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

Giants lineup: Hernandez in, Slater out


Giants lineup: Hernandez in, Slater out

Bud Black and Bruce Bochy issued their lineups for today's series opener at AT&T Park:

Rockies (47-31) 
1. Charlie Blackmon (L) CF
2. DJ LeMahieu (R) 2B
3. Nolan Arenado (R) 3B
4. Mark Reynolds (R) 1B
5. Raimel Tapia (L) RF
6. Ian Desmond (R) LF
7. Trevor Story (R) SS
8. Tony Wolters (L) C
9. German Marquez (R) P (5-3, 3.92 ERA)

Giants (27-51)
1. Denard Span (L) CF
2. Joe Panik (L) 2B
3. Hunter Pence (R) RF
4. Buster Posey (R) C
5. Brandon Belt (L) 1B
6. Brandon Crawford (L) SS
7. Ryder Jones (L) 3B
8. Gorkys Hernandez (R) LF
9. Jeff Samardzija (R) P (2-9, 4.74 ERA)

Earthquakes players react to Kinnear's firing, Leitch's promotion


Earthquakes players react to Kinnear's firing, Leitch's promotion

There are few players in Major League Soccer who are as synonymous with their club as Chris Wondolowski is with the San Jose Earthquakes. 

So it speaks to the current climate that is the Quakes when on Monday an emotional Wondolowski fought back tears and apologized as he cut an interview with media members short as he attempted to discuss the firing of Dominic Kinnear. 

The forward, who has played for Kinnear in San Jose and Houston, apologized as he walked away from the scrum on the training pitch back to the team locker room inside Avaya Stadium. 

The news that Kinnear is gone after 2 1/2 seasons with the club hit the players just as shockingly as the team’s fans on Sunday. And on Monday, while general manager Jesse Fioranelli did his best to clarify the intention behind his decision, players and new head coach Chris Leitch tried to steady the ship as the organization is confronted with the only truth that matters: the show must go on. 

“Still swirling, whirling — didn’t see it coming,” Wondolowski said about Kinnear’s firing. “I thought it was a bit interesting. I owe Dom and (assistant head John Spencer) where I am today. So, it’s definitely tough.” 

"We found out as a team Sunday morning,” said longtime Quakes midfielder Shea Salinas. “Came as a surprise to us as it did probably most of you. This is definitely unexpected. And my first reaction is just a little bit of remorse and sadness for Dom and John Spencer. They love this club, they love our team. They wanted us to win and they were doing everything in their power to do so. And I think that’s important to remember, that these guys poured every once of energy into this team.

“We got to speak with Dom [Monday] morning. I haven’t spoken to him personally. He came in and addressed the locker room and just gave us his best wishes and it was really nice and professional of him to have hear what he had to say."

“I hope everyone uses this as a signal to reflect on his own play [during] the first half of this season,” said newcomer and 2017 revelation Florian Jungwirth. “Everyone knows they can do better and like I said, I hope everyone uses it as a signal.” 

The Quakes were riding high after defeating Real Salt Lake on Saturday night 2-1 and propelling themselves back into the MLS playoff race — a place they haven’t visited since 2012. But, according to Fioranelli, the decision to fire Kinnear had been made the week prior after two-to-three months of internal consideration. And regardless of the win or where the Quakes currently sit on the table (fifth in the Western Conference), the time for change at the top was necessary. 

“First, most importantly, it’s the respect we have for Dominic and what he’s done here for this group,” Leitch said. “And I know that respect is shared by everyone in that locker room.”

“Change is scary. And change is also exciting,” Salinas said. "It’s a balance. it’s the same guys in the locker room. We have the same objective. We’re going to go out there to give it our all to win every game.”

Leitch, who will step over from his role as the club’s technical director to front the team on the pitch, echoed his players’ sentiments as the organization looks to turn the page. He’ll attempt to do so with the help of Alex Cavelo, as he'll fill in for John Spencer who was let go along with Kinnear. 

“I’ve been around this club an awfully long time,” Leitch said. “I know a lot about this club. It sure means a whole hell of a lot to me. So, my focus is squarely on that and reaching our goals for this season.”

Without going into specifics, the first-time MLS head coach said the talk of his becoming the team’s head coach started just recently. 

“You always want to be as close as you can to the game so, coaching is extremely interesting as that is the closest part to the game,” Leitch said. “When you work for a club, you do whatever the club wants, you do whatever the clubs need. So in this case, this is what the club needs. It’s always the goal to help the club in the biggest way possible.”

“Chris Leitch is not just the bridge. He is part of the foundation of this club,” Fioranelli said. “For that reason, we did want someone to come from abroad and take over this team We wanted someone that cares, someone that knows the players, knows the team to take on this important next chapter.

“He’s absolutely equipped to take on this challenge,” Fioranelli said, adding that the idea of hiring internally, while sending a message of promotion from within the organization all the way down to the club’s youth endeavors, played a huge part in naming Leitch the head coach.  

While off the pitch, part of the plan is to send a confident message from the general manager all the way down to the season ticket holders, in between the lines, the Quakes face a mountain-esque task of three games in eight days and the pressures that come with being a club that promised improvements to its fanbase since opening a new stadium a pair of seasons ago. 

“My confidence rests in these players,” Leitch said. “I know this is a damn good group. I know that setting expectations anything lower than playoffs is going to be lower than what this group wants.

“Goals are quite simple, they’re all collective. First one is make the playoffs, the second one is we got to make the playoffs and the third one after that is we got to make the playoffs. To say anything less would be to minimize the group that’s in that locker room.”