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A visit from Sox Nicholas

White Sox fans are itching for the night before Opening Day, but the night before Christmas will have to suffice

Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports

(Note from Jim: I received an early Christmas present in my email when a long-time SSS lurker -- let's call him SoxSanta -- sent me this creation.)

A visit from Sox Nicholas

‘Twas the night before Christmas, and all through The Cell,
The box seats were ghostly, the bleachers as well.

The Sox hats were hung by the scoreboard with care,
In hopes that Sox Nicholas soon would be there;

The fans were home nestled asleep in their beds,
While visions of victories danced in their heads;

And Rick Hahn in his kerchief, I in my Sox cap,
Had just settled down for a long winter’s nap,
When out at home plate their arose such a clatter,
I sprang from my bed to see who was the batter.

Away to the press box I flew like Juan Pierre,
Tore open the window to see who was there.
(Though unlike Pierre, while on my way,
I didn’t drop a ball, or throw one away.)
The moon on the breast of the newly-dragged field
Gave a lustre of midday to all it revealed,
And what to my wondrous eyes did it seem,
But a miniature bus and an entire team,
With a driver who yelled with such a godawful squawk,
I knew in a moment it must be The Hawk.

(I realized I was right when I heard him say,
"It wasn’t like this way back in my day.
I remember the game I caused some big trouble
When a catch I made robbed Ty Cobb of a double.
Ol’ Ty came racing on out to left field
And drop-kicked my groin, with sharp cleats revealed.
I said to him Ty, ‘What you did was no sin,
You were just showing me your Will To Win.’")

Then there ensued more meaningless drivel,
So dull and so dated it made my head swivel,
But I blinked my eyes twice and Hawk was gone quick,
Replaced by a guy who knows baseball, Sox Nick.

More rapid than fastballs his players they came,
And he whistled and shouted and called them by name:
"Now Melky, both Adams, Alexei, Abreu,
On Sale, Samardzija, Noesi, Jose Q. –
Okay, John Danks, I guess you can come, too –
Now Conor, now Tyler, now Carlos and Avi,
On Jake, on David, on Zach, Zach and Javy!
To atop the division, to the top of the league!
No stopping for injuries, slumps or fatigue!

As the results of hanging sliders do fly,
When they meet with a bat and soar off to the sky,
So onto the field his players they flew,
And Sox Nick advised them of one thing or two,
He said, "Our defense should be sound up the middle,
But otherwise, really, it’s naught but a riddle;
The whole situation could turn pretty ornery
If opponents hit balls that tend to be cornery,
So Melky and Avi and Jose and Conor,
You’ve to pledge, baseball scout’s honor,
That every time a play is your call,
You’ll make sure you catch the damned ball."

And as they ran out, their cleats making clicks,
He said, "Pitchers, there’s nothing that Cooper can’t fix."
(It’s nigh on a decade since Cooper fixed much.
But the yearning of baseball fanatics is such,
That every Sox fan can recall ought-five glory,
While striking from mem’ry the rest of the story –
So while that one season remains an anomaly,
Everyone falls for the ol’ "Coop-fix" homily.
But, Sox Nick, forgive us for this digression –
Just wanted to clear up a false impression.)

As I poked out my head and was looking around,
To the press box Sox Nicholas came with a bound.
He was dressed all in Sox gear, from his head to his feets,
Sox cap, throwback jersey, Sox pants, socks and cleats.
A basket of balls he had flung on his back,
And he held in his arms a massive bat rack.

His eyes – how they twinkled! His dimples, how merry!
But he looked right at me and said something quite scary!
His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow,
As he stared me down and then whispered low,
"You realize, Robin, I’ve done what I can;
I may be Sox Nick, but I’m only one man.
I know you’re inclined toward peaceful coexistence,
But, man, this is baseball – put up some resistance!
The players are decent, the pitching’s quite good,
And in this division, win it they should,
But you must be a leader, you’ve got to catch fire,
If you just stay quiet, the results will be dire."
Then he made a mean threat by saying, "Son,
If you don’t do better, I’ll bring back Adam Dunn."

He had a broad face, and a little round belly,
That shook when he laughed like a bowlful of jelly,
So despite the harsh words, a twist of his head
Soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread.

He spoke not a word, but went down to the mound,
Pitched batting practice, then wandered around,
And laying a finger aside of his nose bone,
Somehow taught hitters the size of the strike zone;
Got the fielders to catch, got the pen to throw strikes,
Got catchers to catch the way an ump likes.

Then he sprang to the bus, gave a horn-toot alert,
And away they all flew, like a blast from Big Hurt.

And I heard him exclaim, ere he drove out of sight,
"Happy Christmas to all – now go play the game right."