Each week, The Reporters put their thumbs out to the good and the bad in the world of sports. This week they discuss LeBron James' apparent endorsement of flopping, the Chris Williams situation in Hamilton, the Chicago Cubs pitching staff and the Philadelphia Phillies' "classy gesture" towards Jacoby Ellsbury.
Cathal Kelly, Toronto Star: My thumb is down to LeBron James. As per usual, LeBron James has played phenomenally through this playoff run, but he has to begin to understand that everything he says affects the game of basketball. Everything he does affects the game. This series between Indiana and Miami has been largely defined by diving. James has been a culprit, but the worst thing he did is to seemingly endorse the practice, saying after a game, "any advantage you can get over an opponent so be it." That is absolutely wrong. Other players listen to what James says. We don't want basketball to become international football. At this point, cheating can never be endorsed and certainly not by the best player on the planet.
Steve Simmons, Sun Media: My thumb is down to Kent Austin and the front office staff of the Hamilton Tiger-Cats for not finding a solution to the Chris Williams situation. Williams was the most dynamic player in the Canadian Football League last year, offensively catching touchdown passes, running six kicks back for touchdowns, doing everything you would want from a football player. He is not in camp right now because he wants to go to the NFL, and his contract with the Ticats doesn't pay him enough to stay in Hamilton or report this year. What the Ticats should do is sign him to a new contract, pay him more or double his salary for this year, then let him go at the end of next year. When you have a Chris Williams, you have to find a way to get him in the lineup because the CFL needs Chris Williams a whole lot more than Chris Williams needs the CFL.
Michael Farber, Sports Illustrated: My thumb is up to the Chicago Cubs pitching staff, and not for the way the Cubs pitchers pitch, it's for the way they hit. This week, Travis Wood hit a grand slam home run. The Cubs pitchers in 105 at-bats have five home runs and 19 RBIs. For comparison purposes we'll take, say Adam Lind, the primary DH for the Blue Jays. He has 127 at-bats, five home runs and 12 RBIs. I'm an old, National League guy. This is the best argument I have against the designated hitter.
Dave Hodge, TSN: I hate to do it, but my thumb is down to the Philadelphia Phillies for their so-called "classy gesture" in the wake of Jacoby Ellsbury's five stolen bases against them on Thursday. The Phillies decided they would honour Ellsbury's red sox-team record performance by giving him a commemorative sixth base. They took the actual second base off the field and sent it on to Ellsbury. I wonder how Phillies' catcher Erik Kratz felt about that? He might have preferred to direct attention away from Ellsbury's record, lest other base runners who can prey on him decide they'd like to try for gifts from the Phillies, too.