Jim O'Donnell: Masked Sports Santa can only hope for no reindeer positives

Jim O’Donnell: Masked Sports Santa can only hope for no reindeer positives

FROM WAY UP NORTH where the air gets cold, Masked Sports and Media Santa is set to roll. He’s made a list, tossed it out twice and will be winging it Christmas Eve when the deliveries will be more socially chimneyed than ever. A whit list of gifts: Arlington Park — Dignified passage, which isn’t likely. … Some think economic residuals from the pandemic may actually buy the local oval an extra season or two. … Others say that if Churchill Downs Inc. gets the Waukegan casino license, “Bunker Bill” Carstanjen and his storm swoopers will once again do what they want when they want. … Sharp money is on No. 2. Bret Bielema — A fresh copy of “Barry Alvarez’s Complete Guide to Kick Starting a Dead College Football Program.” … His grazing Wisconsin magic dissolved into Arkansas trail dust. … Maybe a new-age “Iceman” grows in Wheaton. Frank Calabrese — A 2021 Arlington Million championship for his imposing Big Dreaming. … The local horse racing game has known no more colorful owner in the new millennium and his extraordinary acts of kindness are legendary on backstretches from Saratoga to Stickney. Chicago sports talk radio — At WSCR-AM (670), fresh energy, fresh talent and fresh leadership. … At ESPN AM-1000, resources to chase fresh energy, fresh talent and a promotable product. … Are they sure Guglielmo Marconi did it this way? The College Football Playoff — A time bomb. … Either equitably expand the repetitive elitist travesty to eight teams or let it be blown to smithereens. … Texas A&M should be in, Ohio State shouldn’t be nor should Notre Dame, which would be a two-loss team if Trevor Lawrence had been cleared to play in South Bend seven weeks ago. Pat Fitzgerald — An offensive framework that won’t let him down in marquee games. … “Fitz” has his own contented purple cocoon going on The Enchanted Lakefront. … But right now, his universal grid epitaph would read, “Couldn’t win the big ones.” Bob Frisk — A quiet, happy holiday corner in The Big Newsroom Upstairs. … Ideally, one where he is still monitoring all the triumphs and tribulations of the vast number of colleagues and other folks who his talent, intellect and passion forever heartened. Brian Griese and Nick Foles — An appropriate laurel for the most honest appraisal of what suddenly went wrong with the 2020 Bears. … Matt Nagy was calling plays that his offense didn’t have the talent to execute. … Message received, unexpected December turnabout kicks in. Kirk Herbstreit — Majestic, papal-like robes in the colors of his beloved Ohio State to wear on-air. … It’s a shame Woody Hayes can’t pop out of the Big Ten Valhalla and misdirect a punch to Herbstreit’s Hail-Columbus! mouth. LeBron James — Love, peace and acknowledgment. … What more does petty America want out of the man? … He long ago mastered his core craft. … Since then, all he’s been doing is giving back, setting an unassailable example of what a Successful Modern American can be and never forgetting his roots. Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews — Escape. Brian Kelly — A muzzle. … Three things can happen when the charisma-free Notre Dame football mechanic opens his mouth and none are good. … As a successor to Rockne, Leahy and Parseghian, Kelly is like Sean Hannity following Cronkite, Huntley and Brinkley. Tony La Russa — An early end to all of the age jokes. … So what if the White Sox will be the first MLB team with an iced tub of Ensure in the manager’s office? Steve Levy — A large inflatable balloon to take this blaring foghorn up, up and away from “The Monday Night Football” booth. … He’ll supply the hot air. The McCaskey family — That calm, guided moment when The Spirit of GSH descends and tells them it’s time to sell. … With its Irish imaginations and Bohemian money sense, the family could structure a deal to guarantee Chicago NFL profit participation for decades to come. John McDonough — A flare gun so regional sports faithful can still remember he’s out there. … Franchise hero to overnight footnote, his abrupt dismissal by the Blackhawks last spring was so chillingly calloused it was as if hazy Bill Wirtz was back ordering the shots. Ted Phillips — A break. … The fellow started out as a tax accountant who most improbably wound up as president of an NFL team. … When all the Bears angst has been settled, he’ll still be a tax accountant. Jerry Reinsdorf — A reflective winter. … Because — as “The Last Dance” clearly confirmed — his ultimate legacy as a sports wheeler-dealer will be that he was the man who allowed the globally inspirational Michael Jordan to be disposed of like a Handi Wipe. Rick Renteria — If he ever gets to manage in the majors again, a back-ended contract that calls for an enormous bonus if he’s dismissed while directing a team in clear ascent. … Was it Hemingway who wrote: “Every contemporary Chicago baseball championship includes Rick Renteria being fired?” Anthony Rizzo — Seashells and panettone. … Has there been a major Chicago athlete of the past decade who has so consistently represented competitive grace and style? And to Jay Mariotti, all wee tee times for one of the most clever column headlines of the season: “The Future of Sports: Can Charlie Woods Save Us?” • Jim O’Donnell’s Sports & Media column appears Thursday and Sunday. Reach him at jimodonnelldh@yahoo.com.
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