by | Nov 21, 2008 | Detroit Free Press | 0 comments

Pleeease? Just one story? But the game’s on . . . well, OK. Just one.

‘Twas the night before Christmas, And all through the houses, The cynics were sleeping, so were their spouses,
“That’s it,” they had said, at an earlier meal,
“No more sports will we watch, too dirty a deal, Every jock is on drugs, every owner a moron, And each has an ego the size of Lake Huron! Once we loved sports, it was part of us then, But now we will never believe them again, Who needs it?” they’d said, remote control ready, And flicked the TV to something more heady,

Like a National Geographic special?

Yes. Now be quiet and listen to the rest. When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter They rose to the windows to see what’s the matter The moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow Gave luster to the large man standing below All dressed in red, with a tag-team of blockers, Pads on his shoulders and a sleigh full of lockers, He raised a slow finger to the roof with a glare Said, “How the hell am I supposed to get there?” His blockers replied, “Piece of cake” and dug in, On Bubba! On Magic! On Julius! On Jim!

Who’s Jim?

I, uh . . . it doesn’t matter. Then in a twinkling was heard on the roof, The prancing of cleats, some major league hoof, The cynics cried, “Help! They’ll tie us with rope, And steal all our money so they can buy dope And probably force us to snapshot their picture, Then charge us a grand so they can get richer!” Fearing the worst, they turned slowly around, Down the chimney the fat man came with a bound Unfortunately, the flue had been closed, He smashed right through it and broke six logs

That doesn’t rhyme.

I know, I know. Just listen. He was dressed all in fur, his head to his knees, His cheeks were like baseballs, his body obese, He had a broad face and a whale of a belly, that shook, when he laughed, like a gallon of jelly, And laying a finger aside of his nose
“Ah ha” said the cynics, “Cocaine! There he goes!” The fat man just sniffed, “What’s baking I smell? I’ll take a dozen, and a milkshake as well.”

Did they give it to him?

It was a Dunkin’ Donuts a block away. Shhh.
“I’ve been looking for you,” the fat man began, At which point one cynic high-tailed it and ran
“Hold up, Jack,” the voice from the visitor cried, As he laid a cross-body block low and inside
“There’s something to which you all should listen, Something I think you may be a-missin’ The sports world is full of its fools, it is true, Too high, too expensive, too much ballyhoo, But too often, when on the bad you’re a-rambling, Ignored is Isiah, or Coach Rob at Grambling, A Fuzzy, a Shriver, a Gretzky, a Retton, Evans and English too quick you’re forgettin’, For every big leaguer whose contract is honey, There’s a bobsledder out there making no money, For every Joaquin who trashes the mecca, There’s a Murphy, a Payton, a Lou Carnesecca, It’s like a big apple whose skin has gone bad, To throw out the core would be awfully sad, Sports should be fun, which is why I’m around, With any luck still, the good parts can be found.”
“That’s quite a speech,” one cynic let slip The fat man just smiled, “I worked with a script.” He turned to his bag and shuffled around it, reaching for something, ah, looks like he found it, The cynics just stared, they moved not a smidge, For there on the back of his coat was “St. Fridge”

Oh. I know who he is now.

Quiet. Don’t ruin it for your brother. He pulled out a football, quite old and plain, He said, “It’s still all you need for a game,” Perhaps it was then they knew what he was sayin’ That sports should never grow too big for playin’ He tossed them the ball, up the chimney he rose,
“Not everyone,” he said, “has a spoon up his nose” A signal was bellowed, an audible called,
“Dash Away! Dash Away! Dash Away All!”‘ Now snow fell quite heavy, all Chistmas eve long, The streets cold and quiet, not a caroler’s song, As the men who would never believe sports again Played two-hand touch on the floor of their den Giggling like kids, they became so engrossed, That a fat man and sleigh, they barely did notice, as he flew through the night, a sight to fulfill ya
“Happy Christmas to all, pass the donuts, will ya?”

Hmmm. That was kinda stupid.

Maybe . . . Let’s watch the ball game. OK?

OK. Merry Christmas, Dad.

Merry Christmas, kid.


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Mitch Albom writes about running an orphanage in impoverished Port-au-Prince, Haiti, his kids, their hardships, laughs and challenges, and the life lessons he’s learned there every day.

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