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Baseball Product

News: Product Arrivals, an Exciting Partnership, and Our New Website.

Fall is upon us once more, the best time of the sporting year. The NHL, NBA, NFL, and NCAA football seasons are now underway, and for the MLS and MLB, it's been playoff time. As the summer dies out, sport blossoms.  It makes sense, then, that at this time of rebirth there are some exciting goings-on at The SPORT Gallery, too. We have new product rolling in, an exciting partnership with TSN Radio to announce, and the launch of our new website.  First and foremost, the website. No drastic renovations have been made to our home on the World Wide Web -- it's merely received light remodelling and a fresh coat of paint. The site is hopefully more of a visual experience now, a better reflection of what you might find in one of our physical galleries.  The new site -- sites, really, we have one for Canadian visitors and another for US -- has all of the prints, apparel, accessories, and books you'll recognize from our three locations. The interface is simple and user-friendly. And the beautiful thing about and they allow our doors to be open 24/7.  Next on the docket is TSN Radio and The Art of Sport. For those who don't know, TSN is ESPN's Canadian brother, the best the North has to offer in terms of sports coverage. TSN Radio has a wide reach on the dial, from Vancouver to Montreal with five stops in-between. One of its top programs is The Sport Market, hosted by Tom Mayenknecht. As of October 7, The SPORT Gallery will be content partners of The Sport Market. In addition to sponsoring part of the show, we'll be contributing a segment called The Art of Sport. Just as we do with our galleries, the segment will analyze and discuss the points where sport, art, aesthetics, and history intersect.  In The Art of Sport, we'll use artwork and other product from the gallery as a jumping off point for conversation. Our prints, for example, can help bring a period of history to life. The much over-used saying, 'a picture paints a thousand words,' is, in this case, fitting.  We have a gallery favourite called "Turning Point, 1948," a black-and-white shot of Jackie Robinson narrowly avoiding the tag of a Phillies third baseman. It serves as a fitting metaphor for Robinson’s greater struggle for tolerance and acceptance. In 1947, a year prior, Robinson weathered a now-infamous verbal assault; Phillies manager Ben Chapman directed endless racial slurs and taunts towards Robinson mid-game, the severity of which inspired considerable backlash At a time of inequality and segregation, it was significant to have the public defend Major League Baseball’s first African-American. This is the sort of thing we'll be discussing on The Art of Sport -- why certain products we carry are popular, their artistic qualities, and the story behind them. It's going to be a fun project to continue to work on, and if you'd like to catch us on the air, tune in between 7:00 and 11:00am PST on Saturdays on Vancouver 1040 and Toronto 1050. Additional airings will occur on a tape delay throughout Canada. You can also hear past shows online here. The last bit of news to touch on is our new product. As those familiar with the gallery will know, our apparel and headwear tends to change with the seasons. A big haul of hockey, plus some basketball and football product will be on its way, while baseball is dropping off. We have great new NHL kids and youth gear, for teams like the Canucks, Oilers, Flames, Canadiens, and Leafs. Being a fan is a life-long endeavour, and we can help get your little ones started early. There's plenty of options for adults too. American Needle is a really great brand that's hard to find here in Canada, and right now we have three sleek Canucks headwear styles to check out. Our favourite is the Waxed Taylor, a '90s-style distressed flat-brim with the now-famous "flying skate" logo. The body of the hat is, as the name suggests, waxed, which is a unique feature. The wax waterproofs the hat, making it perfect for those rainy Vancouver winters.  If you don't either find your team or a style you're fond of at the gallery or online, odds are that over the course of the fall and winter we'll have something come in -- be sure to keep checking back and to put your name in our customer request list! That's all the news for now. Enjoy your time on the site, and be sure to also give us a look on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.

