August 12, 2014
A long, long time ago, I can still remember
How that music used to make me smile
And I knew if I had my chance
That I could make those people dance
And maybe they’d be happy for a while
But February made me shiver, with every paper I’d deliver
Bad news on the doorstep, I couldn’t take one more step
I can’t remember if I cried, when I read about his widowed bride
But something touched me deep inside the day the music died
We all know that February 3rd 1959 is considered the day the music died. I now say that August 11, 2014 is the day the laughter died.
I had the privlidge to meet Robin Williams for about 45 minutes back in 2003. He was doing something he loved. RIding his bicycle. It was the day before the Ride for the Roses. I was one of about one hundred individuals who had raised enough money to get a private ride with Lance Armstrong. (This is not the forum to have that discussion).
We started off as a group and Lance immediately started a pace I could not hold. I don’t know if he wanted to shed as many of the one hundred as possible or if that was just his pace. Since he talked on his phone the whole time I hung on, I assume it was the latter.
I fell off the back and rode alone for a while. From behind, another cyclist joined me. I turned and saw it was Robin Williams. He was the same Robin you see on every interview. Flat out funny. No cow was sacred, including the ones we rode past. He joined the ride anonymously to support the Lance Armstrong Foundation. He would have a much bigger presence the following day for the Ride for the Roses.
He spoke passionately about cycling. He loved the sport and he loved riding. Robin told me he had 50 bikes. My next two questions and his answers can give you a little glimpse into the man.
His favorite was the cruiser from Mrs. Doubtfire
When asked why he had 50 bikes? “Because I can.”
By the end of the private ride, about 30 riders had gathered around Mr. Williams who was as nice as a human being could be.
July 23, 2013
Red Rover, Red Rover send Ryan over!
Remember that game? For those who don’t, you form two teams. each team forms a line facing each other. You join hands. Now, you call someone from the other team. They have to run towards your team to try to break the human chain. The strategy is to look for the weakest link. You attack that link with everything you have in the hopes of breaking through.
This can be fun as a child’s game but not so fun in real life. Take the case of Lance Armstrong. He attacked the chain lined up against him and tried to obliterate it. One link was named Emma O’Reilly. To small to fight, to poor to amass a legal team to fight back, her life was ruined. What does she do now when vindicated? Will she have to stand in line yet again behind all those legal teams looking to sue Lance?
I thought about Emma who loved her job as a soigneur and happened to be hired by US Postal. Little did she know that would be her last job in professional cycling. I thought about her when the Ryan Braun news broke. Early in 2012, Ryan tested positive for testosterone/epitestosterone ratio. The legal limit of baseball is a 4:1 ratio. Ryan tested at 20:1. To protect his MVP award, he went after the chain with the same fervor as Lance. He attacked the weakest link. The sample collector. Dino Laurenzi Jr. Dino did not have the money to stand up for himself. He took Ryan’s collection and since it was after 5:00 pm, he followed his protocol to store the sealed samples in his house rather than having FedEx keep them in their warehouse. Ryan went after that link by saying;
“There were a lot of things we heard about the collection process, the collector and some other people involved in the process that have certainly been concerning to us.”
In fact, he followed that with a sanctimonious;
“I know what it’s like to be wrongly accused of something and for me to wrongly accuse somebody else of something wouldn’t help anybody. I would bet my life that this substance never entered my body.”
Ryan broke the chain and beat a positive drug test. He didn’t care if it ruined a man’s life in the process. What does Dino do now?
July 23, 2013
Since 1998, pro cycling has been the dirty sport. The sport of cheats. I have endured many an evening of good natured ribbing by my friends. My retort was to say that just because you don’t look for a problem, does not mean it does not exist. My logic was always that if people cheat in cycling, wouldn’t they cheat to a greater extent in sports such as baseball and football where the stakes and rewards were much higher?
Today, there is a well written article from Steven Goldman at SB Nation talking about the first in what should be a series of suspensions by Major League baseball. It seems there is enough evidence in the Biogenesis investigation to possibly make this the MLB version of Operation Puerto. Ryan Braun who beat a positive test to keep his 2011 National League MVP will not contest the evidence against him this time.
I would suggest you read the article. I sense an undertone of “not my kid” here. As a parent, we all know kids do bad things. When we see a kid get in trouble, we have the urge to look down our nose at their family and say “Well, I always knew Johnny was a bad kid. His parents must not have raised him right.” Then when the police call your house, there is a narcissistic feeling about “How could this happen to me?”
Read this column and see if there is that feeling. See if Mr. Goldman is saying “I get cycling look at them. But how could this happen to baseball?”
I think I’ll cry with Mr. Goldman and let him know it happens to all families er… sports.
