Alex and Lance

Are you still ready to lynch Alex Rodriguez? Okay. Tell me: How do you feel about Lance Armstrong? Bear in mind that cycling's governing body has a failed Lance Armstrong drug test on record, and though he contests it and will sue anyone who writes about it, I think it's safe to say that nobody in Europe takes the denial seriously. Numerous witnesses have gone on record that he doped. I don't write this here to impugn Lance Armstrong—I'm a huge Armstrong fan. Doping was a pandemic in cycling when he was in the midst of his run of Tour de France victories. I can hardly think of a top rider who wasn't busted. So in a flawed system, Armstrong dominated. Seven Tour wins in a row. The achievement is almost beyond comprehension, nevermind the allegations of drug use, and nevermind the fact that he did it after recovery from cancer. Of course, that last fact, and all of the positive work he has done (along with his litigious nature), has saved his public image, at least in the US, though he too has had his messy divorce played out in the tabs, and he, too, has been linked with a rock star or two. Whatever. If you admire Lance Armstrong, and I don't see how any rational person cannot, than I'm not sure how you can demonize Alex Rodriguez.

Another point. I see a lot in print about how this generation of ballplayers has forever soiled the Hall of Fame, as if that were some kind of institution beyond reproach. Yes, the Hall is going to have to figure out how to deal with the likes of Bonds, McGwire, Sosa, Clemens, and Alex. But we all have that problem, don't we, and inasmuch as the Hall is a tool of MLB, we can say the organization has brought the problem upon itself. But let me also point out a misperception. The Hall of Fame was not established to honor the greatest players in the game. It was established to promote baseball. The fact that anyone will be talking about baseball, about the hall, who deserves to be in, and who doesn't, is prima facie a victory for the Hall.

12 replies on “Alex and Lance”

Lance Armstrong is likely a horrible liar. Cycling’s problems, famous and deep-seated, do not forgive him his (likely) dishonesty.
That said, to me it is sad that we measure a person by their trophies and not their ability to persevere against terrible odds. Armstrong has done great good in the name of fighting cancer, raising awareness, but to me it is lamentable that he has failed to confront the scourge of his sport. Sure, Armstrong may not have the voice in the name of his cause were he not a champion, but at the same time his “great” accomplishments enabled Floyd Landis and his own denials and other athletes like them. Armstrong is a very complicated figure, even moreso than Bonds or, now, Rodriguez. He could have been, maybe still could be, a voice for level competition. As it is, I find his story hard to stomach.
As an aside, was Miguel Indurain accused of doping?

It is odd that YF doesn’t even recall Indurain, who was Lance Armstrong before Lance Armstrong was Lance Armstrong. Armstrong’s achievement is “almost beyond comprehension”, YF says, even though Indurain won the race six times, and before Armstrong won his first. Even more ironically, Indurain’s run of titles was ended in 1996 by a guy who later admitted that he won the race because he had doped.

Hang on a second…Lance is the single most drug tested athlete in history. If he did fail one drug test, what is the chance of a false positive or a mix up? Furthermore, that pee sample from the 99 tour was re-tested in 2005 after passing in 1999! Only in 2005 did they say he failed retroactively! Unlike major league players who get tested randomly and possibly not more than a couple of times per season, Lance has already been tested 12 times since announcing his return!

Are you still ready to lynch Alex Rodriguez?
Wasn’t really what I had in mind, but lasting shame? Yeah, I’m still ready to see that stick to him.
Okay. Tell me: How do you feel about Lance Armstrong?
Self-aggrandizing somewhat upper echelon biker with no Tour titles comes back from Cancer to win 40 of them? I see nothing suspicious about that.
Baseball and competitive cycling are good points of comparison, as the former quickly becomes the latter in many people’s view: a sport where no accomplishments are valid, and nothing is to be believed. These aren’t arguments you’re making, YF, they’re justifications.

