'Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house,
Not a creature was stirring, not even the Mets.
|Frank McCourt (sitting) and Jamie McCourt (right) will find coal in their stockings this Christmas. (Getty Images)|
In hopes that the revenue-sharing checks soon would be there.
But here amid the egg nog, sugar cookies and brightly colored wrapping paper, in a weak free-agent market and an even worse economy, let's be honest. Some hopes are more real than others.
If you're the Yankees (Curtis Granderson, Javier Vazquez, Nick Johnson), the Red Sox (John Lackey, Mike Cameron, Marco Scutaro), the Phillies (Roy Halladay) or even the Mariners (Cliff Lee, Chone Figgins), ho, ho, ho.
If you're the Dodgers, a riveting divorce trial awaits.
Dash away, dash away, dash away all!
Now, where were we?
• • •
He's making a list, checking it twice,
Gonna find out who's naughty and nice.
Santa's Naughty List
Frank and Jamie McCourt: She has an affair with her driver. He fires her in a press release the day after the Dodgers are eliminated from the playoffs. Her divorce lawyer accuses him in court of contracting "RAIDS -- Recently Acquired Income Deficiency Syndrome" and has promised juicy, explosive new details regarding him. You know what? Manny Ramirez getting busted for steroids was a nice rendition of Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire compared to these two amateur chuckleheads.
Milton Bradley: Seattle is a beautiful city, Safeco Field is first-rate and the Mariners are first-class. Try not to torch 'em all at this stop, Milton.
C.B. Bucknor: The umpires had such a rough postseason that they did the impossible, pushing even grouchy old purists toward favoring instant replay. Why Bucknor, who blew three calls in Game 1 of the Red Sox-Angels Divisional Series and was named the worst umpire in a 2006 Sports Illustrated survey of players, was even allowed within three states of a playoff game cried out for an explanation.
Los Angeles Angels: It's been a horrible offseason for the Angels, and I'm not even talking about the on-field losses of John Lackey and Chone Figgins. Owner Arte Moreno has gotten oodles of great pub, but for this organization to lay off media relations specialist Nancy Mazmanian -- among several others who have worked endless hours dedicating their lives to the Angels cause -- there is only one conclusion possible: The Angels have far less of a soul than we thought. You're a mean one, Mr. Grinch.
Twitter: As my buddy Jim Caple of ESPN.com succinctly nailed it the other day, "Based on the many rumors that never came true at the Winter Meetings, the principal value of Twitter seemed to be that it allowed more people the ability to be wrong earlier, quicker and more often."
Joe Urbon: Jason Bay's agent is playing a dangerous game. He's already negotiated Bay out of Boston, a terrific spot that fit Bay and would have given him an excellent chance at the World Series. And right now, Bay's market seems slimmer than Kate Moss. Hello, Mets? Clearly, Bay isn't thrilled with going there or he would have signed, like, last week.
Mark McGwire: The world is still waiting for that promised news conference from the new St. Louis hitting coach in which he theoretically will explain a few things ...
Miguel Cabrera: Santa expects more from you in 2010, young man. Go home to your family after games and stay out of the bars.
Santa's Nice List
Derek Jeter: The salacious Tiger Woods soap opera only makes the single, swinging Yankees shortstop look like that much more of a genius. Whatever he does in his private life, he keeps it discreet. And he was smart enough to not get married too young.
Curtis Granderson: One of the sweetest stories of the year in my book remains Granderson phoning his mother last spring before doing a photo shoot with Playboy essentially to get her permission. And it was all baseball, with Granderson in full uniform!
|Roy Halladay shows a lot of class thanking the fans in Toronto. (AP)|
Peter Gammons: When this guy moving to the MLB Network from ESPN ranks among the biggest news of the Winter Meetings in Indianapolis, you know he's a heavyweight. But the best part, as always with Peter, is that he's a good guy and even all these years down the road, his enthusiasm for the game remains infectious.
Juan Pierre: A hard worker and a good soldier, this winter's trade to the White Sox should again open an everyday opportunity for him. Pierre deserves it, but the Dodgers will be worse off. Because when Manny goes on sabbatical in 2010 -- suspension, injury, maternity leave from those fertility drugs, whatever the reason will be -- Pierre no longer will be there to save the day for the Dodgers. And that's going to hurt.
