Saturday, July 23, 2005

It's been a long time comin'...

Okay. Another extended hiatus from the blogging world has created an uproar amongst my three loyal readers (and by loyal, I mean the people who resort to reading my blog when they've exhausted all other anti-boredom options while perusing the internet at work).

I've had so many blog post ideas, but a combination of school, work and traveling has severely cut into my blogging time. I'll try to hit everything. And away we go...

First and foremost, Friday, July 22, 2005 was my last official day of class. Sure, I step into class next month to do my semester of student teaching. Sure, that constitutes me going to school everyday. And certainly, if I am a teacher, more classwork remains, not to mention those plans in the back of my head to someday get a doctorate. But don't rain on my parade. It was a good feeling. Like a combo of 20 years worth of "It's the last day of school!" Fantastic.

A few weeks back, Kenny Rogers attacked a cameraman in one of the all-time great athlete meltdowns. I cannot look at that clip without envisioning Coach Rod. The glasses. The face. The attacking helpless people. It's eerily similar.

OJ Mayo - one of the most highly-regarded prep basketball players in the past couple years - visited Morgantown recently to participate in an amateur hoops extravaganza. I only watched Mayo for one game, and I must say, he's pretty talented. The LeBron comparisions are more than a stretch, but the kid has a sweet stroke once he gets a rhythm going, and his passing skills are certainlly reminiscent of King James. Chris Paul is a better comparison, although he seems like a little more likeable fellow.

My good friend Rob got married today in South Carolina. I wish I could've been there. I'm anxious to see him and his new wife (whom I've never met) in a week on my way to the beach.

My younger sister gets married a week from today. That's scary. VERY scary.

I'm not sure why Capri Sun isn't marketed better. There's not a better drink out there.

Speaking of which, why did Orange Slice change its name to Tropicana Twister? Isn't that more difficult? Why rebuild name recognition? Fanta already pulled this garbage with Minute Maid a few years back - and they lost a loyal customer. Now Slice, which was my favorite orange drink. I have nothing against Sunkist, but this disappoints me. This is why you never fall in love with a carbonated beverage.

In baseball news, Jason Giambi has suddenly found a power surge that conjures up images of his MVP days with the Oakland A's. After hitting five homers in his past 170 at bats, he's hit 10 in his last 69. Unfortunately, Giambi created his own cloud of suspicion by admitting to steroid use in the past, which in large part, discredited his achievements with the A's (he hasn't produced to the same level with the Yankees).

I'll admit, I've never been a Giambi fan. In his hey day, I thought he was a tremendous hitter, all-around. But it's hard to not suspect him of using something right now, considering his back was against the wall in the past few months.

Major League Baseball does not test for HGH, although it is on their banned substances list. My friend Andy stated that it would be a huge health risk for Giambi to take HGH - considering his health history. But I couldn't help but be reminded of a story that Tony Gwynn told a couple years back.

Gwynn - the Greatest Hitter of All Time! - said that he wasn't sure if he would've used steroids or not in order to aid his playing career. It was a surprising comment from one of the games ultimate good guys, but an honest and telling statement. Gwynn said that his job was always safe. Always secure. He wasn't a power hitter, and relied upon his hand-eye coordination and fundamental hitting abiility to earn his keep. He was a .330-.350 hitter for over a decade, so he never had a threat to his job, or his paycheck, or his family.

Gwynn said that if he was ever put in the situation of being a fringe player who just needed a boost, or was in competition with another player who was using and benefiting, that steroids might have been an option. After all, it was survive and support his family, or sink and be out of baseball.

Sure, Giambi's got more money than he knows what to do with, but during a week-long home run binge by Tino Martinez in early May, Giambi was riding the pine, perhaps for good. There was talk of sending him to the minors, and the Yankees were contemplating making a settlement for the remaining $80 million on his contract and releasing him.

The new steroid policy has failed to expose any big names, and as my friend Andy pointed out, MLB was "forced" into action regarding a policy, so it wouldn't be surprising if the baseball bigwigs are still using every option to protect the game and its players.

I'm not saying he's using or not. For his sake, I hope he's not. He's never proved to himself or fans that he can produce without the aid of an illegal supplement. With the giant loophole MLB has created in its testing policy, Giambi has the opportunity to excel again.

Are his numbers legit this time?

Are we seeing the real Giambi, supplement-free?

Until MLB takes its testing more seriously, we will never know.


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