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Holiday Cheers

Posted by Christopher L. Gasper, Globe Staff  December 24, 2009 12:56 PM

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'Tis the season for giving and tomorrow those of us who celebrate Christmas will unwrap a few gifts from under the tree, but why should our local sports teams be left out of the gift-giving? Whether they've been naughty or nice in our eyes, the teams that bring us joy (mostly) all year long deserve some presents to make the holiday season -- and their seasons -- a little more jolly.

Here are some last-minute gift ideas for each of the five major professional sports teams in town. Yes, Virginia, there is a professional soccer club in town. There is no more appropriate place to start when handing out Christmas gifts than with a team that has red stockings as its emblem.

The Red Sox have already done their holiday shopping, picking up shortstop Marco Scutaro, outfielder Mike Cameron and this year's big-ticket item, pitcher John Lackey. All the focus on improved defense and a stellar rotation is great, but you know deep down on Yawkey Way they'd like to find a big-time, big-name slugger. Let's give the Sox the one gift they really want (well, other than Hanley Ramirez back) --  a trade for Padres first baseman Adrian Gonzalez.

Last year, the Sox missed out on the "it" toy of the off-season, Mark Teixeira. Gonzalez is in the prime of his career at age 27, wants to play for the Sox, has a swing tailor-made for Fenway and has an affordable contract the next two seasons ($4.5 million this season with a club option for $5.5 million in 2011). The last four seasons he has averaged 33 home runs and 100 RBI playing in Petco Park, which it so unfriendly to hitters it might as well be Yosemite National Park. During that same time Teixeira has averaged 34 home runs and 114 RBI.

The last three seasons, Petco Park has finished last or next to last in the majors in ballpark home run factor. During that time Gonzalez has hit .303 with 70 home runs on the road and .253 with 32 home runs on the road. His away slugging percentage is .595, while his home one is .434.

Stocking stuffer: How about the return of Jason Bay? That would relieve some of the pain of having to give up Jacoby Ellsbury to get Gonzalez.

Green and red are the Christmas colors. We've covered the Red Sox, so let's go to the Green.

The Celtics will be playing a Christmas Day game tomorrow against the Orlando Magic. The one gift they'd like is a healthy roster. The startling news yesterday that captain Paul Pierce could miss two weeks after having a procedure to treat a knee infection -- we all learned from Patriots quarterback Tom Brady how tricky knee infections can be -- added to the C's injury woes. Kevin Garnett, who appears to have recovered from the right knee injury that truncated his 2009 season, missed Tuesday night's game against Indiana with a right thigh bruise.

 Boston is already without a pair of key reserves, Glen Davis, who broke his right thumb in an altercation with a friend on the eve of the season-opener, and forward/guard Marquis Daniels, who is out until the All-Star break after having surgery to repair a ligament in his left thumb.

The Celtics have an Eastern Conference-best 22-5 record, and with Rasheed Wallace and a healthy Daniels, their bench is arguably better than the one they have in 2008, when they won their 17th NBA title with James Posey, P.J. Brown and Eddie House, who is still in-house, coming off the pine. The only thing that could derail this team, which relies on a trio of superstars who are all 32 or older, is injuries. That was the case last season with Garnett. Remember that Celtics team had a 19-game winning streak at one point and was 44-11 before Garnett went down.

Stocking stuffer: A jump shot for Rajon Rondo. That's all that's preventing Rondo from reaching Steve Nash, Chris Paul, Deron Williams territory.

The Patriots are in position to give themselves a belated Christmas gift on Sunday -- an AFC East title -- with a win over the Jacksonville Jaguars at Gillette Stadium. It hasn't always been a merry season for the Patriots, but unwrapping the division title would certainly bring some mirth to the House of Hoodie. But what this team could use is a third wide receiver.

Brady has completed 320 passes this year and 174, or 54.4 percent of them, have gone to either Moss or Welker. But that's not the problem. In 2007, Brady completed 52.8 percent of his passes to the dynamic duo. The third receiver spot has been a revolving door with Joey Galloway, Julian Edelman (really more of a slot receiver than a split end opposite Moss), Isaiah Stanback, and now Sam Aiken.

Stocking stuffer: The six-sack performance against Buffalo was great, but the Patriots still could use an elite pass rusher. Julius Peppers, anyone?

This is the season of light, but the Bruins have a hard time lighting the lamp this season. Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli has admitted he thought the team would score more and Congress has had an easier time hashing out health care reform than Claude Julien has had crafting line combinations.

After their six-goal outburst last night the Bruins are 24th in the NHL in goals per game at 2.53. Before the Thrashers game they were last in the NHL in goals scored with 85. Only Carolina and St. Louis have scored fewer. The Bruins don't have a player among the top 60 in the NHL in goals. Last season the Bruins were second in the NHL in goals per game (3.29), scoring 270. Injuries have sapped some of the juice out of the offense, as top center Marc Savard and left wing Milan Lucic have missed a combined 41 games. Before the season is over, the Bruins need a goal scorer. Atlanta scoring machine Ilya Kovalchuck would look good in Black and Gold, but his price tag is too high.

Stocking stuffer: One more puck-moving defenseman. Still wish the Bruins had gotten Tomas Kaberle in the Phil Kessel deal.

The Revolution are a major pro sports team in this town, even if you don't consider there to be anything Major League about Major League Soccer. What the Revolution need is a soccer-specific stadium, so they don't have to play in front of three-quarters empty Gillette Stadium, which has all the soccer ambiance of the Ted Williams Tunnel. MLS will have nine teams out of 16 with soccer-specific stadia in 2010. The league is adding the expansion Philadelphia Union.

Stocking stuffer: How about a few more people paying attention to the Revs?
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The word

Christopher L. Gasper riffs on the news


...That's what the Patriots have when it comes to picks in the 2013 NFL Draft, which starts Thursday. After all those years of stockpiling picks the way a survivalist does non-perishables the Patriots have just five picks in this year's draft, thanks to Band-aid trades for Albert Haynesworth, Chad Ochocinco and Aqib Talib. Five picks would be the fewest draft picks in franchise history. (Part of that is attributable to the trimming of the draft to just seven rounds in 1994). Further complicating matters is that two of the Patriots' greatest needs are at wide receiver and cornerback, positions where they have sustained draft droughts. With that in mind, I'm convinced the Patriots are going trade back out of the first round of a quanity-over-quality draft where you're just as likely to pick a Pro Bowl player in the second and third round as you are in the first round.

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