Maple Leafs at The SPORT Gallery

The Toronto Maple Leafs: 100 Years of Celebration and Suffering

2017 has been a special year for the Toronto Maple Leafs and the NHL. Both venerable establishments turned 100 and celebrations were had. The Leafs hosted the Red Wings in the Centennial Classic on New Year’s Day, a birthday party of sorts. The outdoor game (played at BMO Field) was essentially the Winter Classic, but gussied up with additional historical elements. There was no official word on whether party hats and cake were on offer, however. The Leafs dressed the part all season as they have moved to a new (old) logo and uniforms, which harkens back to the club’s look of the 1960s. Gone is the simplified 11-point leaf. In its place is the more detailed 31-point throwback. For the Centennial Classic the Leafs altered their jersey slightly, adding a white band around the chest and silver accents. They went green for the St. Pats back on March 18th and will wear "Arenas" across their chest this 2017-2018 season, salutes both to the Buds’ previous identities. While the Leafs have been in party mode, some disgruntled Torontonians are very aware of their sustained lack of success and are surely weary of celebratory acts. This year is also the 50th anniversary of the club’s 1967 Stanley Cup win, of course, the last time they captured the cup. There have been some good times since then — the Leafs made the Conference Finals four times between the 1992-93 and 2001-02 seasons — but no Stanley Cup Finals appearances. And, since 2004-2005 the they have missed the playoffs every year but one. Sorry, Leafs Nation, before we move on there is a little more failure to relay: that one playoff appearance of the 2000s, in 2012-2013, ended with the Buds coughing up a three-goal, third period lead to the rival Bruins in game seven of the Conference Quarterfinals. It sums up Toronto’s suffering quite well, sadly. Things are looking up as of late. No, really. Mike Babcock, who was so successful with the Wings, is bench boss, and Lou Lamoriello — another winner — is GM. The Leafs also snatched up the much fawned over Auston Matthews in the 2016 draft with their first round pick, and the young man has already been labelled the franchise’s saviour after scoring 40 goals last season. And while the kids couldn't get past the first round of the playoffs in 2016-2017, they look primed for an extended run in the near future. And, really, why not like the Leafs? They have a long history, a great look (with a symbol shared with Canada itself), heroes to idolize, and a dedicated fanbase. There is still a long waiting list for season tickets despite the club’s strong ties with futility. The Leafs are — or should be — the Cubs of the hockey world. Lovable losers. Now that the Cubbies have their trophy, the Leafs can even take full reign of that title across all North American sport. But, instead of being loved, they are hated as much as the Yankees and do not have the same wealth of championship rings to keep them warm at night. The funny thing is that, while the love and respect for the Cubs has grown with their winning percentage, if the Leafs were to win their division, and then a title, they would be despised even more. No pat on the back, no ‘job well done’ from fans of the opposition or even the general public, just more fuel added to the fires of hate. Much or all of this dislike is due to Toronto’s self-importance; the country’s biggest city, its financial and cultural mecca, is therefore the country’s best, or so it goes. Put simply, Toronto: The Centre of the Universe. The rest of Canada rails against this, though it is hard to tell whether the average non-Torontonian actively brings the city down, or if that notion is generally understood, but incorrect. There is, however, absolutely no way to claim bias against two other Toronto teams. Countless Canadians — coast to coast — adore the Blue Jays. Just look at their recent series in Seattle, where west coast Jays fans have repeatedly invaded, turning Safeco Field into a sea of blue for three games. The Raptors have a big following now too, as their pre-season tradition of playing sold-out games in different Canadian cities (Vancouver and Calgary last season) indicates. So, why not the Leafs? The obvious reason is that the Jays and Raptors are now the only Canadian teams in their respective leagues. There are six other teams (Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton, Winnipeg, Ottawa, and Montreal) in the NHL that represent the Great White North. For most, there is no need to love the Leafs with so many other, more local options. The NHL also has a high number of Canadian players on successful American teams, which draws some fans south. Those actually from Toronto have, for the most part, stuck by their club despite the down years. 2012-2013 may have been it for some, the game seven collapse the final nail in the coffin. There were empty seats at the Air Canada Centre a couple of years ago, with tickets available for cheap on online resale sites. Nevertheless, hope springs eternal, and the arrival of Matthews and other young talent has rejuvenated Leafs fans. The franchise’s first 50 years saw great success, maybe the coming 50 will too. Cleveland won an NBA title, and the Cubs the World Series, so anything is possible. Win or lose, let’s all give the Leafs a big birthday gift: some love. They are never going to be number one in the hearts of many, but that does not mean so much negative energy must be directed their way. To hate the Leafs is to hate Tim Horton, and to hate the man is to hate his donut and coffee franchise. Timbits, Double-Doubles, and the Toronto Maple Leafs: all much needed, and very Canadian. Cheers to 100 years of the Buds   

