I ran across this item in a Scott Ostler column in the SF Chronicle that I put on my clipboard for future use.
“Eerie coincidence last Sunday. Sports spotlight on Madison Bumgarner and Felix Baumgartner. Felix parachuted to earth from 24 miles up, hitting 834 mph on his way down. Madison fell to earth also, hitting 88 mph on his way down. The odd couple? Remember Felix Unger and Oscar Madison?”
Then came another eerie coincidence… Last evening I was on the phone chatting with a former colleague who made an analogy between Felix Baumgartner’s plummeting to Earth with Lance Armstrong’s meteoric fall from grace. He said that he could not recall any athlete who was thought to be so honorable showing up to be such a heel. He likened it to pro ‘rassling where one of the partners in a tag team turns on the other partner and helps the opponents beat the bejeepers out of the poor schlep. So, that got me to thinking…
I do not think that any of the athletes who were caught up in the BALCO mess or who have tested positive for PEDs in the last decade in the major sports in the US fell nearly as far – or as fast – as has Lance Armstrong. I never recall anyone identifying the likes of Barry Bonds, Manny Ramirez or Roger Clemens as “great humanitarians”. The only “PED guy” who might be in the same order of magnitude as Lance Armstrong would be Sammy Sosa because of his use of a corked bat, his illogical and totally lame explanation as to how he came to use that bat in a game and then his subsequent performance in front of that Congressional Committee where he lost the ability to speak English the night before taking the oath. Notwithstanding that level of weasel-hood, I do not think Sammy Sosa is at the Lance Armstrong level in terms of fall from grace because he really was never high enough to sustain such a fall.
In terms of image, Tiger Woods’ handlers and managers led the world to believe that he was a devoted family man who craved his privacy because he wanted to spend quality time with his wife and children. That carefully crafted image had little to do with reality and exploded like a watermelon under Gallagher’s mallet one November evening. My sense is that people “loved Tiger Woods” because he was a great golfer and not because they saw him as an inspirational figure – not even the idiots who followed him around on courses yelling “Get in the hole!” every time he hit a shot. Therefore, his fall from grace was not as far as Lance Armstrong’s.
Here is the only athlete that I can come up with who might be in the same category:
Up until the time of his “slow ride” in that white Bronco along the California Freeways, OJ was seen as a likeable and affable fellow who also happened to be on the Mount Rushmore of running backs in the history of the NFL. He had been a commentator on MNF and was the pitchman for lots of companies; he was a “good guy”. Then came the arrest, the trial, and the acquittal. OJ was a free man, but he now resided in a totally different sphere in the public’s eye. His “search for the real killer(s)” on golf courses around the world and his attempts to hide assets from the reach of the court to settle a civil claim against him in a wrongful death suit made him toxic when it comes to being a pitchman for any product I can think of. OJ Simpson was never held is the same high esteem as was Lance Armstrong, but OJ Simpson’s “fall from grace” was to a deeper level than where Lance Armstrong is destined to go.
So, is Lance or is it OJ? You make the call… Alternatively, feel free to offer up another name.
Let me close out the discussion of Lance Armstrong here with a comment from Ron Judd in the Seattle Times:
“Two thoughts about Nike, the sports-world’s great Satan, finally dumping vengeful dope fiend and pathological liar Lance Armstrong, then taking his name off a campus building: 1) When even Beelzebub pushes you to the curb, it’s highly probable that you’re not a good person. And 2) Does Nike have any buildings left on its campus with names still on them?
“Just a Suggestion: How about a new Phil Knight / Lance Armstrong Center for Situational Sports Ethics?”
Let me see if I have this next issue in perspective:
Roger Goodell recused himself from being the arbitrator for the appeal that the Saints’ players have filed regarding their suspensions. The NFLPA had “suggested” that would be a good idea.
Goodell named previous NFL commissioner, Paul Tagliabue as the new arbitrator.
The NFLPA does not like the fact that “Tags” is part of the law firm that represents Goodell in the lawsuit filed against him in parallel to this whole Bountygate thing.
The NFLPA wants “Tags” out of there and has hinted that “Tags” may be a witness they call in their suit against Goodell.
So, where do we go from here – - other than to chase that White Rabbit who keeps hopping by saying he is late for a very important date?
The NFLPA would probably want Jonathon Vilma’s grandmother to be the person to hear the appeals and make a ruling. The NFL will not go along with that.
The NFL would probably want an owner from a rival NFC South team to be the person to hear the appeals and make a ruling. The NFLPA will not go along with that.
Left to their own devices, just finding a mutually acceptable person to hear the appeal might take a year or so – about as long as Vilma’s original suspension. Therefore, because I am a problem solver and I am a uniter not a divider, I offer my services to both parties here free of charge.
Give me ten days to read up on all the “proceedings” that have gone before this date. Then give me 2 days to hear the appeals. I will have an answer to this matter within one week of the final point in the appeals hearing.
Here is something I can bring to the process that others cannot. If I were the arbitrator at this point, neither side would be able to conclude that they “had an edge” with the decision maker. That fact alone might encourage both sides to sit down and resolve this for themselves because both could feel the possibility of a big loss and therefore a negotiated settlement would begin to make more sense to everyone. But never fear, that is not gonna happen…
Finally, an item from Greg Cote in the Miami Herald:
‘I’m grappling with which is sadder: That financially strapped Curt Schilling might have to sell his famous bloody sock. Or that somebody out there will want to buy a bloody sock.”
But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………