As the most bearded staff member of the eDraft Sports crew it is my privilege to play Santa Claus the day before Christmas. Tonight I will bestow gifts upon all 30 Major League Baseball teams in an attempt to better the fortune for all the fans, players and management for the upcoming 2014 season. No, I will not be dishing out lumps of coal, nor will I necessarily be giving out rewards that fall within the bounds of sanity. I am merely calling them as I see them. Enjoy!
Seattle Mariners- Pat Gillick
Believe it or not there was a time when the Mariners were the toast of the MLB world, their most successful of years which fell from 2000-2003 under General Manager Pat Gillick. It was during this time frame that the Mariners tied the MLB record in season wins with 116 in 2001, but it was also during this time that they went to the American League Champions Series in back-to-back seasons (2000-2001). Since Gillick left the team the Mariners have fallen on hard times mixed with bad free agent signings while Gillick went on to win a World Series title with the Philadelphia Phillies in 2008. It should also be noted that Gillick won two World Series titles as the GM for Toronto Blue Jays in 1992 and 1993.
New York Yankees- Humility
A few months ago I wrote an article about how the Yankees are not exactly doing themselves any favors by continuing to sign high-priced veterans while continuing to trade away the up-and-comers they have milling around in their farm system.
While I understand that the Yankees and their fans would love to continue the tradition of being the winningest franchise in MLB history behind their 27 championships, it’s really time for this generation of Yankees fans to see their team go through hard times like in the 1980s as management refocuses their attention on rebuilding the team from scratch.
This means hanging onto their high-valued draft picks and only adding a few veterans who can help teach the new crop. You know, the same formula that helped the Yankees win four World Series titles from 1996-2000.
Minnesota Twins- Robot legs for Joe Mauer
At the end of the 2013 season the Twins announced that their most coveted treasure, three-time batting champ and 2009 AL MVP Joe Mauer would be setting up residence full-time at first base starting in 2014. Mauer has proved himself as one of the most dangers catchers in MLB history on the offensive and defensive end and it would be a shame to see him go to waste on first base. So, rather than let that happen, I will be taking a play out of the film “Grandma’s Boy” and issuing Mauer a pair of robot legs that the character JP was so boastful about getting. It’s a risky operation, but it’s better than a lifetime of bilateral leg weakness.
Kansas City Royals- Don Denkinger
The name probably doesn’t sound familiar unless you’re a die hard Royals or St. Louis Cardinals fan. Denkinger was the first base umpire during Game Six of the 1985 World Series who called Jorge Orta safe for what should have been the first out of the ninth inning. Instead the Royals rallied, forced a Game Seven and ultimately won their only World Series in franchise history. The most important thing to note from this series is that the Royals have not made the playoffs since (28 years). Denkinger clearly has some kind of power over the Royals so it might be time to somehow use his umpiring power in their favor again.
Chicago White Sox- Bill Veeck
Bill Veeck owned the White Sox off-and-on from 1959-1980.
As an innovator and borderline carnival sideshow barker of baseball Veeck wrote the book on how to improvise and leave a lasting impression on the game.
Everything he did was in an attempt to better the experience for the fans.
Some ideas were great, like getting Harry Caray to sing “Take Me Out to the Ball Game” during the seventh inning stretch.
Others were bad, like getting the White Sox players to wear shorts and high socks for a few games in 1976.
Even though it would be current owner Jerry Reinsdorf who would help the team win the World Series in 2005, Veeck never would have prevented fans who have tickets for the 500 level from being able to walk around the entire ballpark.
Texas Rangers- A lifetime supply of Prilosec
I had the luxury of visiting The Ballpark at Arlington for four games in 2012 as the Rangers took on my Oakland Athletics in late September. The one thing I made sure to do the first night was one of the fabled Boomsticks I had heard so much about. For those who don’t know it’s basically a two-foot hot dog that weighs about three pounds. I of course added nacho cheese, chili and jalapenos to dig my grave even deeper. It only took me about an inning-and-a-half to eat, but I certainly could have used some sort of antacid afterward. This way the Rangers can deal them out with every Boomstick order.
Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim- Christopher Lloyd and a name change
The Angels have caught me in a good mood, so they get two gifts. The first is the most important, go back to being called the California Angels.
That was easy.
The second is to have Christopher Lloyd, the star of the 1994 version of “Angels in the Outfield” round up a choir of actual angels to help the team with their pitching woes because Jerry Dipoto certainly doesn’t know what he’s doing.
Cleveland Indians- Spiders
No, I’m not saying I’m going to unleash a flurry of tarantulas upon the team, rather I'd like to put an end to the Indians' name fiasco once and for all by reverting them back to the team name of the first Major League team in Cleveland. As sad as it would be to lose one of the best logos in sports history, just imagine how awesome it would be to have a sweet nickname like the Spiders. Only the University of Richmond knows what I’m talking about.
