Elster's World

Friday, July 28, 2006

This Post Is Not About Israel

While rockets fall all over Northern Israel, while the injuries pile up, while Hezbollah seems to have a slightly longer range missile in its arsenal which hit a town south of Haifa, while all this takes place, I just can’t blog about it anymore. I am sure I have more words to say, but I just can’t say them now. So, while my thoughts and prayers turn constantly towards Eretz Yisrael and to the thousands of soldiers in Southern Lebanon and the tens of thousands in harm’s way in Northern Israel, my words will turn elsewhere. As Jack said recently, our lives need to go on too

- Just days after one of the most dramatic and emotionally rousing victories in Tour de France (in fact arguably the most dramatic) -all while riding on a painfully degenerating hip that will be replaced in the near future - American cyclist Floyd Landis is embroiled in a doping scandal. After testing positive for elevated levels of Testosterone in his urine after he won Stage 17 (where he made up more than six minutes of the time lost the day before), Landis may be stripped of his Tour win.

To say that this is shocking is an understatement of gigantic proportions. In our times, the question should no longer be who is cheating, but who isn’t. Despite Charles Barkley’s protestations to the opposite effect, whether they like it or not, sports (and other public) figures are indeed role models. People do look at their actions with more scrutiny than perhaps they should. Scratch the perhaps. People look up to athletes, rightly or wrongly, and recently they have been letting us down every time. From Bonds to Big Mac to Jason Giambi, baseball’s steroids scandal seems bottomless. The list of football players involved in off the field “incidents” is staggering. Basketball? Forget about it. The next time I see a story about a player caught with a “friend’s” gun or dope in his car, I’m going to run into traffic.

Yet we keep coming back for more punishment, time and time again. And why? Because we are desperate for heroes. Landis’ story was an amazing one. The strict Mennonite family upbringing, the degenerating hip, the eight minutes lost and the amazing comeback, capped off by the time trial success he all but guaranteed earlier in the race. And then boom, the doping hammer falls.

Now Landis denies he cheated. He profusely maintains his innocence. And yes, I want to believe him. I want Landis to actually be the hero I thought he was. Call me a sucker, but his story is just too good to be tainted by a scandal.

Though his reputation may never be the same, the doping cloud follows cyclists forever (just ask Lance Armstrong, an absolute villain outside of America), I want the B sample test to come up negative or to otherwise exonerate him. Though once the allegation exists, time may never tell us the true story.

- In other news, the Mets play a Ha-yuuuge series against the Braves in Atlanta this weekend. The Braves have been making serious noise recently and this is a great opportunity for the Mets to lay the smack down and show Atlanta that the race for the NL East is effectively over.

On a positive note for the Mets, Pedro Martinez returns to pitch for the first time in a month, returning from a hip injury and some seriously bad Dominican chicken. The hope here is that the hip is good and Pedro can drive off the mound again, something he struggled to do in the four (or so) starts he made after hurting the hip to begin with. If the Mets take two of three from Atlanta, it will be a crushing blow. Taking one of three would be very bad, especially with a healthy Pedro back. Getting swept would be a disaster.

I have no feeling yet which way this goes. I’ll probably know more when I pick up the newspaper tomorrow morning and see how they did in game one.


  • I've never experienced that on the sports level, but one can be disillusioned about anyone.

    It's sad and hard when we are forced to give up that childlike hero worship.

    Also, we don't have to write about the situation in Israel to know that we are thinking about it. I agree that life has to go on, wherever we find ourselves.

    By Blogger Sara, at 12:44 PM  

  • Go Braves!!

    By Blogger Jewboy, at 5:42 PM  

  • Sorry JB, I got my wish 2-0. Not looking good fornthe Braves at all...

    By Blogger Elster, at 10:26 PM  

  • Landis is responsible for his own actions, but he does not live in a vacuum. Remember the story of Elijah, the Rabbi and the Cow? All is not always as it seems...

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 12:52 PM  

  • Yeah, now it's over. What a miserable weekend.

    By Blogger Jewboy, at 9:40 AM  

  • Anon - I think Landis' is burying himself with horrible excuses. Lance Armstrong would confidently step up to podiums and declare we will fight these lies and we will destroy them. Landis says um, maybe it was that bottle of Jack Daniels, along with my naturally high testosterone. I want him to be innocent but I'm having trouble buying him.

    JB - But the Yamkees were nice enough to remove the Phillies from any chances of keeping second place.

    By Blogger Elster, at 9:53 AM  

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