IS TRUTH STRANGER? NAIL BITING GOOD FOR BUSINESS?

August 11, 2010

Bob Molinaro of HamptonRoads.com asked if going after Lance Armstrong is worth all of the tax payers money.

“What’s it worth to find out that Lance Armstrong has been a doper and cheat?
At considerable taxpayer expense, the government is out to prove that Armstrong, the winner of the Tour de
France seven times, was a juicer.
Is there anybody who actually believes he wasn’t?
Aren’t all world-class cyclists juicers? Isn’t the sport rife with drugs? Does dogged Jeff Novitzky, the
special agent for the Food and Drug Administration, need to make a federal case of what we already suspect?
And for what purpose? To discredit a man who means so much to so many?
The famous line from the movie “The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance” applies here: “When the legend becomes
fact, print the legend.”
In Armstrong’s case, what’s the harm? He’s a hugely inspirational figure whose successful battle against
cancer and incredible fundraising efforts have elevated him to a position of prominence enjoyed by no other
American athlete.
If it’s proven to the satisfaction of most people that his reputation and fortune are built upon fraud, his
iconic status will take a hit. But for goodness sake, the man rides a bicycle. He isn’t suspected of
bilking investors out of billions or raiding a teachers’ pension fund.
At worst, he was just better than the other dopers at pedaling up and down hills. However it was done, he
entertained and stirred millions. Let’s not make more of this than it has to be.
The government is doing just that, of course. But as former teammates come forward to implicate him,
Armstrong isn’t giving an inch. Last month, he said he would deny any involvement in doping “as long as I
live.”
We’d expect that. Dopers
stonewall. That’s what they do. Sprinter Marion Jones went to prison for six months after lying to
investigators about her use of performance-enhancing drugs.
Floyd Landis, who has accused Armstrong and other riders of using drugs and blood transfusions, is an
inveterate liar who insulted everyone’s intelligence long after his 2006 Tour de France victory was
nullified by a positive doping test.
The international cycling community is a rogue’s gallery, so let’s not prepare to be shocked by more drug
revelations.
Novitzky was the lead investigator in the Bay Area Laboratory Co-operative steroids case that led to Jones’
imprisonment, and which may have barred the door to Cooperstown for Barry Bonds. He’s been chasing drug
cheats for eight years, though it’s unclear how much the government has to show for it.
You could argue that the public has become comfortably numb to drugs in sports. That could change if the
spotlight on Armstrong intensifies.
But if it does, what then? The Byzantine world of cycling is far harder to fathom than baseball, yet while
almost everyone believes Bonds was a steroids freak, Novitzky’s efforts at getting at the truth continue to
be thwarted.
The feds can’t even prove that Bonds is a liar. His long-delayed perjury trial suffered a setback in June
when the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals disallowed entering into evidence urine samples collected by
Bonds’ personal trainer.
We’re free to believe the worst about Armstrong, yet for what it’s worth, he’s left behind no positive drug
tests of which we are aware. If the feds can’t get to Bonds, how can they take down Mr. Livestrong on the
strength of testimony from avowed cheaters?
However this turns out, though, our tax money is being wasted. As the spending continues, ask yourselves
how much of a public menace one man on a bike can really be?
You want the truth about Armstrong? That’s what the government is after, though the truth is almost
certainly unattainable.
For good reason, most people are more comfortable with the legend. For now, it lives strong.”

Every Red Sox win gives its rooters reason to be hopeful. Here Dan Shaughnessy, of the Boston Globe, talks
about game four of the recent series with the Yankees.

“The finale was better than the first three games. It was an epic August matinee on a sultry Monday
afternoon in the new/old ballpark on 161st Street. The Red Sox and Yankees stared at one another for 3
hours and 33 minutes before the Bronx Bombers finally blinked as Mark Teixeira swung and missed at a
2-and-2 Jonathan Papelbon splitter with the tying run on second base.
It was an afternoon of missed opportunities by both teams, an afternoon in which Papelbon and Daniel Bard
struck out some great hitters with a lot of men in scoring position. It was an afternoon in which the Red
Sox’ 2-1 victory enabled them to salvage a split in New York. No matter what happens from here, it will go
down as one of the memorable games of this strange season.
“You saw two good teams going at it,’’ said excited Sox skipper Terry Francona. “That was good baseball.’’
It was also an afternoon in which we saw Jon Lester’s first victory in one full month. The Sox stopper was
0-4 since pitching an inning at the All-Star Game in Anaheim, Calif. This represented a significant drought
for the guy who is supposed to be Boston’s best pitcher.
Lester was on his game yesterday. He smothered the Yanks for 6 1/3 innings, allowing four hits and three
walks and striking out six before handing the ball to rocketman Bard.
If you want to talk about laser shows, talk about Bard. When the media assembled in the Sox clubhouse after
the game, Bard got most of the attention.
“If something bad is going to happen, you want to be out there yourself, but I’m happy to give the ball to
those guys [Bard and Papelbon],’’ said Lester.
Fortunately for the Sox, Lester succeeded where John Lackey and Josh Beckett failed Saturday and Sunday.
“For the first six innings he was lights-out,’’ said Yankee manager Joe Girardi.
“Tremendous,’’ said Francona. “Early on, his strike/ball ratio was even, which was interesting. It says a
lot about his stuff. He pitched well with men on base. He made pitches down and had movement. He was great.
’’
“This was a huge win for us,’’ said Lester (12-7, 2.94 ERA). “Hopefully, it’s a step in the right direction.’’
The struggling Sox are still alive and they have a chance to make the playoffs on the strength of their
starting pitchers. Boston’s quintet of Lester, Beckett, Lackey, Clay Buchholz, and Daisuke Matsuzaka is
better than any other rotation in the American League.
“I don’t think it’s just about the starting pitchers,’’ said Lester. “It’s the whole team. Obviously you
can’t be giving up four or five runs a start. If we keep our team in the game, we’ll score runs and win
games. It sounds simple, but that’s really it. We just have to keep chipping away.’’
Starting pitching can make up for an offense that scored only six runs over the final three games in Yankee
Stadium. It can make up for the devastation of the disabled list. It can make up for a bullpen populated by
people Francona cannot trust in any close game (At this hour, it’s pretty much “Bard and Papelbon, and pray
for rain’’).
Lester needed a win. He’d lost four consecutive starts, giving up 13 earned runs and 31 hits over 26 2/3
innings. This stretch included a fateful night at Safeco Field in his native Washington when he had the
best stuff of his life (yes, even better than in his no-hit game), but suffered a 5-1 loss after taking a
perfect game bid into the sixth inning.
There was something else to consider. On the last weekend of July, after a disastrous start against
Cleveland at Fenway, Lester’s wife, Farrah, gave birth to their first child, a boy named Hudson. It can’t
be easy being a 26-year-old first-time dad, traveling around the country while your wife is home with a
newborn. But this is the life they choose and it is a good life, and now Lester has a game ball for his
baby boy.
“I wasn’t worried about the last four starts,’’ he said, quietly. “I was worried about executing pitches
on the day I get to pitch. I know what these past three games [at Yankee Stadium] were like and I wanted
to give our team a quality start. I was worried about today, not three weeks ago. When you start worrying
about your last outing, you get in trouble.’’
A couple of New York writers arrived from the Yankees clubhouse as Lester was delivering his closing
remarks. They asked what it was like to watch Bard, and Lester told them he’d already answered the
question. He was ready to get on the bus to get to the airport to get to Toronto. He was ready to move on
with this strange, strange season.”

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