WILD BILL’S SPORTS ROUNDUP – Christmas Edition!

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Bill Turner
Here we are again with the annual Christmas edition.
Your last call before Santa lands his sleigh on the rooftop. Your last call before making sure you have that special gift in the stocking. Your last call to stock up on Bloody Mary mix before the ball drops in Times Square. I’m already wearing my Loudmouth attire in front of the fireplace, now in its eighth year as the official fashion statement and sportswear of the Wild Bill column. Thanks to Cassie and her crew for another great year with hopes everything returns to normalcy in the San Francisco Bay area.
Let’s call it what it is. 2020 has been a tough year for just about everyone. Dealing with the virus, wearing those suffocating masks and trying to find toilet paper has tested one’s patience. Making it only worse were the drama-filled national TV reporters and political pundits who made a sorry attempt while trying to hide their candidate preference throughout the election debacle.
But, it’s time to move on, especially in the world of sports. Too many events were cancelled, too many leagues had their seasons shuttered. It’s time to return to action. 2021 needs to have high school sports, college games without half-baked excuses, Salem Red Sox baseball and Roanoke Rail Yard Dawgs hockey. Plus, a visit to the mail bag for a weather prediction and a great countdown to the arrival of, well, you know the jolly ole man..,,,read on.
High school basketball has seen its speed bumps, but games may well be on the horizon. Although the previously approved start of games in late-December looks to be pushed back to January, better late than never. And, while spectators may be limited or even not allowed, watch for streaming video of your favorite team and tune in to radio and television broadcasts from guys like Dave Ross and Ben Peyton. Our high school athletes deserve the best.
The Roanoke Valley Sports Club gets back to monthly meetings on Monday, January 18th when the always-popular media night takes center stage. Club president Dave Ross, along with his media committee, have lined up an exceptional evening of panelists.
Presently set as guest speakers are Greg Roberts from Radio 960 Greg Roberts Live, TV anchors Travis Wells (WDBJ), John Appicello (WSLS) and Jermaine Ferrell (WFXR), along with print journalists Brian Hoffman and Hall of Famer Doug Doughty. The evening at the Salem Civic Center begins with a 5:45 social, with dinner and the program to follow. Visit the club’s website at www.roanokevalleysportsclub.com to make the required advance reservations. Bring your questions for a fun evening with the top experts.
The college football playoff lineup is set and those games should be a bonanza on getting 2021 under way. Alabama, Clemson, Ohio State and Notre Dame headline the College Football Playoff Final-4. Semifinals January 1st, with the winners playing January 11.
Unfortunately, college bowl games are another thing. So far 16 have been cancelled and many of the rest are nothing to brag about. The mighty Southeastern Conference leads the way in bowl game futility with 5 teams having losing records. You can give Kentucky a pass as acceptable with a 4-6 record (Gator Bowl), but the other four: Tennessee 3-6 (Liberty), Arkansas 3-7 (Texas), Mississippi State 2-7 (Armed Forces) and South Carolina 2-8 (Gasparilla) border on the ridiculous. Borrowing from Perry Mason DA Hamilton Burger, bowl streaks and attendance have become incompetent, immaterial and irrelevant.
Next, to the mail bag where one reader is anxious on whether to get the snow shovel waxed and stock up on ice melt.
Dear Wild Bill: I’ve heard enough about the flip-flop forecasts based on El Nina, El Nino, Old Man Winter. low pressure tendencies around the North Pole, global warming and what has happened 12 times since 1906. How about a reliable forecast from your Ouija Board? (Greta/Roanoke County).
Well, Gretta, the Board was brought out and spoke volumes. Get your shovel handy. Snows will be prominent in January and February. Cold, windy nights are to be expected. Get the recipe out for Smoking Bishops and make sure your fireplace is ready for a cozy night.
Finally, we want to thank the many readers of this column and wish everyone a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. And, what better way to send you greetings than a little tale fitting for a frigid Christmas Eve in front of a roaring fire in the fireplace.
