Wednesday, March 9th, 2005
9:31 pm - Alas, Poor Pirates...  
After a good start, I'd slacked a bit on the stationary bike. Didn't get on it at all last week. I have done much better so far this week. Three nights in a row, about 20 miles total. I could easily have gone longer, as my legs have been fine. The main problem has been acclimating my butt to the seat.

While pedaling tonight, I was watching an ESPN report on the just announced congressional hearings on steroids in baseball. Seven players (Canseco, McGwire, Giambi, Sosa, Schilling, Palmeiro, and Frank Thomas) have been subpoenaed to appear. I find it curious that Schilling and Thomas are on the list. Thomas has been outspoken that there's been a problem for a while, so maybe they want him to name names. I find it incomprehensible that they don't want to talk to Barry Bonds, but apparently Barry gets a free pass even when he's not batting these days.

Later, I was watching the Hall play favored Georgetown in the Big East tournament, and was quite hopeful for awhile. They had an eleven point lead with ten minutes to go. Alas, their point guard is a freshman, and thus subject to freshman mistakes. Georgetown came back to take the lead. Still, the Hoyas gave the Hall a golden opportunity to tie or take the lead with 17 seconds left, but the Hall gave it right back, and lost by six.

I didn't expect them to win, as this was certainly a rebuilding year, but blowing that big a lead really sucks.

I'm currently reading Hellspark, by Janet Kagen, a book I probably got accidently from the SF Book Club. Or not. It's entirely possible I ordered it, since it's a novel about first contact, a subject I've always been interested in, featuring an interstellar trader, and sounds similar in tone to Poul Anderson's Nicholas van Rijn books, which I liked a lot. Anyway, it was sitting unread in a box for years and years until I finally put stuff on my shelves, so I decided to give it a try. I note that it's gotten excellent reviews at Amazon, so that makes me hopeful.

It's been slow going. All of the characters introduced so far come from different worlds and cultures, and even are possibly different species (it's unclear about that last so far), with differing languages and customs. Kagen spends a lot of time on the subtleties of communication between the various cultures, detailing things such as the body language and gestures that are part of that communication. It's all very immersive, but I wonder if there's going to be a point to all of it. I'm hoping it's valid build up to show the potential problems to be faced in dealing with a completly new species, and will be very disappointed if it's all just chrome, because she's really loading it on. The other problem I'm having is that she's using an idea I've had for years for one of the novels I'll never write, and I'm envious. Also, now if I ever do write it, I'll feel like a copycat.
Current Mood: disappointed
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gchickgchick on March 9th, 2005 - 06:38 pm
Schilling? Damn, damn, damn.
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DXMachinadxmachina on March 9th, 2005 - 06:50 pm
I hadn't heard anything about Schilling and steroids. He doesn't exactly have a steroid user's body. The guys on WFAN were speculating that it might be because Schilling is known for speaking his mind, so maybe he'll give them something juicy. Who knows?

Dennis Kucinich is on the committee, and he repeated the sentence "This is not a witch hunt," about five times during his interview on ESPN. That I wonder about.
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Veejaneveejane on March 10th, 2005 - 09:36 am
No, yeah. Schilling's talked a lot publically about how steroids are evil, but he's also presented the viewpoint that the testing should be 3rd party, and out of MLB's hands. He had a lot to say when the anonymous testing from 2 years ago had its anonymity partially broken.

I think they're really calling him because he rubs elbows with politicians. I mean, he has been a union rep (although he isn't one now), and he has shot his mouth off more than most, but I don't know that he has any kind of first-hand experience to offer aside from his own opinion.

I think Congress failed to summon Bonds because they don't want to have Sanford and Son in the Congressional Record. That guy prevaricates as elaborately and as badly as Condi Rice on a bad day.
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Veejaneveejane on March 11th, 2005 - 08:30 am
I thought, based on the above, you'd enjoy this quote of the day (possibly week), on the baseball steroids brouhaha:

Francona was certain Schilling wasn't asked [to testify before Congress] on suspicion the righthander used steroids. "Are you kidding me? Have you ever seen him in the shower? He's not on steroids," said Francona. "I don't know [anything] about steroids, but he's not on them.

"If Snickers are considered illegal, he may be on them."

Boston Globe, 3/11/05

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DXMachinadxmachina on March 11th, 2005 - 10:28 am
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mearamearagrrl on March 9th, 2005 - 08:54 pm
Heh. As I read this, I was opening up WashPost in the other tab, to see how the Hoyas had done! Yay to hear they won. They've been sucking so badly lately...
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Hecubothecubot on March 10th, 2005 - 10:42 am
The guy who lead the little league coach's clinic I attended two weekends ago had played and coached on the college level, and had a lot of friends who were professional scouts. He intimated that steroids were really widespread in the majors. He said close to 85%. Which, I realize is a number he pulled out of his butt. However, he did have insider contacts and even if it's something like 65% it would change my perception of the entire issue. It's not just a few of the beefiest sluggers. There's a reason why so many utility infielders have been hitting opposite field homeruns for the last 15 years. It's also widespread because it lets you heal faster from injuries.

Anyway, it makes me feel less like Bonds/McGwire/Sosa were bigass cheaters than looking at the entire era as The Steroid Era, the way we look at earlier times as The Deadball Era or Pre-Expansion or Pre-Integration or War Years Talent Dilution.

It does make me feel bad about the gifted players who *didn't* take steroids - like Junior or Jeff Kent - whose power numbers would look more obviously HoF. Also, the way it overshadows the power hitters of the 80s - somebody like Alan Tramall was a 20 HR hitter at shortstop on a championship team when that was extraordinarily rare. I'm not seeing him get much consideration for the Hall.
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DXMachinadxmachina on March 10th, 2005 - 11:43 am
Yeah, you have to wonder about the sportswriters who are all clamoring against the steroid users, but think guys like Trammell aren't all that anymore.

Also, it's not just the added strength, and ability to recover. Apparently steroids also enhance the ability to track objects, like a pitched baseball.
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Veejaneveejane on March 11th, 2005 - 08:28 am
I think it's HGH that is supposed to improve eyesight, among other things. Of course, HGH is now illegal in MLB, but it's impossible to test for without a blood test, which is also illegal in MLB. So the magically youthful eyeballs will continue, for the time being.
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DXMachinadxmachina on March 11th, 2005 - 10:42 am
I don't mean necessarily eyesight per se, but the ability to use eyesight effectively. I need to do some more research. Basically, I heard a person talking on WFAN about how steroids enhance all the things that make one a good hunter, including the ability to follow moving prey, i.e., a pitch. I've seen that a bit on the net, too, but it all seems to be hearsay, mostly by people on message boards. I haven't found a site with hard evidence yet. All the sites I've found are big on saying what the negative effects are and ignoring the enhancing effects.

Listened to another congresscritter on WFAN over lunch. I find myself torn here. I don't think anything constructive will arise out of hearings right now, given that baseball just put a policy in place. And the guy sort of sounded like he really wants to pillory the players and management. He was also going on and on about how it's nothing to do with baseball, but rather it's for the good of the kids, which always drives me up a wall. It is going to be a witch hunt. That said, the rhetoric baseball is using sure sounds like they have something major to hide, which is playing right into the politicians' hands.
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