VANCOUVER - The fact that Friday was the darkest day of the year, not to mention that the world didn’t end as scheduled -- meaning that there was no getting out of writing a national column -- has put your correspondent in a wholly uncharacteristic glass-half-empty mood.
Being of a sunny and optimistic disposition by nature, always looking on the bright side and rarely using this narrative to find fault with all the good people of the sports world -- basically Santa Claus, minus the white beard and sack of toys -- it is disappointing to discover, amid all this darkness, that the planet is being overrun by turds.
And so close to Christmas, too.
But there you are.
With no further opportunities to vent before the blessed day, it therefore behooves this column to make one last recommendation to the real Santa that the following miscreants, not restricted to sports, receive lumps of coal in their stockings on Christmas morning -- or in the case of Gary Bettman and Donald Fehr, live coals in their tighty whities. (That ought to wake them up).
Herewith, a mere fraction of the 2012 Naughty List:
WAYNE LaPIERRE: It’s not easy being a total crackpot who holds an appalling press conference to announce that the National Rifle Association’s suggested remedy to the slaughter of six-year-old schoolkids is “More guns in schools!” On the other hand, the majority of Americans must agree with him, or they’d elect people who’d stand up to the gun lobby.
ROGER GOODELL/PAUL TAGLIABUE: Nice work by current and former National Football League commissioners; Goodell sanctimoniously dealing over-the-top suspensions to New Orleans Saints coaches and players for doing what all NFL teams do -- intentionally maiming opponents, and getting paid for it -- and then Tagliabue, overruling his successor, thereby allowing NFL apologists to continue whitewashing the barbarism with a clear conscience.
DICK ROLLER: You know, the guy who boards the plane pulling a steamer trunk on wheels, taking up enough room for three passengers’ worth of legitimate hand luggage -- and then expresses surprise when it doesn’t fit in the overhead bin. Usually the last guy on the plane. Which is then delayed while his worldly belongings are tagged and placed where they ought to have been in the first place: cargo.
IMA HOGG: Female equivalent to Dick Roller. Carries purse, shoulder bag, four shopping bags and duty free on board, barging her way down the aisle, crushing my lone knapsack to make room for all her carry-on crap -- all because the ticketer, the ever-vigilant security check, and finally Darah Liction, the bored gate agent, shrugged and let her pass.
THE TORONTO BILLS: Yes, coal for poor Hogtown, unable to claim the grippingly-entertaining Bills for its own now that the NFL club has signed a 10-year agreement to remain in Buffalo (by choice, apparently), with a $400-million penalty clause if they uproot at any time in the first seven years. That leaves only two choices for Toronto football fans: an NFL expansion franchise (insert laugh here) or -- horrors! -- the Grey Cup-champion Argos, who are so awful to watch next to the ... uh, never mind.
HARRISON MOONEY: The Vancouver Sun digital editor (and PuckDaddy/PassittoBulis blogger) must be punished, because his original poem, “Gary Bettman: Commissioner of Christmas” is a lot more brilliant than most things that appear in the sports section in a year. Damn him (and knee-slappingly funny artwork by Chloe Ezra.) On the other hand, Mooney had a lot of making up to do after his “Call The Union” video went viral. Those lululemon maternity tights still make me shudder. Two lumps of coal for him.
LARRY TANENBAUM: The head of Maple Leaf $port$ & Entertainment released a heartfelt statement expressing his keen disappointment and frustration following abortive meetings involving four NHL owners and a group of players earlier this month. Funny, isn’t it? The need to compensate for bad, revenue-sucking franchises is a major motivator behind the league’s lockout, while Tanenbaum’s MLSE, with a wave of its hand, has essentially made it impossible for a failing NHL team to move to Southern Ontario, where it would make loads of money.
FRANCESCO AQUILINI: The Canucks owner has gotten a free pass locally while meekly going along with the NHL’s indefensible lockout strategy, even as his team’s window of Stanley Cup opportunity rapidly bleeds away. Plain rocks in his socks, Santa, to go with the ones in his head.
LANCE ARMSTRONG: What do you give the man who has everything but remorse, humility and a conscience? A copy of David Walsh’s book, Seven Deadly Sins. By the courageous Irish journalist who’s been writing for years about you-know-who doing you-know-what.
JERRY SANDUSKY: May the Penn State child molester have many new sexual escapades, courtesy of the inmates at Greene State Prison.
ERNIE ELL: Any one of about 100,000 Vancouver drivers who’ve had the green “L” decal in the back window of the car for the past eight years. The rumor is that it’s supposed to stand for “Learner.” Evidently not. Close relative of “N.” Stands for Notsignalling.
(Told you this wasn’t all about sports.)
DONALD TRUMP: Leader of the revolutionary forces out to reform American elections so that a Republican presidential candidate can never again lose to a Democrat who gets more votes. Developer of golf resorts on environmentally-sensitive Scottish linksland. Owner of an unlicensed pet hair and, for all we know, Paul Azinger’s hero.
PAUL AZINGER: Fierce defender of the Second Amendment who’s convinced his civil liberties are about to be infringed upon by bleeding-heart liberals out to take his guns away. Also, incidentally, a former winning Ryder Cup captain. Right-wing golfers ... who’da thunk it?
JAY WALKER: Yes, you, who regards a “Don’t Walk” signal as an affront to your civil liberties. What’s the old theatre admonition? Break a leg. Or ribs.
BRAMS TOKER: Because, really, who doesn’t love walking into a cloud of marijuana smoke while walking to work ... at 8 a.m.?
And least, as well as last ...
DONALD FEHR: For the NHLPA’s choirmaster, not merely coal, but a fight he can win ... over somebody else’s national pastime.
GARY BETTMAN/BILL DALY: Give the NHL’s bad-cop/bad-cop a hill to die on, Santa, since they insist.
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