Second most favourite time of year

Curling and baseball a favourite in this week's Ponoka News' reporter's column.

It’s my second favourite time of year.

No, not the swampy mess that comes with warmer temperatures, melting snow and nearly constant wet feet and trying to figure out if you can get away with a light coat, heavy socks and some sort of shirt that won’t make you sweat but will maintain some semblance of warmth if there is a chill.

It also isn’t the looming Stanley Cup playoffs drive, which has been a yawner for many years (Go Habs!!).

Nope, there are a pair of happenings that have me a fairly happy sports guy these days spring training and championship curling.

Pitchers and catchers reported two weeks ago, followed three days later by the full rosters of the respective Major League Baseball club’s. Many MLB minor league affiliate teams began spring training that same week, meaning it’s all about baseball for much of the month.

Now while I don’t really get into all of the wheeling, dealing, speculation and hype, I really like the idea of being able to watch some baseball highlights and get my mind geared back up for umpiring the local baseball scene here in Alberta.

Baseball is one of the few things I can enjoy with my entire family, as they like to travel as much as they can when I go away for games and even hang around to watch the games sometimes occasionally supporting the umpire and not just enjoying the baseball action.

I guess it helps that my wife has been a baseball fan (Go Cardinals!!) going back to the days of Ozzie Smith dazzling things up at shortstop with John Tudor dominating on the mound. That’s kind of translated into our children, though I still don’t know how we wound up with a BoSox fan?

For me, the best thing about baseball is being able to be outside, enjoying the sunshine and taking in the sights and sounds of the game. Can’t wait for it to begin out here.

From spring to winter

Flipping the channel sorta speak, this also happens to be when I like to pull up a chair and enjoy watching people throw rocks at houses.

While it’s been a number of years since I was active in curling, I continue to love watching the game either at the local club when I have to cover an event or catching the provincial, national and world championships on television.

Again, my entire family has grown to love the sport, and while most of them don’t have a real favourite, there are a few players that have drawn their ire.

It’s funny, while watching the Scotties last week, seeing one of my children pretending to throw and sweep while others are yelling like a skip with the wife and I marvelling at some of the shots that are made or missed, as the case may be.

I, for one, think the game has greatly improved in many aspects from the advent of the four rock rule to no longer having to rely on hogline judges to time clocks so games are finished in a reasonable time frame (something baseball has yet to figure out).

However, there are a few things I believe the game has to figure out. That includes dealing with the continuing improvements in broom and brush technology, working on consistency in ice at major events, making the game more appealing to people as well as ensuring the growth in youth play carries through the years as people get older and taking the big national events back to the people instead of simply following the money all of the time.

But that is…just an observation.