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Random News: Worst holiday gifts for the sports fan

Random News: Worst holiday gifts for the sports fan

Tuesday, Dec. 7, 2010
9:18 AM

By Joe Collins
CSNChicago.com

You might not know this, but you're a pretty good actor. You can play happy person when your natural instincts call for sarcastic humor with a slice of anger and embarrassment. Just flashback to the last time you opened a really lame present.

Take the following scene: you're exchanging gifts at a family party. You select a present. You rip off the wrapping paper and take a look inside. It's a pair of socks.

A Green Bay Packers pair of socks.

You: (pinching your fingers, forcing a smile, twitching slightly, trying to be nice) "Y-y-yeah! It's great! I can put it to good use!"

Your Sarcastic Thoughts: "Yeah...as exhibit A in a restraining order case in the near future."

The Gift-Giver: "Oh yeah! I thought you might like that! I heard you like sports!"

You: (shaking your head incredulously) "That indeed."

Your Sarcastic Thoughts: "That's it. I'm moving in with the Kardashians. I'm out. Every year it's something different with this bunch."

The holiday season brings out the best acting skills in all of us. We gut out conversations with people we see once a year. We compliment the chef whose food may or may not have a hair in it. We try to play the nice guy. We try to not embarrass people. We don't want to hurt anyone in the season of hope, joy and giving. We try to shake off bad Christmas presents. The gift might be a waste, but we don't want burn bridges in case the person actually comes through with a fairly decent one down the line, you know?

But there shouldn't be the need to act in the first place. It's time to take a stand.

It's always better to give than receive this time of year, right? So if we're going to go all-out in giving, we need to start doing it correctly. I have come up with a list of the worst possible gifts you can give to a sports fan. It's a list that's sure to turn one's stomach and serve as a breeding ground for horrible flashbacks to Aunt Shirley's X-Treme X-Mas party back in 2002 (or whatever). But through pain does come pleasure. Take notes. And don't be "that guy" or "that girl" that serves up the following:

A Personalized Jersey: I went to a game at Cubs-Mets game at Shea Stadium a while back and sat a few rows behind a guy that had "Szczepanski" and a 21 on his road Cubs jersey. The Mets fans had a field day with it: "My Sosa...how you've changed!" "Hey Pat...I'd like to buy a vowel!" "I bet you spent more on that jersey than on your flight." "Tell your Mommy to stop sending you out in bad clothing." And so on. Nonstop. For nine innings. But don't blame the long last name or opportunistic Mets fans. Blame the moronic idea of personalized jerseys. They're the equivalent of having your name printed on your lunch box in 3rd grade. They both will leave you hurt mentally (and physically in, say, Oakland).
A Team Logo-ed Tie: This is where having a girlfriend should...should...come in handy. No girl in their right mind would let their guy wear a tie like this in public. And if you're a guy that sneaks out of the house with a tie like that? You know what-- good for you. You have no shame. Nice job with being your own independent self. It's admirable. But take note: if you're closing down a bar at 2:45am, and it's down to you and that guy over there battling to get that girl's phone number, you will eventually need the tie to wipe away your tears. You have no shot.

Cologne Endorsed By An Athlete: I was one of the biggest Michael Jordan fans growing up. I got his shoes, hung up his posters, watched every game and screamed like crazy when he would go for 50 at the old Madhouse on Madison. He is, and will always be, the man. But my Mom and Dad got the idea that, since I was a fan of MJ, I would be a fan of his cologne. Not exactly. No offense Mike, but the Michael Jordan cologne smells like a combination or kerosene, Preferred Stock and a tequila bar in Cabo on New Year's morning.

Bad Sports Movies On DVD: If you're a sports fan, you need to be careful when you talk about your likes and dislikes around others. See, a lot of guys like sports, movies and comedy. But a lot of gift-givers screw up and think that all three of these can be combined into one can't-miss present:

You: "Oh wow! You got me...Caddyshack 2!

Gift Giver: "Yeah! I thought you'd like that! I figured since you love golf and already own the original Caddyshack, it would be perfect!"

Not exactly. Friends don't let friends watch two hours of failure (even most Clippers fans). Other sports movies not to give as presents this holiday season: Rocky V, Angels In The Outfield, The Fan, Any Given Sunday, The Babe, Juwanna Man, Major League: Back To The Minors, Slap Shot 2, Like Mike, Kazaam, Ed and Teen Wolf Too.

An Autographed PhotoBaseball CardBallJersey Of Someone You Don't Cheer For: Here's another rule-- any time you hear a person repeat the kind of gift they're opening, it's usually a sign that you goofed up. For instance if someone says to you, "Oh wow...you got me an autographed picture of Hakim Warrick! Nice!", you're in trouble. Hey-- just because you got a killer deal on eBay doesn't make you a hero on Christmas morning. Do some homework.

