Defining Lance Armstrong

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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

Team USA dominates Puerto Rico to win 2017 World Baseball Classic

Team USA dominates Puerto Rico to win 2017 World Baseball Classic

LOS ANGELES -- Marcus Stroman tossed six hitless innings, Ian Kinsler slugged a two-run homer and the United States routed Puerto Rico 8-0 on Wednesday night to win its first World Baseball Classic in four tries.

Stroman dominated the tournament's highest-scoring team. Puerto Rico lost for the first time in eight games after outscoring the opposition 55-26. The U.S. territory finished runner-up for the second time, having lost to the Dominican Republic in the 2013 final.

Stroman, who was named the tournament's MVP, avenged his shakiness in the Americans' 6-5 loss to Puerto Rico during pool play. The right-hander from the Toronto Blue Jays retired the side on three grounders to open the game. In all, he gave up one hit, struck out three and walked one on 73 pitches.

He allowed just three balls past the infield until Angel Pagan's double in the left-field corner leading off the seventh, when Stroman departed to a standing ovation, having staked the Americans to a 7-0 lead.

Stroman walked Carlos Beltran leading off the second, but the defense helped him out. Yadier Molina hit the ball to shortstop Brandon Crawford, who started a double play before Stroman struck out Javier Baez to end the inning.

The U.S. pounded out 13 hits and finished with a 6-2 record while making the final for the first time in front of 51,565 at Dodger Stadium.

Kinsler homered off an 0-1 pitch from Seth Lugo into left-center field in the third, scoring Jonathan Lucroy, who singled leading off.

Lugo of the New York Mets allowed four runs and five hits, struck out seven and walked four in four innings. The right-hander won his first two starts of the tournament, including in the second round against Stroman and the U.S.

In that game, Stroman gave up six consecutive singles in a four-run first inning and took the loss against Puerto Rico last Friday in San Diego.

The Americans made it 4-0 in the fifth on RBI singles by Christian Yelich and Andrew McCutchen.

Fans wore flags of both countries as capes and decorated their faces in team colors. Puerto Rico boosters pounded cowbells, tooted horns and blew whistles early on before their team fell behind 4-0.

Fans were on their feet chanting "U-S-A" when the Americans loaded the bases in the seventh with two outs. They were rewarded with Crawford's two-run single that chased J.C. Romero, extending the lead to 6-0.

The U.S. tacked on another run on Giancarlo Stanton's RBI single off Hiram Burgos past diving shortstop Francisco Lindor.

Burgos' wild pitch moved runners to second and third before he walked Lucroy to load the bases a second time. Kinsler flied out to end the inning.

The Americans led 8-0 in the eighth on McCutchen's RBI single with two outs.

The U.S. defeated two-time champion Japan, while Puerto Rico beat the Netherlands to reach the final.

The three games at Dodger Stadium drew 109,892.

Instant Replay: Kings blown out by Bucks, Antetokounmpo at home

Instant Replay: Kings blown out by Bucks, Antetokounmpo at home

BOX SCORE

SACRAMENTO -- The Milwaukee Bucks are where the Sacramento Kings hope to be in two seasons - young, athletic and on their way to the playoffs. Wednesday night at Golden 1 Center, the visiting team jumped all of the Kings early on their way to a 116-98 win. 

The Greek Freak didn’t let up on his fellow countryman, Georgios Papagiannis. Giannis Antetokounmpo went at the Kings from the opening tip, finishing the night with 32 points, 13 rebounds, six assists, two steals and a block.  

Former Kings Jason Terry and Spencer Hawes heard boos every time they touched the ball. Unfortunately for Sacramento, they hit almost every shot they took, combining for 19 points on 6-for-9 shooting.

Greg Monroe added 15 points and five rebounds. Mirza Teletovic finished with 13 points off the bench and Khris Middleton hit 3-for-6 from long range to score 13. 

Rookie Buddy Hield put on a shooting clinic. The 22-year-old shooting guard dropped in 8-of-16 from the field on his way to 21 points and four rebounds

Darren Collison set up his teammates from the opening tip. The veteran point guard dropped in 10 points and a team-high seven assists, but it wasn’t nearly enough.

Garrett Temple stepped up his scoring, chipping in 12 points on 5-for-7 shooting and chipped in three rebounds in the loss. 

Willie Cauley-Stein stuffed the stat sheet with 10 points, seven rebounds, two assists and four blocks. 

Arron Afflalo started at the small forward position and added 12 on 5-of-9 shooting. Tyreke Evans came off the bench, posting 18 points in 20 minutes of action behind Afflalo.

Skal Labissiere managed to shake off a rough first half to drop in eight points and grab eight rebounds, and fellow rookie Georgios Papagiannis picked up four points, seven rebounds and two blocks in 23 minutes off Dave Joerger’s bench.  

STANDOUT PERFORMER

Antetokounmpo was as advertised and more. The 6-foot-11 forward gave the Kings fits from start to finish on his way to another huge performance.

TURNING POINT

The Bucks blew up in the first half, scoring 69 points on 61.4 percent shooting from the field and 50 percent from 3-point range. This game was over before the teams headed in for the break.

INJURY UPDATE 

Kosta Koufos and Ty Lawson both missed the game for scheduled rest. Rookie Malachi Richardson is out with a right hamstring thickness tear, but is expected back soon. Rudy Gay is out for the year with a torn left Achilles. 

WHAT'S NEXT 

The Kings hit the road again following the game against Milwaukee. They will face the Golden State Warriors on Friday evening at Oracle Arena, followed by a stop in Los Angeles on Sunday to visit the Clippers.