1. “Exhorting readers to make Friday a “wear yellow” day in honor of Armstrong, Reilly said the USADA investigation into Armstrong (and five others Reilly didn’t mention) was so one-sided it amounted to a “firing squad”; equivocated that if Armstrong did cheat, it must’ve been OK because he was “just like everyone else” in the sport; confused direct eyewitness testimony with hearsay (here’s a legal definition of the latter, Rick); and offered up a line that will surely be added to a movie trailer voiceover: “They might be able to ban him for life, but they can’t ban him from life.”
Joe Lindsey laments the death of the modern print sports column on bicycling.com.
2. “The only thing one can say with certainty about Armstrong’s decision is that he felt that he had no chance of winning an arbitration proceeding before the USADA. That is unquestionably true. The split happens because you can explain this in one of two ways. The first is that he felt he had no chance of winning because the court is rigged, the verdict already decided, and the process unconstitutional. A witch-hunt. This is of course what he has said, through his statement, and the PR campaign that was launched when the USADA case was first announced. In fact, it’s the same message he has been throwing out for years, as Frankie Andreu pointed out with his reaction, saying it sounded like a “broken record”.
“The second explanation is that he had no chance of winning because the evidence that USADA had gathered was so convincing, so compelling that he could not explain it away. There would be no brazen denial in the face of perhaps a dozen team-mates all alleging the same thing, plus the testimony of experts and officials who explained how he’d done it. The blood values, possibly financial records, who knows what other evidence they had? Circumstantial perhaps, but there was a mountain of it. And make no mistake, Armstrong would have known what that evidence was – not specifically perhaps, but he’d know if the evidence existed, and would assume that those witnesses for USADA would have some pretty damning accounts, possibly backed with proof.”
‘The Armstrong fallout: Thoughts and theories’ on sportsscientists.com.
3. “Footballers. Real, professional footballers. Guys who got paid for playing the sport we spent dawn until dusk enjoying. These were proper players; some of them had even featured in occasional matches on TV. And they were coming to our area to play a pre-season friendly against a North Tipperary selection. This was brilliant news, sensational to a teenage me.
“It mattered little that the visiting side was Crewe Alexandra. I was a Liverpool fan, but had no idea who ‘The Alex’ were.
“My only experience of them previously had been watching Liverpool win 4-0 in a televised FA Cup third round tie at Gresty Road in 1992, during which a returning-from-injury John Barnes scored a hat-trick, including a superb back heel.
“I remember telling my dad about Barnes’ magic. A far-from-hardcore Manchester United fan, his reply was underwhelming: “The opposition can’t have been much good if Barnes scored three in his first game back.”
John Hynes of the excellent Inside Left describes what happened when Crewe Alexandra came to town.
4. “When Martine Wright slid nimbly on to the sitting volleyball court, cheered on by 3,000 people, she may not have remembered her words a year after she lost both legs in the London bombings of 7 July 2005.
“I keep asking myself, when does it become normal? Is this normal now?” she had said in a heart-wrenchingly honest assessment of how she felt embarrassed by “what remains of my body” and was scared that children would poke fun at her in the street.
“Six years on, the 39-year-old former marketing executive was diving and blocking at the net, high-fiving her team and shouting “out” when opponents Ukraine missed a shot in front of a noisy crowd which included the London mayor, Boris Johnson, actor Barbara Windsor and Wright’s three-year-old son, Oscar, clutching a banner saying “Go, mummy, go.”
The Guardian’s Patrick Barkham tells an extraordinary story.
5. “Soccernomics lists several key points which should be adhered to when attempting to successfully ‘play’ the transfer market. I shall consider what I feel are the 10 most important areas. They are as follows:
“- A new manager wastes money.
- Stars of recent World Cups and European Championships are often overvalued.
- Certain nationalities are overvalued.
- Older players are overvalued.
- Buy players with personal problems at a discount then help them deal with their problems.
- Employ relocation advisers to help new players settle in to the area.
- Use wisdom of the crowds.
- The best time to buy a player is when he is in his early twenties.
- Sell any player if a club offers more than he is worth.
- Replace your best players before you even sell them.”
Dan Wilson writes on NUFCfans.co.uk.