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Each week, The Reporters put their thumbs out to the good and the bad in the world of sports. This week they discuss the National Football League, the great Ichiro Suzuki and a fans complaint about the Rogers Centre. Bruce Arthur, National Post: My thumb is down to ESPN for pulling out of a partnership with PBS on a deeply researched documentary on the NFLs questionable handling of concussions after - wait, this cant be right - a lunch meeting in midtown Manhattan with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell. Both sides denied NFL pressure was the cause, which means they must believe the public has collectively suffered serious head trauma. The league is looking more and more like a cigarette company every day, facing litigation from a third of its living former players, and everybody knows it. But ESPN - which airs Monday Night Football - has so many great journalists, on this issue and others, and it did them a deep disservice in succumbing to business interests over journalism. The only positive? At least they decided where they stand. Steve Simmons, Sun Media: My thumb is down to the National Football League for its rather weak suspension of Houston defensive end Antonio Smith. Smith has been suspended for two pre-season games and one regular season game for one of the most dangerous acts on a football field Ive ever seen. Smith somehow manipulated the helmet off Miamis often dirty Richie Incognito and violently swung the helmet in the direction of Incognitos head. Had it connected we might be talking about something other than suspension today. And at a time when the NFL is doing almost everything to protect its players, especially the head, this time it didnt do enough. Michael Farber, Sports Illustrated: My thumb is up to Ichiro Suzuki, who passed the 4,000 hit mark this week against the Blue Jays at Yankee Stadium. Of course 1,278 of those hits came in the Japanese league to which I say … so? The Japanese League isnt exactly single A. And suppose Ichiro simply had materialized in Seattle at age 27 and began a career that produced a rookie of the year, an MVP, 10 Gold Gloves, more than 2,700 hits, 10 straight 200-plus hit season and a record 262 hits. Hall of Famer? Yeah. Anyway, that little museum in Cooperstown is the national baseball hall of fame, not the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame. Dave Hodge, TSN: On a list of complaints by fans of the Blue Jays, this wouldnt rank near the top, but Im with the fan who said "thumbs down" to this bit of nonsense encountered at the Rogers Centre beer concession. Fan wanted to buy one beer and he wanted to share it with his wife, so he asked for an empty cup to go with the overpriced can of beer. Sorry, thats not allowed. You can have beer in a can, minus a cup, or you can have beer in a cup, minus the can. But you cant walk away with half a can and half a cup of beer. Not even that way can the Jays and their fans enjoy a .500 season. Fake Nike MLB Jerseys .J. Ward appeared in court Friday on misdemeanour charges that he threw a glass mug at a bartender at a Denver strip club. Discount MLB Jerseys . Winners of two straight, the Flames will try to become the first team in 25 years to go three consecutive games without taking a penalty Saturday night in San Jose. . Villa has already confirmed his short-term deal and the Daily Mirror reported early Tuesday that Lampard will join him as both build up match fitness ahead of moves to the new Major League Soccer franchise New York City. MLB Jerseys China . -- Once again, Carlos Santana was a huge hit in Kansas City. MLB Jerseys Outlet . He left in the 4th inning of Saturdays game against the Tigers after experiencing tightness. Reyes and the team still hope that he will be ready for Opening Day in Tampa Bay in one week.SOCHI — Hayley Wickenheiser not only will carry the Canadian flag in the opening ceremonies on Friday, the hockey legend also carries high hopes for a fourth-consecutive Olympic gold medal and for the womens game as a whole. But before her work on the ice begins, shes going to savour a special moment at Sochis Fisht Olympic stadium on Friday. "Just going to enjoy it and take it all in and, you know, honour the fact that I have this opportunity and that my family is going to be in the building," said Wickenheiser, who hails from Shaunavon, Sask. "So its going to be a fun night, said the Olympic veteran," who will have 11 family members in Sochi.  The 35-year-old Wickenheiser is well aware that if the womens tournament evolves as presumed with a Canada-United States gold-medal final on Feb. 20, the scrutiny will continue as to whether womens hockey belongs in the Olympics.   But shes been around the international game for two decades, when she cracked the Canadian roster as a 15 year old in 1994, and she sees progress. Womens game in good shape “I always worry about the future of womens hockey, mainly because of the fact that most of the world pays attention to womens hockey only for two weeks out of every four years,” Wickenheiser said. “I dont worry about the womens game when I look at every game and what goes on internationally. “I look at Team Japan and what [current coach and former Canadian player] Carla MacLeod has been able to do to get that team to an Olympic Games, which is a huge accomplishment for a country. You look at Finland and how they centralize their under-18 and national teams. You look at Sweden and you look at Russia what Alexei Yashin [the teams general manager] has been able to do with his team.” Still, the Russians, Swedes, Finns and Swiss need to exhibit that they have closed the gap. But that wont be easy because Canada and the U.S. continue to elevate its level of play. “This is a dilemma womens hockey is always going to face. But the reality is were so much further aahead in this time span than say where mens hockey was in [after the first five Olympics].dddddddddddd I think the [womens] game has really come a long way in five Olympics.” Will this be Wickenheisers final Olympics? She wont decide on whether to continue or conclude her decorated career, that includes three Olympic gold medals, seven world championships and playing pro mens hockey in Finland and Sweden, until after the final buzzer sounds in Sochi. So what keeps Wickenheisers competitive clock ticking? “The No. 1 thing is a love of sport,” said the six-time Olympian said, who also competed for Canada in softball at the 2000 Sydney Games. “Ive loved hockey since the day I first put on skates when I was five years old. I have had a passion to play all these years. “I love being part of Team Canada and having the opportunity to win, and thats the main driving force now.” Nagano loss still hurts She forgot to mention that shes never been a good loser. At a team gathering on Monday evening, Wickenheiser and Hefford and assistant coach Daniel Goyette described the emptiness and hurt they felt when they finished second in 1998. “The worst thing in the world is to stand on the blue line with a silver medal around your neck,” she said. “It stays with you for a while.” There was some speculation that Wickenheiser wouldnt be around for the Sochi Games. There was some thought her game had dropped off and she was dealing with some injuries.  “You battle injuries and you go through a lot of things as an athlete, but I could picture in my mind what I needed to do to get ready to play in these Games,” she said. “I guess its always a fragile existence as an athlete. Any day something can happen and your games are over, like we saw yesterday with the snowboarder (Norway slopestyle gold-medal contender Torstein Horgmo broke his collarbone during a trail run). “Im very grateful to be sitting here … and to have had the longevity Ive had.” (With files from CBC Saskatchewan) ' ' ' Cevapla

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