Vancouver Millionaires Players

West Coast Hockey

Let’s play a quick game of word association. When you hear, “Canada,” what comes to mind? Hockey, you say? But of course. As Ron MacLean and those at Hockey Night remind us in their latest commercial, “You want to teach someone about Canada, you go to the television Saturday night, and it becomes crystal clear.” The only things capable of unseating hockey’s place as the symbol of Canada are snow and maple syrup. (Many would point to the maple leaf, though taking the national flag into consideration, it’s in a different, more official weight class.) While maple syrup is very Canadian, there’s no way it beats snow. ‘The Great White North’ is not a nickname bestowed freely. So, it’s between snow and hockey. Winter, and winter’s game. Perhaps it shouldn’t be a competition, as one would not exist if not for the other. When the temperature drops and the snow falls, backyard rinks pop up in communities across the country. Kids face off against each other in their favourite team’s sweater. This image can be found in stories and songs. It was, for a long time, depicted on the five dollar note. But, what about the temperate West Coast? Outdoor hockey doesn’t exist in and around Vancouver. The game is certainly played on indoor artificial rinks, but there are not many postcard winters, only rain. This would seemingly make the far West less Canadian than the rest of the nation. In a sense, it does. We, and others beyond our borders, have developed a particular image of Canada, and the West Coast is not it. Vancouver does have a hockey leg or two to stand on, however. There have been strong individual players to come out of the area: Joe Sakic, Paul Kariya, Evander Kane, and Milan Lucic to name a few. The city has seen success in minor league hockey, with the Giants winning the 2006 President’s Cup (WHL) and the 2007 Memorial Cup. Vancouver was also the site of Team Canada’s memorable Olympic gold medal game victory in 2010. The NHL dominates the hockey world, so the Canucks’ lack of success has unfortunately received the most attention. Vancouver is still searching for its first championship since joining the NHL in 1970. The Canucks have reached the finals three times, and game 7 twice, but have never been able to close the deal. The last (and only) Stanley Cup win by a Vancouver team came 102 years ago; the Millionaires won it in a series against Ottawa in 1915. The Cubs’ famous World Series drought, now broken, lasted 108 years. Longer, though not by much. Our inclination may be to laugh at the city’s inhospitable hockey climate and sustained ineptitude, but we should really be celebrating the history that’s there. Vancouver has not only been home to some real talent, but to hockey pioneers. The first 30 years of the 20th century were dark days for the sport, a period when even successful teams had a life expectancy of only a dozen years. Those involved in the game weathered financial difficulties, ever-changing leagues, and stadia lost to fire. Hockey would not be what it is today if not for their determination and grit. *** The Millionaires (later known as the Maroons) played in the PCHA and the WCHL between 1911 and 1926 and, due to that 1915 Cup win, are the best known Vancouver team of the era. They had a number of talented players on their roster over the years, including 13 future Hall of Famers. The star among stars was Fredrick “Cyclone” Taylor, who captured five PCHA scoring titles and wowed fans with his dazzling speed. Frank Patrick owned, managed, and played for the Millionaires for their entire 15-year run. He and his brother Lester were huge figures in hockey and are responsible for many of the game’s current rules and features. The blue line, forward pass, jersey numbers, and playoff system are all product of a Patrick mind. Using the funds from the sale of their family’s lumber business, Frank and Lester also established the Pacific Coast Hockey Association, stealing away a number of high-profile players from the east to populate their new league. And, thanks to the Patricks, men weren’t the only ones hitting the ice. Frank owned and managed the Vancouver Ladies Hockey Team, who played competitively against teams from Victoria and New Westminster in the 1910s. Unfortunately, the VLHT couldn’t inspire enough support and folded with the start of the First World War. Patrick then formed another club, the Amazons, who competed in and won larger women’s tournaments Rossland and Banff. During this period there was also a plethora of local amateur clubs. Vancouver Amateur Hockey Club is one example. Not much is known of VAHC, aside from the 1929-30 roster. Only two photos of the team or its players are known to exist. Despite being such a small part of Vancouver’s hockey history, VAHC are a lasting image, their logo as iconic as any other local club’s. After the Millionaires dissolved, the minor league Vancouver Lions took their place as the city’s professional club. The Lions shared both logo and stadium — Denman Arena — with the Millionaires, playing in different forms of the PCHL from 1928-1931 and 1933-1941. The PCHL, like most leagues of the early 20th century, struggled to stay afloat. Despite being shuffled around, the Lions were successful, winning titles in 1929, ’30, ’31, ’40, and ’41. Denman was once the second-largest indoor stadium in North America, behind New York’s Madison Square Garden. With a seating capacity of over 10,000, it played host to Vancouver’s premier events, including Stanley Cup contests, boxing matches, concerts, and more. Fans from all over the Lower Mainland packed the wood and brick arena to see the Millionaires take on Ottawa for the cup. Then, in 1936, only 25 years after being built, it burnt to the ground, leaving the city without a major sports venue. It wasn’t until 1945, with the formation of the Canucks, that hockey found true stability in Vancouver. The minor league club played in the PCHL and WHL for 25 years with no interruptions and were a successful team, winning 4 championships. In 1970 the city was finally granted its own NHL franchise, which took the ‘Canucks’ name. Vancouver has now seen 71-straight years of professional hockey in three different arenas (the Forum, Pacific Coliseum, and GM Place/Rogers Arena), none of which have fallen victim to fire. *** Update: Sometimes us Vancouverites can be part of the Canadian narrative. December 2016 was been a frosty month for the Lower Mainland, granting hockey lovers the chance to play in the great outdoors. These cold-spells come so infrequently, a scene like the one featured here (Killarney Lake, Bowen Island) truly feels like a dream.

