Armstrong enters the next phase

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Armstrong enters the next phase

Lance Armstrong enters the next phase of his non-person stage today, now that Nike has given him the traditional Viking funeral setting him adrift and letting the tide do its work.But the news Wednesday is no more dispositive of Armstrongs long-term public prognosis than it was before the systematic nature of his lies and bullying overwhelmed even the people he made money for all these years. Put another way, there will be some other LiveStrong product in his future, and the only question now is how late at night the ads for whatever his next product will run.RELATED: Nike severs ties, Armstrong steps down as LiveStrong chairman
If that passes as disgrace in this culture, then it passes as disgrace. It says volumes about how we determine a persons worth, of course, since the history which has so offended people lately has been readily available for anyone who wanted to know.The point is, the Nike announcement, and Armstrongs resignation from the LiveStrong Foundation should have been regarded as no news at all. Armstrongs deeds were already glowing a radioactive green before this, yet somehow Nikes imprimatur was required to make it official.Theres a lesson in that, of course. It is proof that we have become so tolerant of misbehavior by the brazen and arrogance by the powerful that their disgrace can only be defined by the even more powerful.And intriguingly, Nikes deicison wasnt based on whether Armstrong was a maniacal juicer, or the hall monitor from hell, or a rampant liar. Nike fired Armstrong because he wouldnt be moving any more of their product, at least not in a rate that made him worth the bother any longer.In short, what Nike was doing was much different than what people want to think Nike was doing. The only thing everyone can agree on is that Armstrong is he and his army of defenders will have to find news ways for him to make money.And he will find them. He will not become invisible, not for long. Disgrace in America is as negotiable as it is flexible, and Armstrongs biggest crime making America believe he wasnt what he clearly and always was is one America usually gets over.It may take a series of contrived and insincere apologies on the daytime talk show circuit. It may take one long tearful interview from by some allegedly concerned celebrity interviewer. It might even take, in a worst-case scenario, throwing himself on the mercy of the French.But Armstrong didnt stop fighting USADA and its Pyrenees of evidence without mentally beginning his campaign back from Elba. He knew all these other shoes would drop, because he knows how the P.R. game is played at the highest corporate levels. Love to hate in 5.8 seconds, hate to love in a year or so.He is playing his bad hand in the time-honored poker way as long as he has a chip and chair, hes still live. And he knows he will not be abandoned to those who bought hardest into his mythology.And no, Nike never bought into his mythology. Nike helped refine his mythology, and cashed in on it with both hands and feet, but Nike didnt get to be Nike by biting the hook it baits.In sum, Armstrongs fall Wednesday may impress some people as final, but nothing is truly final except death and the Kansas City Royals. The things he did that should have earned him his shame were ignored by too many, and Wednesday s news was just a corporate decision rather than a moral statement.Whats wrong with too many of us, in the final analysis, is that we are so comfortable conflating the two. But we'll find out some late night when we can't sleep and misplace the remote when his ad comes on.Ray Ratto is a columnist for CSNBayArea.com

Giants continue embarrassing stretch against rebuilding Padres

Giants continue embarrassing stretch against rebuilding Padres

SAN FRANCISCO — Three years ago, the Giants and Padres were the two teams in it until the very end for Pablo Sandoval’s services. He ended up in Boston, and when he became available again over the past week, the Padres politely backed away. 

They prefer youth and Rule 5 Draft picks. They came into this season knowing they might lose 100 games, and they didn’t mind. If anything, they welcomed the increased shot at the top pick in the 2018 draft. They’re here to tank, but the Giants (who expect to welcome Sandoval back on a minor league deal as soon as Friday) just won’t let them. 

Thursday’s 5-2 loss to San Diego was like so many others over the past calendar year. The Giants didn’t hit, they didn’t come through in the clutch, they did not support their starting pitcher, and they did not guarantee a handshake line. 

The Giants have lost 15 of 20 to the Padres since last year’s All-Star break, including three straight last July to kickstart a tailspin that has lasted over a year now. They have dropped four of five meetings in this second half, which was supposed to prove that a Padre-like rebuild is not needed up here in the Bay Area. They are five games behind the Padres in the race to finish a distant fourth in the National League, and in a season full of disappointment, that stands as one of the more embarrassing facts. 

Not even Madison Bumgarner’s return to AT&T Park could turn the tide. The lefty looked good most of the night, but two homers left him with a rougher-than-hoped line. Bumgarner gave up four earned on two homers. He has allowed multiple homers in back-to-back games for the first time in his career. Both starts have come against the Padres. 

“I’ve got to stop giving up homers,” Bumgarner said of his start. “That’s not going to work.”

Bumgarner said he felt fine physically, and his curveball — the pitch that has backfired on him most often since his return — feels right mechanically. He was facing his last batter in the seventh as George Kontos warmed up with a runner on. Corey Spangenberg hit a two-run shot to the deepest part of the yard to make it 4-2. 

Buster Posey flied out with the bases loaded in the eighth. The Giants brought the tying run to the plate in the ninth but couldn’t score, which has been the norm against the Padres. The Giants are averaging just 3.2 runs per game during this 20-game stretch of futility against a team they once dominated. 

“We need to win ballgames right now,” Bumgarner said. “We’ve got to start doing that. There’s no magic solution. We’ve got to start playing better, all of us.”

Instant Analysis: Five takeaways as homers hurt Bumgarner vs Padres

Instant Analysis: Five takeaways as homers hurt Bumgarner vs Padres

BOX SCORE

SAN FRANCISCO — A day after he did his press conference from a “Game of Thrones” throne, manager Bruce Bochy said he was happy the Giants won their series finale against the Indians and kept that plan in play. In that respect, he’s lucky his team wasn’t facing the Padres on Wednesday. 

The Giants were on Thursday, however, and they continued their baffling stretch of ineptitude against what is supposed to be the worst team in the National League West. The 5-2 loss to San Diego was the 15th in the last 20 meetings between the two teams, one of which has a $200 million payroll and the other of which is actively tanking. 

The Giants had a shot at a comeback in the eighth, but Buster Posey flied out to right with two outs and the bases loaded. Here are five things to know, if you are the curious type: 

—- Madison Bumgarner has faced the Padres twice since returning. In 13 1/3 innings, he has allowed 10 hits and seven earned runs. He is getting hurt by a familiar problem for the 2017 Giants: The Padres have four homers off Bumgarner in those two starts. Hunter Renfroe and Cory Spangenberg took him deep Thursday, with Spangenberg hitting one out to the deepest part of the yard on Bumgarner’s final pitch. 

—- This is the first time in Bumgarner’s career that he has allowed multiple homers in back-to-back starts. 

—- Kyle Crick showed good stuff — sitting 96-97 — while stranding a runner on second in the eighth. He followed that with a scoreless ninth. The Giants should make it a priority to throw him into some deeper water over the next two months. 

—- There’s an epidemic these days of outfielders making foolish throws to the plate. We see it just about every night, and it cost the Padres in the sixth. Gorkys Hernandez was on second and he took off right away on Denard Span’s single to right. Renfroe had no play at the plate but he threw it anyway and Span took second. He scored when Eduardo Nuñez singled to left. 

—- The Giants announced their second consecutive sellout. That’s a streak. Maybe?