The winter solstice is still a few weeks away, but the winter-break-cannot-come soon-enough attitude in the air tells no lies- winter is fast on our heels. This means a few things in the sports world. First, NFL games really start to matter for a spot in the playoffs. Every team has something on the line, be it a chance to win a division title or a chance to be spoiler after a lukewarm season. You couple that with outrageous weather conditions that have teams playing in the snow one week and bathing in the southern sun the next, and even casual fans without HDTV’s get drawn into the action. The Giants are playing the Redskins today, and a win could put them atop the NFC East to share the division lead with the Eagles. This week’s Monday Night Football features the Jets and the Patriots, two teams with the league best 9-2 record. And who knows, maybe the Panthers can work up some momentum to get another win before the season is out.
That awkward lull between the end of the World Series and the subsequent free agent scramble is now over. There is calm in the baseball world as Derek Jeter resigned with the Yankees. It looks like the Yankee captain was forced to drink a bit of that “reality potion” as he “settled” for a deal potentially worth 56 million over 4 years. Not too shabby. The Yankee organization allegedly let him test the market, and I am sure Jeter and his team figured out if he wants Babe Ruth treatment at the ripe age of 36, that he’d have to be Yankee to even see a fraction of that Babe Ruth payout. The Yankees also resigned Mariano Rivera.
Theo Epstein, not to be drowned out by all the Yankee buzz, made sure Red Sox nation is hearing its holiday good news. The Sox offered Mariano the 30 million the Yankees offered him, probably full well knowing he wouldn’t take it. The text between the lines delivers a middle finger to current Red Sox closer Jonathon Papelbon. That was quickly swept away by the news that the Red Sox had acquired Padres slugger Adrian Gonzalez, who is going to LOVE those curving homeruns around Pesky’s pole in right field. Word has it that the Red Sox are also courting Carl Crawford, and what a holiday treat that would be.
Oh, let us not forget about LeBron James. His name was flung to the far reaches of the internet world this week as he made his debut in a Heat uniform in his old palace in Cleveland. LeBron lit up his former team with 38 points, 8 assists, 5 rebounds and even threw in a steal despite the roaring boos in the crowd. I, without any real right, felt a little heartbroken myself when LeBron announced he was going to Miami and still use the blogosphere as a mechanism to vent this emotion. But his return is proof that fans, like significant others, care about “what have you done for me lately?” He might have handled his announcement poorly, but I am sure there were moments in time he agonized about the thought of leaving his home city. Maybe LeBron had heard the words of his friend Jay-Z’s “Dear Summer”: “We’ll be reunited and it feels so hood/ Have the whole world saying ‘How you still so good?’” If LeBron finds a way to get more rings than he has room for on one hand he might silence the critics, but for now the more fitting lyric is found in the same song: “And I know you put me on my feet and all, but/ I mean, it’s time for me to grow/ You gotta let me go baby.”