Houston Astros- clones of Carlos Beltran
The legend of Carlos Beltran in the postseason began during the one season that he was a member of the Astros in 2004. Between the National League Division and Championship series Beltran hit .436 with eight home runs and 14 RBI. During the regular season Beltran only hit .258 in the 90 games that he played in; however, he did hit 23 home runs and knocked in 53 runs. The Astros have clearly hit some bad times since they lost the World Series to the White Sox in 2005 so having three Beltrans in the outfield plus one as their designated hitter might help alleviate the bleeding for a few years.
Toronto Blue Jays- A not-so-obvious man in white in centerfield
If you don’t know the story, here’s the Cliff’s Notes version: In 2010 the Blue Jays were the best power-hitting team in baseball. Seven of their nine every day hitters crushed at least 20 home runs with Jose Bautista leading the way with the most in the Majors at 54. Supposedly they were aided by a man in white who was stealing signs from the opposing pitchers. In lieu of this mystery, I bequeath them a tool that isn’t so obvious.
Boston Red Sox- The Ghost of Seasons Passed
This is a gift that is a must for all Red Sox fans born before 2000. The last ten years have truly been memorable for the city of Boston who saw their team end an 86-year drought when it comes to a World Series victory; therefore, all fans who have become old enough to only see their team become a winning machine must understand how hard fans of the past had it for so long. In the end, it will make them appreciate what their team has accomplished, as opposed to becoming over-privileged like some Yankees fans have become.
Baltimore Orioles- Grant Balfour
The man is obviously healthy enough to take over the closer role despite what owner Peter Angelos’ and GM Dan Duquette’s opinions may be. And coming from an Athletics fan, this deal should have been finalized, because let's face it, we really don't want to see him end up in our division or San Francisco.
Tampa Bay Rays- A new stadium
I’ve been to Tropicana Field many times over the last two seasons, and I honestly can’t believe a professional baseball team inhabits that complex.
It is my hope that a new stadium which actually sits in Tampa will bring out the loyal fans that I know could pack the joint on a regular basis.
If not, then the city of Montreal will certainly be more than happy to take over the ownership rights of the team.
Detroit Tigers- A bullpen
I’m not talking about a physical space for relief pitchers to warm up, I’m talking about a slew of players who can actually relieve the unbelievably talent starting rotation. The bullpen woes of the last decade have been the primary reason why the Tigers haven’t been able to secure a World Series title. Well, except for 2012. You can blame the lack of offense for that one.
Oakland Athletics- Fans
Nothing breaks my heart more than watching an Athletics game on TV and seeing the Coliseum only about a third full. The last two seasons have been incredibly fortunate for the green and gold and most of the fans that I know the team has have not exactly been present (physically) to show their support. While I understand that the Coliseum has its fair share of problems from now-bad location to sewage backups in the bullpens, but the one thing I do know is that the players still go out and give their all to make the city a winner. It’s about time the fans give back to the players who do so much and make so little in return.
Arizona Diamondbacks- Sharks with friggin’ laser beams
The Los Angeles Dodgers broke a truly unwritten rule be hopping the wall in centerfield to celebrate their NL Western Division clinch by taking a dip in the swimming pool that the Diamondbacks have behind said fence.
Do you know how you keep such uncalled for celebrating at bay?
Simple, paying tribute to Dr. Evil from the Austin Powers series and have a shiver of “sharks with friggin’ laser beams” ready to combat the onslaught. It’ll work.
Los Angeles Dodgers- Chainmail
How do you combat “sharks with friggin’ laser beams?” Look above.
Colorado Rockies- A stadium at sea level
This one is pretty obvious. The Rockies have been notorious for recording one of the worst team ERAs since they expanded into the Majors back in 1993. The only way to combat the amount of runs and especially the amount of home runs is to have the team pitch in an environment that doesn’t house some of the thinnest air in the country.
St. Louis Cardinals- Temporary banishment from Twitter
This one is directed primarily at the fans. There is a Twitter account called “Best Fans St. Louis” which retweets all of the harshest tweets that any Cardinals baseball fan base has to offer. While I am totally in favor of the right to free speech, sometimes there are many things which are better left kept to oneself.
Milwaukee Brewers- A head jar for Bob Uecker
You have to be a “Futurama” fan to know and appreciate this one. Uecker has been the play-by-play announcer for the Brewers since 1971.
Despite only being 78-years-old Uecker went through two heart surgeries in 2010 and appears to still be kicking behind the microphone.
While none of us are sure when will be his last game called, it would be nice to have him be one of the first celebrities to have his head placed in a jar which will allow him to keep calling game until the end of baseball as we know it.
