Wednesday, December 23, 2015

The True Meaning of Christmas: 2015 In Review

The True Heroes of 2015
Danville, Kentucky -- Christmas is a time of giving, cheer, love, and warmth. But it's also a time where a young boy learns a lesson that'll stay with him throughout his entire life. Christmas teaches children the value of settling, of lowering their expectations, of living in a world of shattered dreams and broken promises. It's a lesson I've learned over and over again.

It was winter of '69. I had one, and only one, item on my list for Santa. An autographed '69 Topps Woody Woodward card.

Woody Woodward embodied the spirit of the '60s Reds, in the formative years before the Big Red Machine. A utility infielder, Woody played multiple positions with a quiet stateliness. He was my hero.

Yet, sometimes your heroes fail you. Woody ultimately went to a place where baseball should have never gone: the dreary, grungy, over-caffeinated hell-hole Seattle. Young Will Hart didn't know what I know now; that Woody would betray everything the '69 Reds stood for and become general manager of the Seattle Mariners many years later. But at the time, Young Will Hart was hurt when his parents failed to deliver on his lone Christmas request. 

I ran down the stairs that fateful Christmas morning, carefully surveying the presents under the blue-spruce pine tree that my father and I cut down ourselves. I giddily waited for my dad to give the all clear, allowing me to open my gifts. I wept when a Woody Woodward card was nowhere to be found. I learned what heartbreak was that day. I learned what heartbreak was again in '87 after a heated Christmas Day argument with my wife at a Chinese restaurant in Branson, Missouri. My ex-wife took the last crab rangoon that day. But more importantly, she took my pride.

Folks, the waning days of 2015 are upon us. Like most of my Christmas memories, 2015 was a mixed bag. It was the best of times, and the worst of times. My hometown Reds floundered upon the shoals of mediocrity; yet, the Royals showed that friendship, grit, and old-fashioned small-ball really can triumph in an era of escalating payrolls. Chipotle deceived and betrayed us all; yet, Jim Harbaugh restored dignity and honor to a failing football program with class and poise. It was a great year, folks, and 2016 might be even better if America believes in making itself great again. Here's a post compiling links to my prolific writings from this past year. I hope you enjoyed them as much as I did.

* = Will's Choice article. An article chosen for excellence in encapsulating the spirit of TWTW.

NCAA Basketball
Senior Night Sensations *

Major League Baseball -- General
TWTW's 2015 AL Central Preview [correctly predicted Royals playoff berth]
Royals - Tigers Series Preview - April 30th -- May 3rd
TWTW's 5-5 Royals @ Indians Preview [correctly predicted outcome]
TWTW's Tigers @ White Sox Preview - 5-7-15
TWTW's 2015 MLB All Star Game Ballot
TWTW's 2015 ALCS Preview [correctly predicted Royals win in 6 games]
Kansas City Special: TWTW's 2015 World Series Preview [correctly predicted Royals win in 5 games]
Worst to First: How to Make the 2016 Tigers Winners

Major League Baseball -- Player Profiles
In Defense of Omar Infante
Jurassic Verlander: The Lost Ace
FORG1V3 & Never Forget - the A-Rod & Scherzer Story
Boston Massacre: What's Wrong With Rick Porcello?

Major League Baseball -- Writings on Sabermetrics
Nebraska and Texas, What's your Option? Return to the Option
Trump for President: Trump Trumps the Chumps
Ban McDonald's: All Day Breakfast Lie

and who could forget my podcast debut?

My New Year's resolutions:
  • Continue to not write about the NHL, Soccer, or other un-American sports.
  • Re-enter the Danville Applebee's
  • Get out of my comfort zone by trying the mango margarita at Chili's instead of lime margarita
Folks, these aren't just blog posts, they're educational materials. Losing an argument with your nerd son-in-law during Christmas dinner? Consult The Case Against BABIP. Looking to pass on knowledge about the 2015 World Champion Royals to your young nephew? Put him on your knee and show him my voluminous writings on that excellent team, documenting their rise to glory. Is your wife a Cardinals fan? Divorce her, then spam her email with Ban the St. Louis Cardinals. Whatever you do - pour yourself a drink, and have a happy New Year.

Will Hart