The imminent Lance Armstrong PED hubub will be instructive

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My steroids bailiwick is pretty much limited to baseball, so I view the latest stuff about Lance Armstrong as a civilian. I don’t know much about it other than to say that (a) cycling is apparently rotten with PEDs; and (b) any criminal investigation led by Jeff Novitzky should be viewed with extreme dubiousness given his track record.  But no, I have no clue if Armstrong took steroids and, aside from the ecological implications of 50 million people throwing away their “Livestrong” bracelets at once, I really don’t care.

But Buster Olney raises a baseball-related question about it this morning:

Should Armstrong be viewed in the same light as Bonds, Clemens, McGwire, Palmeiro and other ballplayers linked to PEDs?

Of all the cases of the baseball players, Armstrong’s most resembles that of Clemens — in the face of a lot of evidence, Armstrong, like Clemens, has angrily denied use of performance-enhancing drugs, while attacking the credibility of his accusers. If Clemens and Armstrong have been lying, they are bald-faced, unrepentant lies.

And while Clemens has never had the warm and fuzzy image that Armstrong has, as the cyclist has helped lead the fight against cancer, the pitcher — like Armstrong — has done a whole lot of philanthropic work.

It’s a tough question.

I tend to think that most of the outrage about steroids in baseball is based on the notion that baseball was somehow pure and golden and symbolic and all of that counterfactual barfy stuff, and as such the people who have brought the outrage over it have done so out of a sense of misplaced betrayal, not because the ‘roiding is such a grave transgression in and of itself.  Cycling certainly isn’t like that.

But of course, Armstrong transcended cycling a long time ago, in part because of his dominance, but also because of his inspirational story. Beating cancer. Honing his body to ridiculous levels of efficiency. Dating Sheryl Crow and Kate Hudson when that meant something.

In light of that, if the PED allegations against him pan out, I would guess that Armstrong gets some pretty rough treatment, especially in the cycling world (France will probably issue a shoot-to-kill order).  But I also guess that all of his anti-cancer work and the fact that he has transcended the relative backwater that is international cycling, mainstream America will view him as a flawed but still-worthy figure.  He’ll get smacked around a whole hell of a lot, but he won’t be demonized like Clemens and Bonds have been.

Twins to retire Joe Mauer’s No. 7

AP Photo/Jim Mone
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Twins senior director of communications Dustin Morse announced that the Twins will honor former C/1B Joe Mauer by retiring his uniform number 7. Mauer announced his retirement from baseball on November 9.

Mauer will join Harmon Killebrew (No. 3), Tony Oliva (No. 6), Tom Kelly (No. 10), Kent Hrbek (No. 14), Rod Carew (No. 29), Kirby Pucket (No. 34), and Bert Blyleven (No. 28) as Twins to have their numbers retired.

Mauer, 35, spent 15 seasons in the majors, all with the Twins. He posted a career .306/.388/.439 triple-slash line with 143 home runs and 923 RBI. He won the AL MVP Award in 2009, won the batting title three times, earned three Gold Gloves and five Silver Sluggers, and made the AL All-Star team six times. Sadly, his career was limited due to injuries, including a concussion that caused him to move from catcher to first base.

Five years from now, Mauer will appear on the Hall of Fame ballot. There will certainly be some arguments for and against his candidacy. He retired with 55.1 career Wins Above Replacement, according to Baseball Reference, which definitely puts him in the conversation. But, as always, there’s never a consensus.