Each week, The Reporters put their thumbs out to the good and the bad in the world of sports. This week they discuss new Raptors GM Masai Ujiri, former St. Louis Blues forward Andy McDonald, Dodgers rookie Yasiel Puig, and 2013 French Open champion Serena Williams.
Dave Naylor, TSN: My thumb is up to new Toronto Raptors GM Masai Ujiri, who took on what may be one the toughest jobs in professional sports this week. But long shots are not something he is afraid of, because he knows this well, he was one himself. One of the things about sports we love is seeing people come from off the radar, late bloomers. We see it in the athletes and occasionally we see it in executives. That is Ujiri's story, parlaying a modest college and pro career in Europe into a volunteer scout role with the Orlando Magic, and then climbing the ladder with the Denver Nuggets. The headline in Toronto this week was that the Raptors lured the NBA Executive of the Year; the more significant story is how he got there.
Steve Simmons, Sun Media: My thumb is up to Andy McDonald, formerly now of the St. Louis Blues, who announced his retirement from hockey this week even though he could still play in the NHL. McDonald has had five concussions in recent years and over the past three years, for every four games he's played, he has missed three. He wasn't feeling right playing in the NHL, he wasn't feeling right playing hockey and he made the hard decision to walk away now healthy rather than the alternative.
Michael Farber, Sports Illustrated: My thumb is up to the extraterrestrial playing right field for the Dodgers, rookie Yasiel Puig. An amazing start to a big league career, these are some of the numbers - six games, 10 for 23, four home runs including a grand slam, two outfield assists, he's slugging 1.000, and his OPS is 1.458. If we project this over 162 games, he would have 138 home runs, 324 RBIs and 680 total bases. That's quite a pace.
Dave Hodge, TSN: My thumb has been down to Serena Williams, and I'm not sure it has ever been up, but now is the time. Her French Open win yesterday was her 16th major title and it came 11 years after her first one. She can stake her claim as the greatest woman on a tennis court and there is no end in sight to her ways of making a stronger case. She has lost only three times since the 2012 French Open, and has won her last 31 matches - 31 to match her age. We say "remarkable athlete" too often. In the case of Serena Williams, we don't say it enough.