Breaking Balls: Last-minute gift ideas for baseball fans
The holidays are the time of year when we all get together and share in our collective joy and try to wipe away the metaphorical eye boogers of the last year. We go to parties and attend dinners and “like” each other’s holiday-related updates on Facebook.
And some of us (I’m not saying who, because she lives with me and she punches a lot harder than you think a girl would be able to) become fascinated by other people’s pictures of cats dressed up in holiday paraphernalia.
The holidays are also a time of baked goods. Sugar cookies, gingerbread men, fruitcakes and a wide variety of other tasty treats conspire against our attempts at maintaining our waistlines. I’m particularly fond of Trader Joe’s Pfeffernusse Cookies and their Dark Chocolate Stars (though I think that’s also slang for “anus” – sorry if that ruins those for you).
Until this year, Trader Joe’s also had Egg Nog Cookies and while a lot of attention is being given to those suffering around the world from natural disasters, disease and economic turmoil, I have yet to see one telethon in support of bringing back these delicious cookies. I won’t even tell you about my sister’s attempts to make these herself at home, as if I’m just going to eat her terrible cookies and not go on a tirade about it on Facebook so that everyone knows exactly the wrongs she had done.
Not everyone gets into the Holiday Spirit like I do – or they refuse to let the Holiday Spirit inside them because they are a terrorist. Or they work at a place like Kohl’s, and the fact that the holiday decorations went up in October has sucked every ounce of joy for this festive time out of their already diminished souls.
I asked a lady working at Kohl’s if she was feeling the joy and love of the holiday spirit and she said, “No.” Curious, I asked what holiday she does like. “Easter. Because that’s when Jesus arose and also they don’t really do decorations here.”
Most importantly, the holidays are a time of giving and receiving gifts. Unless you celebrate Hanukkah, then it’s all incantations and moon dances (right? I’m not really sure). People spend money they probably don’t really have on gifts for friends and family to show their appreciation for their friendship and support – and for the gifts they are going to be given. This gift-giving happens all over the world – except in Africa (do they know it’s Christmas time at all?).
Anyway, if you’re anything like me, then, besides having an unhealthy obsession with sports, pop culture and the Scottish indie rock band Frightened Rabbit, you also wait until the last minute to buy your gifts in this time of giving. This usually results in buying people lesser quality gifts because the selection dries up and the urgency limits your resources. This also makes gifts a bit more expensive because you just bought something at Best Buy for $60 that you could have gotten online for $42. Sure, it’s just $18, but I’ve got a lot of nephews.
One of the problems I have is I’m very particular about what gifts I get for people. I know it sounds totally out of character for me – but I’m actually kind of a nice guy. (No, I’m not joking … screw you!) I want the gift I buy someone to let them know I put some thought into it. That’s why I hate gift cards. “Here’s a gift of money but you can only spend it at this one store, so when you buy yourself something there, it’ll be like I am standing right beside you getting you that one thing at the store that isn’t as bad as some of the other stuff there.” No, thanks.
What gift to get can be very complicated this time of year, or for birthdays or for a graduation or at that special time when your special someone is released from prison. Unless the recipient is a sports fan – then, it’s very simple. Just get them a gift that celebrates their favorite team, player or squadron. And with the vast array of clothing and memorabilia and nick-nacks, you can get a sports fan almost anything.
And that’s what I’m here to talk to you about – specifically baseball fans. There are so many last-minute gift ideas for baseball fans, but there are a few things that you should stay away from entirely. These suggestions don’t really apply to kids – you can get them whatever you want; it doesn’t matter. They’re going to be ungrateful and then destroy it soon after anyway.
No jerseys. Buying a team jersey is a very personal experience. It’s like underwear. You don’t go around buying people underwear because you don’t know whether they like boxers or briefs or thongs (or maybe you do know, you pervert). Jerseys are similar. Home jersey or road jersey? What player? Over-sized? Cheap replica or $180 pro-style?
