As anyone who knows me can tell you, I’m a Christmas person. I’m one of those saps who gets all doe-eyed and misty at holiday time. I believe with all my heart the holidays are the time to count your blessings and be grateful for what you have. And for those of who love sports and are lucky enough to live in Boston, our blessings this year are many.
But Christmas is also a time for reaching out to others. Of charitable giving and thinking about those less fortunate than us. Sure, we’ve got the Celtics and Patriots on incredible rolls right now. The Bruins are in the hunt, with the best defense and goaltending in the NHL. And of course, Christmas came early for Sox fans as we found Adrian Gonzalez and Carl Crawford under the tree, two superstars entering their prime who’ll be the heart of the lineup for the foreseeable future. So we’re looking at a potential four championships right now in this city. It’s a magical time when anything seems possible.
Of course, not every city can be so lucky. Our fellow fans in many other sports towns are suffering. They don’t have it nearly as well as we do. Losing teams, loser players, incompetent management, franchises going nowhere. And for those of us in Boston who are so fortunate and have so much, Christmas is the time to think of them. A time of peace on Earth and goodwill toward men.
Fortunately though, Christmas isn’t for another week-and-a-half. So for now, we get to wallow in their misery. To spread a little Christmas Jeer.
I believe it was early 20th century Broadway producer David Merrick who uttered the immortal words, “It’s not enough to succeed; others must fail.” That’s not much of a sentiment for Christmas time, but like I said, it’s not Christmas yet. For now, we get to gloat. To feed off the failure of others. To take Joy in the misery of the sports World. Next week I’ll have a holly, jolly Christmas. For now I want to deck the halls with boughs of Schadenfreude.
I’ll admit this might seem pretty dark. But everything I know about life I learned from movies and TV. And what they’ve taught me is that the days just before Christmas are cruel and twisted. The miracle, the joy and the Ho-Ho-Ho’s come later. Now is about vengeance against those who’ve wronged you and laughing at their despair. It’s Mr. Potter in “It’s a Wonderful Life” stealing $5,000 from the Building & Loan. It’s Ebenezer Scrooge keeping the Cratchits living in squalor. It’s Frank Cross in “Scrooged” firing Elliot Loudermilk and cancelling his bonus.
There’s a nation of sports fans out there who hate Boston, hate our success and wish us nothing but grief and failure. Maybe my heart is two sizes too small, but all I want to do right now is stand on the top of Mt. Crumpit, put a hand to my ear and listen for all those miserable little Whos crying “Boo, hoo, hoo.” So here in no particular order are the people whose anguish and sorrow over the last month or so has filled me with the spirit of the season:
Randy Moss. I don’t hate Randy Moss. If anything the events of the last two months have made me appreciate that he was able to suppress his unlimited reservoir of crazy for the three-plus years he was here. Still, it’s unconscionable the way he left Foxboro. All he had to do was play out the season, be the good soldier, cash in with a fat contract somewhere else and we all would’ve given him a smack on the ass on his way out the door. Instead he chose to take himself hostage like Bart in “Blazing Saddles” and shoot his way out of town while the other Patriots were trying to put together a champion. So I’d be lying if I said I’m not taking perverse pleasure at watching his career implode. He left chaos in his wake in Minnesota, and in five games in Tennessee he has five catches and fewer yards (62) than Deion Branch had in Week 12 against the Jets. Randy’s pal Cris Carter says Branch disappears, but Moss couldn’t have vanished faster if he’d thrown an invisibility cloak over himself. And this warms my heart like a Yule log. Grinch Rating: 3 Scrooge McDucks.
Josh McDaniels. I didn’t mind so much when McDaniels left the Patriots. I thought it was a little premature. But unlike, say, Eric Mangini, it seemed like he and Bill Belichick parted ways amicably. Even when McDaniels threw a tickertape parade for himself at midfield after beating the Pats last year, I chalked it up to youthful exuberance. But then came McSpygate, when a Broncos assistant (who happens to be the son of legendary Patriots’ assistant coach Dante Scarnecchia) got caught taping San Francisco’s practice, and Joshie took the news like a mob snitch. “I didn’t do it! It’s not me you want! It’s them! The Patriots! They’re the practice tapers, not me!!!” His reward for tarnishing the man to whom he owes everything in the world was to get a vote of confidence from his boss and then be fired less than two weeks later. The disloyalty that goes around comes around. Grinch Rating: 4 Abominable Snow Monsters.