Joe Louis Arena

Farewell to the Joe

It’s been a small, but long-standing regret that I never made it to Joe Louis Arena. Right now it feels like a much larger one. In 2017 the Red Wings will play their final game at the Joe before moving on to greener, more modern pastures.  For the 2017-2018 season Little Caesars Arena will open, part of Detroit’s efforts to revitalize the downtown core. With the Tigers, Lions, Wings, and Pistons (who will also move into the new arena, from suburban Auburn Hills) now all within a few blocks of each other, the inner city has become Detroit’s vibrant entertainment nucleus and, therefore, a destination. This is a good thing, of course. The infamous fall of Detroit was perhaps the expected cost of refusing to let go of the American Dream, but the city is still full of amazing history, art, and life. It’s due for and deserves a comeback. For those of us who gravitate towards old-school soul, however, the loss of the Joe is a big one. Though not the most beautiful building in the world, the Red Wings’ long-standing home is hockey. No frills, all character. Most who learned to skate as a child can remember the rugged build of their local rink and its unique features. The Joe — with its boxy shape, limited facilities, and lack of windows — is like a small-town rink, but with an NHL-level seating capacity. Opened in 1979, Joe Louis Arena replaced the Olympia, an imposing fieldhouse ruled by Gordie Howe. The steady, futuristic advancements of architectural design are evident when you look at the Red Wings’ three homes. We’ve seen the move from Romanesque terra cotta to 1970s concrete modernism to glass and steel open concept. For whatever reason hockey, unlike baseball, has not fully embraced the ‘retro’ look when it comes to new stadia. PNC Park and Camden Yards are two ballparks that combine modern amenities and a classic look. Walk through the gates of either and baseball’s traditions come calling back. Most new NHL constructions tend to look like spaceships. Compared to the recently built Rogers Place in Edmonton and T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, which are about as futuristic as can be, the Wings’ new home is actually a bit of a throwback. The stadium bowl sits within a boxy facade with some brickwork and connects overtop with horizontal steel beams and glass. From street level it could classify as retro. But then there’s the name. “Little Caesars Arena,” a blinding example of the corporate world’s ever-growing involvement in sports. Joe Louis is a boxing legend, someone who perfectly symbolizes the working-class strength and endurance of Detroit. World heavyweight champion from 1937 to 1949, Louis is seen as one of the first African-Americans to achieve widespread notoriety and acclaim in the United States. He lost only three times in 69 bouts, served in the military, and, being an avid golfer, was also the first African-American to take part in a PGA tour. His name is the perfect match for the city and that stadium. Many, including myself, feel that “Gordie Howe Arena” would be the best choice for the new building, another ode to a figure legendary in Detroit and across North America. The Wings may put “Hockeytown” at centre ice, but Mr. Hockey put the Wings on the map. And, like Louis, Howe was a tough individual that reflected the city’s image. The Red Wings are an Original Six franchise with an amazing history and deserve to be represented well by their own building. Still, it will be hard to replace the Joe, no matter the name of the new arena. Joe Louis Arena, cramped and dim, is a product of a different time, when the NHL was not that far off from the everyday charm of low-level hockey. It was never meant to be beautiful building, and yet it was for that very reason. So long, Joe.

