Christmas wishes and actual gifts for Division I college lacrosse.
There's a difference between Christmas wishes and Christmas gifts. For example, when I was a kid, I wished for an A-Team Power Wheels so that I could exist as a soldier of fortune like Hannibal Smith, jumping out of my electric van before shooting the ground with an AK-47 instead of, you know, my actual enemies. Instead, my grandparents gifted me a Treasury bond. In case you don't know, a Treasury bond -- for an eight year-old -- isn't all that fun to play with; I wished for prepubescent excitement, I was gifted stupid interest payments with a distant maturity date.
Many college lacrosse teams are in a similar situation. They may be wishing for something totally awesome that they think they need -- like a laser deathray that doubles as a lacrosse stick -- but what they really need is something different -- like, say, a new set of whistles for the coaching staff to correct especially boneheaded play. Only the ACME Company carries the former (and getting that mail order catalogue is tough); your grandparents can easily pick up the latter at the local dry goods shoppe. Let's play with the seasonal hubris and see what happens.
Christmas Wish: A 60 percent face-off specialist that can raise hell like Denver's Chase Carraro.
Actual Gift: An offensive midfield rotation that isn't pieced together with magical duct tape dreams and shoots somewhere around -- as a group -- 30 percent.
Christmas Wish: A .500 league record and, if possible, an actual velociraptor that accounts for 40-plus points while being named first team All-America (Dinosaur Edition).
Actual Gift: The good sense to be a little selfish -- only Mercer (60.52 percent) turned the ball over more than Wagner (58.85 percent) on a per-possession basis last season -- next year.
Christmas Wish: An actual cannon to shoot coaches from the game -- the best kind of ejection ever! -- should they violate the point of emphasis around unsportsmanlike conduct.
Actual Gift: A sock puppet that can be used to simultaneously: (1) explain to coaches the reason behind a call made pursuant to the new rules; and (2) belittle the intelligence of those very coaches that question the validity of the referee's decision.
Christmas Wish: Finally, after all these years, a clearer and unified definition around why things are called "execution."
Actual Gift: A gallows and a copy of Truman Capote's "In Cold Blood."
Christmas Wish: Record ticket sales and television ratings, not to mention three of the following seven schools advancing to Philadelphia: Johns Hopkins, Virginia, Syracuse, Maryland, Notre Dame, Princeton, or Navy.
Actual Gift: Assurance that local Philadelphians will not throw snowballs at Santa on Memorial Monday at Lincoln Financial Field, mostly because that's ridiculously abstract even for America's angriest town.
Christmas Wish: 1,000,000 pageviews in May, leading to an invitation to join Taylor Swift for dinner where I'll decline a second date and further increase my fame by being referenced in her latest I'm-so-undateable! anthem.
Actual Gift: Existence in May and a shout out from Quint Kessenich on his new hardcore rap album, "In Your Face Dodge!"
COLONIAL ATHLETIC ASSOCIATION
Christmas Wish: A logo rebranding to align with its reputation as THUNDERDOME!: A skull over two lacrosse sticks, covered in blood, with all kinds of explosions happenning in the background and, like, Will Manny walking -- battered and covered in sheaths of ammunition -- away from the destruction.
Actual Gift: That. Santa will be good to the CAA this year.
THE BIG EAST
Christmas Wish: A defined future for the remaining league members, including an automatic invitation to the NCAA Tournament and a conspiracy that involves the sabotage and collapse of the ACC and the Big Ten (preferably the kind of sabotage that yields financial windfalls and political clout, just like real guerilla warfare).
Actual Gift: A bus ticket to "Points Unknown."
Christmas Wish: The power of flight, if only to see what Joey Sankey, Jimmy Bitter, and Marcus Holman are capable of when unrestricted by stupid physics.
Actual Gift: The cure for knucklehead disease -- reducing penalties (Carolina was seventh-worst last year in penalties per possession) and actually giving Steven Rastivo a chance to stop some shots (only five teams played in man-down postures more than the Heels in 2012). All told, it may not turn North Carolina into a defensive powerhouse, but it can't hurt. (Also: Maybe a GPS tracker or something so that the Heels can address their fifth-worst defensive assist rate from a season ago? I'm not sure there's enough stuff in the workshop to outfit Carolina with all the necessary gifts to fix their defensive issues in just one day of giving.)