Here are some stories that stood out on Monday morning:
Scott Lauber's feature in the Wilmington News Journal on Tommy John surgery is outstanding. This is his first year covering the Phillies, but already Lauber has stood out with his enthusiasm. He could turn out to be another Doug Lesmerises.
From the before-and-after file, here's on from Dennis Deitch of the Delco Times published on Feb. 16, 2003 and the reprisal from July 31, 2006. Deitch has an innate ability to cut through the crap and tell the real story. For anyone who appreciates real iconoclasts, Deitch is your man. Better yet, he wisely believes that the Pixies are the greatest band in the past 25 years.
I call them No. 1a, standing astride Fugazi, but that's a different post for later.
Obviously, Sunday was a really busy day with the trade of Bobby Abreu and the speculation that there will be one, maybe two more today. That means the thoughts on steroids and doping will have to wait until later this week. There's just too much going on in regard to dismantling the Phillies.
Anyway, it's a shame that Abreu's end came the way it did because the stats show that he would have re-written the franchise's record books. It's also a shame that a certain segment of the fan base just didn't get it or understand modern baseball.
Oh well. Abreu is gone now and the Phillies are a far worse team. Sure, the Phillies save a lot of money, but it's not as if they are going to use it to land a big-time free agent. It's more like they can use some of that money to help pay another team to take on someone like Pat Burrell.
It's also a shame that money is more important than talent.
In that regard, expect more deals today. Rheal Cormier is likely on the way out, though as a 5-and-10 man he can veto any deal. There are also renewed rumblings that Jon Lieber might not make today's scheduled start even though general manager Pat Gillick said there was nothing going on in regard to the pitcher as of 5 p.m. yesterday.
But something changed between 5 p.m. and the end of yesterday's second game. Tuesday's probable pitcher Scott Mathieson was in the clubhouse just hanging out when he was asked about his next outing when he let it slip that he was told to "be ready to go tomorrow... "
In other words, Mathieson was pulled out of Sunday's start at Triple-A to be in Philadelphia to stand at alert.
As an aside, the Phillies clubhouse has a decidedly different look about it now. It's hard not to look around at the spots once occupied by Jim Thome, Billy Wagner, David Bell and Bobby Abreu and wonder, "who are these guys." It will be much more different next season when Mike Lieberthal, Randy Wolf and maybe Pat Burrell are gone.
As far as Wolf goes, it was really cool to see him back on the field after 13 tough months of rehab. Just getting back out there is achievement enough and the lefty deserves all the kudos he gets. With guys like Wolfie, Thome, Rolen and Doug Glanville, it's hard to be objective.
Now here's a theory: expect another year with Charlie Manuel... more later
It looks as if the Landis story could take on an interesting partner now that it has been reported that Justin Gatlin, the reigning Olympic champion in the 100-meters and "Fastest Man in The World," tested positive for an improper testosterone levels. This case seems very similar to the Landis case because Gatlin had been outspoken about doping in his sport and had maintained that he was "drug free." However, the test Gatlin took, according to the Associated Press, measured carbon to isotope ratio, which is a test that looks only at testosterone, not epitestosterone, and can determine whether the testosterone in a person's system is natural or unnatural.
Interestingly, Gatlin apparently failed a test taken last April.
Meanwhile, it is exactly 7:54 p.m. at Citizens Bank Park and no trades have been made. Ryan Howard just launched one into the right-field seats off Dontrelle Willis to give the Phillies a 7-1 lead. Whispers around the press box seem to indicate that something will go down tomorrow.
Here's the Phillies' lineup for Saturday night:
Victorino - rf
Rowand - cf
Utley - 2b
Burrell - lf
Howard - 1b
Coste - c
Nunez - 3b
Sandoval - ss
Hamels - p
Yeah, the Phillies are facing left-hander Dontrelle Willis, but is that the real reason Bobby Abreu isn't in the lineup? I guess we'll find out sooner rather than later.
Meanwhile, the trade of David Bell to the Brewers sounded a clarion bell that there are more moves coming. Clearly a salary dump -- the Phillies save $1.8 million on the remainder of Bell's salary this year -- it's safe to assume that the Phillies are pulling the plug on the remainder of 2006 kind of like they did in 2002 when Scott Rolen was sent to St. Louis. Sure, there was more involved there, but the feeling around the ballpark is that something is happening.
Then again, you never know.
