Each week, The Reporters put their thumbs out to the good and the bad in the world of sports. This week, they discuss the ongoing Redskins name debate, a truly dominant pitching performance, the bargain basement standards of the LPGA and MLB's latest fine import.
Bruce Arthur, Toronto Star: My thumb is down to the Washington Redskins name debate, and not just because there's any debate at all over the most clearly racist name in sports. No, it's because the debate's getting dumber by the second, as it ratchets up. A sitting U.S. Congressman - low bar, I know - compared Barack Obama to Kim Jong-Il, or -Un, after a federal trademark case declared the name derogatory. A Fox News host - low bar, I know - compared the name to the New York Giants offending tall people. This happens often, and it's always, always stupid, people. It's like the Yankees, or the Lakers, or the Dallas Cowboys of stupid. Calling Dallas the Cowboys, of course, should only be offensive to competent and/or humble cowboys, one and all.
Steve Simmons, Sun Media: My thumb is up to Clayton Kershaw, superstar pitcher for the Los Angeles Dodgers, who brought the no-hitter back into vogue with a performance for the ages Wednesday night at Coors Field. And I know what you're thinking: another no-hitter, big deal. There's been so many of them in recent seasons that we've all grown a little bored of pitchers we didn't know or care about throwing another no-no. But it was different against the Colorado Rockies. This is a big name - Kershaw - striking out 15 batters, walking no one, in total command, only reaching the count of three balls on one batter and had it not been for an error by Hanley Ramirez, we're talking perfect game here. Add Vin Scully broadcasting to the occasion and baseball doesn't get any better than that.
Michael Farber, Sports Illustrated: My thumb is down not to 11-year-old Lucy Li, who qualified for the U.S. Open, but to women's professional golf, whose thimble-deep talent pool made it possible for an 11-year old to qualify. The sixth-grader, who looked like she should be entered in a hopscotch tournament and not slugging it out on Pinehurst no. 2, shot a pair of credible 78s, a score that matched marquee names Natalie Gulbis and Laura Davies but left her far off the cut. Nice two-day story. But rather than celebrate the presence of a sprite in the event, shouldn't the USGA, and by extension the LPGA, be mortified a novice qualified? The kid is precocious, but she isn't exactly Mozart.
Dave Naylor, TSN: And my thumb is up to Masahiro Tanaka of the New York Yankees for proving that sometimes a player really is worth all the hype. You may remember how Tanaka's transfer from Japan was the major story of the MLB off-season. You may also remember that when the first Major Leage hitter he faced in Melky Cabrera took him deep … some were wondering if the Yankees had just uncovered the next “Dice-K” Matsuzaka. Well right now Tanaka leads the American League in wins and ERA and is among the leaders in innings-pitched, as well as strikeouts and walks per nine innings. And he's looking like a good bet to win both the Cy Young and Rookie of the Year honours. Coming off a perfect 24-0 record in Japan last season, experts cautioned not to expect the same thing from Tanaka in the major leagues. And they were right. After all, on May 20th against the Cubs he did something he never did all of last season in japan. He took the loss.