Sunday, March 15, 2009

Sunday morning homily XXVI

The question, as innocent as it was, came out of the blue. "Don't you ever get tired of hounding?"

You know, I had to think about it. After 12 years of hounding, it was a fair question. It was surprising a clear-cut answer didn't leap to mind.

On the plus side, hounding has reinforced a bond between a father and son. Not only do we get to spend time together, but we're also creating memories. We've also been lucky enough to make connections with a handful of players, too. And, yes, we've built a fairly nice collection along the way.

Don't get me wrong. Hounding has its drawbacks. As much as I hated the cold of New England, the heat and humidity of Hockey Bay can be draining. Most times, too, you'll wait around two hours for 10 minutes of activity. Then, there are grumpy players, and our local mooches and meatballs. Pucks don't come cheap, either.

This blog plays a big role. It's more than a brag book. It's a journal of adventures, some better than others, and a sharing of stories. I know not everyone has access to NHL teams, even if it is on public property near a team's hotel. Most posts, I hope, bring a team's fans closer to its players.

I'd like to believe, too, that a book or two nestled are within the 1,500-plus posts over the past three seasons. I'll spend the better part of my offseason looking for an agent, as well as a publisher, who agree with me. It may be a pipe dream, but there's only one way to find out.

So, to answer the question. No, I'm not tired of hounding. Not yet. A couple years from now? Well, maybe. Things change. But, for today and for those ahead, there's still plenty of gas in the tank. I'm a hound.

A law I could live with

Somewhere in the Florida Constitution, inserted as an amendment during the fledgling days of the Grapefruit League, there must a little-known bylaw that "requires" every Florida resident or seasonal visitor to attend at least one spring training baseball game.

It once was easy to honor this legal obligation. It was simple enough to drive downtown, park in the paper's lot and stroll over to Al Lang Stadium and watch the Tampa Bay Rays.

Not this year, though. The defending American League champions have set up their spring training shop about 90 minutes south in even sleepier Port Charlotte.

Let the record show, just in case state baseball officials are monitoring a hockey-hounding blog, that we've fulfilled our obligation, taking in Wednesday's Pirates-Blue Jays game in Dunedin. Let me tell you, it's a far shorter drive than any to watch the Rays.

Even better, it was a great day. Warm, but not hot, with a light breeze. Saw Toronto's Roy Halladay pitch four strong innings. The Cracker Jacks were fresh, too.

Besides, we'll see the Rays soon enough at the Trop.

5 Big Sigs

We're entering our last major homestand here in Hockey Bay, with three teams -- the Loafs, Capitals and Thrashers -- coming to town this week. Here's what we're hoping to add:

~ Toronto's Jason Blake on the Team USA jersey;
~ Toronto's Luke Schenn on a Kewlowna Rockets puck;
~ Tampa Bay's Vinny Lecavalier, Marty St. Louis and Steven Stamkos on 2009 NHL All Star Game pucks;
~ Washington's Nicklas Backstrom on a Capitals puck; and
~ Atlanta's Ilya Kovalchuk on a 2008-09 Victory jumbo card so it becomes the prize in April's Win this Autograph contest.

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