Finally coming clean

Lance_floyd NEW YORK — Let’s just get it out of the way at the top… Lance Armstrong is going down and he is going down hard. It’s not unreasonable to believe that jail time could be involved for the seven-time Tour de France champion when the government concludes its investigation.

See, the United States federal government does not like it when a person lies to them. It is quirky that way.

But the thing the government dislikes the most is when it doesn’t get a cut of what it believes it has coming. You know, it wants to wet its beak with a tiny bit of the proceeds as tribute for signing off on that whole Bill of Rights thing. Freedom isn’t free, as they say. It costs a mandated percentage of your yearly income unless you make so much money that you can pay an accountant to talk them down.

Think about it… when Michael Vick went to jail for nearly two years it wasn’t so much as for the dog fighting ring he was operating as it was because he didn’t pay a royalty. He served 21 months in prison for felony conspiracy in interstate commerce, which is a fancy way of saying he didn’t cut the government a slice.

What does this have to do with Lance Armstrong? Well, everything, of course. If the guy was riding for a team sponsored by the United States Postal Service, a government agency, and used the equipment supplied to him to sell for performance-enhancing drugs, well, that’s trouble. In fact, it was alleged last year by his former wing man, Floyd Landis, that Team USPS funded its drug habit by selling its equipment. This was realized, according to the accusations, when Landis wanted a training bike and couldn’t get one.

That training bike was injected as EPO.

Regardless, that’s not what this is all about. When word came out that Armstrong’s closest teammates, George Hincappie and Tyler Hamilton, testified for the federal grand jury it was pretty damning. It meant that the United States feels it had been defrauded.

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Rumors on the Internets

One of the late, great Tug McGraw’s funnier lines was regarding the 1980 World Champion Phillies, when he quipped that if the FDA ever checked out the team’s clubhouse they would “Shut down baseball.” Certainly, behind the scenes that club must have been a wild dichotomy of personalities, quirks and egos. Think about it: Tug, Steve Carlton, Mike Schmidt, Larry Bowa and Pete Rose all in the same room at the same time…

It’s a wonder there was any oxygen left.

But here’s one I never heard and it’s equally entertaining if not something to pique one’s interest about the only championship team in the Phillies’ 124 years.

Peter Gammons, the great baseball writer, was on the Dan Patrick radio show yesterday talking about the resurgence of Sammy Sosa and his snub from the All-Star Game when he dropped a little throwaway line about the ’80 Phillies:

“Two years ago he looked like he was 63-years old and done. But he’s come back and he’s had a terrific year and yet he’s never flunked a drug test in his life. Yeah, he got caught with a corked bat – Ted Williams used a corked bat… the entire 1980 Phillies team used corked bats – that doesn’t get me morally upset. Whatever you believe you have to surmise that it’s circumstantial evidence on Sammy Sosa.”

Wait… the Phillies corked their bats? Did I hear that correctly? Ted Williams, too? Wow. Cool… I guess.

For the record, from my experience corking a bat takes a lot of patience and skill.

***
The Phillies hit Denver tonight, which is the Gateway to the Rockies. Interestingly, Denver is a city that is a lot like Philadelphia except for the fact that Denver is cool. They love the Broncos there, too. In fact, it seems as if the entire state shuts down whenever the NFL team plays.

Anyway, if I were in Denver watching the Phillies I would head up to the Rocky Mountain National Park in Estes Park, Colo. the first chance I got. Short of that, I’d go hang in nearby Boulder along Pearl Street.

Or, if I were the gambling type, I take the hour-long drive to Black Hawk and Central City, two abandoned mining towns, that have limited stakes blackjack, poker and slots.

Then again, maybe I’d just sit there at Coors Field and read the words on my laptop.

***
The Internets are abuzz with word that a verdict in the Floyd arbitration hearing is imminent. What better time to talk about the case than on the eve of the Tour de France’s prologue in London?

Nevertheless, here’s an update from my end: The publishers of David Walsh’s book, “From Lance to Landis…” sent me a copy of the book. Kudos to them.

I haven’t read the entire book yet (it just arrived less than an hour ago), but I read several chapters (I took speed reading classes in high school and practiced a lot in college) and my knee-jerk reaction is that the book reads like the trashy conversations that sportswriters have in press boxes and media rooms anywhere in the world. Some of the tall tales may be based in truth, but there would be no chance that a self-respecting writer would even consider actually sitting down and writing about the crap that gets tossed around in those bull sessions.

Trust me on this: every writer worth a damn knows hundreds and hundreds of salacious stories regarding the teams/sports they cover that would make the typical fans’ hair stand up straight. Yet at the same time any writer worth a damn would never write those stories for public consumption because they are based in hearsay, circumstantial evidence and — get this — MIGHT NOT BE TRUE.

The aim of journalism is truth. After the truth has been proven comes the story.

Nevertheless, there are always a few who think it’s OK to write about gossip and circumstantial tall tales. Perhaps David Walsh is one of them? Either way, it will be interesting to see what is in the rest of his book and expect a review on these pages by this time next week.

For the record, I must admit that the trashy side of me enjoys those Kitty Kelly novels/biographies, too. Perhaps Walsh is equally as entertaining?

On another note, USADA still hasn’t returned my calls or e-mails.