Albert Haynesworth/Mike Shanahan. There’s not a huge Boston connection with these two, other than maybe Shanahan’s relative success against the Patriots when he was in Denver. I just love watching the internecine turmoil on a team that does things exactly the opposite way that the Pats do. Every offseason we hear how cheap Mr. Kraft (it’s always “Mr. Kraft” to you, mister) is and how willing the Redskins are to spend the money. So they shelled out $100 million for Haynesworth, who within days of cashing a $20 million check declared he wasn’t happy with Shanahan’s 3-4 defense and he wasn’t about to be treated like “a slave.” And he was true to his word, since slaves did labor and Haynesworth is sitting at home collecting interest on his bonus money. Again, it’s not like the Skins are division rivals or anything, but it still gives me tidings of comfort and joy. Grinch Rating: 5 Frank Crosses.
Brett Favre. For all the axes I’ve grinded over Brett Favre over the years, for all his phony retirements and offseason Bayou Hamlet melodrama and phony injuries and coach-killing, boneheaded plays his fawning press made excuses for, the worst thing he ever did was this week. And that’s make me resent his selfish buffoonery so much that when his consecutive games streak ended, I couldn’t even enjoy it. Here is arguably one of the greatest records in all of sports and he made me not appreciate it. And this is coming from me who sobbed like Oprah on Barbara Walters when Cal Ripken set the baseball streak record. But since it was Brett Favre, and he was already selling $500 commemorative footballs before the game was even played, all I could do was take perverse joy in seeing him not get to 300 games. For that I’ll never forgive the stupid penis-texting hillbilly. Grinch Rating: 6 Henry F. Potters.
Peyton Manning. I might be the world’s most shameless homer, but one thing I’ve never argued is that Manning is not a great quarterback. I’ll fight anyone to the death who says he’s better than Tom Brady (NFL Films, choose your weapon) but the man can play tackle football. But I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t enjoying watching him collapse like the roof of the Minneapolis Moonbounce Dome. Every time Peyton Manning throws a terrible interception, an angel gets its wings. Grinch Rating: 7 Burgermeister Meisterburgers.
The New York Jets. For the last two weeks, every morning when I go online I peruse the Boston websites — starting and ending with WEEI.com, home of the best reporting in New England. (Buy every sponsors products and tell them Jerry sent you!) Then, I go right to the New York papers. And it’s like unwrapping a Red Ryder air rifle each and every day. The mouthy gasbag Rex Ryan is at a loss for words. His cocky, arrogant players are humiliated. His assistant coaches are cheap-shotting opposing players. The once fawning New York press is sharpening their hatchets. Couldn’t happen to a nicer bunch of guys. Grinch Rating: 8 Scut Farkuses.
The New York Yankees. It’s a New York two-fer at the top of my misery index list. While the Red Sox front office was quietly and professionally going about their business, leaving no stone unturned to turn over key parts of their roster, the Yankees rolled into the Winter Meetings like the pompous, insufferable rich kids they’ve always been. Brian Cashman publicly declared he was a fool and he had money and he wasn’t afraid to part with it. And like all of us, he expected Carl Crawford and Cliff Lee to come running with their hats in their hands, just like Mark Teixeira and CC Sabathia did. But the Sox outfoxed him on Crawford and Lee left $50 million on the table to go pitch elsewhere. Instead he left with nothing but a wad of Steinbrenner money, as worthless as ShruteBucks, and no one to spend them on. And this from a team who spent the previous couple of months alienating their captain/ demigod over money, which was like listening to your lovey-dovey perfect couple neighbors swear at each other through the window. In the words of Oscar Wilde, it would take a heart of stone not to laugh. Grinch Rating: 10 Ebenezer Scrooges.
Again I apologize if this was a little grim in light of the time of year. And I promise next week I’ll be more gracious in the spirit of the holidays. Because like I said, Christmas is about being happy about all we have. I just want to enjoy the misery of others while I still can. After all, if the Grinch had just gotten going a week earlier, he might’ve done the same.