Santa Wojo has been shopping and snarking, and it’s time to hand out the gifts. (Illustration by Tim Summers/Detroit News)
Sheesh, it's been a rough sports year around here. The football teams have fumbled, the Pistons don't win many games, and last I checked, the Red Wings haven't won any games. At least the Tigers turned from naughty to nice with their annual playoff awakening, followed by their annual mega-millions signing. And be thankful for college basketball, because Michigan and Michigan State are good enough to warm us through the winter, even all the way through March.
For the weary and downtrodden, Santa Wojo is here to lift some spirits. (Literally, I'm here to lift some spirits, if you know what I mean. Cheers.) I've been shopping and snarking, and it's time to hand out the gifts. If you're on the list and didn't get what you wanted, well, tough. It could always be worse. You could be Gary Bettman.
Jim Schwartz: For the coach who has everything — except a secondary, a running game, more than one healthy receiver and a kick returner who doesn't kneel at the 4 — only one gift fits. It's his very own red challenge flag, so he can practice inexplicable, game-altering tosses in the privacy of his living room.
Martin Mayhew: Hard to decide, so I followed his drafting strategy and got him the Best Gift Available, no matter what it is.
Any college defensive back: A call from Martin Mayhew.
Matthew Stafford: Maybe we're overly obsessed with his sidearm throws, back-foot heaves and behind-the-back passes from the somersault position. Oh well. I got him a subscription to Popular Mechanics, edited by Ron Jaworski.
Ndamukong Suh: A gift certificate to the Acme School of Driving. Oh, and some cortisone cream for those untimely leg twitches.
Calvin Johnson: Another 108 yards to reach 2,000, so he can continue down the same career path as Barry Sanders, in every way. Also, a productive receiver to play Minitron to his Megatron.
Mike Ilitch: Because he's given so much, I'm offering a choice — either a shiny new hockey arena or a shiny World Series trophy. I think I know which one he'd pick.
Marian Ilitch: OK, you get the hockey arena, although I had to put it on layaway for five years.
Dave Dombrowski: Continued use of Ilitch's no-limit credit card.
Justin Verlander: For the guy with the huge contract, two no-hitters and one (alleged) super-model girlfriend? Sorry, I got nothing for you.
Jim Leyland: Pack of smokes? Too easy. Office air freshener? Too obvious. For the manager who disdains small ball, I'm giving a Bundt cake.
Tom Brookens: A primer on what he can expect to hear in his new duties as Tigers third-base coach — "Hey, Tommy Broken! Why the $#%* did you wave him in?!"
Miguel Cabrera: A fancy new statistic to replace WAR. It'll be called DUH (Dominant Undervalued Hitter).
Brady Hoke: A headset and a bunch of long-sleeve shirts, so we can stop wondering if he owns any.
Mark Dantonio: He's already getting my personal favorite — a big bowl of buffalo wings. Santa Wojo can't deliver more eligibility for Kirk Cousins, but another season of Le'Veon Bell might turn that frown upside down.
Jim Delany: I'm sending the handy textbook "Conference Geography for Dummies," so he can bundle up Rutgers and Maryland and re-gift them to someone else.
John Beilein: Refurbished arena and new practice facility? Got it. Talented roster? Got it. A trip past the first weekend of the NCAA Tournament? Bingo.
Tom Izzo: He has more Final Four appearances than neckties, and I doubt he wants socks. A Jabari Parker action figure? Too soon. How about a present he hasn't had in 15 years, probably doesn't want and surely will return — an actual in-state rival.
Mark Hollis: The gift he's always dreamed of — a Michigan State basketball game on a space station orbiting Mars.
Dave Brandon: The gift he's always dreamed of — a night football game in which Michigan changes jerseys after every quarter. Replicas sold on the concourse!
Denard Robinson: A position in the NFL.
Andre Drummond: A position in the Pistons starting lineup.
Joe Dumars: A winning lottery ticket.
Lawrence Frank: Same thing I try to give every Pistons coach — slightly more job security than a North Korean opposition party member.
Tom Gores: Not sure if it's legal, but I've been rounding up fannies to plop in the empty Palace seats.
Mike Babcock: One of those classic table-top hockey games, so he can pass the time yelling at the plastic defensemen who give away the puck.
Ken Holland: Something he can wistfully stare at for hours — a framed photo of Nicklas Lidstrom.
Gary Bettman: A job he actually might be qualified for — foreclosure specialist. Also, a lump of dirty stinkin' coal the approximate size and shape of a puck.