As we engage in a season of cold weather tailgating, roasting one Mr. Chesterfield J. Nutz over the open fire, along with brats, dogs, and wurst -- and is there anything wurst than the New York Jets' offensive ineptitude? -- we barrel toward the beloved festival known as capitalism's greatest trium -- er, Christmas!
It's that time when temperatures are low and Dwight Howard's free throw percentage is even lower, when Santa does a check down on his list, perhaps calling an audible for those last-minute developments mussing up his BCS (Big Claus Shopfest). (Santa has the sports package on his dish so he's in the know at the North Pole.)
From the usual historic moments to record-setting performances to unnaturally enhanced performances to memorable blunders and self-inflicted goofs that have left us entertained, offended, perturbed and beholden to our idiosyncratic whims, it's certainly been a year for the fan.
Thus, it is an unenviable task he has this year as the world of sports was once again flush with compelling storylines, dynamic heroes and reviled villains. Though even the vilified might receive a gift as Santa believes it is better to give than to lead the league in receiving yards.
And decked out in crimson, this Saint Nick, not to be confused with Nick Saban, will soon take to the skies to deliver to all that which was earned in the year that was. On board his sleigh this year, he has stocked these items for the following people:
"Clipper Darrell" Your rightful place back in the Staples Center to see LA's best professional hoops team.
Jeremy Lin: A TexMex-flavored reboot of Linsanity.
Jonathan Vilma: A better excuse.
Saints Bountygate: Helmet-to-helmet contact.
Jeremy Shockey: A tight end relocation program in case he was the one that ratted out the Bountygaters.
Curt Schilling: A redo in the gaming world.
Austin Collie: A desk job. It's safer.
Albert Pujols: A better start.
Junior Seau: A solid legacy and some inner peace.
Magic Johnson: All the batting practice he wants.
Los Angeles Dodgers: A thank you note from the Boston Red Sox.
Andy Reid: A fresh start.
Alex Smith: A starting job somewhere as he'd probably make a pretty decent starting quarterback.
Scott Pioli and Romeo Crennel: A better year, in every conceivable way.
San Diego Chargers fans: Whoever the opposite of Norv Turner is as their next head coach.
Cole Hamels: A five-game suspension where he actually misses five starts.
Andy Pettitte: Ginkgo biloba so his memory comes back to him.
Ozzie Guillen: A job coaching Fidel's national team.
Derek Jeter: A Groupon for Jenny Craig.
Tiger Woods: A meeting with the old Tiger Woods. Maybe he can learn something about winning.
Timothy Bradley: A win in a match he clearly gets outboxed. (He got that gift early.)
The Replacement Referees: The knowledge that their horrendous pass interference calls live on.
NBA: A new slogan: "NBA Action - It's broken and we fix it."
NFL: A change to the rules stating that if you throw a challenge flag on a play that was going to be reviewed anyway, you will be not be penalized and it will still be reviewed.
Penn State University: A lot of mouthwash to wash that taste out of your mouth.
Olympic Spoiler Alerts: You'll get your gift in five hours.
Augusta's Women: Women's restrooms.
Lance Armstrong: A lifetime supply of "Livestrong" bracelets with the "v" etched out, which feels more accurate.
The eighth-place finisher in the past dozen Tour de France races: A medal. Gotta figure he was the top clean finisher.
LeBron James: A new monkey for his back.
Stephen Strasburg: Another 40 innings.
Detroit Tigers third base coach Gene Lamont: A stop sign.
Tim Tebow: Anything he wants... er, well, except a starting job, of course.
New England Patriots, Green Bay Packers and Detroit Lions: The extra win they deserve.
San Diego Chargers: Oh, what the heck, you can get another win as well since you probably only gave up 28 yards on 4th and 29. Of course, you realize how inept you were for letting it even be that close.
Shortstop Yunel Escobar: Eye black with the Spanish slur for Yunel Escobar written on it.
A-Rod: A cushion football fans use when sitting on the bench.
Shaun White: A lifetime ban from hotels.
Chipper Jones: A peaceful retirement where he can go back to his given name -- Andruw.
Adam Greenberg: At least one more big league at-bat, this one against someone other than the knuckleballing Cy Young Award winner.
Melky Cabrera: A better excuse.
Derek Fisher: A new line of work now that flopping has been outlawed.
Mike Brown: The "death stare penalty" sentenced to Kobe Bryant in response to Kobe's "death stare" at his former head coach.
Kobe Bryant: A huge party where the other guests are NBA players and coaches he's publicly called out and ridiculed over the years. There will be clowns and a caricature artist and a piñata. (Three guesses who the piñata will be.)
Pablo Sandoval: Kung Fu MVPanda.
Felix Baumgartner: A souvenir photo of his death-defying jump, like one of those snapped on a roller coaster.
Miguel Cabrera: Three crowns.
Mike Trout: An MVP to go with his ROY.
New York City Marathon: Another chance to run the 2012 marathon in 2013.
Johnny "Football" Manziel: Three more years to play like a freshman.
New Orleans Pelicans: Nothing. This was just an attempt to get used to their name ... Nope. Can't get used to it.
Dwyane Wade and Ndomukong Suh: Soap.
Dale Sveum: A bright orange jumpsuit so Robin Yount recognizes him from the birds.
Justin Verlander: A win in an important game.
Andrew Luck:Well, he certainly doesn't need any luck so he gets just a little more seasoning.
Peyton Manning: Another Super Bowl win to put a little space between the number of titles he has and the number his brother Cooper has.
Tom Brady: Another Super Bowl win to solidify his place in history.
Jon Gruden: A coaching job so that he may bring his energy and enthusiasm out of the broadcast booth and into the locker room.
David Stern: A time machine to bring him to 2014 so that he can retire already allowing the NBA the chance to regain the legitimacy and dignity it lost spectacularly under his tenure. Heck, he can go as far into the future as he wants.
NHL: A year off. You've earned it after going so hard these last seven years.
Bud Selig: A title that has eluded him his whole career: "Best Commissioner."
Miami Marlins: A new stadium so you can start drawing fans.
And lastly, Bobby Valentine: Another job with a major league team, preferably one that requires him to repeat the words, "Peanuts here!" over and over again, something he may be able to handle without embarrassing himself. The operative word is may.
And after his task has been completed, Santa will then disappear along the horizon, these words echoing soundly behind him, "Merry Christmas to all and to all a fair fight," preferably one finally between Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather.
Happy Holidays, everyone!
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