Kovacevic: Cross-checking an unused list
If today is the day to save receipts and send gifts back, then this also might be a fine time to offer my collection of unsolicited, in some cases thoroughly unwelcome gifts for the local sports community ...
For Sidney Crosby, Kris Letang, Zbynek Michalek, Tyler Kennedy, Robert Bortuzzo and all future concussed Penguins: An NHL that cares more about safety than the damaged feelings of dinosaur general managers and various other Sutters and Murrays.
For Evgeni Malkin: The genuine desire to be the franchise star. That might not be optional anymore.
For James Neal: 50. OK, 40.
For Jaromir Jagr: Earplugs. Expedited shipping by Thursday, please.
For Dan Bylsma: A non-green, non-reindeer sweater. But only after the winning streak ends.
For Carl Sneep: Another promotion for the defenseman from Wilkes-Barre. Because it's fun to say "Carl Sneep."
For Root Sports: Live goal-cams on their website. You know, just in case the TV broadcast cuts to a commercial.
For Ray Shero: Long-overdue recognition as a shrewd trader. Four of the Penguins' top performers this season — Neal, Pascal Dupuis, Chris Kunitz and Matt Niskanen — came in lopsided deals.
For Kevin Colbert: Long-overdue recognition — period. He's the Steelers' general manager, by the way.
For Mike Tomlin: A mantel for all his unused timeouts.
For James Harrison: The utter and complete vanquishing of the NFL, all the people who run it and every rule implemented since 1970. Or whatever other fantasy he has in mind.
For Ben Roethlisberger: At least an occasional mention for MVP. There are three quarterbacks ahead of him — Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees and Tom Brady — but who handled the most adversity?
For Roethlisberger's linemen: Dinner at the swanky steakhouse of their choice, for somehow keeping him alive against Cleveland and San Francisco.
For Max Starks: The prime cut.
For Hines Ward: That 1,000th catch — five more to go — but not at the expense of Jerricho Cotchery or Emmanuel Sanders.
For Marcus Gilbert: A get-out-of-the-doghouse-free pass. He's been too good to sit for long.
For the Bengals, Name it; it's yours.
For Bob Nutting: A framed copy of that "I love Bob Nutting!" sign that fan famously hoisted at PNC Park when the Pirates were in first place. Winning cures all.
For Neal Huntington: A near-total housecleaning of his scouts responsible for major league player evaluations ... oh, wait, that just happened last month, though few noticed.
For Clint Hurdle: More ex-Rockies!
For the Mets: More ex-Pirates!
For Pedro Alvarez: To prove me wrong for doubting him. He's off to a good start by showing up at PirateFest in exemplary shape.
For Jerry Meals: Lasik surgery.
For Derrek Lee: See Bengals above.
For Paul Chryst: The ability to overcome being a football coach hired by Steve Pederson. He certainly deserves the clean slate.
For Todd Graham: A soul.
For Arizona State: A clue.
For Tino Sunseri: A transfer to a school that better suits his talent. Meaning down in division.
For Khem Birch: Joyeux Noel up there in Montreal, and good riddance if you couldn't handle life in an elite basketball program under an elite coach.
For Jamie Dixon: A deep breath. No Pitt team in recent memory has been so lax with defense and turnovers, but his players always somehow ace that as the season goes along.
For the Clairton Bears: Lifelong success for all involved with the greatest high school football team we'll ever see in these parts.
For Ron Everhart: Relevance for the long-lost concept of Duquesne basketball. Only the names change. (Unless Rick Suder is still there?)
For Suzie McConnell-Serio and Agnus Berenato: A DVD of the UConn-Baylor 1-vs.-2 clash last weekend to illustrate what big-time women's basketball could look like around here if Duquesne or Pitt ever breaks through. The Dukes' recent eight-game winning streak was a step.
For Derek Schooley: Another upset of an NCAA hockey power Friday night when Robert Morris faces No. 4 Ohio State at Consol Energy Center. Maybe this one puts the Colonials and their terrific coach on the local radar.
For Joe Paterno: The most accurate accounting possible of his role in the Penn State scandal. Even if isn't overly relevant to court proceedings — Paterno isn't charged — it's important for history.
For Tom Bradley: A real chance to keep the job for which he was born. There remains zero evidence that he knew anything.
For Jerry Sandusky: Justice.
For our readers: A blessed holiday season. It's the best time of year, in the best place in the world.
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