Let me clarify that. I believe Floyd Landis when he says his drugs test that showed on improper ratio of testosterone to epitestosterone is not a doping case. I believe Landis when he says he did not dope and I rarely ever believe any professional athlete when they attempt to maintain some sort of innocence.
There are a lot of reasons for my belief in Landis. And yes, part of it has to do with the fact that Landis and I were raised in the same part of the world. Oh yeah, our backgrounds are very, very different. Landis comes from the country in which the people are almost reactionary in their conservatism – and then there is that whole Mennonite thing. As a kid, that type of belief or philosophy never was a blip on my radar. Living in Lancaster, I encountered Mennonites and Amish people enough to know who and what they were, but nothing beyond cursory introductions. That world never intersected with mine.
That’s because I come from Lancaster Township in a little area adjacent to the campus of Franklin & Marshall and Wheatland, President James Buchanan’s home. My neighborhood was about as urbane as Lancaster got and my neighbors were professors, doctors, lawyers and financial people – not a lot of diversity there. However, my high school, J.P. McCaskey, was a Benetton advertisement come to life. White kids made up less than 50 percent of the student body, while African-Americans, Puerto Ricans and Vietnamese kids encompassed at least 51 percent of the school’s population.
Needless to say, my McCaskey was quite a bit different than Landis’s Conestoga Valley. And frankly, I could never imagine any better high school in the world than McCaskey or a better place to grow up than roaming James Buchanan’s Wheatland or the quad at F&M. Thankfully, I left the Philadelphia area to return to my old ‘hood.
On the other hand, I’m sure Landis feels the same way about where he grew up. Imagine all of those endless miles though that perfect landscape on those forgotten country roads… what could be better than that for a budding cyclist? Yes, Landis clashed his conservative parents and fled to California in order to make his dreams come true, but it shouldn’t come as a surprise that a great athlete came from such a place as Lancaster County.
That tangent aside, knowing what I do about where Landis comes from makes it hard for me to believe that he took any performance-enhancing aid. It’s impossible, really. No, Lancaster Countians are not the worldliest or most sophisticated people one will ever meet. In fact, in some sense the stifling conservatism that chokes the region and limits its potential to be a really great place to live and visit can be classified as a social disease.
But the people from Lancaster County have a strong sense of fairness, right and wrong, and inert intelligence (common sense). People in Lancaster County do not reward or celebrate bad behavior.
That’s where Floyd Landis comes from.
It just doesn’t make sense. Floyd had passed 20 previous drug test until Stage 17 and then all of a sudden he flunks one? Really? And that point-of-view is not just coming from me, but from Dr. Gary Wadler of the World Anti-Doping Association. In an interview with ESPN, Wadler said:
It's certainly not one of the first-line drugs one thinks of for racing. Steroids can increase strength and improve recovery time and prevent the breakdown of muscle, maybe make him more assertive and aggressive. All of those could have some positive attribute. But most steroids are given in cycles [6-12 weeks] and in context of working out in a gym with weights. It makes no sense to me why an athlete would take testosterone the day of a race when it doesn't work that way. It doesn't make sense in terms of the pharmacology of the drug, and it really doesn't have the attributes that would be attractive to a cyclist -- particularly one running the risk of violating anti-doping regulations.
Everybody knew the spotlight was on cycling. For eight years, the world has been watching cycling particularly closely. It would be the ultimate form of denial, or the ultimate sense of invincibility, to think you're going to evade that. And when the pharmacology of the drug doesn't really, in my judgment, seem like a drug of particular note to a cyclist, it doesn't really compute.
Charles Yesalis, the renowned excercise and sports science professor from Penn State, agrees with Wadler, saying in interviews that he doesn't understand why Landis would dope.
"The use of testosterone makes zero sense," Yesalis said in an interview. "If he wanted a boost in his performance it makes no sense to use it.
"Testosterone is a training drug. You don’t use it during the event."
At the same time, as an endurance athlete with 12 marathons under his belt who is currently logging 100-plus miles weekly in preparation for another marathon in mid-November (sportswriters should be involved in sports, right?), I know what hard training does to the human body. Obviously, I’m nowhere near Landis elite level – no one is – but running and biking are similar in many regards. One of those is that hard running and hard biking alter a person’s body chemistry.
My epitestosterone levels are on the low side. That’s just the way it is when a person runs 15 miles a day for an average. My guess is that if I were to take the same drug test Landis took after his Stage 17 victory last week in the Tour de France, my testosterone to epitestosterone ratio would not be 1:1 as it’s supposed to be for a normal, everyday person.
