Lance Armstrong will always be a hero and a villain


Lance Armstrong will always be a hero and a villain

Lance Armstrong has been exposed as the liar we all suspected him to be, and the general sense is that he has been exposed to his great and enduring public detriment.The general sense is, as is usual in this polarized nation, wrong.It doesnt matter that Armstrong has been exposed by 11 of his fellow riders as being the centerpiece of a massive performance enhancing drugs conspiracy that included such sidelights as bullying, threats and general unpleasantness. Armstrong has been painted as a thoroughly detestable creature.And none of that makes any difference, because arguments in America arent about right or wrong. Not any more. Theyre about My side, which is pure and noble and glorious, and Your side, which reveals you as scum.Lance Armstrong will have a legion of supporters, now and forever. Even those who read the damning USADA report will view it in terms not of fact-finding or evidence that could change ones mind, but as a document that will be contorted to support ones already-staked-out position.Period.Because it isnt about Lance Armstrong, and hasnt been for a long time now. Those who thought he doped thought that long ago. Those who thought that he didnt because he never tested positive and because hes too important to some different narrative, they assume conspiracy, or rationalize that he only did what everyone else in sport did.Or, most prevalent, they defend Armstrong because they are already committed to defending him, and admitting wrong is somehow considered worse than holding ones position.Thats why Lance Armstrong will never feel the pain others think he should. His sheer brazenness, and the ability of him and his acolytes to demonize his detractors, will insulate him from the shame that his deeds logically would rain upon him.Thats the mistake all the post-USADA analysis makes that this is the long-awaited smoking gun. It smokes, and its a gun, and it fired bullets. But those who dont want to perceive it simply dont, because it isnt about being right or wrong. Its about picking a side and adhering to it.RELATED: Damning Armstrong report includes 200 pages, 26 witnesses
And the Armstrong side is still the Armstrong side, no matter what.This is not designed to change anyones mind, because minds will not be changed on this. We have covered this ground in the past with other athletes, and every time the argument breaks down at the point where one side says, Well, I dont care. Hes my guy, and thats all I want to know.Its the maddening side of fandom gone tribal, and it is not going to change. There may be some people who peeled off the Armstrong bandwagon Wednesday, but most had already picked a side well before now, and are adhering to it with as much aggression as ever.And thats where the notion that somehow Lance Armstrong is exposed and ruined collapses under its own sanctimony. He isnt. He picked the fallback position of the victim being crushed by a system of conspirators, and those who are committed to him must follow. It may be his last explanation, and it may be thoroughly implausible given what more we learned Wednesday, but he has never given up on a story no matter how absurd it might be.Thats part of what his supporters find so appealing he doesnt take anything for an answer except what he has already provided himself. And giving up on that kind of single-mindedness is, for them, unthinkable.For the rest of us, it seems silly. But to assume that this is the final say on Lance Armstrong is to misread the audience, badly. He wont ever surrender his version more matter the weight of the evidence, and neither will his supporters. Hell, many of them will applaud him for being the best cheater ever, because thats part of his appeal too.So do not think we have heard the last of the Lance Armstrong story. Like the Civil War, some people need the fight more than the resolution, and some people need the hero even when he is shown to be the villain. And that will never change.Ray Ratto is a columnist for

Warriors rookie McCaw starts vs Nets with Durant ruled out

Warriors rookie McCaw starts vs Nets with Durant ruled out

OAKLAND -- With Kevin Durant out of the Warriors lineup Saturday night with swelling in his left pinky finger, rookie wing Pat McCaw will start at forward against Brooklyn at Oracle Arena.

Warriors coach Steve Kerr made the announcement two hours before tipoff.

As for Durant, the contusion in his left pinky finger, sustained Thursday, is still in the healing process.

“Kevin’s hand is still a little swollen,” Kerr said. “It’s not anything we want to mess around with. We’ve got a long trip coming up, a lot of games. It made sense to give him the night off. We’ll have tomorrow off, flying in to Philadelphia. So hopefully the next couple days it’ll calm down and be fine. It’s kind of a day-to-day thing.”

The decision to start McCaw -- who often competes with Ian Clark for playing time -- was based mostly on how he matches up against the Nets.

“They both have my trust and my confidence,” Kerr said. “Both of them are very effective. It’s depending what we need. If we need ball movement and cutting, I’m more likely to go to Ian. He’s a great back-cutter and he gives our offense flow and he’ll make spot-up shots. If we need some size defensively, we’ll go to Patrick. They’ve both been effective. I wouldn’t say either one is ahead of the other. They’re both going to play.”

New acquisitions shine as Quakes end preseason with win over USL's Republic

New acquisitions shine as Quakes end preseason with win over USL's Republic

The San Jose Earthquakes concluded their 2017 preseason campaign with a 4-1 win against Sacramento Republic FC at Avaya Stadium on Saturday afternoon. Shea Salinas, Simon Dawkins, Jahmir Hyka and Danny Hoesen each scored for the Earthquakes in the victory to give San Jose a 6-1-2 record in preseason play.

In the 14th minute, Salinas gave the Earthquakes a 1-0 advantage when he one-timed Tommy Thompson's cross into the back of the net. In the buildup to the goal, Nick Lima threw the ball in and found fellow Homegrown player Thompson on the right side of the six-yard box. With one touch, Thompson crossed the ball to Salinas who made no mistake with his finish.

Republic FC equalized the match in the 54th minute with a penalty from Sammy Ochoa after Anibal Godoy was called for a handball in the box.

The Earthquakes regained the lead in the 66th minute when Dawkins sent a powerful low shot into the bottom left corner of Sacramento's goal from the top of the 18-yard box after receiving a through pass from Darwin Ceren.

After entering the match at halftime, Hyka made the game 3-1 in the 79th minute, finishing Godoy's cross with one touch.

Hoesen concluded the scoring for the Quakes in first minute of stoppage time after he dribbled past the Sacramento defense and sent the ball across the goal into the bottom right corner to make the final score 4-1.

"It was good," said Quakes defender and second-ever Homegrown signing Nick Lima, who started Saturday. "It was obviously our first time in the preseason in the stadium. It was good to get out there with our starters and I think we finished the way we wanted to. There's obviously a lot of improvement that we need to do, but now we have a week just to focus on Montreal. That was the ultimate goal from the beginning of preseason to get ready for that game and I think we took a step in the right direction."

The Earthquakes will start the 2017 MLS Regular Season next Saturday, March 4, at 6:45 p.m. against the Montreal Impact.

Earthquakes media services.