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 notes: Melancon gets injection; Kontos gets an at-bat

Giants notes: Melancon gets injection; Kontos gets an at-bat

SAN FRANCISCO — The Giants were annoyed by Monday’s “rubbing teammates the wrong way” report for a number of reasons, but near the top of the list was the fact that the target, Mark Melancon, has been pitching hurt to try and help a last-place team. That’s no longer the case. 

Melancon went on the DL on Wednesday morning and later had a PRP (platelet rich plasma) injection in his right arm to try and ease some of the discomfort in his pronator. He is expected to be out the rest of the first half. Melancon would be eligible to return with two games left until the break, but there’s no point in rushing him. He missed 12 games the first time this came up and he now has more than two weeks to rest before the second half kicks off. 

In the meantime, Sam Dyson is the closer, but he was unavailable Wednesday because of a heavy workload. So Bruce Bochy got creative to close out a 5-3 win over the Rockies. George Kontos came on for a sharp Ty Blach in the seventh and carried the lead to the eighth. Steven Okert got through the 26th out and Hunter Strickland came in to get Ian Desmond to fly out for his first save of the year. 

Because Bochy wanted Kontos to face Pat Valaika in the eighth, he got an at-bat 15 hours after Cory Gearrin got to take his hacks. It at first looked like Kontos had “don’t swing” orders, but he fouled a ball off. 

“The second fastball I got, if it was near the plate, I was going to swing,” he said. 

Kontos said he doesn’t have bragging rights over Gearrin because he fouled a ball off, noting that Gearrin is 1 for 2 in his career and he is 0 for 8. It turns out that they used the same bat, too. Yes, there is a Cory Gearrin model.

“It’s just been hanging out since last year,” Gearrin said, looking down at his equipment bag. “Just in case.”

--- Dan Slania woke up a 4:30, drove to Philadelphia, and boarded a flight that was went down through Nashville to fuel up. He arrived in San Francisco in time for the second inning. And then he watched, met with old teammates, showered … and prepared to fly all the way back to Pennsylvania. 

“I’m going to pass out as soon as I get on the plane,” Slania said. 

He wasn’t complaining at all. The Giants needed a potential innings-eater with Melancon on the DL, and if Slania is sent back down before Friday’s game, he’ll at least be back near Double-A Richmond and the flight back will have been taken on a chartered jet with a bunch of former teammates. Plus he gets a couple of service days. 

“I can tell you it’s well worth it,” Bochy said. 

--- The main story today is about Jae-gyun Hwang, who brought some more life to a team that got its first sweep of the year. The standings are what they are, but the Giants are playing much better, and some players started talking Wednesday about how they’re looking forward to being a spoiler for teams like the Rockies and Diamondbacks. 

More than anything, the players are just happy that they got to listen to the victory soundtrack again and walk out of this park with smiles. 

“We did a really good job of coming into this series and decided what the intent should be,” Nick Hundley said. “We weren’t going to worry about what’s been going on. You control what you can control. It’s nice when the results match up.”

There was a players-only meeting on Monday and Hundley said “everybody got on the same page again.”

Now the tricky part: Keeping it going on the road. 

--- Nolan Arenado is a freak and the Giants should give him a blank check, a ton of Facebook stock, and the rights to the Salesforce building when he’s a free agent in two and a half seasons. 

--- Ryder Jones is hitless in 16 at-bats but he was keeping his head up. He was an inch or two from a double down the line Wednesday and the Giants feel he’s having good at-bats. More than anything, he's not taking those results into the field and he talked about that at length when we sat down for a podcast the other day. If you subscribe on iTunes here, you’ll have it in the morning. 

Rockets GM: Chris Paul trade 'gives us a real shot' vs NBA juggernauts

Rockets GM: Chris Paul trade 'gives us a real shot' vs NBA juggernauts

The NBA took a massive power shift Wednesday with the Clippers trading point guard Chris Paul to the Rockets for seven players, a 2018 first-round pick (protected Nos. 1-3) and $661,000. 

Houston GM Daryl Morey is going all in on a mission to compete with the Warriors and he believes the Rockets are now there with the pairing of Paul and MVP runner-up James Harden. 

"You know, it's a guards-based league. It's a weapons race in the NBA and you're either in the weapons race or on the sidelines," Morey said at the team's press conference, as captured by Mark Berman of Houston's FOX 26. "With James Harden in his prime and Chris Paul in his prime, this gives us a real shot to chase the juggernaut teams in this league." 

Paul, who turned 32 in May, is a nine-time All-Star. He spent his last six seasons with the Clippers and averaged 18.1 points, 9.2 assists and 5.0 rebounds per game during the 2016-17 season in 61 games played. 

This past season, Harden became a primary point guard for the first time under Mike D'Antoni's fast-paced offense and the bearded lefty excelled in his new position. Harden led the NBA with 11.2 assists per game while putting up 29.1 points per game. 

Houston received guards Patrick Beverley and Lou Williams, forwards Sam Dekker and Montrezl Harrell, plus the non-guaranteed deals of DeAndre Liggins, Darrun Hilliard and Kyle Wiltjer from Los Angeles. 

The Rockets went 55-27 last season, four games ahead of the Clippers, but were eliminated in the second round of the playoffs to the Spurs.