It’s Pool Time!

That’s right everyone.  It’s pool time.  No, not swimming pool time–it’s still a tad chilly for that.  I’m talking playoff hockey pools.  Players will be evaluated and scrutinized, picks will be debated, strategies will be formed and trash talk will be prepared.  Ah…. what a fantastic time it will be.

There is a wrinkle this year.  My team is in the playoffs.  That means that loyalty will compete with practicality.  When I look league wide, there are players I cannot pick (OttawaSenators for example) because I would rather lose with my guys, than win with the enemy.  I do not know how I will fare this year.

Will he play?
There are other wrinkles too.  Some fantastic players are injured.  Will they come back in time?  Will there team advance enough to see them return in future rounds?  There are so many questions, and if you consult the internet, then you’ll get too many answers.

Last year I chose first, and took Sidney Crosby.  He and some of my other picks were inspired.  Had I chosen better goalies, I would have won the whole thing.

Of course, there is a huge amount of luck in the whole endeavour.  I can only hope my luck holds out.

Sweet Nostalgia

When I was gro wing up, getting to go and see professional sports was always a highlight.  If I knew I was going to see my Maple Leafs, Argosor Blue Jays I wouldn’t stop thinking about it. I looked forward to it with the same nervous anticipation as Christmas Day.

When I got to the Maple Leaf Gardens, or Exhibition Stadium I was giddy with excitement.  My eyes were wide open to see everything.  Whichever adult was with me probably wondered why I wasn’t walking in a straight line and bumping into everything.  There was so much to see, so much too experience.

I have such fond memories of the games, the excitement, the crowds, the energy, the snacks.  I remember that at Maple Leaf Gardensthe cokes came with a cellophane cover instead of a plastic lid. I remember the idea of “family size cokes”, popcorn boxes and hotdogs.

I remember most of the games I have been to.  I remember my first Leaf game, my first Argo game, and I remember that first Blue Jay game.  I even remember my first Marlie game (and the parade of flattened popcorn boxes that made their way down from the grey seats).

I started collecting Maple Leaf memorabilia that first game I went to.  I still have the team photo and the puck from that game.  I can’t imagine every parting with them.  As you can see from the ticket stubs above, I don’t part with much.

These days, though I have been to more than my fair share of games, I still sometimes catch that same sense of wonder that I had. When I go alone, I try to drink in the atmosphere as much as possible.  I check the souvenir stands, I listen to the scalpers and the vendors barking at people and I wonder what kind of snacks they have.

Printing technology has come a long have prices.
I hope it is no different today.  I hope kids don’t take these great days for granted.  I guess, for their parents, these moments must be magical.

I don’t keep many of the ticket stubs these days.  I am not sure why, but I guess there is something different about seeing a game as an adult and as a child.  Things are different, but I would still go to a game at the drop of a hat.

I would love to hear about any of my reader’s first pro sports experience.

Dusting Incidents

As a modeller, car collector, stuff collector, train collector, and general hobbyist, I struggle with a way to display my stuff.  Sometimes it is because I have too much stuff to display.  Sometimes it because I can’t find the best way to showcase what I have.  Of course, sometimes it is because, besides myself, nobody really wants to see my stuff.
You might wonder why I need a display case anyway.  You have to realize that the biggest enemy of the hobbyist is dust.  Actually dust is the second biggest enemy.  In reality the biggest is the person doing the dusting.  Thousands of models, toys and collectibles are damaged and destroyed each year in dusting related incidents.  The only way to avoid it is to keep the stuff away from the dusting brush.  The best way to do that is to safely encase it is some display container. 

the dream
Certainly I would love a beautiful, French provincial oak display case that was more furniture than anything.  Sadly, the financial requirements for that go way beyond what I can afford.  Second best would probably be something from IKEA.  Though not as financially draining, it does require using an hex key.  Usually, I have to settle for something plastic.  It is functional, but classy it is not.

the reality
There are quite a few things I would like to put in display cases.  I would love to display my trains.  When I am not using them, it would be fantastic to put the in a nicely made display case on the wall.  Even when I wasn’t running them, I could admire them.

I certainly would love to display my car and military models.  At present I have them in plastic display cases that are stored up high in the hobby room.  They really can’t be seen, they are just kept from getting dusty.  Of course, I am not sure any of them are really worth displaying.  However, someday, I will build some that will be good enough to show people.
a cool idea

 would make me cry during lockou
I would love to put my Toronto Maple Leaf stuff in display cases.  I’ve got cards, jerseys (yes, that is plural), pucks. coffee mugs, glasses, bobble heads, key chains, and coasters.  Of course, if there is no hockey this year, such a display my bring me to tears.

I am pretty sure that my Japanese mini car collection would look good displayed.  It would look better if I could work in some of the boxes too.  I will have to research that one a bit more.

I am sure all of you out there are facing the same dilemma.  All I can say is good luck, and hope you can protect your stuff from the reckless dusting brush.

Got’em, got’em, got’em, need’em, got’em.

Every now and then the thought of collecting hockey cards jumps into my brain.  Sometimes it is because I am at a store that is selling them by the box rather than the pack.  This is a strange novelty that I would never have considered when I was a child.  It also seems to happen when, rare though it is, I am in a local convenience store.  They keep the packs up at the counter, at eye level, where they used to keep the cigarette packs.

My earliest memories of hockey cards are walking to the local variety store with a quarter in my hand, maybe more, most likely less dreaming of the treasures I would buy.  I don’t remember how many seasons it was, but for at least a few of them, hockey cards were that treasure.

Most people, when reminiscing about sports cards, never fail to mention the gum.  And while smelling that pungent odour yesterday  is what provoked this blog, I am not one to lament the disappearance of that hard, brittle, flour tasting gum.  Although I understand the nostalgia for the crackerjack toy, the nostalgia for gum that nobody would purchase on its own seems rather ridiculous.

My hockey card collection is not worth any money.  The cards were played with, sat on, tossed against walls, and run over by my self-righting battery powered wall tumbling car.  The back of each card was scrutinized for statistics, fun facts and trivia.  They were crammed into pockets, jostled by friends and haggled over by all the kids in my grade.

Whenever the thought to take up this hobby rears its head, so do the reservations that I have..  Cost is a huge factor,  Gum or no gum, several dollars for each pack of five cards seems rather high.  I have heard of inflation, but printing technology should have made this cheaper, not more expensive.    There are also so many card sets and makers that I would have a hard time choosing which one to buy, leading me to buy more than one set.

That makes space another factor.  Where would I keep all the albums full of cards I would inevitably buy?

Perhaps the biggest thing holding me back is something less tangible.  When you’re a kid, sports stars are heroes.  I wanted their cards because they were larger than life.  I would watch Hockey Night in Canadaevery Saturday, rifling through the cards between periods like Catholic clutching his rosary beads.  They were as much an article of faith as anything.  I still enjoy the game and cheer with every goal, but those heroes have to compete with other heroes.

As an adult, there are other ways to get the statistics.  I can watch lots of highlights on YouTube and there are a lot of souvenir items out there.  I suspect, beyond collecting my team, there really isn’t much in the hobby for me.  I suppose I could be a market speculator, hoping to make a buck, but that really isn’t who I am.  I’ll probably just settle for a few Doug Gilmour cards and try and keep that idea in check.