July 19, 2013
Fool me once shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. Chinese Proverb
Fool me four times, call me a cynic. I believed in Tyler Hamilton, I bought the whole Basso mother story. I wanted fairness for Floyd. I even allowed myself to bid chapeau to Lance in 2005.
Now we have Chris Froome. After seeing Chris Froome chomping at the bit last year, I could not wait until the Grand Depart for this year’s Tour de France. After watching stage 11, there was something familiar going on. Then stage 15 up to Ventoux. That attack. I’ve seen that somewhere. Where could that have been. Ah yes. This looked too much like the Lance Armstrong recipe. I always knew climbers and time trialists were two totally different breeds. You could be good at both but if you were great at one (Indurain), you could not be great at the other. A 6’1” 158 pound man is the build a time trialist should have. Could he chase down and destroy a 5’5″ 126 pound pure climber who lived at 10,000 feet? I never thought that could be true until I suspended it for Lance. Should I believe my head or my quadrice broken heart?
I know there is a lot of buzz going on and some of it has died down after Froome cracked on L’ Alpe. But I remember someone else cracking after chasing down Marco Pantani.
I wish I knew what to do.
July 10, 2012
You from Joisey? I’m from Joisey. What exit?! – Paulie Herman aka Joe Piscipo
I moved to the Garden State 21 years ago. It has been really hard putting down roots in the state known for more jokes than anything else. Must be the hard red clay soil. When you say New Jersey, most people think of the Turnpike up by the Pulaski skyway. Today, they also think of the Sopranos, Jerseylicious and, of course, the Jersey Shore (FYI, the cast is from Staten Island and don’t get me started on Staten Island).
We can’t claim a major city. Half the state is a Philadelphia suburb and the other half is a New York suburb. We have the highest taxes in the country, our only sports team is the New Jersey Devils hockey team. Yes the Jets owner lives in NJ, the team’s offices are in NJ, the team practices in NJ, all their home games are in NJ but they call themselves the NY Jets. Bet you didn’t know the Statue of Liberty is in New Jersey.
Anyway, you have to admit that New Jersey is an acquired taste. Let me show you why I love the state. It has the best riding anywhere. Wide shoulders, great roads, and varied topography make Central New Jersey a great place to ride. I can take a flat smooth ride or climb a 3 mile long mountain (avg. 7% max 14%) within a few miles. And you can’t beat the sunrises.
The real NJ. Less than five miles from the Gatsby Salon, home of Jerseylicious. I guess they forgot to film this part.
July 8, 2012
I will be watching the ITT tomorrow very closely. If team SKY really thinks they have a Tour winner, they should hold back phenom-in-waiting Chris Fromme. Holding him back serves two purposes. It will save him for later in the race when his support will be needed and it will also take him out of any contention for yellow thus ending any potential controversy before it starts. So, they should hold Fromme back.
While I like Wiggins, I just don’t see him as the Tour winner type. He seems to be good enough without being great. This year, good enough might actually win it. The point is, I think Fromme is going to be great. I felt this way before and during the Vuelta last year. After the Vuelta, I knew it. Fromme is the better long-term bet for SKY. Why not keep him in contention just in case good enough is not good enough?
July 1, 2011
Why Basso? Well, I started with the favorites and started eliminating riders who would not win the tour. That left Basso as the only man standing. I know that is not really a ringing endorsement but that’s all I have this year. Here is my thought process.
Contador. Now that Contador is in, everyone is jumping on the Spaniard’s bandwagon. I’m not so sure. I think those bandwagon jumpers will be saying “Where’s the beef?” three weeks from now. I just don’t think you can win the double (Giro and Tour) in this day and age. The last rider wo did so was Marco Pantani in 1998 and he had a little help. Even with pharmacology, he needed a faltering Jan Ulrich to take the jersey. I’d rather look at more recent examples where riders who fared well at the Giro were spectacularly absent from the Tour. The most recent example is Ivan Basso who, for the first time in his career, is skipping the Giro to focus on the Tour. Why should I argue with him. Bottom line, you can’t have both.
Andy Schleck. Those who are not falling in behind Contador are going with Andy Schleck. I fully understand that and I will put Andy on the top of my list of picks from the heart. My problem is I look at the TTT and the Individual Time Trials and I can’t help but hear the quote from the famous Ty Webb. “You’re not good Andy, you stink.” So Andy will play the role of PouPou again this year.
Levi is losing the race against father time. If he had a couple of years back he could sneak a peek at the podium and maybe even the top step. I’ll say it flat out, I have never been a believer in Cadel. The temperamental Aussie is good at most disciplines but not great at any. I don’t see him even on the podium. Bradley Wiggins is more of a top five finisher, not a real contender.
An unexpected podium visit may come from Rabobank’s Robert Gesink.
So that leaves Basso. He knows how to win and he is finally focused on this race. While not a great time trialist, he is good enough not to lose the Tour in the race of truth which should be enough to win the Tour.