Howard Herman | Designated Hitter: Santa checks his list twice for local sports fans' wishes
NORTH POLE — If you thought it was busy in a college football coach's office in the hours before early signing day, ha. Nick Saban has nothing on Santa Claus and his staff.
It took a little time to get through all of the clutter and the files, but we have found the Christmas holiday gift list for sports folks near and far.
For Berkshire County high school football fans, I see that a completed Gene Dellea Field is on the list. The field got rave reviews from coaches, players and fans when it opened last fall. There were, however, two glaring absences — a press box and a real scoreboard.
We have been told that both could very well be in place for the fall football and soccer fans. That'll be a real treat. A press box, with a concession stand on the ground floor, and a scoreboard will make Dellea Field a first-class facility. Even if there's no protection from the wind on cold Friday nights.
But if I can add something to the list Santa? I'd like to see a small gate installed on the side opposite the bleachers. That side is where the soccer team benches go, and there isn't a lot of room for a bench so reserves can sit. If a small gate could be installed, the teams could have benches and come through the gate when they need to come into the game.
High school coaches across the county should be getting teams that work hard, listen and compete. The wins and losses will take care of themselves that way.
New UMass football coach Walt Bell said to me last week that he had been so busy getting his program rolling that he hadn't done much for Christmas. Hopefully, Santa saw that and has some gifts for his extended family.
As to what Bell wants? Well, a look at his list asks for a couple of dynamic playmakers that arrive in February or next December.
Walt Bell could be the second coming of Nick Saban or Knute Rockne, but without players, UMass won't win football games on a consistent basis. Bell has, to date, said all of the right things. He also said that he wouldn't fill up his early signing roster with names just to have names. So he and his staff are going to be really busy between now and February.
When Atlantic 10 conference play begins, UMass hoop coach Matt McCall will get to unwrap his gift.
You'll get to meet 6-foot-10 pivot Djery Baptiste, who transferred from Vanderbilt and has 1 1/2 years of eligibility remaining.
"Not only will he add physicality, athleticism and toughness in our front court, but he brings a ton of experience and leadership qualities to help our team," McCall said in a release announcing the transfer.
Baptiste will add another dimension to a team that is still looking to establish an identity.
This win-one, lose-one run on the schedule cannot continue if UMass wants to play in a postseason tournament. After the new year, the Minutemen need to start conference play with a winning streak if they hope to realize preseason hopes and goals.
On the list for Pittsfield Suns manager Matt Gedman and North Adams SteepleCats general manager Matt Torra, we see the same things — a couple of power-hitting run producers in the middle of the lineup and a pitcher or two who can reach the mid-to-upper 90s.
Summer in the Berkshires is always better when both of our local summer college league baseball teams are good. Some power bats and power arms will go a long way toward making them both good.
For young athletes across the county, no matter what the sport, Santa should bring you the ability to have as much fun playing your sport or sports as you can. Remember that it is not always about the final score. It is always about working hard, having fun and being with your team.
And as I sneak out of Santa's Workshop, my best to you and yours for a very happy holiday season. I wish you health and happiness.
Howard Herman can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, at @howardherman on Twitter, or 413-496-6253.
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