The wonderful holiday of Christmas is upon us!
For many of us, that means gifts and well-wishes, time with your loved ones, and the possibilities set under one’s Christmas tree on the morning of December 25th.
On another level, it’s also about hoping and wishing for the things you want most.
In honor of the beloved holiday, allow me to speak about that second thing. I gaze upon the sports world and there are many things that I, personally, wish to happen. In some respects, I hope I’m not alone on these particular Christmas wishes; in others, I wholly expect to be.
So, allow me to go down my list of Christmas wishes in the world of sports:
1) A Quality starting pitcher and outfielder for the San Francisco Giants
The defending World Series champions have been seen as “losers” thus far in the Hot Stove / offseason sessions in Major League Baseball. When you fail to bring back their highest-priority in-house FA (Pablo Sandoval), lose out on your prized FA pitcher (Jon Lester), and your “big free agent signing” thus far is for a pitcher you already had (Jake Peavy), it’s hard to call it a winning offseason, by any means.
While the Giants have never been the type to make a huge splash in free agency (yet still win three Commissioner’s Trophies in five years), it sure would have been nice to make a big signing that could simultaneously make headlines and improve the team.
Funnily enough, they can probably turn to the team they defeated in the World Series for at least one major need. While I’ve been hot-and-cold about the Royals’ James Shields, taking into account his “Small Game” status in the World Series and the mileage already accrued on his right arm, he could be a serviceable No. 3 starter behind Bumgarner and a hopefully-healed up Matt Cain. While it’s doubtful they would go for more than five years and $100 million, it’s still a real possibility, for the time being.
As for the outfield, the Giants – at least in Rant Sports’ opinion – could go after a guy like Cincinnati’s Ryan Ludwick, at least in as another stop-gap option. He’s 36, so he wouldn’t be a long-term option (maybe signing him to a one-year deal for a reasonable price would be fair). But he could be solid for the time being. And, considering they went in on 2014 Comeback Player of the Year Casey McGehee, it wouldn’t be a stretch for the Giants to make this move, as well.
2) A TCU victory in the Peach Bowl
Am I disappointed that the Horned Frogs didn’t reach the inaugural College Football Playoff? Sure. And, I’m not the only one who might have thought the committee got it wrong by letting Florida State, Ohio State and Baylor leap-frog the Frogs in the final standings – just look at the latest polls on Fox Sports about a hypothetical 16-team playoff: They have the Big 12 Co-Champion in a semifinal matchup with Oregon.
In any case, TCU is playing in a “New Year’s Six” matchup as part of the College Football Playoff series. Not the playoff itself, but it’s something.
The No. 6 Horned Frogs will be featured in the Chick-Fil-A Peach Bowl on New Year’s Eve against No. 9 Ole Miss. Both are intriguing teams that had successful seasons in their own right. It looks like an exciting matchup on paper – TCU’s second-ranked scoring offense vs. Mississippi’s top-ranked scoring defense, for example. “Homer” feelings aside for my latest alma mater, I only hope that the Horned Frogs can beat the Rebels of Ole Miss to, at the very least, show the CFP committee that they made a mistake by leaving them out.
3) A March Madness appearance for TCU Men’s Basketball
Speaking of Horned Frogs sports, how about the TCU men’s basketball squad? They are undefeated thus far this season (12-0).
Not many people around Fort Worth really talk about the school’s men’s basketball team of any consequence, and for good reason – 2013’s men’s squad boasted a mere 9-22 record, with an winless record against the Big 12 (0-18).
But this is a new year, a healthier squad, and they’re obviously rolling. They have wins over Ole Miss (a sign of things to come in the Peach Bowl?) and Mississippi State, and wins of 10 points or more in all but two of their games. They just cracked the AP Top 25 for their efforts.
Sure, a lot of their wins come at the hands of small schools, but 12-0 is 12-0, especially for a team that struggled so mightily the season before. Head coach Trent Johnson credits the health of his players for the hot start, and, if all goes well, they could find themselves in contention for a spot in the NCAA Tournament. Hell, if Dick Vitale is impressed, you know they’re making some National noise.
It will be tough in a conference that boasts six other ranked teams, but for a team that has not seen this kind of early season success since 1998 – not coincidentally, the last time the Horned Frogs reached the March Madness field – the possibility is there for the taking.
4) A No. 1 seed in the West for the Golden State Warriors
I remember when I, along with many others in and out of the media, was scratching my head when the Warriors fired incumbent head coach Mark Jackson for Steve Kerr. After all, Jackson’s Warriors were mere minutes from a date with the Oklahoma City Thunder in the Western Conference Semifinals, and Kerr had no previous head coaching experience in the NBA.
Apparently, the Warriors front office knew what it was doing. With Splash Brothers Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson playing lights out and the roster clicking on all cylinders, Golden State is off to an eye-popping 23-3 start under Kerr. It is by far the best start for a rookie head coach, and the Warriors are already looking like a favorite to win the Western Conference.
