From the Sidelines: Under the sportswriter’s tree

Published 10:57 pm Tuesday, December 23, 2008

It’s everyone’s favorite day of the year. Tonight, gifts will be placed under brightly-lit trees all around the world. Cookies will be eaten. Mommies will kiss Santa Claus. That dude is a pimp by the way. Think about it, what else could explain the red velvet suit and continuous jolliness?

Nonetheless, the guy is pretty good at sharing the wealth and I’m hoping he can get me at least one of the things on my personal, sports-related Christmas list.

When making out my wish list this year, I listed only the things that I most want to see under my metaphorical tree.

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So here it is in no particular order and, often, with no particular logic.

— A glimmer of hope for the Detroit Lions. Let’s face it. These guys are going to be 0-17 after this weekend’s regular season finale. And nobody wants to see a team scuffle like that year after year. Add to it that they have one of the best receivers in the world in Calvin Johnson and you have to root for those guys.

— Tiger Woods to take the Grand Slam in one season. Whether you like golf or not, that last major would be the most watched event in the history of the game as everyone would be waiting to see something they’d never seen before.

— NASCAR to get back to something sensible. With all the talk of restrictor plates and team changes, the sport has lost a lot of its original, grassroots luster and alienated a portion of its fan base. So here’s a start. How about we go back to qualifying being based entirely upon speed? Eliminate placements and exemptions and make it a race from the start of the event to the finish.

—Abandonment of the “10 Conference Bias.” Stop giving USC and Ohio State passes because the Big 10 and Pac 10 used to be good conferences. If you want in a BCS game, beat somebody legitimate. And no USC, Notre Dame doesn’t count. Likewise for the Buckeyes and their annual date with Michigan.

— A salary cap in baseball. This has reached new levels of ludicrosity. (I coined that word. Feel free to use it at your leisure.) The Yankees inked Mark Teixeira on Tuesday, giving them Big Tex, C.C. Sabathia and A.J. Burnett while pushing their offseason spending spree to $424 million dollars. Attention Pirates and Royals, continue to remember Andy Van Slyke and George Brett fondly as you will have no more superstars for any duration in the foreseeable future.

— Somebody to put the “D” in New Orleans. Seriously, can the league’s No. 1 offense get any help from the defense? Granted, Mike McKenzie has missed the entire season and several other players have been hurt. But something has to give. Perhaps Albert Haynesworth would be interested in playing in the Big Easy once his free agent number comes up this offseason.

— Maria Sharapova. Moving on.

— A big-time free agent willing to sign with the Braves. There are holes all over the roster. And there is no quick solution. I really miss the days of first-round playoff exits being enough to lure legitimate players.

— A playoff system in major college football. I mean come on. Even the Canadiens understand football championships should be determined on the field.

— Scott Boras to just go away. Honestly, this guy may well be the devil incarnate.

— Bobby Lowder to step out of the limelight at Auburn. Old B.L. has no business meddling in the program’s business and the fruits of his labors will soon be evidenced when Chizik proves worse for the university than Terry Bowden.

— Major League Baseball to stop allowing its players to be sold to Japan. This is one a lot of people don’t really think about a lot. But imagine you went to work one day and your boss told you that you had been dealt. Just as soon as you start daydreaming of the possibility of being sent to the West Coast sunshine, you’re instead informed you’ve been shipped to another continent. Yeah. That hardly seems fair.

— Notre Dame football to join a conference. The Irish are in the Big East for everything except football and the very thing that was supposed to make them noteworthy now has them irrelevant enough to be locked into a Hawaii Bowl date. And I know the arguments. Conference independence is tradition for Notre Dame. Yeah. So was winning.

— Dale Murphy to finally get in the Hall of Fame. Let’s be truthful here. This guy deserves it. He won the MVP award in back-to-back years while playing for one of the worst franchises in the game. Moreover, he had the longevity to remain a perennial all-star for a decade. In an era in which steroids have prompted nearly everyone to almost completely lose faith in the number 500, why can’t a guy like Murphy finally get his due? Think about it. The guy had 2,111 hits, 350 doubles, 398 homers and 1,266 RBI.

Yep. That’s the list. Here’s hoping all your wishes come true this year and you have the merriest of Christmases.