Hockey Goalies

Under Pressure: Hockey's Netminders

Hockey is an intense sport. As spectators we’ve become accustomed to the nature of the game itself – so much so that we soon forget the risks involved during each 60 minutes of play. The truth is, much respect is in order for the men and women who can play the sport and appear to do so with ease. Not only can these individuals take checks, dodge pucks, and endure injury – they do all of this in front of crowds that are always hungry for a win. As a hockey player, being under pressure comes with the territory. Some would argue that goaltenders carry the most weight on their shoulders. During the 1963 season, SPORT Magazine journalist Dave Anderson got to sit down with Gump Worsley, Johnny Bower, Jacques Plante, and Glenn Hall to discuss the hazards of their job. Here is a bit of what each goalie shared: There’s a lot of pressure on a goalkeeper in a close game. The goalie is the backbone of the club and if we make a mistake, we’ve had it. – Bower, page 24 It’s a natural gift a goaltender has, as far as I’m concerned. You learn things as you go along from your own mistakes. You just improve with age. Some of it is luck, too. You’re standing there and the guy shoots and you look in your glove and it’s there. It’s a crazy way to make a living. – Worsley, page 68 […] now that I have the mask I wouldn’t play without it. Until you have a broken cheekbone – cuts don’t mean anything – you don’t realize it. But the feeling you get when you have a bone broken, you take it home with you and you’re in the hospital and you say to yourself, ‘I’m never going to play again.’ Then, two weeks later, you want to go back and you’re out there again. – Plante, page 70 There’s one guy in the league – I’m not going to mention his name – he’ll come in wide and you’re standing right at the crease and he’ll run into you and carry you out of the net. He does it to me all the time… My theory is that if I get hit, I can go out and play ten games because I’m not going to get hit back-to-back. The percentage. – Hall, page 70 Excerpts from the article “A Crazy Way to Make a Living,” as published in the March, 1963 issue of SPORT Magazine.

