Each week, The Reporters put their thumbs out to the good and the bad in the world of sports. This week they discuss the retirements of Simon Whitfield, Perdita Felicien and Jim Leyland as well as unwritten codes in sport.
Bruce Arthur, National Post: My thumb is up to Simon Whitfield, who officially retired from triathlon this week after over a decade as one of Canada's defining athletes. When you ask him what he remembers best, it's his surprising Gold at the Sydney Olympics. When you ask most people what they remember about Simon Whitfield, I find it's what I remember: Beijing, when he kept getting dropped on the run by the lead group in that astonishing heat until finally he simply refused to be dropped, surging to the lead before winning the best Silver you'll ever see. His career ended with that heartbreaking crash in London, but if you ask him, he's at peace with it; it was just part of the road. Simon Whitfield's legacy in this country may be this: he reminded us that winning wasn't everything, and that losing wasn't everything, either.
Steve Simmons, Sun Media: My thumb is up to Jim Leyland, the gruff talking, cigarette smoking, old school manager of the Detroit Tigers, who walked away from the big league game after eight seasons in Detroit, and after 22 seasons as a manager at the age of 68. What made Leyland unique, more than how he did things, more than how he left himself so open to the second guess, is he was never fired as a manager, not in Pittsburgh, not in Florida where he won the World Series, not in his single season in Colorado and not now as leaves the Tigers on his own accord. His way. His time. "Thank you," he said, "for having me."
Michael Farber, Sports Illustrated: my thumb is up to hurdler Perdita Felicien, who announced her retirement this week. While best remembered for an Olympic tumble, she should be honoured as the first Canadian female track athlete to win a world championship. Felicien won the 100-meter hurdles in 2003, establishing her as the favorite for Athens 2004. Well, life and a hurdle got in the way. Felicien clipped the first hurdle and fell, taking out Russia's Irina Shevchenko on the way down. This was not how Felicien wanted to bow out of her last Olympic race, but it was a quintessential Canadian sporting moment: she took the Russian down with her.
Dave Hodge, TSN: my thumb is down to those unwritten codes that pop up in every sport. For instance: in the first inning of Game 1 in the World Series, Cardinals' shortstop Pete Kozma was initially given credit for making an out at second base but the umpires gathered to reverse what had been an obvious incorrect call. That, and the code, brought St. Louis manager Mike Matheny racing from the dugout to argue that his team had been victimized. He was doing what everyone expected him to do, so he did it. Wouldn't it have been refreshing if, instead, Matheny had calmly walked to meet Kozma at his shortstop position, placed his hand on Kozma's shoulder, and said the following: "I know you never caught that ball, and you know it, and the umpires know it Forget about it and catch the next one" and if after that meeting, Matheny had returned to the dugout with nary a word for an umpire? But the code would never allow it.