Of course said jar will come equipped with a function that will place a dabble of Jack Daniels behind his ear before every game as seen by his character Harry Doyle in the film “Major League.” Why would you think I wouldn’t have thought of that?
Chicago Cubs- Will Ferrell as the WGN play-by-play announcer
This one is pretty self-explanatory. Ferrell will take over the microphone to call every Cubs game doing a Harry Caray impersonation throughout. You’re welcome Chicago!
Cincinnati Reds- Pete Rose in the Hall of Fame
This one I would prefer to spring upon MLB commissioner Bud Selig the second he leaves office. Good luck taking that one back!
New York Mets- A time machine that will go back to May 28, 1990
Despite winning a World Series in 1986 and winning at least 90 games in his first five seasons with the team (1984-1988), Davey Johnson was fired after the Mets lost to the San Diego Padres on Sunday May 27, 1990 which pushed their record to 20-22.
While the Mets did make it back to the World Series in 2000, Johnson is still the winningest manager in the club’s history and should have never been fired in the first place.
Just imagine how awesome they would be if they had never gotten rid of him.
Philadelphia Phillies- Hugs
It’s amazing how full of rage Philadelphia sports fans are. Hugs might be the most reasonable solution as I don’t feel like paying for prostitutes is the slightest bit legal within the Philadelphia city limits or New Jersey for the matter.
Washington Nationals- A Furlough to Montreal
This one in no way benefits the Nationals, but it would certainly put a smile on the faces of the people of Montreal who had to lose their beloved Expos in order for the Nationals to exist.
For that, the Nationals must play a third of their home games in Montreal until the great city gets a team of their own again.
It’ll be exactly like the time MLB made the Expos play some of their home games in Puerto Rico only without being a bunch of jerks about it.
Pittsburgh Pirates- A chance to say goodbye to Roberto Clemente
It took Clemente, one of the most selfless people to ever live, dying in a place crash while doing relief work in Puerto Rico for Pirates fans and the media to truly appreciate him as a ballplayer. It would be nice for an airing of grievances to be had between Clemente and the city he called home for 18 seasons.
San Diego Padres- The rest of the 1994 season
The players strike that ended the 1994 season was a tough pill to swallow, and no player knew that better than Tony Gwynn. In case you for got, Gwynn was batting a clean .394 when the season came to an end on August 12, 1994. His average is the highest since Ted Williams hit .406 back in 1941. While there is no guarantee that Gwynn met or beaten Williams’ mark, it sure would have been a lot of fun to see him try.
Atlanta Braves- Chief Noc-a-Homa batting practice caps
Seriously! This was such a buzzkill going into the 2013 season. Due to a few folks finding the Chief Noc-a-Homa logoed caps to be blatantly racist (Paul Lukas from Uni-watch/ESPN), the cap was pulled from the tops of the players’ heads and off of the shelves at retailers across the country.
While a few spilled out onto the market and later into most stores across the country, the amount of guff that was stirred up for the classic logo was a bit farfetched and shouldn’t have been such a big deal.
Also, I wouldn’t have had to pay $120 for mine, so there’s that.
Miami Marlins- A nutshot for Jeff Loria
This is truly the gift that keeps on giving especially if we can make it into a .GIF. After all the misery and the amount of money he has cost the taxpayers in Florida in having them take the blunt of the cost of a new stadium only to stab them in the back by dealing away all the talent, this would be a small token that Marlins owner Loria would have to take. I will leave it open to the fine folks of Miami as to how they wish to deliver said nutshot to Loria. I mean, I can’t have all the fun here. I suggest an Australian with a large boot like in the episode of “The Simpsons” when Bart had to apologize to the country for ringing up a high-priced collect call.
San Francisco Giants- Remembrance Day
Athletics fans can feel my pain when I say it’s been tough to see the Giants win two World Series titles in three years (2010 and 2012), but nothing is more upsetting than hearing about how they’re the greatest team in the land. This is obviously a habit of the younger crowds of Giants fans who don’t really have an understanding of what the team had to go through to get to that point. Not only am I talking about the sweep the Athletics pulled on the Giants in 1989 which was sealed in Candlestick Park, but 1976 when the Giants almost moved to Toronto and then again in 1992 when they almost moved to Tampa, but were saved by then-Athletics owners Walter Haas, Jr. who gave up territorial right in the San Jose area to help keep the Giants in the Bay. It is for these reasons, and quite a few others, that a day will committed to honoring what every Giants fan really SHOULD know about their team.
All of these gifts are non-refundable without a receipt. With that I bid you all a very Merry Christmas, the happiest of New Year’s and the best of luck to your teams in 2014.