Jays fans in Seattle

True to the Blue: Jays Fans Invade Seattle

It's become tradition for West Coast-based fans of the Blue Jays to head down from B.C. and Alberta to Safeco Field for the team's yearly series in Seattle. Watch the broadcast and you'll find it hard to pin down the game's locale. Jays fans take over. Though the Mariners' slogan has been "True to the Blue" as of late, it's not their navy but the Jays' royal blue that permeates the ground on these three days of summer. The scene is set... “Hey, Steve, who’s ballpark is this anyway?” “You know what, Tom, at this point I couldn’t even tell ya. Attendance today has got to be 50/50. At least. I’d say more of ’em.” “And the team shop? — ridiculous.” “Huh?” “You haven’t seen?! Man, they’ve got Toronto stuff in there!” “Jeeeez” “It’s embarrassing, really.” “I guess you can’t blame the club, they’re making money. Tickets, merch. That’s what they’re in it for. If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em sorta thing.” “I guess… I dunno, I just think you’ve got to do a better job getting fans out — make it a thing: ‘protect our home park’.” “Sure, sure.” Crowd chanting: “Let’s go Mariners!” “LET’S GO BLUE JAYS!” “Let’s go Mariners!” “LET’S GO BLUE JAYS!” “See, these damn Canadians are way louder. We’re getting drowned out here.” “We oughta write the club a letter, give ‘em a piece of our minds. How long have we been coming to games now? 25-30 Years?” “Kingdome, Steve.” “Those were the days… Sweet Lou, The Kid, Edgar, Tino. Beatin’ the Yanks in the Division Series. The park stunk…” “–Brutal.” “…but it was ours. Then 2001, 116 wins. Good times, my friend, good times. I tell ya, if I had one wish...” “–Hey gents, sorry to interrupt, but we couldn’t help but overhear ya.” “Uh oh, here we go.” “No, no, we actually want to thank you M’s fans, for your hospitality. Living so far from the Jays, we really appreciate gettin’ to come down here once a year.” “Where you guys from, Vancouver?” “Yep” “So what gives, we’re a heck of a lot closer than Toronto. Why don’t we get any love from you folks.” “Canada’s team, man!” “Yeah, yeah. Cough, bandwagon, cough” “Really, though, the whole country gets behind the Jays. Anyway, thanks for havin’ us… we appreciate that it's a friendly rivalry.” “Don’t even get me started. Listen, you’re welcome and all, but it’s frustrating on our end, giving up the home field so easily. This is our park.” “I feel that. Just the way it is at this point, I guess.” “Well, Tom, at least we can agree on one thing with these guys: beer. Am I right? “Cheers to that, eh!” “Cheers. Tom…?” “Fine, cheers, boys.”

The SPORT Gallery on Jackie Robinson Day

Jackie Robinson: Through our Lens

What more is there to say about Jackie Robinson? His story has been told in films, books, magazines, and newspapers, through exhibitions and online media. Major League Baseball has retired his number league-wide and celebrates Jackie Robinson Day every year on April 15th. He is not only a sporting star but a hero of social justice and equality. His name is arguably one of the most important and recognizable in American history. Robinson deserves all of this attention and praise, of course. By becoming the first African-American to play the national pastime on the national stage, he single-handedly defied the racist groundwork of the United States and proved that all people were, in fact, equal. He was an excellent ballplayer, one who made an immediate impact on the field despite having an unimaginable amount of pressure heaped upon him. Robinson won Rookie of the Year in 1947 and was also the National League’s stolen base leader. Over his career he was named the NL MVP, won a batting title and another stolen base title, and made six All-Star Game appearances. To cap it all off Robinson won a World Series in 1955, his penultimate season. His story has been told countless times because it is important. And because, as recent political  events prove, it is still relevant. Though Robinson always claimed to be nothing more than a ballplayer, the circumstances under which he played ensured that his career would be like no other’s. Each hit stood for something more: a step forward for human rights. The word legend is thrown around frequently in the sporting world, but there are few, if any, who deserve the title more than Jackie Robinson. So, no matter how much has been said about number 42, there is always more to say. Here at The SPORT Gallery we are privileged to work with some amazing photographs of Robinson, all of them rare. They span his professional career, from minor league ball in Montreal to the twilight years in Brooklyn. There are photographs of the man, not the athlete, at home playing with his kids. A personal favourite is Robinson alone at Ebbets Field, the half-empty stands behind him. Something about the way the photo was taken or developed gives it a psychedelic feel; the banisters and seats, normally red, look pink and purple, and the blue of Robinson’s uniform has a green-grey tint. The legend seen through a different lens. It is not surprising that of the 250,000-plus images from The SPORT Collection, one of the most popular features Robinson. In it he fights to evade the tag of Philadelphia Phillies’ third baseman Putsy Caballero, a fitting metaphor for Robinson’s greater struggle for tolerance and acceptance. In 1947, a year prior, the Dodger great weathered a now infamous verbal assault; Phillies manager Ben Chapman directed endless racial slurs and taunts towards Robinson mid-game, the severity of which inspired considerable backlash. At a time of inequality and segregation, it was significant to have the public come to Robinson’s defence. The image itself is stunning as it captures perfectly a moment of movement and uncertainty. Robinson’s foot is approximately the same distance from the bag as the ball is from tagging him out, black and white dust rising behind him as he slides. The timing could not be better. Just as it is a privilege to preserve these amazing images, it is also a privilege to share them with the public. As 2017 marks the 70th anniversary of Robinson’s breaking of the colour barrier, The SPORT Gallery celebrated his legend this year on Jackie Robinson Day. Robinson took baseball seriously; he was a competitive person with a strong passion for the game, and being the first African-American in MLB demanded composure and stoicism. But his play, fast and free, showed a lighter spirit within, as did his relationships with family and teammates. Both sides of Robinson make up his legacy and both sides have been discussed at length. We are proud to continue the conversation here at The SPORT Gallery.