I’m so burned out on disliking A-Rod: he’s achieved critical lightning-rod status, and even with all his effing money and getting in bed with his woman of choice (however weird that choice may have been), I feel like this saga would be difficult to bear for any one person, or at least he’s been unfairly put under a laser-eye, even if he sometimes seems like a bit of a jackass and his “problems” are mostly self-wrought. It also seems like if it wasn’t punishable in ’03, no one had any business telling us whodunnit.
It’s not just that this news comes after so many years of Alex drama, it’s that I’m so disillusioned about PEDs and the sport I love. Now that the info is out there, I want the other names out. I want those on the ’04 Sox team who took in ’03 to be outed. Is Pujols a juicer too? Manny, Ortiz, Beckett, and Pedro would be the Sox current and past who I’d feel really saddened by if it turned out that way. (Be great for the YFs if Beckett was juicing in ’03.)
Just to be clear, I think A-Rod comes off as a bit of a drama queen/prima donna/headcase (though witnessing the last couple days, everything *IS* about him, right?), but as I abstractly wished for Mussina to win 20 last year while still wanting the Yankees to lose, I kind of wish A-Rod a good season.
And the way I feel today (which might change tomorrow if Alex says something stupid about this whole situation), I can almost wish for 39- or 40-year-old A-Rod (in a year when the Sox just stink) to hit a game-winning homer down 2 with 2 out and 2 on in the bottom of the 9th in Game 7 of the World Series…well, maybe the ALCS.

> everything *IS* about him, right?
Devine, you are hitting on something. Alex Rodriguez has had the “strange attractor” quality through his whole life in the public eye. Not necessarily so that it is about him, but so much of what will be said will be run through the prism of his persona, which is a stupid and wrong idea.
RIGHT NOW, (wish I could embed dramatic John Williams music) ESPN is breaking news that ARod admits to what he said he never did.

Well, at least he chose to “man up” about this. And so quickly. I’m impressed and surprised. If only others who have substantial evidence against them would do the same.

Well, he does have another nine years to keep producing. By contrast, Bonds, Clemens, and McGwire had little to no chance to redeem themselves. Giambi and Pettitte also owned up with time to “redeem” themselves.

For the first time ever, the Rodriguez-As-Diva meme bothers me a bit.
While I think it is clear that Alex Rodriguez craves attention, at some point in the past few years that fact has been twisted around on itself such that it’s become something of a self-fulfilling prophesy. Sportswriters never fail to remind us of it, sometimes to the point of actually penning stories about Rodriguez’s desire for attention. Which is all set-up for the next time any story “breaks” (the WBC fooferaw in 2006 comes to mind), the writers go apoplectic again, taking care to remind us again that they’ve been forced to write about Rodriguez because he’s a self-serving diva, and not because they enjoy ragging on him, which also happens to sell papers. That isn’t the most important thing about this story of course; the whole thing stinks to high heaven. But that aspect is just one more reason for me.
I’ve never liked Rodriguez, even a little bit. And yet somehow I’ve been made to feel sympathetic towards him. We truly live in interesting times.

To come back to Lance Armstrong and cycling for a moment: the fact that a cyclist has been tested a lot and tests came up negative does not mean a thing. (And the argument has been evoked by a lot of athletes who were later discovered to have used banned substances.)
Doping is endemic to cycling in a way that it probably has never been in baseball (unless you count greenies). And it is probably true for all sports to say that the users have always been way ahead of testing procedures. Usually the dopers have moved on to different substances already when a test for a certain substance has been developed.
Maybe the fact that samples are preserved nowadays and may be tested retroactively for substances that could not be detected when the samples were taken, may work as a deterrent. But then again, probably not.
I think it is safe to assume that every cyclist who’s won the Tour de France, the Giro d’Italia or the Vuelta (the Spanish equivalent) in recent years has been cheating. (And yes, there have been Canseco-like accusations against Indurain as well.) So I have never ever believed that Lance Armstrong was clean.
And frankly, after today’s confession I have a lot more respect for A-Rod. Which does not mean I like him or what he did.

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