And I have never touched any performance-enhancing drugs in my life. I don’t even know what a steroid or any of that garbage looks like and I would have no idea how to use or inject it. If caffeine, Ibuprofen, Clif Bars and banana, strawberry and blueberry smoothies are performance enhancing, I’ll fail every test.
So it’s not surprising that Landis’s ratio was 4:1 or 5:1 or even 6:1. As explained by AP medical writer Lindsey Tanner, it isn’t far fetched. The testosterone to epitestosterone test really seems to be bad science – no matter what Draconian zealot Dick Pound says.
The point is I find it hard to believe that Floyd’s testosterone levels were high. They actually were probably lower than average. It’s just that pesky epitestosterone was probably much lower.
This is a very, very important distinction, because the test Landis took is generally used to detect doping. From The New York Times:
The key is to look at the pattern of Landis’s tests and see if his testosterone-to-epitestosterone ratio is consistent or whether it varied, said John McKinlay, the senior vice president and chief scientist at the New England Research Institutes.
"You don’t get variations in human beings," he said. "If there is a spike that coincides with that day when he did fantastically well, that answers the question."
Unless, of course, alcohol raised his testosterone level. Or unless the test was in error. Or unless the B sample shows a normal ratio, in which case he would be cleared.
But the test will not detect a specific drug used or if the shots of Jack Daniels that the Wall Street Journal reported Landis indulged in after his nightmare Stage 16 collapse caused the epitestosterone levels to dip so much.
But if it is higher than a normal realm, well, Floyd has some 'splaining to do.
I also believe Landis when he says he is not optimistic about the "B" samples exonerating him. It’s hard to believe that Floyd’s nightmare will end any time soon.
I'm not familar with too many of the biking publications other than VeloNews and some of the triathlon magazines, so if anyone has any links to decent stories regarding this case, please e-mail them to me. The thoughtfulness is much appreciated.
LANCASTER, Pa. – I’m often asked by people who are not writers or in the media business why most writers – specifically sports writers and journalists – are so darned cynical. It’s a fair question because most of the people who write for a living seem to take a bit of perverse pleasure in debunking myths and raining on parades.
“The reason writers are so cynical,” I answer, “is because almost all of them have been burned by the truth more than once.”
It’s kind of like the time when I was a teenager and spent two weeks during a summer working in one of my grandfather’s restaurants. I would never eat there, I told people, because “I saw what went on in the kitchen.”
That’s the way it is with most writers. The clichéd credo is often either “hope for the best but expect the worst,” or “if something is too good to be true, chances are it is too good to be true.”
Nevertheless, there is still the idea of hope. Hope for the best – a good story, a hero or something uplifting. Hope is always the operative word.
So when Floyd Landis and his improbable story rocketed into the sports landscape like it was Haley’s Comet, writer-types broke out the binoculars and telescopes with the hope (there’s that word again) of gleaning something new and interesting. You know, something out of the ordinary from so many of the stories that dot the papers and Web sites like so many stars in the sky.
But when the news of Landis’ failed drug test first began to tickle out – showing higher levels of testosterone/epitestosterone allowed by rule – it was like a jolt to the solar plexus, followed by a kick in the gut. This hurts. This hurts badly.
That’s especially the case for a writer-dude like me, who grew up in Lancaster city – not too far from where Landis was brought up in his fundamental Mennonite household. Though our upbringings were about as different as could be, just the idea of the winner of the Tour de France coming from the same general place as me was, well, neat. Though those differences are myriad, there definitely had to be some shared experiences. Like I once bought a bike at Green Mountain Cyclery in Ephrata, Pa., which just so happened to be the shop where Landis hung out, got his first real bike, and signed on for his first racing sponsorship.
Heck, I even live on Landis Avenue.
Actually, it’s the same way for the folks all over Lancaster County where people are looking for some way they can share in greatness. You know, find something they can touch and relate to.
At the Oregon Dairy, a food market, dairy, ice cream shop, gift shop and restaurant, located just at the edge of the Lancaster suburbs and farm country, there is a makeshift shrine on the wall near the entrance for Floyd Landis with newspaper clippings, a copy of VeloNews, photographs, and the coup de grace, a sheet of poster board neatly written with a simple sentence:
Floyd Landis Worked Here!
