McQuaid tries to airbrush Armstrong out of history books

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McQuaid tries to airbrush Armstrong out of history books

Im starting to think that too much time on a bicycle seat makes you stupid. And no, this is not an extension of my general position on exercise.No, the news that the International Cycling Union has stripped Lance Armstrong of his seven Tour de France titles has inspired my inspiration re: bikes and brainlessness. And in case you are cyclist who has to date felt no ill effects from your avocation or hobby, let me present this for your consideration, from UCI president Pat McQuaid.Lance Armstrong has no place in cycling, he deserves to be forgotten in cycling.Hurray! Another stride toward revisionist history! More institutional cowardice! Pretend it didnt happen! Progress!Of all the stupid things said and done by, for and about Armstrong over the years, this might be the most laughably ignorant. Forgetting ones history not only dooms one to repeat it, but it shows that the only lesson the UCI, or at least McQuaid, wants to learn is how to deal with a public relations problem.Because thats the suggestion he is making here. To turn Lance Armstrong into Leon Trotsky. To airbrush him out of the history books for the crime of inconvenience.Armstrong is a blight on the sport, but he could never have been so if the sport werent already up to its neck in acts of looking the other way on PEDs. Armstrong is perfection of drugging and its closest scientific phenomenon, bullying. He is a brute as well as a cheat, a towering unpleasantness that is getting everything thats coming to him.But the people who ran the sport and run it now have to live with the work they helped condone, and this forget stuff is every bit as dishonest and contemptible. The UCI and McQuaid in particular have to own Armstrong because they helped make him and surely benefited from him.Besides, they cant keep their sport free from the Armstrongs of the world if they are worried about trying to disappear the Armstrongs of the world. All theyll do is provide a blueprint for the next Armstrong one who is better about keeping his friends close and enemies closer, one who is a bit more generous about credit and a bit less thuggish in his personal character.The McQuaid argument is the same one that baseball Hall of Fame voters employ when refusing to consider PED users. PEDs are part of the sports history, and no improvements have ever come to any organization or society when its darkest moments are eradicated.Besides, while you do the time when you do the crime is a noble sentiment, the logical corollary you face the wreck when you cash the check is equally true. The UCI is up to its eyelids in Lance Armstrong, and it doesnt get to un-know that fact just because its president says so.In fact, I think wed all be more comfortable and better off in the long run by forgetting Pat McQuaid an easy enough task, since almost nobody knew he was before he decided to be a history book editor.Or, if not forgetting him, then taking him along for a pint and a quick discussion of what happens when history isnt acknowledged.Specifically, you end up looking stupid. And then some wrongheaded people think its because you like bicycles when its something else entirely.Its that you like fiction, sanitized for your protection. Which is another bucket of meat entirely.Ray Ratto is a columnist for CSNBayArea.com

Jose Canseco joins NBC Sports California's A's TV coverage

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AP

Jose Canseco joins NBC Sports California's A's TV coverage

MESA, Ariz. — Through all of the controversy and sensational headlines that have marked his baseball career and beyond, one constant has stood firm in regard to Jose Canseco:

The man speaks exactly what’s on his mind.

That will serve A’s fans well as Canseco joins NBC Sports California as an on-air analyst for A’s Pregame Live and A’s Postgame Live. He’s part of a revamped lineup of former Athletics who will provide their expert insights and opinions throughout the 2017 season.

“I’ve got quite a bit of experience. I’ve pretty much been there, done all of that whether it’s on or off the field,” Canseco said. “I think the fans can expect the truth — an honest opinion, honest analysis — and hopefully in some shape or form we expand the fan base.”

The 1988 American League MVP and first player ever to hit 40 homers and steal 40 bases in the same season, Canseco’s baseball resume speaks for itself. For so many fans who grew up with a “Bash Brothers” poster on their wall, he was the defining presence of three consecutive pennant-winning A’s teams from 1988-90.

Those teams dominated with an ensemble cast of contributors. But in a time period when the Bay Area produced some of the biggest superstars across the national sports landscape, no one’s profile stood taller than Canseco’s.

“I pulled his rookie baseball card out of packs, watched him play countless games in person at the Coliseum,” said Brodie Brazil, host for A’s Pregame and Postgame Live. “It still hasn't sunk in that we've added one of the Bash Brothers to our core of analysts. The kid and adult in me are both pretty stoked.”

