Defining Lance Armstrong


Defining Lance Armstrong

If this is Lance Armstrongs passive-aggressive version of admission that he did everything every other successful cyclist of his era did, fine.If it his last desperate attempt to middle finger the u.s. Anti-Doping Administration, fine too.If it is his only way out after years of trying to bully compatriots into silence and being bullied by a collation of the more powerful, well, paybacks a bitch.But he chose an interesting way out by saying he intended to concentrate on his work with cancer patients. Not exactly the O.J. search-for-the-killer-on-the-golf-course defense, this.RELATED: Armstrong to be stripped of Tour de France titles
So let him do that. If thats how his career ends, then it least it ends well. Especially if he keeps all these good works he keeps trumpeting to himself.Armstrongs disgrace doesnt interest me all that much, because I never held him in particularly high esteem one way or the other. I wasnt that invested in his legacy anyway, because legacies are, to put it elegantly, crap, and those who attend to their legacies while still in their prime deserve the crap they take.But deeds do matter, and if he intends to do the same work to fight cancer while in disgrace that he did when he was an international icon, then good on him. It wont make me feel any better about him, but its not about what I think of him anyway.RELATED: Tour de France not commenting on Armstrong case
Its what the people he says he intends to help think of him, while hes helping them.But we can grade him this much: If he does what he says he is going to do, and does so without cameras or hagiographers or a phalanx of P.R. people, fine. He at least walked this part of his talk. If he decides as he said Thursday, that he is tired of protecting his reputation and just wants to do the work of the angels, then he can do it quietly, and reap whatever rewards are to be had either in quiet satisfaction or in whatever afterlife is provided for us all.You see, reputations are what people will argue about with Armstrong for the next few days. He will either be judged as a victim or as a fraud, either as a nobleman besieged by the jealous or as a guy who bullied others until he was bullied himself by someone bigger, as the ultimate shame of his sport or as its ultimate sacrificial lamb.But judgments will be made, and Im fine with all of them. Let him be whatever you want him to be. He doesnt own his reputation anyway. Nobody does. It belongs in the eye and on the tongue of the beholder.So whats he got now then if he hasnt got that? Hes got his oft-stated vow to help those with cancer, and if I must cast a vote on his reputation, then I prefer to wait to see if he did what he said he would do in this arena.And whether he did it with as much fervor when nobody was looking as when he was bracketed by cameras and handlers and publicity hounds. Service is most sincere when it whispers, and those who how shout Look what Im doing! are interested more in you looking than in them doing.So if you must define Armstrong as a cyclist, have at him. Whatever he has coming, he will get. As a human being, he still has a chance at redemption, but if he does it the way he should, a lot of people will never know. Its called selflessness, and it isnt measured in sound bytes or clips of well-crafted paragraphs.In short, to save his reputation, he must care only about saving others. And in the end, only he will know whether he was worth the bother.Ray Ratto is a columnist for CSNBayArea.comAP Images

Stanford tops North Carolina on PKs, advances to NCAA final


Stanford tops North Carolina on PKs, advances to NCAA final

HOUSTON — For the second straight season, Stanford found itself depending on penalty kicks to advance to the College Cup final.

Like last season, the Cardinal came out on top. After each team converted its first nine attempts in the tiebreaker, Amir Bashti made it 10-for-10 for Stanford. Tar Heels defender Alex Comsia then sent his try over the crossbar to end it, giving Stanford a 10-9 win.

"They had just as many good chances as us, and it could have been a 1-0 game either way," Stanford coach Jeremy Gunn said.

Stanford (14-3-5) will face Wake Forest in the College Cup final on Sunday in search of its second straight national championship.

"It's not his fault. We could have done things in the game to have his back," North Carolina defender Colton Storm said of Comsia's miss. "It could have been any of us."

"It's the nature of the game," North Carolina coach Carlos Somoano said. "Sometimes they go in, sometimes they don't. Sometimes there's moments you seize the moments, and sometimes it runs away from you."

North Carolina (14-3-4) had the two best chances of the game. Late in the second half, forward Alan Winn was denied by goalkeeper Andrew Epstein, who made a nice save with his legs.

Later, Epstein made the best save of the match in the final seconds of the second overtime on a shot from forward Tucker Hume. After gaining possession in the right side of the 18-yard box, Hume unleashed a shot that Epstein deflected wide with his legs.

"He made the plays to keep the game at 0, and he deserves credit," Somoano said.

