Tis the season of giving.
That’s the common denominator, whether you trim the tree, light the Menorah, or gather ‘round the Festivus Pole for the Airing of Grievances.
In the spirit of the season, let’s see what goodies we’d like to see bestowed upon our friends in the world of sports:
Frank Wren: Good riddance, and a lengthy retirement.
John Hart: Double-talk lessons. How else will the Braves’ new general manager be able to convince us that he’s rebuilding the team while trying to win now? Please. Don’t insult our collective intelligence. Atlanta has been home to the Braves, Falcons, and Hawks since Billy Knight was a teenager. We know rebuilding when we see it.
Besides, who’s to complain about jettisoning Jason Heyward and Justin Upton? The Braves outscored a single team in all of major league baseball last summer with them in the lineup. So they finish last in runs scored this year. Big deal. Restock the farm system that Wren laid to waste. That’s the basis for sustained excellence. We get it.
Fredi Gonzalez: A chance to actually manage. Now we might get to see a hit and run, a stolen base and some situational hitting. You know, the lost art of managing to manufacture runs, instead of sitting back and awaiting the next strikeout. Or double play.
BJ Upton: A new ball club. If the Braves were rebuilding, perhaps he could be traded to the Mariners for prospect DJ Peterson, who just happens to be the older brother of Dustin Peterson, who came over in the Justin Upton trade. That easily, the Braves will have swapped Justin and BJ for Dustin and DJ.
Mike Budenholzer: A really long-term contract. He’s come a long way since beginning his tenure as Hawks coach with an unpleasant DUI. Isn’t it amazing to see what someone who can actually coach can accomplish?
But don’t take my word for it. Here’s what LeBron James told the Associated Press after the Hawks destroyed his Cavs, 127-98 last week: “This is a well-coached team that we played. It reminds you of playing San Antonio, that system. They move the ball and get you in uncomfortable positions.”
And there was Jalen Rose on television over the weekend, calling the Hawks, with their ball movement, the most fun team to watch in the entire league. Now, I ask you, when was the last time you heard such effusive praise in connection with the Hawks?
Mike Smith: Two more wins. It’s a shame that the last two seasons have put his job in jeopardy. Not only is he the best coach in Falcons history, but Sunday’s win in New Orleans demonstrated just how much his players respect him, and want to play for him.
Arthur Blank: Wisdom. Hopefully he makes the right decisions when considering the futures of Smith and GM Thomas Dimitroff. We know he’s trigger happy, but he’s also dealing with the only winning coach-GM combination the franchise has ever known. Great care should be taken before the dapper Mr. Blank decides that this Falcons regime has reached a certain plateau.
Paul Johnson: Gee, what to get for the man who suddenly has the world by the tail on the downhill pull? He already has a 10-win season, Orange Bowl and ACC championship game berths, a win over Georgia, and a big contract extension. How about a UPS gift card so he can send his Sun Bowl sombrero to David Cutcliffe?
Mark Richt: A new indoor practice facility. Not only will it wow recruits, but it will surely put an end to the annual galling, inexplicable, head-scratching upset loss, or three. Of course, a national championship would also quiet the critics.
Brian Gregory: A schedule comprised entirely of games against Georgia.
Mark Fox: A win over Tech. Watching the Georgia-Seton Hall game on Sunday, you again realized how well Fox can coach. Against every team but Tech.
PGA brass: Common sense. Really? You need a task force to figure out why the Europeans keep blasting the USA in the Ryder Cup matches? All you have to do is follow the European model. Or read Paul Azinger’s book. Or make Azinger permanent captain. Simple.
Rita Jeptoo: Common sense. Come on. You’re a Kenyan marathoner. You really think it takes more than that to win at Boston and Chicago? I repeat: you’re a Kenyan marathoner. You don’t need EPO.
John Smoltz: Election to the baseball Hall of Fame. Not only are his stats Hall worthy, but over the years, he was as much fun to watch pitch as any Brave. And who will ever forget the night of Oct. 17, 1991, when Smoltzie, with a six-hit, complete game shutout, pitched the Atlanta Braves into their first World Series?
Derek Jeter: A long, happy, peaceful retirement for one of the classiest players ever to don a big league uniform.
Chicago Cubs and their fans: An end to the drought. Jon Lester will certainly help, and he came aboard for that very reason. Don’t forget, the Cubs President of Baseball Operations, Theo Epstein, knows a little something about ending droughts.
And to all you loyal readers, peace, love, and happiness, now and throughout the new year.