By Bill Simmons
Page 2 columnist

You have to love Tom Hicks, the Texas Rangers owner who was dumb enough to outbid himself for A-Rod by $70 million, then brazen enough to demand money from the Red Sox when they were bailing him out of that same franchise-killing contract. He's a piece of work.

Alex Rodriguez, Tom Hicks
Dazed, confused and in A-Rod's shadow -- get used to it Mr. Hicks.

It's like somebody heading into a Mercedes dealership, offering $80,000 for a $45,000 car, then trying to decide the terms when someone's doing them a favor by buying out the lease. How do some of these owners get rich in the first place? Have you ever wondered about that?

Anyway, the protracted (and agonizingly public) negotiations between Hicks and the Sox owners just about submarined my last few weeks. First it was on, then it was off, then it was kinda on, then it was kinda off, then it was in grave danger, then it looked promising ... this was like Ben and J-Lo's engagement, but 100 times worse. Now it's off again. Deader than a mackerel. Or so they say. I don't know anything anymore.

Here's what I do know: I just wish somebody would give me the last two weeks of my life back. Like the 100 phone calls I made with my friends. Or the 56,00 times I reloaded at work to see if anything happened. Or the endless stream of message-board threads I sifted through. What a waste of time and energy. The entire saga started to feel like one of those five-overtime hockey games -- after awhile, you don't even care how it ends anymore, you just want an ending.

Would the Sox have been better off with A-Rod and Magglio? Yeah, I think so. But Plan B (Manny and Nomar) isn't so bad. And I have no problem bringing either of those guys back, even after all this stuff -- Manny's too much of a space cadet to realize what happened, and Nomar's too much of a professional to tank the 2004 season. Especially a contract season. Besides, sulking interferes with his OCD.

Regardless, I just want the whole thing to end. None of these deadlines mean anything anymore. Just tell me it's definitely, definitely, DEFINITELY over. Better yet, sign a contract and explicitly say that it's over. Please. I can't take it anymore. For God's sake, can I just enjoy Christmas! Can I do that?????

Onto The Ramblings ...

Kelly Leak
Not since Danny Almonte has such a scandal been exposed.


Suzy Kolber's interview with Joe Namath wasn't just the greatest moment of the year, it might have been the greatest moment of my life.

When your name is Dwight Gooden Jr., do crack dealers just start cold-calling you?

As bad as I feel about Mike Tyson's bankruptcy, at least it gave him the chance to say the words "Financial distress."

Here's an idea: If we need to squeeze Saddam Husseim for information, let's make him watch a continuous loop of the Ruiz-Rahman fight. He'll be chirping in no time.

Shouldn't the Seahawks just hire Ed Harris or Gavin McLeod as their third-string QB and get it over with?

I wish I were good friends with a Pistons fan, just so I could tease them mercilessly about this Darko-Carmelo thing. "Wow, you guys exploded for 77 tonight! And I heard Darko played the last 20 seconds and looked fantastic!! You must be feeling good!"

(Then again, I have to root for Ricky Davis every night. Nice pass, Ricky, right idea ... no, Ricky, don't punch him, he's your teammate! Ricky, no! No!!!!!!!!!!!!)

Pedro Martinez, Don Zimmer
Forget Game 7, Pedro vs. Zim will stand the test of time.

You know, enough time has passed that we should be able to answer the following question: Did Pedro's throwdown of Don Zimmer rank ahead of Reggie Jackson's attempted murder of the Queen in "Naked Gun" on the Improbable Baseball Scale? I say it did. I'm willing to discuss it though.

I wish I could buy stock in things like "Kirstie Alley will get that stomach-stapling operation and end up on the cover of People Magazine within the next three years."

Hey, is anyone else hoping that Jay-Z comes up with enough cash to purchase the Nets, just to see the unadulterated glee in David Stern's eyes when he votes the sale down?

So, Paris Hilton has an explicit sex tape leaked on the Internet, followed by her appearance in a contrived reality-TV show that really isn't even that funny ... and she becomes a big star. And I guess my question is this: Is there any chance that this formula could catch on? Couldn't this give Tara Reid some ideas?

I never thought HBO replacing "Arli$$" with "Mind of the Married Man" would be topped ... and then the Knicks replaced Scott Layden with Isiah Thomas.

Even though it has been 20 years, every December, I still get a hop in my step when I hear Bono belting out, "Well, tonight thank God it's them, instead of yooooou!" Even if I'm not exactly sure what he means.

After one year working on a late-night TV show, the Pantheon of "Female Guests Who Looked So Freaking Hot In Person, Everyone At Work Was Talking About It The Next Day" shapes up like this ...

(Drumroll please...)

  1. Jennifer Garner
  2. Brooke Burke
  3. Jessica Alba

Jessica Alba
"Honey" is a movie you can watch on mute and still be satisfied at the end. Thanks, Jessica.

(And yes, I think you need to know these things.)

I mean, don't they have to remake "Field of Dreams" now? There's Joe Jackson in right, Ty Cobb in center, and ... wait a second, it's Ted Williams's head in left! Run for your lives!!!!!"

I just hope there's videotape when Scott Hamilton and his new son play catch for the first time.

Does anyone else think Brian Austin Green watches Justin Timberlake's career unfold and says to himself, "Wait a second, what did I do wrong?"