Needless to say, there was no talk about Thursday’s news – aside from a headline on the front page of the Lancaster New Era taunting the locals from the paper box on the sidewalk:
Floyd Landis Fails Drug Test.
Six miles away from the Oregon Dairy through rolling countryside with little-used back roads that are perfect for bike riding along the banks of the wildly winding Conestoga River, is East Farmersville Road. At a neat farmhouse filthy with TV trucks, writer-types and curiosity seekers sitting astride touring bikes, no such dichotomy exists. The headline, not poster, is the reality. Nevermind the fact that the truth is still out there in the ether waiting to settle on those pages and Web sites, or that Landis issued a strong denial to Sports Illustrated on Thursday evening.
All that’s left is hope. Hope that the “B” sample proves that there was a false positive. Hope that something extraordinary will occur just like during Landis’ miraculous comeback during Stage 17 of the Tour de France. Hope that Landis will still have an honorable reputation remaining when this is all over.
His mother and devout Mennonite, Arlene Landis, is hopeful.
"My opinion is when he comes on top of this, everyone will think so much more of him. So that's what valleys are for, right?" Mrs. Landis told reporters from in front of her house on Thursday.
"I'm not concerned. I think God is allowing us to go through this so that Floyd's glory is even greater."
Unfortunately, it’s not that easy. Question begat more questions as the poking and prodding of what Landis puts into his body has just begun. Landis knows this and is not hopeful, according to his interview with Sports Illustrated.
Landis told the magazine that he "can't be hopeful" that the "B" sample will be any different than the "A."
There was an interesting story in today’s New York Times regarding the World Anti-Doping Association (WADA), and its head, Dick Pound, and the extreme and Draconian pressure it continues to put on honest and clean athletes.
The story, written by Gina Kolata, explains how WADA and Pound have determined that endurance athletes, namely cyclists, runners, skiers, and triathletes, should not be allowed to use altitude tents or altitude rooms that simulate the low-oxygen conditions of high altitude. According to WADA, sleeping, resting, sitting, reading, doing a crossword puzzle, or surfing the Internet in a room that simulates the atmosphere found in places like Boulder, Colorado Springs, Albuquerque, or any of the other mountain meccas where endurance athletes live and train, violates WADA’s idea of “the spirit of sport.”
Meanwhile, if an athlete lives in a shed on some ramshackle mountain road with the big horn sheep, yellow-bellied marmots, and elk routinely found in high altitude, or in Flagstaff, Ariz., well then that’s just fine and dandy.
For runners and cyclists, high altitude training is a good way to build endurance and lung capacity before returning to competition at sea level. Regular training at high altitude, usually classified as 5,000-feet or higher, prompts the body to make more oxygen-carrying red blood cells and can lead to improved endurance. According to recent studies, sleeping at altitude provides the benefits at a better rate than actually working out in the thinner air, but as someone who has spent a few weeks a year over the past 10 years running at nearly 8,000-feet in Estes Park, Colo., sleeping in the mountains never made me feel winded. That 13-mile run is another story.
Nevertheless, altitude tents and rooms have become so popular with endurance athletes, including those in Nike’s distance running program, that the use of them has trickled down to more mainstream athletes. According to the story in The Times, even the hometown Flyers have jumped into the tents.
So with the story out there and the small, yet cliquish world of endurance sports clamoring with outrage, what does the always outspoken Pound or any other representative from WADA have to say?
Insert crickets chirping here.
Yeah, can you believe that? Pound was quiet for a change.
Pound, of course, has been a crusader for keeping sports clean. That in itself is admirable, because when the athletes are dope and steroid free, the sports are better. Just look at this year’s Tour de France in which three of the top riders were ousted from the race just days before the start because of questionable drug tests. Had the Tour or cycling not been so bold as to take a hard-line stand about doping in its sport, chances are no one would have ever heard about Floyd Landis. Certainly Landis’ story is a lot more interesting than hearing commentary about Bobby Julich or Jan Ulrich.
So with that, Pound and WADA’s goals are very admirable, and it would be interesting to see real baseball, football or basketball played by athletes that are held to the high standards that endurance and Olympic athletes have to meet. But where Pound and WADE fail is when they continue to wipe away the line of personal privacy in regard to the crusade.
