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It's a little early for Christmas talk (if you're not in the retail racket, that is) or, if, like yours truly, you're a Chicago Cubs fan. Because I'm recently transplanted in Southern California in search of....oh, I don't know, warmer weather, say, and this will be my first holiday season "away" from "The Friendly Confines" and all things Cubs (and the sleet, the 72 hour snowstorms, the freezing temps, etc.) I don't know if it's me being homesick, or the news that the winter meetings are being held right down the tollway from Wrigley Field this year. It's no secret that "The Sale" (you have to roll your eyes and heave a big, disgusted sigh when you refer to the 'finally finalized' sale of the Chicago Cubs to the Ricketts family) handcuffed a man I consider to be one of the better GM's in the business, Mr. Jim Hendry last season. He found a few bruised bananas on the reduced rack, while teams like the St. Louis Cardinals just picked up guys because they had the necessary lettuce and we didn't. So maybe O'Hare won't mind an early flyover by old St. Nick so he can peek at Hendry's wish list. With a skittish outfield, the probable defection of Rich Harden (and his arm problems to go with him, thank goodness) and the "overplay" (read: inept) of SS Ryan Theriot, there's a lot wrong with a team that's been looking good on paper for a long time. Take a good look, Mr. Claus. I love living in L.A., but I'll WALK back to Chicago to see meaningful baseball in October IN WRIGLEY FIELD.


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