Naughty, Not Nice 

Let’s take a moment to remember those folks who deserve a butt-kicking

Let’s take a moment to remember those folks who deserve a butt-kicking

Bad Santa, the antidote to every syrupy, lachrymose Yuletide showing of cinematic schmaltz you’ve ever been forced to endure, depicts what I have embraced as my new Christmas fantasy. Forget stocking stuffers and visions of sugarplums. Forget peace on Earth. Dressed in a Santa suit, I want to dispense some groin-kicking justice upon the bullies and boneheads who afflict us.

Of course, I can’t really do that without running afoul of the authorities (who’ve been known, especially when the cameras aren’t rolling, to kick a few groins themselves). That’s why it’s a fantasy. So maybe I should just settle for lumps of coal or the tried-and-true flaming paper bags of dog poop on the doorstep.

I probably wouldn’t get around to everyone who needs a swift kick anyhow. But here are a few who would be near the top of my naughty list this season.

Gene Orza Were it not for Gene, one of the most powerful weasels you’ve probably never heard of, Alex Rodriguez would be a Boston Red Sock by now, Manny Ramirez would be a Texas Ranger and Nomar Garciaparra might be on his way to Chicago. The Bosox and Rangers worked out a deal to trade their two stars—and, more important, their elephantine contracts. Then Gene intervened.

Gene directs the Major League Baseball Players Association, which is to baseball what the albatross was to the Ancient Mariner. Essentially, Gene and the union vetoed a trade that all parties involved, particularly the players, wanted to happen.

Why? As with all matters involving the players’ union, it’s all about principle, of course. A-Rod was prepared to restructure his $252 million contract in a way that would have paid him slightly less money than God—and this, of course, the union simply could not countenance. Hey, you let A-Rod pocket only $22.5 million per season instead of $24 million, and next thing you know, the owners are making rookies schlepp luggage in return for meal money.

That’s the theory, anyhow. It’s kind of like the National Rifle Association’s theory that outlawing private ownership of Uzis and cop-killer bullets will inexorably lead to confiscation of all our guns.

Now, don’t get me wrong. Having worked on assembly lines in unsafe, non-unionized plants, where people with 20 years of service made just 50 cents over minimum wage, I have no sympathy for you Williamson County Republicans who think unions were created by Satan. Yeah, unions today wield way too much business-crippling power. But I’ve seen what y’all do when no one’s around to keep you straight.

Somewhere, though, Orza confused himself with John L. Lewis. We’d like to remind him, with a well-placed foot, that the two working stiffs whose rights he’s defending could fund the Iraqi reconstruction effort for a couple of weeks just out of their cash account in the bank.

Bud Selig A hardy perennial when it comes to feckless yingyangs, Bud is the closest thing baseball has to a commissioner—which is a large part of baseball’s problem. He could have allowed the Rodriguez-Ramirez trade to proceed in spite of the union’s objections. But Bud, as if he carried some magical divining rod, possesses an uncanny knack for making knucklehead decisions. A couple of kicks, dope-slaps or bonks with a skillet probably wouldn’t knock any sense into him. But it would at least make some of us feel better temporarily.

Paul Tagliabue Paul presides over what some folks call the No Fun League. Let your socks droop, and you’ll get fined. Wear any non-sanctioned apparel (which can include a pin with a small cross symbol in your cap), and you’ll get fined.

So you can imagine what the NFL did to New Orleans receiver Joe Horn, who whipped out a cell phone and made a call from the end zone after scoring a TD last week. Entertaining as it was, Joe’s flagrant act of rebellion set him back $30,000. San Francisco’s Terrell Owens, a serial offender, has paid handsomely for celebrating his own TDs with a cheerleader’s pompon and using a concealed Sharpie in his sock to autograph a ball.

Somewhere along the way, Commissar Tagliabue forgot that pro football is supposed to be entertaining. Maybe a couple of well-placed kicks would remind him.

Rasheed Wallace At the other end of the political spectrum from Rush we have Rash—a hard-blowing nitwit who, unlike his radio doppelganger, has inspired no dittohead following of fellow ignorami. When it comes to paranoid ref baiting, Wallace makes John McEnroe look like Jeeves the valet. But even more impressive than his bid for the career record in technical fouls, Rash has managed to turn Portland fans, once the most loyal in the league, against their team.

Last week, for an encore, Rasheed accused NBA Commissioner David Stern (a.k.a. Super Honky) of exploiting naive, young black men just out of high school. Most of us who never receive $100 million contracts wouldn’t mind being similarly exploited, but don’t try to encumber Wallace with logic when he’s on a roll. Do we even really need a drug test in his case?

Kobe Best-case scenario? Kobe is an infidelity-promotin’ road dog whose lifestyle doesn’t match his carefully manufactured image. Worst case? He’ll be the MVP in the Colorado Prison League for the next decade.

John Ashcroft A federal appeals court ruffled the attorney general last week by upholding the radical principle that an American citizen cannot be arrested and held indefinitely without at least being charged with a crime, permitted to see a lawyer and afforded all that other antiquated due-process stuff in the Bill of Rights.

Ashcroft—the Church of God mullah who’d like to blow up your home computer, remote-control terrorist style, for downloading songs from Napster—was probably surprised to learn we even have a Bill of Rights, much less one that protects dangerous freedoms.

In my fantasy, kicking him in the huevos is letting the AG off with too little pain. So while I’m doing it, I’ll also tell him I heard that he’s gay. Five bucks say he’ll melt like Margaret Hamilton at the end of The Wizard of Oz.

Pat Summitt What list of bullies could be complete without including our very own Bobby Knight in a pantsuit? Yes, I know, Pat has mellowed. For example, she probably wouldn’t again risk giving birth to her child on a university plane for the sake of a recruiting trip. And she no longer feels compelled to publicly humiliate every single one of her players who screws up on the court.

To those of you who have already begun piling up kindling around the stake, let me hasten to say that, if I were training Marines or an Olympic team, Snarling Pat would be the man. But basketball ain’t Quantico, and, believe it or else, you can coach basketball effectively without treating your players like excrement. Pat’s finally learning that lesson. So maybe instead of a kick, we could just let the Fab Five give her a “Queer Eye” makeover.

John Carney His New Orleans Saints had just pulled off the wackiest last-second, four-lateral, sandlot play since Cal-Stanford years ago. To send the game into OT, all Carney had to do was kick the extra point—a task at which he had not failed since 1999. Naturally, he shanked this one, and the Saints lost 20-19 to Jacksonville. A lot of people say it’s unfair to kick a guy while he’s down. Obviously, they’re not real Americans.

Merry Christmas, suckaz!

How It Looks from the La-Z-Boy

Titans 20, Buccaneers 14

Ravens 27, Steelers 14

Bengals 30, Browns 10

Colts 34, Texans 14

Sugar Bowl:

Oklahoma 24, LSU 10

Rose Bowl:

Southern Cal 27, Michigan 24

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