Pound and WADA also have been one of the many groups stalking Lance Armstrong because of his rumored use of EPO and doping during his seven-year dynasty at the Tour de France. This is despite Armstrong never having failed a drug test and, unlike some baseball players, the cyclist has threatened to sue any group accusing him of illicit and performance-enhancing drug use.
Last month Armstrong sent a letter to Jacques Rogge, the president of the International Olympic Committee, in which he requested that Pound step down as head of WADA. In his letter, Armstrong claimed that Pound was guilty of "reprehensible and indefensible" behavior in the manner in which Pound made repeated drug-use accusations aimed at the cyclist.
As for the issue with the tents, here’s an excerpt from the story in The Times:
“Ninety-five percent of the medals that have been won at Olympic Games have been won by people who train at or live at altitude,” said Joe Vigil, who coaches Deena Kastor. She holds the United States women’s record in the marathon. Kastor lives in Mammoth Lakes, Calif., at an altitude of 7,800 feet, and often trains at sea level.
The decision on whether to ban hypoxic devices has taken many athletes and exercise physiologists by surprise, but the antidoping agency has quietly spent the past few years considering the issue, said Dr. Bengt Saltin, director of the Copenhagen Muscle Research Center. Saltin was a member of the agency’s health medicine and research committee until two years ago.
“We have discussed the issue a lot,” he said.
In Saltin’s opinion, the altitude tents and rooms are no different from going to “a suitable mountain area,” only cheaper. Banning the altitude tents or rooms, he said, “should not be on the WADA or International Olympic Committee’s priority list.”
That is also the view of the 76 scientists and bioethicists who recently signed a letter to the World Anti-Doping Agency expressing “grave concern” over the proposal to ban the tents and rooms.
The letter’s lead author was Dr. Benjamin D. Levine, director of the Institute for Exercise and Environmental Medicine at Presbyterian Hospital and a professor at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical School, both in Dallas. He said the antidoping agency was starting down a perilous path.
“This is a pretty slippery slope,” he said. “WADA is going to lose their credibility with the scientific community, upon whom they depend to further their mission, by pursuing this. And how to enforce it is a whole different question.”
In addition to Levine’s letter, the Center for Sports Law and Policy at the Duke University School of Law recently issued a position paper opposing the notion of banning the altitude tents and rooms.
So just for fun, if WADA wants to determine how and where athletes can sleep maybe it would be a good idea to help them out with a few other issues with running and cycling that seem “unfair.” Why not ban the following:
Ice (frozen water is just so... unseemly)
Cities with Wi-Fi access
Cities with an extended trail system
Brakes on a bike
Powerbars (Clif Bars are OK… they’re organic)
Water for showers or whirlpools
The letter E
Hopefully, as soon as WADA gets rid of that pesky altitude maybe they can do something about humidity.
Having spent a little bit of time with the Yankees during spring training a few years ago, Sal Fasano knows how it works in the Bronx. In that regard, Fasano knows that he is going to have to shave the ‘stache and get a haircut because he has a real job now.
Fasano went from being designated for assignment by the Phillies to a trade to the New York Yankees this afternoon. Interestingly, Fasano will replace Kelly Stinnett, a backup catcher that former general manager Ed Wade acquired in a post-deadline deal with the Reds in 2003. The Yankees designated Stinnett for assignment this afternoon.
In return for Fasano the Phillies got a Single-A second baseman named Hector Made, who is 21-years old. Obviously, Made is not the second coming of Chase Utley.
Then again, those sitting on the press-box level at the ballpark – from the Phillies’ brass to the scribes covering the team – quickly learned that Fasano was not the second coming of Todd Pratt, the solid backup catcher who the Phillies cast aside in order to save a few hundred thousand bucks. When regular catcher Mike Lieberthal went down, everyone saw that Fasano could not handle the ins and outs of everyday catching the way Pratt could. More interestingly, Fasano’s work behind the plate made some appreciate Lieberthal a little more.
Fasano was not without his good qualities, though. He had some power – when he made contact – as well as a pretty decent arm. Fasano also was really good with the media, a trait that cannot go overlooked, and somehow attracted a fairly loyal fan group that were very willing to look past his shortcomings as a player.
That won’t be the case with the Yankees, though. It definitely takes more than sporting the Hell’s Angels look to win over the hardened and savvy New York ball fans. That’s especially the case when the Big Boss, George Steinbrenner, will demand that all of his players come to work clean shaven and with a businessman’s haircut. That makes it even more about the results for Fasano.
