I was about to shut down the laptop for the year when I got an email from up north. WAY up north.
Apparently the Big Guy was in a rush to start making deliveries — UPS and Fed-Ex can only do so much — and he and his elf assistants accidentally left some items in the workshop. Would I mind stepping in and stepping up.
I’m happy to help.
So here are some final gifts — or coal lumps — I have been entrusted to hand out to the deserving.
To the San Fernando High football program: Take that valuable playoff lesson Garfield High of Los Angeles taught you and use it to prepare for what could be a very good 2017 season.
To Chavez High: Some more community eyes (and financial support) for your sports programs. There’s nothing wrong with combining academic excellence with sports excellence. The softball team has won back-to-back City championships. The baseball team has appeared in two City finals. The football team had a nice playoff run. And the homework is still getting done.
To the Poly High girls volleyball team: a hotshot Hollywood producer paying for movie rights to the story of a team that had no gym to practice in during the summer, a coach who didn’t really know the sport and still won the City Division II championship.
To Sierra Canyon High: Nothing really. What else is there after a week where the basketball team beats Oak Hill Academy of Virginia to end it’s 56-game winning streak, and the football team completes a perfect season by winning a state CIF Division 2A bowl game?
To El Camino Real outfielder Daniel Moreno: a video loop of that remarkable throw which saved the 2016 City Division I championship game for the Conquistadors.
To Chatsworth baseball Coach Tom Meusborn: the end of the curse both he and the Chancellors have been under since winning their last City championship in 2009.
To Poly girls’ basketball Coach Tremeka Batiste: A couple of players around 6-2, especially while the Parrots are still playing in City Division I.
To the supporters of the North Hollywood girls’ basketball team: long, warm memories of the team winning its first ever championship with their triumph in the City Division II final against Venice.
To the Grant High football program: A roster of at least 50 players.
To CSUN men’s basketball coach Reggie Theus: a full team now that the NCAA investigations are finally over.
To UCLA head football coach Jim Mora: a reduction in ego before there is a reduction in employment.
To Miguel Gonzalez: The continuation of his major league career with the White Sox.
To the Los Angeles Dodgers: a bridge from the playoffs to the World Series.
To Angels Manager Mike Scioscia: a catcher who can live up to his defensive expectations that can also hit.
To the Los Angeles Lakers: patience to the fan base as their young core continue on the path to development and maturity.
To the Los Angeles Clippers: What the Dodgers got — except to the NBA, or at least Western Conference, finals.
To the Los Angeles Rams: Sorry, the list is too long.
But whoever is the Rams next head coach, it would behoove that person to not start the postgame press conference with “We don’t make excuses,” then mouth words that resonate like excuses.
To most professional athletes, black, white or whatever: a social conscience matching the size of your bank account.
To local boxing legend Bobby Chacon, worldwide boxing legend Muhammad Ali, golfing legend Arnold Palmer, college basketball coaching legend Pat Summitt, Brazil soccer star Carlos Alberto Torres, Miami Marlins pitcher Jose Fernandez, and others we lost in 2016: Rest In Peace.
And to all of you: a peaceful holiday season followed by an amazing 2017.