Canseco retired after 17 big league seasons and 462 home runs, which ranked 22nd on the all-time list when he hung up his spikes. After his playing career, he wrote the controversial tell-all book “Juiced”, which blew open just how widespread steroid use was in the major leagues.

Canseco received a hefty amount of criticism upon the book’s release. But as the years have gone by and it’s become apparent just how many players were using performance-enhancing drugs, Canseco has proven to be much more credible with the claims he made.

“It’s kind of a double-edged sword,” he said of writing “Juiced.” “It made the game better because it made the game look at what was going on internally. On the other end, because I wrote the book and went up against Major League Baseball, I got excommunicated.”

He’s enthused about taking on his first role as an analyst, and he joins NBC Sports California at a time of budding excitement surrounding the A’s and the expectation of them building a new ballpark in Oakland. Canseco, the 1986 AL Rookie of the Year, played for the A’s when they were one of the Bay Area’s hottest sports stories.

He believes a new ballpark would create the needed buzz. And, it’s not surprising that he’s got a unique preference in what he’d like to see built.

“I’m hoping for a dome to be honest with you,” he said. “It can get cold (in Oakland). The ball doesn’t carry. I would push for a dome. I think baseball is so different from other sports. It’s definitely the best sport in the world. The Oakland A’s deserve their own stadium.”

OK, so perhaps a dome isn’t in the forefront of the A’s thoughts. But remember, one fan proposed to team president Dave Kaval the idea of a floating stadium on the Bay, so Kaval has heard wackier suggestions.

Canseco can draw on the experience of having played for seven different big league organizations in providing his analysis.

He was preparing for Game 3 of the 1989 World Series when the Loma Prieta earthquake rocked Candlestick Park. In the 1988 World Series, he was playing right field when Kirk Gibson’s legendary home run went soaring over his head.

He’s traveled a unique road in the game, and he’s willing to speak frankly about the peaks and valleys.

“It’s the first time I’ve gotten the opportunity to do something like this,” Canseco said. “… Maybe fans would like to hear what my thoughts are, how things can be fixed or made better for the Oakland A’s.”

49ers keep all options open with No. 2 overall pick

49ers keep all options open with No. 2 overall pick

PHOENIX -- If the Cleveland Browns’ only reasonable decision with the top overall pick consists of Myles Garrett or Myles Garrett, the 49ers have considerably more options at No. 2 overall.

After Garrett, the Texas A&M pass-rusher, there appears to be no consensus second-best prospect in the draft. So the 49ers must be open to considering almost anything.

“You got to talk about every option because you never know what will happen,” 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan said. “You got to be ready for anything somebody will call you on, whether it’s a trade or not. So you got to go through those because they can happen quickly, especially when you get closer to draft day.

“Right now, it’s not necessarily in my mind the No. 2 pick. It’s taking the time to understand the whole pool of people. Who’s going to be available at two? Who’s going to be available halfway through the first round? What are the players you can get in the second and third round? That’s not something that just gets done. You have to watch a lot of tape. You got to listen to your scouts and all the homework they’ve done with the character on these guys and soak it all in for a couple of months.”

Shanahan was on hand Thursday for Stanford’s pro day, during which defensive lineman Solomon Thomas worked out. Thomas is considered a strong candidate to be the No. 2 player off the board.

But does Thomas fit with the 49ers? Under former general manager Trent Baalke, the 49ers invested their top draft picks in Arik Armstead and DeForest Buckner in back-to-back years. Would the 49ers consider spending their top pick on another defensive lineman?

“It really doesn’t concern me what we’ve done in the past or what we’re going to do in the future,” Shanahan said. “It’s what we have now. If we think that player can help us and improve us, then that’s what we’ll do. You want to get the best guy possible. There are lots of options open.”

As the 49ers transition to a four-man defensive line, the team is in need or a pass-rusher. Ahmad Brooks tied with Buckner for the team-lead last season with six sacks. In 2015, Brooks and Aaron Lynch tied for tops on the 49ers with 6.5 sacks.

Brooks, 33, enters his 12th NFL season. Shanahan said he believes Thomas (6 foot 3, 273 pounds) is versatile enough to be a pass-rush threat at defensive end in the 49ers’ new scheme.

“I believe so,” Shanahan said. “I believe he can probably line up anywhere he wants. (But I’m) still not done with my research, yet.”

Thomas won the 2017 Morris Trophy, as the Pac-12’s top defensive lineman, as voted on by the conference’s offensive linemen.