Obviously, the Bay Area has seen hot starts for their local teams before (See: 2014 San Francisco Giants and Oakland A’s). But this is a team who has lost once since late November, and won big games in big cities (Houston, Dallas, Oklahoma City) without big man Andrew Bogut. No telling how good they could be with him in the lineup on a consistent basis. A No. 1 seed – and possibly a spot in the Finals – is not out of the question for this team right now.
5) A freaking Pacquiao-Mayweather Superfight
The boxing world has been clamoring for this fight for years. And, anyone who follows big-time boxing knows that, no matter who’s to blame – Mayweather’s camp, Bob Arum, whomever – it’s been stalled for whatever reason.
Now, with both Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather, Jr. possibly reaching respective ends to their careers, we may finally get to see a Superfight as mythic as Rocky Balboa vs. Apollo Creed.
After Pacquiao’s latest defense of his Welterweight title against Chris Algieri, there has been buzz going around that a fight between the two champions could happen as early as May of next year. Pacquiao had been pushing for the fight even before his Algieri bout, and has done his job, returning to the form he had before two inexplicable losses to Timothy Bradley and Juan Manuel Marquez. The Mayweather camp had been silent until recently, when he acknowledged that a fight between the two should happen on May 2.
Personally – and I know I’m not alone on this – this fight has been long overdue. So overdue, in fact, that a fight now wouldn’t really settle anything; after all, Pacquiao and Mayweather fans wanted this fight to happen as early as 2009. You could argue both are “past their primes” – despite the fact that they are still two of the best welterweights in the world, 2009 Pacquiao would run rings around 2014 Pacquiao, and the same could be said about Mayweather.
While this fight could be a solemn reminder of what the two sides robbed the boxing world of five years ago, it would still be a must-watch fight for any boxing fan. Make it happen, guys.
6) A quick playoff exit for the Seattle Seahawks
I think I’ve made it abundantly clear that I do not share any fondness for the defending Super Bowl champions. Do I respect them? Sure. Even respect is due for the 49ers’ version of the Antichrist, Richard Sherman.
But, Lord knows that, as a self-described 49ers fan, I still despise that team.
That’s why it pains me to see them succeeding so vastly – grabbing the No. 1 seed in the NFC with their latest win against Arizona, in particular – in light of the 49ers’ 2014 woes, of which there are many.
As a result, I’m not sure what the 49ers Faithful would do if they watched their most bitter rival make a deep run in the postseason – let alone REPEAT as Super Bowl champions. I can imagine the Red-and-Gold heads exploding by the thousands.
For the sake of my own sanity – and the sanity of 49ers fans everywhere – if the Seahawks were to, you know, just stumble once against a team like the Packers, or even the Cowboys, just for this one postseason …
… I think that wouldn’t be TOO MUCH to ask.
7) Jim Harbaugh staying for a fifth year as 49ers head coach
Speaking of depressing 49ers storylines …
Now, I know the reports have already come out that the organization has already prepared to release the Faithful’s beloved head coach 48 hours after the end of the team’s regular season. I also know that the Michigan Wolverines are already poised to snatch him with a reported 6-year, $48 million deal as soon as he is available.
But, I’m kind of asking for a Christmas miracle, here.
If there is any way that owner Jed York is pulling the rug over 49ers fans’ eyes, for whatever reason, or if York has an inexplicable change of heart in the next week or so, the Faithful would certainly appreciate it. After all, everyone is looking at this “inevitable” move as idiotic. It’s akin to cutting off one’s nose to spite their face. It’s insane that it got to this point, and the team – especially its fan base – will suffer for it.
Hoping against Hope … please, Mr. York.
8) A Post-SourceFed career in Sports Media for Joe Bereta
Well, a few days ago, I found out that original SourceFed host and resident “sports guy”, Joe Bereta, will be leaving the channel at the end of the year. As a loyal fan, this saddened me. From his infectious enthusiasm to his crazy stories, Bereta was the heart of the channel, and he will be sorely missed.
And, this is coming from a fellow sports fan that found a kindred spirit in Mr. Bereta – the only personality who actually showed an affinity for sports, as a former high school and college athlete, and an avid fan of the Seattle Mariners – in an overall YouTube audience that cared little to nothing about sports. So, personally, this is, in no uncertain terms, a “double bummer”.
While I may not know what his future holds, I kind of hope it has something to do with the realm of sports. After all, his early career had him in a sports-themed comedy improv troupe called ComedySportz – it isn’t a stretch to see him in sports-themed entertainment for, say, Fox Sports or ESPN in the near-future. At least, that’s my hope.
So, allow me to say Merry Christmas to you, Mr. Bereta, good luck to you, sir, in your future endeavors. And perhaps, if we’re both lucky, we will cross paths in the sports world.