Stan Musial

Living Vicariously Through Spring Training

You step outside, onto your doorstep, and instantly a biting chill hits. The small amount of exposed flesh between toque and scarf takes the blow and tenses up. It is definitely below zero, most likely snowing — tearing tends to impede vision. There is snow. It is not only falling down from the clouds, but a thick layer blankets everything. Though Christmas is over and the new year is in full swing, winter feels like it will never end, its tight grasp stifling all living things. You 180 and go back inside, the elements too much to handle this early in the day. The bus to work will probably be delayed anyway, so no need to rush. "When will this cold, dark nightmare ever end?" you think to yourself. You are frozen, almost literally, to the spot. On the counter at the end of the hallway, in the kitchen, is a small 2017 calendar which catches your eye as you stare off blankly. The calendar is baseball themed. Baseball, summer’s game… Then it clicks: yes, baseball may be at its most glorious, sun-drenched peak in July and August, but each new season is born in winter. “Spring” Training has a deceivingly early February 23rd start date (March 20th officially marks the changing of the seasons). It is mid-February now, which means baseball, and therefore warm weather, is not far away! These facts stir a strange feeling within: Joy, unabashed. But just as quickly as this happy sensation comes, another, distinctively melancholy, takes its place. Baseball gets going in late-winter, though for most northerly North Americans the year’s second and third months still bring cold and/or snowy weather. How cruel. Not only must we continue to trudge through slush, but do it while Major Leaguers stretch their limbs amongst the palms of Florida and cacti of Arizona. Though it seems impossible, the key is to step away from jealous thinking and remember that spring training ball is now widely available. Back when the game’s earlier legends were migrating south, spring training was not an event. Big names like Stan Musial (pictured) would have been sought after only by the locals and just for a quick autograph. Now the Cactus and Grapefruit Leagues have hordes of devotees come down to escape the cold and cheer on their club’s exhibition play. And, sport being the media behemoth it now is, most games are shown live via cable or online streaming. So, even if you can’t get away to Florida or Arizona, find a broadcast and live vicariously through it. Take in enough innings and you will start to feel that little bit warmer, as if the sun’s southern rays have breached the screen and entered your living room. You may become so absorbed by the tropical or desert scenery and the imaginary sensation of warmth that a rude shock hits when your eyes inevitably flit towards the window. Close the blinds if you must. Stay calm and focus on baseball. Imagine you are there, in the stands, the condensation from a cold beer running onto your hand. The sun beats down upon your face, which is protected by a smattering of sunscreen. Or, maybe you are on the field, some new prospect showing off his skills. You dive into the channel between right and centre field, snatching the ball just as it is about to hit the ground. The crowd cheers a relaxed Spring Training cheer. The truly adventurous will not only find themselves in sunny clime, but back in time as well. In a coarse flannel uniform you practice fielding grounders while the odd swimsuit-clad beach-goer watches on their way home. It takes some work and careful meditation to feel happy for, and not jealous of, baseball’s existence this early in the year. But find that happy place and spring training becomes a false, yet healthy shelter in which to hide from winter’s final days. Watch enough games and before you know it opening day and warm, pleasant weather will have truly become a reality. Then you can fling open the door and, after surveying the green, lush surroundings confidently, run out into the world. Winter, no matter how powerful it seems, is defeated eventually. Play ball.