Christmas list of reasons to be happy

‘Tis the season to be jolly.

If you pretend that 2020 didn’t happen.

My only advice is to dig deep and unearth the joyous moments in your lives. Hopefully, you’ll find many more than you expected. Hopefully, you can use a trowel instead of a bulldozer.

For me, it’s getting engaged at spring training, less than a week before the shutdown. My plan to propose at the spot where we met outside the Ed Smith Stadium press box would have been ruined if she chose to fly down later.

(I’ll never know whether the high fever and chills that I experienced for a few nights, waking up soaked in sweat and with a normal temperature, was just “the flu” that was circulating.)

For me, it’s becoming a grandfather and turning into the person that I swore I’d resist - showing and posting photos of the baby at every opportunity.

“Here she is smiling, here she is not smiling, here she is getting ready to smile. That isn’t gas!”

I’ve never met anyone who’s anti-grandparent. They always say it’s the best. And now I get it.

For me, it’s being able to remain healthy since leaving Florida, though COVID-19 infiltrated my family last month. Positive tests, a lot of panic and then a sigh of relief.

One member had symptoms, the other did not. I’m no closer to understanding it now than I was back in March. I am, however, more accustomed to wearing a mask.

It doesn’t thrill me - I doubt that anyone is excited about a face covering - but it feels more natural and stays on my face longer after I leave the grocery store because I’m seeking the warmth.

For me, it’s the job.

I have one.

Any complaints feel insensitive, given the number of layoffs and furloughs in the business and beyond.

Working from home is natural to me. It’s called “the offseason.” And being in a new house for the last 13 months has made it much more comfortable.

Give me agent Scott Boras on a Zoom call at the Winter Meetings any day over the usual suffocating scrum with little to no chance of actually hearing him.

I joined his session last week, more lurker than contributor as I brought my laptop into the kitchen, turned up the volume and made sure that no one said “Chris Davis” while I assisted in preparing dinner.

There are other benefits to the Zoom calls, but they’re countered by the way coverage suffers without in-person, one-on-one interviews and game analysis that’s largely dependent on television cameras. And “anyone can join a Zoom” isn’t a ringing endorsement.

For me, it’s a clubhouse that’s easy to navigate when there’s media access. No huge egos that clash with whatever size best describes mine. Guys who seem to understand the media’s job and why it’s granted that access. Guys who are consistent in their moods and behavior, rather than me having to wonder each day whether I’m going to get the good or bad version.

We don’t need to be besties. Just be cooperative for the brief periods of interaction, if that’s all you’re willing to give. And I find in most instances that I’m not rushed to finish unless the clubhouse is closing.

Working with players who actually seem to enjoy the interactions is a bonus. The ones who like chatting about something besides baseball.

I probably became a little spoiled after years with Zack Britton. Richard Bleier, Brad Brach, Tommy Hunter, Chris Tillman, Caleb Joseph, Chris Hoiles, Nate McLouth and so many others.

(Relievers and catchers tend to be the best and I have no idea why.)

Santander-Points-After-HR-White-Sidebar.jpgThe Orioles were supposed to be really bad this year. Like 10-win bad. The national projections ranged from critical to cruel. But they weren’t eliminated from the playoff race until the final week and avoided last place while missing Trey Mancini for the entire season, Anthony Santander for most of September, José Iglesias for stretches due to quadriceps and wrist injuries, and relievers Bleier, Mychal Givens and Miguel Castro because of trades.

Hunter Harvey and Austin Hays had to go on the injured list. Tommy Milone was traded. John Means was injured and then grieved the loss of his father, bringing more pain than anyone else had to endure.

The birth of his son, McCoy Alan, last week is such a blessing for a family that deserves so much better than the year delivered.

Executive vice president/general manager Mike Elias would like to find a veteran starting pitcher and shortstop under his tree, but he’ll rely on more conventional methods.

He already has a farm system that’s cracking top 10 rankings. The rotation should include at least two rookies in 2021 with Keegan Akin and Dean Kremer, and Bruce Zimmermann is going to be in the competition.

Ryan Mountcastle is going to be in the middle of the order. Outfielders Yusniel Diaz and Ryan McKenna are going to be waiting for the call at Triple-A, where pitchers Zac Lowther, Michael Baumann and Alexander Wells also will keep their phones close.

Adley Rutschman is going to hover at Double-A until he finally gets the call, whether it’s moving up one level first, as expected, or just packing for Baltimore.

I get asked why fans should care about this team when it isn’t a buyer in free agency and popular players keep leaving via trades, releases and non-tenders. And I keep saying that rebuilds aren’t supposed to be pretty and Elias doesn’t try to apply lipstick to it. He’s been honest about why it’s an unpleasant process and why he hopes to never go through it again.

You can’t rush a rebuild. You can’t become major players in the international market overnight.

The arrivals of Akin, Kremer and (especially) Mountcastle created a loud buzz in an empty ballpark and the next wave is about to hit. If you don’t care, that’s your right. You aren’t a Grinch, though the fuzzy green feet don’t help your argument.

Get a bigger dog. Stop tying him to your sled.

Listen, you’re just frustrated and it’s understandable. You miss the euphoria of the three playoff seasons in six years. Watching the regression after 2014, with a few really bad personnel decisions that still haunt your dreams, and the window for contention slamming shut make it a lot harder to be patient.

If the team is set up to be a yearly contender with young talent flowing through the organization like it’s coming from an open hydrant, you may eventually change your opinion.

For now, though, you keep getting coal instead of Gerrit Cole. Your Bauer is Rick instead of Trevor. You get real talk instead of Realmuto. Deivi Cruz is more likely to return than Nelson Cruz.

Jerry Springer is walking through that door before George Springer.

But the Orioles can count their blessings as each prospect climbs another rung of the ladder. As their plan seems to be taking shape.

Maybe the Orioles can climb the standings, too. No more fa-la-la-la-last place finishes. But they’ll be judged again, while taking those incremental and uncomfortable steps away from the teardown and toward a world above .500, by the grading of their draft and the development of their prospects.

Do you see what I see?

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