If you have to get a jersey, for heaven’s sake, do not get one with the recipient’s name on the back. These are horrible. If you don’t believe me, you can ask the two jerseys with my name on them that I have hidden in the back of my closet. Personalized jerseys are where people cross over from “fan” to “fanatical lunatic.”
No autographs. Some people think it would be a cool idea to give a sports fan an item autographed by their favorite player. I can just see it now: “Hey, Steve, where did you get that autographed Mike Piazza rookie card? Were you cleaning out your closet and then you came across your old football cards and you were about to throw them away, but you decided to keep that one card and then you stopped at a Sizzler for lunch and there was Mike Piazza and you asked him to sign the card and he said, ‘I sure have aged,’ but you assured him he still looked great and then he paid for your meal?” … “Nope, Christmas gift.”
See what I mean? Autographs are cool because you interacted with someone more famous than you and now you have a token by which to remember it. I’ll never forget the time I interacted with Boston Bruins hockey great Cam Neely (aka Sea Bass from Dumb and Dumber). When it was my turn in line, I said, “Here … and this.” And he said, “Okay,” and then signed the puck and photo I had presented. Magic! I still have that puck and photo!
No posters, pictures, etc. Don’t get your sports fan something to hang on the wall as a last-minute gift. It’s more likely to end up at the back of a closet with the personalized jerseys. Most humans are picky about what items they want to showcase on their walls. Don’t mess this up. You’re not just buying that person a gift for their enjoyment, you’re subjecting everyone they know to it. I’m not going to buy you a Justin Bieber poster – I don’t care how cute you think she is – because I don’t ever want to have to look at that.
Fatheads also fall in this category. These are the life-size cutout posters of athletes. They may be okay for kids, but if adults are okay with something like this on their walls, you’re going to want to peak in their freezers to see how many human heads they have stored up.
No balls. Baseballs make a stupid present unless you know the recipient is about to run into Mike Piazza at Sizzler. You can buy footballs and basketballs for fans of those sports, or even soccer balls – but make sure the soccer ball comes with a matching parasol.
Well, those are the don’ts. As for the dos, that pretty much leaves everything else. So, here are some last-minute gift ideas for baseball fans:
T-shirts. This is probably the safest of all baseball fan presents. Just don’t give those super-esoteric ones like the “Division Championship” Yankees’ shirt, or the “Wild Card Participant” Athletics’ shirt, or the “Inching Closer to a .500 Record” Pirates’ shirt.
Caps. Another very reliable gift, but you probably want to get adjustable ones since fitted caps are too hard to guess the right size. So, you guess the size and you’ll definitely guess wrong, and then the person has to exchange it for the right size and you might as well have gotten them a gift certificate.
Sweatshirts. Or hoodies. I mean who wears sweatshirts anymore? That beardy guy at the dog park who clearly doesn’t have underwear on or that weird neighbor who thinks the common area pool is a great place to practice his “modified Tai Chi.”
Books. Yes, books. Words on pages. Or Kindle or iTunes digital book gifts. Even if they don’t like to read that much – they’ll thank you later – unless they can’t read, then it’s really mean and you probably shouldn’t do it (though I would understand if you did).
Bobbleheads. You can get an always-reliable bobblehead for just about any player in any sport – and somehow society is okay with adults owning these dolls which were clearly meant just for children. Yes, I have two on my desk as I’m writing this, and they are both enthusiastically nodding their approval.
Now you have a better idea what do here – and what not to do – to satisfy the sports fan in your life, whether you’re celebrating Christmas, Hanukkah or just the Winter Solstice (yeah, that’s a real thing – where do you think the decorating of trees came from? Jesus never did that.)
Now, hurry up. You’ve only got a few days left. And if someone invites you to a White Elephant party and you’re thinking of being flippant and just grabbing any old thing at the supermarket because it’s so clever that you’re so aloof, then I’d encourage you to take that gift and shove it right up your …