So good luck to Sal. He’s definitely going to need it in backing up All-Star Jorge Posada for a club that believes anything short of winning the World Series is a failure.
Meanwhile, will this video become Fasano's legacy as a Phillie?
Here's the full release from the Phillies. More to follow.
PHILLIES TRADE FASANO TO YANKEES
Catcher Sal Fasano was traded to the New York Yankees in exchange for minor league second baseman Hector Made, Phillies Vice President & General Manager Pat Gillick announced this morning.
Made, 21, was hitting .286 with three home runs and 28 RBI in 86 games for single-A Tampa of the Florida State League. The Phillies have assigned him to single-A Clearwater, also of the FSL.
A native of the Dominican Republic, Made hit .459 (17-37) in his final 10 games with Tampa. He was originally signed as an amateur free agent by the Yankees in 2001.
Fasano, 34, had been designated for assignment by the Phillies on July 22. In 50 games, he hit .243 with four home runs and 10 RBI.
LANCASTER, Pa. – If one were to ask someone from Lancaster where in the world Farmersville, Pa. was or who the heck was Floyd Landis, chances are they would probably respond with a long, blank stare. Oh sure, there had been some mention of Landis in the local papers a few years ago when he spent the summers as one of Lance Armstrong’s cadre of lieutenants who did all the dirty work to help bike racing’s biggest star win all of those Tour de France titles, but the majority of folks had no clue as to who or what Floyd Landis was.
As for Farmersville, that sounded like something conjured by Hollywood types or from the preconceived notions as to what Lancaster and the county that bears its name actually is. Yeah, there are farms in Lancaster County – lots of them, in fact. But for the people who live in Lancaster city and its suburbs, the farms and places like Farmersville are for the tourists or places one ends up after a wrong turn off the Turnpike or Route 30.
Farmersville? Never heard of it.
But it’s funny how three weeks can change things.
It would be very difficult to find any one in America who hasn’t heard of Floyd Landis, the recovering Mennonite from little old Farmersville, Pa. in bucolic Lancaster County these days. Winning one of the biggest sporting events in the world has a way of making anonymity disappear. Everybody knows Floyd Landis now. His story has been told and re-told over and over again amongst friends and acquaintances like it was the latest episode of a favorite TV show or a crazy snap of the weather.
“Can you believe that Floyd Landis? Did you read that one how his parents don’t have a TV so they go to the neighbor’s house to watch highlights from the race?”
“Yeah, I saw one where his dad said that the family didn’t disown him after he chose to leave their ultra-conservative way of life to move to California to become a pro cyclist. They just told him that he was ‘living a sinful life.’”
Landis mania runs rampant in Lancaster now. So much so that Farmersville – more a sweeping country crossroads than a hamlet – has become a tourist destination for people who live just a few miles away. It seems as if Lancasterians are curious about just where in the world Floyd Landis comes from.
The locals aren’t the only ones, either. According to the Lancaster New Era, reporters from all over, including one from the French newspaper L’Equipe joined the fray of TV trucks and curiosity seekers at the Landis home.
And what did Arlene Landis, Floyd’s mom, do when everyone showed up? She invited them in and made them steaks while the neighbors wondered what the fuss was all about and hoped that Landis’ new celebrity won’t turn the little street into another tourist stop the way nearby Amish farms are.
“We’re not really into all this. It seems kind of something we wouldn’t do, and I don’t really watch TV,” Mary Jane Horst, a neighbor of the Landis’, told the New Era.
According to Google Earth, Farmersville is very near New Holland, Pa. in West Earl Township. To get there from Philadelphia, it’s just a few miles south of the Pennsylvania Turnpike on Route 222. Once in Farmersville, visitors are swept up in a sea of cornfields and greenness, with rolling hills and little-used back roads. To get to the city of Lancaster, it’s a good 14-mile bike ride through farm country and suburban sprawl, but it feels like stepping through a time machine. Speeding cars, shopping centers, and industrial parks replace the horse-and-buggies and unmitigated earth.
Yet it seems to make a lot of sense that the best bike rider in the world came from this little spot on the globe. It’s still very much a place where work ethic, community and selflessness are more than cheap buzzwords used by people who don’t know the meaning of those words. It’s also a place where those values are more than a way of life, because that simply isn’t strong or forceful enough.
No, the toughest man on the planet comes from a place where what you do is a lot more important than what you say. Where else could someone like Floyd Landis be from?