The Chief sent us pictures from his remote mountaintop retreat where nearly two feet of snow covered the ground. The staff poured over the photos, wondering aloud if he would make it back for their bonuses. Other staff noted his place resembled the North Pole with evergreen forests. Surely, The Chief couldn’t be…… No, not the jolly ole fellow himself.
(Editor’s Note . . . Well, you never know . . .)
On December 23, 1823, a poem called “A Visit from Saint Nicholas” was published anonymously in the “Sentinel”, the local newspaper of Troy, New York. Ironically, the “Sentinel” was the original name of The Roanoke Star in 2007.
This anonymous piece offered a different take on Santa Claus, a figure who was, until that time, traditionally depicted as a thinner, less jolly, horse-riding disciplinarian; a combination of mythologies about the British Father Christmas, the Dutch Sinterklaas, and the fourth-century bishop Saint Nicholas of Myra.
But, the poem in the newspaper painted a different picture: it gave Santa eight named reindeer; it described a Santa who could magically sneak in and out of homes via chimneys; and it created the venerated, cheerful, chubby icon that is everywhere today in holiday cards, movies, television and malls.
Now known by most as “Twas the Night Before Christmas,” after its famous first line and thirteen years after it was published, Clement Moore took credit, although many historians believe it was actually penned by New York writer Henry Livingston.
Yes, you always learn something when you read this column.
Regardless, 197 years later we offer a different look at the jolliest ole guy around. Without further ado, “A Visit from St. Chief”, a slight takeoff from the original 1823 account by Clement Clarke Moore.
“Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the office
Not a creature was stirring, from accomplished writer to novice;
The stockings were hung by the corporate fireplace with care,
In hopes that St. Chief soon would be there;
The interns were nestled all snug in their chairs,
While visions of a bonus danced by the pairs;
Wild Bill in his Loudmouth, writers with beverage in hand,
Never a doubt, the best scribes in the land.
When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter,
I sprang to the window to see what was the matter,
Away to the window I flew like a flash,
Tore open the shutters and threw up the sash.
The moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow
Gave the lustre of mid-day to objects below,
When, what to my wondering eyes should appear,
But a miniature sleigh and eight tiny reindeer.
With a little old driver so lively and brief,
I knew in a moment it must be St. Chief.
More rapid than eagles his coursers they came,
And he whistled, and shouted, and called them by name.
“Now, Deborah! now, Mike!, now, Wild Bill and Lucky!
On Melinda! on, Scott! on, Patrick and Joy!
To the top of the porch! to the top of the wall!
Now dash away! dash away! dash away all!”
So up to the corporate rooftop they flew,
With the sleigh full of bonuses, and St. Chief along too.
The prancing and pawing of each little boot,
And, our own flashy boss disguised in a red suit.
As I drew in my head, and was turning around,
Down the chimney St. Chief came with a bound.
He was dressed all in fur, from his head to his foot,
And his clothes were all tarnished with ashes and soot;
A bundle of bonuses he had flung on his back,
And he looked like a peddler just opening his pack.
His eyes, how they twinkled! his dimples how merry!
His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry!
He had a calm face and a little round belly,
That shook when he laughed, like a bowlful of jelly.
He was chubby and plump, a right jolly ole elf,
And I laughed when I saw him, in spite of myself.
A wink of his eye and twist of his head,
Soon gave me to know, it was our Chief like I said.
He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work,
And filled all the stockings; then turned with a jerk.
And laying a finger aside of his nose,
And giving a nod, up the chimney he rose;
He sprang to his sleigh, to his team gave a whistle,
And away they all flew like the down of a thistle.
But I heard him exclaim, ere he drove out of sight,
“Whether computer, TV or a fancy new car,
I’m rewarding your hard work, here at The Star.
Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good-night.”
Until next year, have a happy holiday season.
– Wild Bill Turner