Yes, it's that time of year again when the family members gather 'round the hearth and give thanks that in these days so fraught with peril no one they know personally is an NFL quarterback.
Actually, despite some sadness and some crises, it's a year we can look back on with genuine fondness, if only for the retribution served up. George Steinbrenner got his this year. Donald Trump got his. Marion Barry. Andrew Dice Clay. Brent Musburger, briefly. (I had a dream the other night that Brent played the Jimmy Stewart role in "It's a Wonderful Life," and when the angel showed Brent what would have happened if he'd never been born, everything had turned out better.)
On that note, some holiday greetings:
To Bernard King, for proving miracles can happen.
To Nolan Ryan, ditto.
To Billy Hatcher, for dreams coming true.
To Pete Sampras, for the quarter-million.
To Andre Agassi, for rock 'n' roll tennis. Personally, I prefer 2 Live Crew.
To Schottzie, who has to lead a dog's life anyway.
To Eli Jacobs, who doesn't like to let money stand in the way of a good time.
To the Virginia football team, for seven games.
To Darrell Walker, for proving all those old-time verities that nobody is supposed to believe in anymore.
To Buster Douglas, who took the money and waddled in the biggest non-S&L rip-off of the year.
To John Williams, for making Buster Douglas his role model.
To George Foreman, whose shadow is cast not only over the heavyweight division, but also over the entire south-central United States.
To Harry Weinberg, for making it all right in the end.
To Cathy Rigby, for crowing.
To Alan, Dave, Heis, Hoff, Mark, Mitch, Scott and Tony. They know why.
To Lisa Olson, for bearing up.
To Magic Johnson, for allowing us to watch.
To Gregg Olson, ditto.
To Cameroon, the little country with the leg up. (And why they don't give the next World Cup to a country that cares?)
To the Pulitzer committee, for getting it right.
To the PGA, for understanding the importance of tokenism.
To Tom Watson, the Nos. 1 through 22 reasons Henry Bloch was finally accepted into that Kansas City country club.
To Paul Westhead, who's learning you can run but you can't hide.
To Andy Geiger, for finally being the right person for the job.
To Randy Milligan, whose sense of humor, and bat, will be needed this season.
To Jimmy Valvano, who proved that grime pays.
Prediction No. 1 for 1991: Pete Rose will soon begin a pool for the exact date of his release from prison.
Prediction No. 2: In a startling turnaround, Arizona will be awarded the 1994 Super Bowl after voting Pete Rozelle's birthday a state holiday.
In the holiday spirit, can't we find new teams to coach for Bill Walsh, Terry Holland and Pat Riley?
And whatever happened to Barry Switzer? Can we keep it that way?
To Cal Ripken, a glove of any consistency he likes.
To Jennifer Capriati, a childhood.
To Bo Jackson, you're kidding, right?
To James Narron, the head of the Maryland State Games program, oh, he got his already.
To Frank Robinson, an owner committed to building a winning team.
To Tony La Russa, the genius, a bigger computer.
To Wes Unseld, who must be a great coach, some players who might help him prove it.
To Jim Palmer, the ability to say, once and for always, "I have retired."
To Walt Williams, some reward for loyalty.
To George Will, a vacation from baseball, and vice versa.
To Dexter Manley, the best of luck.
To Victor Kiam, a huge drop in Lady Remington sales.
To Zeke Mowatt, a year's worth of reminders.
To Mickey Tettleton, a year to prove everyone wrong.
To Jim Traber, a Burger King franchise opening in Tokyo.
To Joe Montana, more tube time.
To Ben McDonald, with a future like that, he doesn't need anything from me.
Prediction No. 3: After shilling for months for Bud Bowl III, Chris Berman will still try to pass himself off as a journalist.
Prediction No. 4: Before season's end, Roland Hemond will sign either Billy Pierce or Minnie Minoso