The worst part about working in an office? When somebody gets the flu, then pulls the Patient X routine and gets 29 co-workers sick. The second-worst part? Feeling obligated to buy candy you didn't want in the first place, just because someone's little daughter is hawking chocolate to raise money for her school, and you feel like a Scrooge if you don't buy any ... only this happens every week, to the point that you can't wait to have a daughter so you can bring her into work and have her sell second-rate chocolate to people who don't want it, just to get those bastards back. And the third-worst part? The guy who uses the toaster oven to make a bagel, then leaves it on so the whole office smells like his burnt bagel crumbs.

(Sorry, I just needed to get this stuff of my chest. Would anyone like eight boxes of toffee crunch?)

We have 280 million people in this country ... you're telling me that 32 of them couldn't be decent punters? Thirty-two out of 280 million? It's that difficult?

There isn't a better face in sports right now then the Kareem Rush "I can't believe I'm playing with four Hall of Famers" Face.

I gave it some thought, and here's what I decided: My favorite Matsui is still Matt Suhey.

All right, instead of dealing with North Korea and Iraq, shouldn't our government be figuring out ways to topple this champion Japanese hot dog eater? Couldn't we build Ruben Studdard bionic intestines or something?

Jessica Alba
After you've called a Balboa fight where do you go from there?

When Barry Tompkins showed up to announce that Hopkins-Mayorga-Rahman pay-per-view, then realized he was on the same announcing team with Chris Byrd, Ron Borges, Tom Joyner, Jim Hill and the Colonel Bob Sheridan ... I mean, at what point did he mutter to himself, "Don't these people realize who I am? I called the Balboa-Drago fight in Russia, for God's sake!"

You know you're cheap when you wear pajamas to a Halloween party, then claim it's your costume.

The best part of the Gov. Schwarzenegger Era so far -- other than seeing Oui Magazine back in the limelight -- was when he declared a financial emergency this month. I kept waiting for him to come sprinting into a press conference screaming, "Hurry, we're broke! Move! There's no time! Look out! Move!!!! Behind you!!!"

Hey, whatever happened to the Bermuda Triangle? Is it full? Did it retire? Did it swallow itself?

Even Roy Hobbs' father didn't drop dead as fast as HBO's Sunday night lineup.

If you're looking for a good late Christmas gift for somebody, buy them Michael Madsen's book of poetry. Just trust me. Your life and their life will never be the same.

You know it's over for a band when they announce they're reuniting, and you didn't even realize they broke up in the first place.

Just when you thought Michael Caine's status as "The least convincing soccer player in sports movie history" was safe, the Indian girl from "Bend It Like Beckham" came out of nowhere and blew him away.

My favorite e-mail from the past few months: When the African-American woman made it to Round Three of "The Bachelor" this fall, one of my readers compared it to Gonzaga making the Sweet 16.

I can't wait to stroll into a Hollywood Starbucks some day and see Kyle and Efram from "Project Greenlight" standing behind the counter.

Jessica Alba
Where 15 minutes of fame ends, phlegm is amplified and thousands of dollars are exchanged -- often in one transaction.

Speaking of Starbucks, with a large Egg Nog Latte and the right level of bronchitis, somebody could shatter the Phlegm Record as we know it. I just hope it's me.

Burning questions: Why doesn't Vitaly Klitschko start bringing Brigette Nielsen to his boxing matches? Did anyone else exhale when the Yankees went for Sheffield over Vlad? When will TNT acquire the rights to the "Road House" musical and start showing it nine times a week? Is Prince Harry looming as the Royal Fredo or is it just me? How can VH1 leave me out of not one but TWO "I love the 80's" shows? Why not a 10-yard facemask penalty? Was Lillian from "Survivor" being consulted by Grady Little? Shouldn't Kyle Korver and Richie Frahm be forced to wear throwback jerseys at all times? Does anyone else see the NHL shutting down for like eight years? And why does the pizza at Costco always look so damn good?

Every time I hear CBS's music for NFL games, I keep thinking it was accidentally switched with their "Nightly News" theme or something.

If Steve Rushin interviewed Doug Christie and Kurt Warner at the same time, would they immediately induct that moment into the Whipped Hall of Fame?

What's more enjoyable on a weekly basis -- Deion Sanders on "American Sportsman," or Cris Carter on "Inside the NFL"? It's a toss-up, isn't it?

That reminds me, wouldn't "Inside the NFL" be infinitely more entertaining if Peter King strolled onto the set saying, "Good afternoon, everyone," and Costas and the gang screamed out, "Norm!"?

Seriously, let's just start chopping body parts off Steve McNair. Let's see how far we can push this and still have him throw for 250 yards.

Put it this way: You'll see Kobe co-hosting "The View" before you see me sitting through the "Lord of the Rings" trilogy.

Finally, for five days a week, 52 weeks a year, I scour the USA Today transactions every morning, just for the chance that something like "Chicago trades Roger Mason Jr. for Rick Brunson" happened. And when it does happen ... well, it makes me feel all warm and tingly inside. Just thinking about the fact that somebody actually called that baby into the league office last week -- with a straight face, no less -- keeps a smile on my face all through the holidays. You have to love sports sometimes.

Merry Christmas, everybody.

Bill Simmons is a columnist for Page 2 and ESPN The Magazine, as well as one of the writers for Jimmy Kimmel Live on ABC