Each week, The Reporters put their thumbs out to the good and the bad in the world of sports. This week they discuss Knicks fans' treatment of Andrea Bargnani, Cameron Wake, the Impact bowing out of the playoffs and expanded replay for MLB.
Bruce Arthur, National Post: My thumb is up to New York Knicks fans and not just for living through the Isiah Thomas era. When you visit New York, it's easy to feel like you've arrived from the boonies, gawking at the skycrapers and the locals are smarter than you. Well, when it comes to basketball, there's something to that. It took Knicks fans one quarter of basketball to decide that yes, Andrea Bargnani was a player who deserved booing, as his jumpers clanked and his defence floated and his rebounding remained largely theoretical. It was Bargnani at his worst, but still: one quarter and they knew. It took years before Toronto fully turned on the former first-overall pick, as he progressed from promise to disappointment to empty calories. Eventually, the relationship turned toxic. In New York, it might be already there.
Steve Simmons, Sun Media: My thumb is up to Cameron Wake, the former BC Lion, who added to a week or so of stunning finishes with a game-ending safety in the Thursday night football game between Cincinnati and Wake's Miami Dolphins. We've seen walk-off home runs in baseball, just not walk-off safeties very often - not in the way Wake planted himself into quarterback Andy Dalton and drove him into the end zone. It's only the third time in NFL history that an overtime game has ended this way. The safety came after one World Series game ended with a pick-off and another ended on an obstruction call. I'd love to tell you what's next, but honestly, I don't have a clue.
Michael Farber, Sports Illustrated: My thumb is down to the Montreal Impact, not as much for being outclassed in its MLS playoff game Thursday, but for losing without class. Of course, context is in order here. The second-year Impact actually made the playoffs, unlike, say, feckless Toronto FC. But true to its unfortunate habit, the Impact comported itself like sugared-up kids the morning after Halloween. Taking its cultural cue from (now former) coach Marco Schallibaum, who was suspended four times during the regular season, Montreal finished its playoff match in Houston with eight players. The final accounting: Three Dynamo goals and three Impact red cards. Houston, you are not the one with a problem.
Dave Hodge, TSN: My thumb is up to Major League Baseball for going full speed ahead with expanded instant replay for next season. If Bud Selig needs a feather in his cap to mark his final season, that can be it. There is still potential for trouble if the finished product is too complicated, but it is time to give the umpires the help they so obviously need. Don't worry, boo-birds--there will still be room for managers to argue with them--on non-reviewable calls only--remember, not too complicated. But good for MLB if it gets it right--the NHL is advised to observe with interest and with a willingness to follow.