiver Roddy White, is to "stay healthy". Most of the stars manage to do that by not playing very much. Thus, it should be understood that NFL teams are insulting their fans.
Those who boo, as they did in Buffalo while watching the Bills fail to score a point against the Detroit Lions, would be quite right to object if they did so from home. If, by protesting in person, they think the NFL will hear their displeasure, they miss the point that the NFL is oblivious and is more loudly cheering its ability to collect their money... for nothing.