Location: Vienna, Virginia, United States

A graduate of Dartmouth College (2005) and Washington and Lee University School of Law (2010). These are my personal blogs, and the musings expressed on them do not reflect the positions of my employer. They do reflect my readings, thoughts, and aspirations, which I figure is good enough.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

As Promised

Day 1 - Of Blustery Days, Thumb-sucking, and Chevy Aveos

So last Tuesday found Jen and I flying into Orlando, where we proceeded to an off-site rental car location to pick up our stylin' Chevy Aveo. On the bright side, it was at least a four door vehicle, and didn't die on us during the trip, although it made funny noises when we pushed it over 75 mph.

We checked into our hotel, a nicer than expected Radisson, but had trouble finding our room, as our parking lot was away around in the back of the hotel. We took a right turn too late and actually found ourselves on the highway, headed towards Magic Kingdom. So we said, "to heck with it," and went.

The only minus was that, as the weather was in the mid to high 80's, we were nervous about Jen's laptop being in the car for a few hours. So naturally I ended up lugging it around The Magic Kingdom and Epcot. It's at least a Mac, and not an 8 lb. Dell.

Despite all that is said about Disney being an evil empire, you can really have quite a lot of fun, especially if you grew up on the movies. People who grew up on movies like The Aristocats are likely out of luck, but there's even still stuff for kiddy Disney fiends like me who grew up with Robin Hood.

For those who don't know this about me, I watched Robin Hood every day for over a year, when I was about four.

Which is why I was ecstatic when I was able to take these pictures.

That was really the highlight of my time in the Magic Kingdom. There are a few new rides, of course, such as Pooh's Adventures on a Blustery Day, but those are more small-child oriented, along with everything else in the Magic Kingdom. However, Philharmagic, a 3-D orchestration of well known Disney songs, is well worth it for spectators of all ages.

However, Pirates of the Carribbean is closed until July, which I suspect is a way for them to build suspense of the sequal coming out this summer, as well as a way to update the ride with characters from the movie.

One note of interest - Pooh's Adventures replaced Mr. Toad's Wild Ride, but they found a way to keep Mr. Toad - if you look to the right as you ride in seated in Honey Pots (no joke), you can see a picture of Owl and Mr. Toad on the left. Kind of a nice touch, in my opinion.

For dinner, since we didn't know of too many places outside the parks, we went to Epcot. Although it was a touch on the expensive side, it was still fun, as we were able to get seats by a window in order to see Illuminations, the nightly fireworks display at Epcot.

Exhausted from walking around two theme parks in the span of an afternoon and evening, we returned to the hotel and finally found our room. The next day would bring more theme parks, but more importantly, baseball.

Day 2 - Longballs and Ryan Howard are like Peanut Butter and Jelly

We woke up bright and early to get out to Epcot again - since the rides were closed by the time we got there yesterday, we were there as soon as the gates opened to get in line for Soarin' and Mission: Space. Fastpass is indeed an amazing thing, since I remember distinctly waiting for an hour and a half for each and every ride when I went to Disney World with my family 8 or 9 years ago.

At noon, we headed out of the park and to the Wide World of Sports Complex, where the Braves have their Spring Training. We arrived a little later than we wanted, so there wasn't any time for autographs.

As for the game itself, we saw some nice slugging - homers from Andruw Jones and Jeff Francoeur for the Braves, and one that dwarfed all the others by Phillies' first baseman Ryan Howard.

As the description under the picture says, on a 3-1 count, Howard was waiting for a fastball, and he got one. And crushed it. A long ways to right. No doubt about that one. Howard and everyone else in the stadium knew that Jorge Sosa was going to throw a fastball on that pitch. Sosa's pitch wasn't good enough, and Howard punished the ball by hitting it well out of the park.

The pitching was uneventful, as Ryan Franklin is one of the most unexciting pitchers in the majors. Kyle Davies was interesting to watch, as he was changing speeds fairly well and generally doing a good job with pitch selection.

One thing I noticed was that Andruw Jones' stance, which was widened last year in Spring Training, is even wider than I remember it. It now looks like he's got his feet too wide, and it seems almost awkward when he swings. Even when he hit his home run in the bottom of the fourth inning, it looked like he was off-balance.

Jeff Francoeur, in addition to homering in the fifth inning, made an excellent play on a Chase Utley line drive in the top of the fourth inning. It's pretty much what his supporters have come to expect of him, and there were plenty of those at the game.

Tom Gordon, the 38 year old closer for the Phillies, looked pretty good for a 38 year old pitcher. His curveball was as excellent as advertised, and he was very good in his one inning of work, getting a swinging strikeout and two ground balls. Of course, he was facing James Jurries, Pete Orr and Todd Pratt, but still, results are results.

After the game ended in a rather anticlimactic strikeout looking, we headed out and went back to the parks. We went to MGM this time, where we rode a re-vamped (and less exciting in my opinion) Tower of Terror, and Star Wars. There's not much to do in MGM. We did have dinner in the Sci Fi Diner, in which diners are relegated with campy sci fi scenes from the 70's. Good stuff. It's a nice reminder that even back there, there were a lot of crappy movies. It's just that now, those same crappy movies have large budgets and advertising campaigns, which makes them seem all the more disappointing. See, quality isn't really the issue here, just expectations.

Day 3: In which Jen gets a cool signature

Instead of hitting up a park in the morning, we went straight to the game. The game started at 1:00, but we got there around 10:00 to watch batting practice and to get autographs.

I managed to get Jarrod Saltalamacchia's signature, as well as Kelly Johnson's and Ryan Langerhans'. Jen, however, ran over down the first base line when she saw that Jeff Francoeur was signing, and got her Francoeur jersey autographed. I think that made her day.

Even though the marquee players, Andruw and Chipper Jones, and Marcus Giles, didn't pay much attention, we were able to get some good picture of them in batting practice. Bobby Cox was there too, looking sagely as usual.

Giles taking batting practice is pretty astounding. The ball jumps off his bat, and at one point, he sprayed four or five balls that all left the park in different directions. Other players were impressive as well, Francoeur and Matt Diaz being memorable, but Giles was especially fun to watch.

The game, Braves vs. Indians, was a nice game featuring decent pitching on both sides - CC Sabathia for the Indians, and John Thomson for the Braves. Sabathia's delivery seemed off, as his lead foot was often planted pointing too much as the first base line, making him look off-balance at times, but he got the job done with a fastball that touched 94 and a good variety of breaking balls.

Edgar Renteria, the new Braves shortstop, did not look very impressive. His bat looked weak as he grounded into a double play and flied out to center, after which he was replaced by Tony Pena Jr., another soft hitting shortstop. Pena, however, had a couple of decent games in the three that I saw. Even though he's getting older for a prospect, maybe Pena still has time to make the majors as a backup. He really needs to cut down on his strikeouts though.

Giles walked in all three of his at bats today, perhaps an indication that he's changing his hitting approach in anticipation of hitting leadoff. If so, I think he could have an excellent year. Even if Renteria is no good, if Chipper and Andruw are healthy, Giles could easily score 120 runs.

Joey Devine, the Braves reliever, and possible closer, continued his torrid spring by striking out two of the three batters he faced. He is a candidate to close this year if Chris Reitsma's injuries keep him out for long.

I'll have the rest of the Day 3 summary (with pictures) and Day 4, as soon as we upload the rest of the pictures.


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