Thursday, January 21, 2010

Want to know what I'm enjoying these days? The parade of former major leaguers, most of whom played before the Steroid Era, coming out and slamming the juicers.

It was all precipitated by Mark McGwire finally talking about the past (about five years too late, eh, big guy?). McGwire came out in an interview with Bob Costas on MLB Network, finally acknowledging that he took steroids pretty much throughout the 90s, including during his epic 1998 70 home run season.

Where he slipped up, though, was in saying that he did it just to come back from injury. He actually claimed that the steroids didn't help him hit home runs! It's a load of crap, of course, since (a) he couldn't have hit any home runs is he wasn't in the lineup because of an injury and (b) anybody with a set of eyes could see how big McGwire got in the late '90s. The only surprise is that he didn't actually burst out of his shirt and turn green, Hulk-style.

So not only are fans and media calling out McGwire (even Costas looked incredulous during the interview), some of his peers are as well. Jack Clark came out and said that steroid users like McGwire should be banned from MLB for life. Mark Grace told the papers that he never took steroids because he didn't want it to affect his sex life. And yesterday, Hall of Famer Carlton Fisk (and namesake of the second most famous foul pole at Fenway Park) called out both Big Mac and Roger Clemens on their steroid use.

I'm sure this is just the beginning of a parade of "clean" players who will start taking on the Steroid Era guys. It would be honestly refreshing if a guy just came out and said, "Yes, I took steroids because it would help me hit more home runs and get a multi-million dollar contract". Just tell the truth. It may hurt and sound selfish, but I think people would respect you more for it in the long run.

Thursday, January 07, 2010

Thinking healthy thoughts as we start 2010:
  • I'm just starting a new exercise program: I am walking on the treadmill in my basement while I watch all 11 Star Trek movies plus all the DVD extras. I figure that the movies average about 2 hours each, with average of an additional 2 hours of extra features with each film, for a total of 44 hours. My plan is to get through all the movies by April 3, the day before the Red Sox and Yankees open on ESPN. That works out to an average of about 28 minutes per day. I started on January 1 and I finished Star Trek: The Motion Picture (but not the extras). I'll let you know how I do!
  • I met with my endicrinologist yesterday for my annual follow-up appointment after my bout with thyroid cancer in 2005 (many of my blog entries from that year deal with the topic). The news was great: a small node on the left side of my neck that we have been following hasn't grown or changed in years, so I'm able to go from having an annual ultrasound exam to doing it every three years. There doesn't appear to be anything else to be concerned about, so I just need to keep taking my daily pill and see him once a year.

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Florida highlights:
  • First, major kudos to JetBlue for getting us to and from Orlando with a minimum of fuss during one of the busiest travel periods of the year. We were actually a half-hour early getting into Orlando; we were getting in our rental car at the time we were scheduled to land in Florida. JetBlue has actually supplanted Southwest as our family's preferred airline, at least until Southwest gets TVs.
  • We spent Christmas day at my brother's house and had a great time having the family all together. The weather was warm enough (mid-70s) that the kids had a big water gun fight and went in the pool.
  • We visited Downtown Disney and rented a boat, one of my favorite things to do at Disney. We also visited the amazing Ghirardelli ice cream shop, where they make one of the great frappes/milk shakes/cabinets on the planet.
  • All of us gathered to see the Outta Control Dinner Show at WonderWorks, an upside-down building on International drive. The food was pretty basic - all you could eat pizza, popcorn and salad, with all you could drink beer and wine (don't get too excited - the choices were Bud and Bud Light, which for me is hardly like drinking beer at all). The show, however, was outstanding. A magician, Tony Brent, put on an alternately funny and amazing show. I'm still trying to figure out how he got a $100 bill (borrowed from an audience member) into an apparently uncut lemon. Plus, me and my neice were called up on stage to participate in the show!
  • After visiting my parents in Clermont for nine years, we finally got to see the downtown area, which is charming and is near a large, beautiful lake. We ended up taking a walk along the lake on our last full day there. There was also a very cool guitar shop in the downtown, and J. bought a few picks. If we lived there, I could see us visiting often, especially since it's about 3 doors down from the comic book shop.
  • Great to see Admiral Dave and Leslie again! We had dinner together at an Irish pub.
  • Our day at the Magic Kingdom could occupy an entry all by itself. A few highlights:
    • We were in the park from 8AM (when the park opened to non-Disney resort guests) until the Wishes fireworks display ended at about 10:20 PM.
    • The major advantage of getting there so early was that we were able to walk on some of the major rides first thing in the morning. There was a train waiting at the end of Main Street when we walked into the park, so we rode it to Frontierland, saving us a lot of walking. Once there, we walked onto Splash Mountain, Big Thunder Mountain, Haunted Mansion and it's a small world. The first significant line we hit was Peter Pan, where we waited about 30 minutes to ride.
    • Space Mountain underwent a major refurb this year and, well, I was a bit underwhelmed, to be honest. Don't get me wrong, it's still one of my top 5 rides at Disney. The upgrades were not as evident as I would have thought. The main difference in the ride itself seemed to be that it was darker, which reduced the effect that made you feel like you were going to bounce your head off the rails as you sped by. Maybe I was just expecting too much.
    • We got to see the Flag Retreat on Main St. for the first time ever. It's a very nice ceremony with patriotic music, the lowering of the flag, and honoring a veteran or soldier, who participates in the event. In a lot of ways, I think these small things make the Disney theme parks what they are as much as the big headliner attractions.
    • Around mid-afternoon we escaped from the theme park madness and took the raft over to Tom Sawyer Island. We let the kids run around and explore the fort and the caves while A. and I shared a soda and relaxed at Aunt Polly's. This is a really overlooked attraction - it wasn't that crowded on one of the busiest days of the year. If you have kids and need a break from the stand in line, ride, stand in line routine, Tom Sawyer is a must-do.
    • We had dinner at Tony's Town Square, a Lady & the Tramp themed Italian restaurant on Main St. The food was good, if expensive (about standard for Disney), and it was nice to have someone serve us instead of waiting in another line.
    • The Spectromagic parade and the Wished fireworks show were both spectacular.
  • Our annual family dinner at Chef Mickey's was a lot of fun, as usual. The highlight was that my brother had made a bet with us on the Christmas Day Celtics-Magic game. The loser (which turned out to be him and the Magic) had to eat an ice cream sundae, which the kids took great glee in concocting. The sundaes included such things as cheese, tomatoes and potato salad. Thanks for getting the win, C's!
It was a fun trip, but I have to say that the thing that always amazes me is how well the kids get along when we go down there. They really only see each other once a year and it's like no time has passed at all.

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