Ken and Randy Kendrick: In suggesting that commissioner Bud Selig hire a marriage counselor for the NL West in the wake of the McCourt and John Moores (San Diego) situations a few weeks back, it came to my attention that the Kendricks' -- Ken is managing general partner of the Diamondbacks -- have been married for 30 years. At least somebody in the tawdry NL West is making Santa and the elves happy this year. Ho, ho, ho!
Roy Halladay: The full-page ad in Tuesday's Toronto Sun thanking Blue Jays fans for their support over the years -- the memories "will last a lifetime and so will my gratitude" -- was pure class.
• • •
It's the most wonderful time of the year,
With the kids jingle-belling and everyone telling you,
"Be of good cheer."
Do yourself a favor and take a look at this group gathered with Bob Dylan for his merry Must Be Santa video. Looks like an even better party than the one the Cubs threw after trading Bradley.
• • •
The Mets (and Giants and Dodgers) were nestled all snug in their beds,
While visions of October sugar plums danced in their heads,
And Mets GM Omar Minaya in his 'kerchief and I in my cap,
Had just settled down for a long winter's nap.
When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter,
I sprang from the bed to see what was the matter.
Last-minute Christmas shopping? Wish lists?
You've come to the right place.
The elves, according to multiple North Pole sources, are working particularly hard on these (or should be, unless they're on another egg nog break).
Mets: A catcher and a hard-hitting outfielder. Catcher Bengie Molina continues to seem ticketed toward Queens. Bay has few options left. Johnny Damon? He's in re-group mode right now after the Yankees bade farewell.
Cubs: Bullpen help and a center fielder, now that Bradley has been dispatched to Seattle. Kosuke Fukudome will move from center field to right, where he's better anyway. Best bet for the Cubs in center remains free agent Marlon Byrd. And like the holiday cards that go on sale Dec. 26, Scott Podsednik remains on the shelves.
Bud Selig: A tight postseason schedule that guarantees the World Series will not extend into November. A replay system that works.
Alex Rodriguez: A new trophy actress girlfriend in the aftermath of splitsville with Kate Hudson. Worst thing is, now Hudson undoubtedly will have more free time to devote to her "craft." And we'll be subjected to more Bride Wars. Can't wait.
|Dan Uggla would be a nice gift for the Giants offense. (Getty Images)|
Twins: Another starting pitcher and a third baseman. The Twins have looked into Beltre (probably too expensive) and talked trade with San Diego regarding Kevin Kouzmanoff. But that's behind pitching on the priority list. Look for Minnesota to wait until the prices drop and then make a bid for someone like Jon Garland or Jarrod Washburn.
Twins fans: New wool caps, for watching baseball outdoors again next April. Brrr!
Blue Jays fans: The major league baseball Extra Innings package so they can watch Halladay pitch next summer. Sniff, sniff.
Dodgers: Starting pitcher. They talked extensively with Cincinnati about Aaron Harang. Money is tight, what with so much of it going to divorce attorneys. But they've got to do something for manager Joe Torre, whose rotation currently lines up like this: Chad Billingsley, Clayton Kershaw, Hiroki Kuroda and James McDonald. Ugh.
Red Sox: Third base. Clearly, after they tried to ship Mike Lowell to Texas, the Sox would like to go in a different direction. They are interested in Beltre, among others. Lowell's impending thumb surgery, after which he will have to rehabilitate for six to eight weeks, likely will keep him in a Boston uniform at least until rival clubs get a chance to see him in spring training and make sure he's healthy. In a perfect Sox world, they'll trade for San Diego first baseman Adrian Gonzalez.
Yankees: Room in their conservative budget to squeeze in a high-powered left fielder. GM Brian Cashman says the club will be reducing its payroll this year, and right now the Yanks look to have only $4 million to $6 million to spend on a left fielder. Imagine!
Cardinals: Matt Holliday.
Matt Holliday: A new protective cup. In case he, you know, misjudges a line drive to left the way he did in the playoff game in Dodger Stadium this fall.
• • •
Hear those sleigh bells jingle, jangle,
Oh, what a beautiful sight,
So jump in bed and cover your head
'Cause Santa Claus comes tonight.
The perfect gift for the baseball fan who has everything right now except a warm sun and green grass? You're no doubt familiar with the Snuggie. Well, why not the Justin Morneau Sluggie? (Minnesota Twins blue and red, sharply designed with a Maple leaf (go, Canada!) and a Morneau silhouette ... it's classic.
Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good night.
Don't forget to leave the milk and cookies on the kitchen table for the big guy.