After a flurry of corner kicks and a free kick in an attacking area, Stanford had the best opportunity to score in the first overtime on a header from Drew Skundrich, but he put if over goalkeeper James Pyle, who had six saves. Foster Langsdorf, the Stanford goal leader who scored in the team's first three tournament games and has 15 on the season, had three shots and two on goal but was unable to break the deadlock before the game went to penalty kicks.

"Any result like that is going to be tough to swallow," Storm said. "Stanford's a really good team. We each had our chances. National semifinal, it's going to be tough to swallow no matter what."

While Epstein was unable to stop any of North Carolina's penalties in the shootout, his saves late in the game enabled Stanford to continue its quest for a repeat.

"Andy's never really attracted much attention, but when you're his coach you appreciate him," Gunn said. "You can depend on him."

Stanford has won 15 of its last 18 games after starting the season with three ties and a loss. The Cardinal have yet to concede a goal through four tournament games, while North Carolina's season ends after a third consecutive tournament shutout.

After winning the first national championship in program history last season, Gunn praised his team for continuing to push forward this season.

"It's incredible," Gunn said. "You've always got to be optimistic. There's no point in being anything else. We started the year so well in January. I thought, 'These players are so hungry.'"

Rewind: Sharks fall behind early again, lose 3-2 to Ducks

Rewind: Sharks fall behind early again, lose 3-2 to Ducks

ANAHEIM – Spotting a team the first two goals is a difficult recipe for winning hockey games. That’s even truer when you’re the Sharks, and you’re having tremendous difficulty scoring more than two goals on any given night in the first place.

While the Sharks hung with Anaheim in a closely contested game at Honda Center on Friday night, the Ducks got that extra necessary score. Brent Burns and Kevin Labanc answered first period goals by Rickard Rakell and Antoine Vermette, but Hampus Lindholm’s marker with 5:38 to go in the third period was the difference.

For the fifth time in their last six, and ninth in their last 12, San Jose's scuffling offense couldn’t eclipse the two-goal plateau in a 3-2 defeat.

Coach Pete DeBoer said giving up the first two scores, like they also did on Wednesday in a similar loss against Ottawa, “is not optimal, obviously. But we battled back, and I thought the game could have gone either way. 

“I give our guys credit for battling back. … We didn't hang our head, we battled, and we're just finding a way to lose right now instead of win, which, we've been winning games like that."

For the second straight game, Sharks captain Joe Pavelski had numerous prime chances but couldn’t find a way to get one. An early third period opportunity stood out among the rest, though, when Pavelski was staring at a wide open net in a 2-2 game from close range.

Typically that’s an automatic score for Pavelski, who led the league in game-winners last season. But this time, it went five feet wide.

“Kind of rolls up, catches the blade, and it’s not even close,” Pavelski said. “Those are the moments you’ve got to cash in on. I haven’t done that.”

The Sharks’ best stretch came early in the second period, when they outskated the Ducks and peppered Jonathan Bernier while trailing, 2-1. The Ducks goalie turned them all away until Labanc squeezed one through at 8:40 after the rookie was nicely set up by linemate Logan Couture.

“He didn’t give me much room. You just want to get that off as quick as you can,” Labanc said. “Just took a quick shot, and it went in the net.”

In a game of momentum swings, though, the Ducks outplayed San Jose in the third. They took the lead when Joel Ward gave Lindholm a little too much room to pick his spot on a wrist shot from the top of the circle.

After looking like they were in good shape after two periods, Labanc thought the Sharks were “a little too confident” headed into the third.

“We stopped skating, stopped dumping the puck in, and working hard in the corners,” he said.

Pavelski bemoaned the fact that for the second straight game, a regulation loss in the final minutes, that the Sharks didn't even manage to get the point in the standings for forcing overtime despite fighting back.

"The last few games you have a chance to at least push it to the end," he said. "We're not giving up a whole lot."

The Sharks nearly did tie the game with Martin Jones pulled for an extra attacker, though. After Burns made a pair of remarkable shot blocks on Andrew Cogliano bidding for an empty netter, DeMelo and Ward each had whacks at the puck, but somehow it remained out. 
“A bunch of chaos, really,” is how DeMelo described it. “It was really tight. I think we were just inches away from getting the equalizer.”

Again, though, they just couldn’t find a way to get that third score.

“We were close,” DeBoer said, “but not close enough."