Bad sports gift honorable mentions include: socks of rival teams, socks of your favorite team, socks...period, random team-sponsored paraphernalia (plastic lawn ornaments, air fresheners, seat covers, floor mats, orthodontia..etc), tickets for teams you don't cheer for, any sports-themed Christmas ornament, any Jock Jams CD or any sports-themed underwear.

Good ideas for the sports fan in your life? How about high-def television? Or a recliner chair? Tickets to the Super Bowl? OK, OK, let's not get crazy here. But seriously, even something simple like a gift-card to an all-you-can-eat wingsburger joint on football Sunday would do the trick. All it takes is a little research-- without going overboard. Sports fans are simple but we're slightly more fickle than you might think. We love our sports but we won't know what to do with a Macho Man Randy Savage lunch box. And we don't want to waste time regifting or putting things on Craigslist.

And we'd rather keep our acting skills at bay.

(Wait hold on a second...I know people that would like a Macho Man Randy Savage lunch box. A lot of people.)

Or something like that.

Blackhawks Talk Podcast: What else can the Blackhawks do this summer?

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USA TODAY

Blackhawks Talk Podcast: What else can the Blackhawks do this summer?

On the latest edition of the Hawks Talk Podcast, Charlie Roumeliotis is joined by Scott Powers of The Athletic to discuss Stan Bowman's comments following the Marian Hossa trade and debate whether they're finished making moves this summer.

They also provide their thoughts on the Blackhawks' top prospects and which players have caught their attention as development camp winds down.

Listen to the full episode at this link or in the embedded player below:

Brandon Morrow and the state of the Cubs bullpen ahead of the trade deadline

Brandon Morrow and the state of the Cubs bullpen ahead of the trade deadline

Brandon Morrow is getting an extended All-Star Break.

For the second time in the last month, the Cubs closer is heading to the disabled list to get another break, this time with inflammation in his right biceps.

That leaves the Cubs without their best relief pitcher — a guy with a 1.47 ERA, 1.08 WHIP and 22 saves in 24 chances — for the next week as the team hits the ground running in the second half with 12 games in 11 days against the Cardinals and Diamondbacks.

"It's been bothering him a bit, but we thought it was manageable," Joe Maddon said before the Cubs kicked off play Thursday evening. "But now it's not [manageable], so just have to take a little bit of a break. 

"We don't anticipate him being gone for a long time, but it seems to be prudent to go this course right now."

Maddon pointed to a bit lower velocity Morrow had in San Diego Sunday and believes now is "the right time to back off for the latter part of the season."

The Cubs do have Carl Edwards Jr. back from the paternity list and the 26-year-old flamethrower already got a "break" of his own earlier this season when he missed about 5 weeks with a shoulder issue.

The word "break" is key here because that's how Maddon and the Cubs characterize these little stints on the disabled list.

After all, they are "breaks," even if they're not built into a season like the All-Star Break.

The Cubs want both Morrow and Edwards to be healthy and dynamic in late September and throughout the postseason in October. They've been uber-cautious about the two pitchers throughout their respective Cubs careers and a stint on the disabled list serves to save bullets and wear and tear on their right arms in the dog days of the season.

After all, Morrow has already appeared in 35 games this season, which he's only done once since 2008 — last year, when he pitched in 45 games. Morrow has a long history of arm issues, so the Cubs have given him plenty of slack as they try to keep him healthy for the most important stretch of the season.

But that's also why the Cubs are looking to add some reinforcements to the bullpen before the trade deadline. They were linked to Brad Hand before the lefty was traded to the Cleveland Indians Thursday and they've also been linked to Orioles closer Zach Britton.

If Britton's healthy, he could serve as a perfect fit for the Cubs as a rental with closing experience and a guy from the left side to help fill both needs in the Chicago bullpen.

The Cubs currently have Justin Wilson, Randy Rosario and Brian Duensing as left-handed options in the bullpen, but all are at varying levels of confidence at the moment.

Wilson still has some issues with control, but otherwise has been very good of late. Rosario is a rookie and his outlying numbers indicate his 1.95 ERA is a bit of a mirage. Duensing just recently returned from the DL himself and currently boasts a 6.59 ERA and 1.83 WHIP on the season.

Then there's Mike Montgomery, who right now has a stranglehold on a spot in the Cubs rotation while Yu Darvish gets healthy. There is currently no update on Darvish, which means Montgomery won't be moving back to the bullpen anytime soon.

With less than 2 weeks left until the trade deadline, Maddon would be all for adding another arm or two to his pitching staff.

"Sure. All of the pitching, they're definitely going to want to look at it," Maddon said. "Our numbers are among the best in the NL both overall and as a bullpen and then even into the starters.

"But you're always looking to make it better. That's what GMs do. We'll see how it all plays out. We're hoping the [Morrow] thing is a shorter situation, which we believe it will be."