Q&A: Beckham breaks down the holidays
Sox infielder gets into the seasonal spirit with MLB.com
CHICAGO - John Danks' tremendous 2009 effort actually began months before he took the Camelback Ranch mound in Arizona in March.
The talented young southpaw agreed to be the subject of the 2008 MLB.com Holiday Q&A, and through a mixture of humor and insight into family traditions, Danks defeated his toughest opponent to date -- the curse of the Q&A.
Of the three previous White Sox players interviewed for this holiday staple, one slumped mightily in the season after the conversation, one battled injuries throughout a down year and Brandon McCarthy was traded to Texas, a deal involving Danks, in fact, before his holiday cheer even ran on the Web site.
But 13 victories, a 3.77 ERA and topping the 200 innings mark for the first time in his career proved the Holiday Q&A didn't cause Danks to say 'Bah, Humbug' after the fact. Now, it's Gordon Beckham's turn in the MLB.com holiday hot seat.
Beckham announced his presence as a force to be reckoned with for years to come during an award-winning rookie season. He hopes to avoid the on-field sophomore jinx in 2010, starting with this conversation about the most wonderful time of the year.
MLB.com: Let's start out by talking about favorite holiday traditions in the Beckham family.
Beckham: On Christmas Day, we get up early and open presents from Santa and go do stuff. Nothing special-- just a bunch of small things. That's always fun. But our main family tradition comes on the night before Christmas.
We are all together and read the Christmas Story in the Bible, and then we read "The Night Before Christmas" and then we go downstairs and watch Christmas Vacation with Chevy Chase. It's my mom, my dad, me and my two sisters.
MLB.com: So, Christmas Vacation is your favorite among the numerous Vacation movies?
Beckham: Yeah, but every one of them has its own great flavor. This one still is pretty classic, all the stuff going on.
It shows sometimes the tumultuous effect of having your family around. I started doing that my first year in college, and we've been doing it for five years. It's a good tradition we have.
MLB.com: What was the best Christmas gift you ever received?
Beckham: That's a tough one. When I was 14, I got a four-wheeler. I drove that every day for two weeks straight when we were at our farm.
MLB.com: How about the best gift you've given?
Beckham: The best gift I've given is probably this year. Wait. When is this being run?
MLB.com: On Christmas Eve.
Beckham: I can't do it then (laughs).
This other one actually is kind of funny, not the best, but the funniest gift. I got my mom and two sisters gift cards at Nordstrom's last year because I didn't have a clue what they wanted. I felt kind of trashy and cheesy, but there was no way I could shop for them. My sisters are fashion savvy, so I figured I would let them do what they want to do.
MLB.com: Where does Christmas rank on your preferred list of holidays?
Beckham: Christmas is the best holiday for me. It's just a good time of year, where you are really happy to have a bunch of family around.
This has been a tough year for a lot of people. But this is the time to let everything go and forget about it for at least a day. It's pretty special.
MLB.com: You sound as if you have a great deal to be thankful for at this time of year.
Beckham: I've always been very blessed. I'm extremely blessed to have the parents I have and two great sisters. I'm a happy kid. I have one of the greatest families in the world and love them to death. It's a lot of fun to be around them at Christmas.
MLB.com: Is Christmas different in Georgia, with the chance for a white Christmas fairly non-existent?
Beckham: The last couple of Christmases have been very warm. This week, and really the week leading up to Christmas, we are not getting above 45 degrees.
I'm really excited, even though people in Chicago think I'm crazy and laugh at me, saying I'll get plenty of that cold next year. It's kind of nice when it's cold down here, and I've heard it might snow.
MLB.com: You realize 45 degrees in late December in Chicago is considered shorts and T-shirts sort of weather?
Beckham: Yeah, I know. We will be bundling up down here.
MLB.com: Are there any special food dishes for the Beckham family Christmas?
Beckham: We usually have Christmas breakfast. Mom makes an awesome sausage casserole. Or maybe it's dad who makes it. They put it out and we eat it. That's the extent of our family dinner or lunch. Usually, we just have breakfast and then visit my grandparents Christmas night or the night after.
MLB.com: When did you stop believing in Santa or do you still believe?
Beckham: Oh, man. I think I stopped believing ... . Actually, I was a late bloomer, probably in sixth or seventh grade. I couldn't handle the trauma of there not being a Santa, so I held on as long as I could.
That was one of the worst days of my life, finding out Santa is not real. What a terrible thing for a kid, to find out he's not real.
MLB.com: Of course, Santa still makes stops for the younger kids around the world.
Beckham: We still get gifts from Santa. He still comes to our house.
MLB.com: You talked about the Christmas Vacation movie-watching tradition. Do you have any other holiday movies on your list to view?
Beckham: "Elf", I've always been a fan of Elf. I know a lot of people are big fans of "The Christmas Story", but I've never gotten into it. I'm a "Santa Clause" fan with Tim Allen and "Miracle on 34th Street." I still relate to that movie.
MLB.com: Let's continue with one of our holiday traditions, in which you pick out gifts for other teammates or members of the White Sox organization. What would you get for catcher A.J. Pierzynski?
Beckham: I would give him a muzzle, for reasons undisclosed.
MLB.com: How about manager Ozzie Guillen?
Beckham: That's a tough one. I would give Ozzie some English-speaking lessons, really some enunciation lessons. I would buy them online, at some Web site.
MLB.com: Let's move on to general manager Ken Williams.
Beckham: There's another tough one. I would give him a Santa hat. He's like our Santa Claus, bringing gifts for our team.
MLB.com: Hitting coach Greg Walker?
Beckham: I would give him a new rifle for hunting.
MLB.com: Here's a new one this year. What would you get for the Chicago media, as a whole?
Beckham: That's a good one. I would give you guys a gold star. You've been good to me so far.
MLB.com: What about John Danks, the successful subject of last year's Q&A?
Beckham: I would give him a stuffed Georgia Bulldog. I know he's a big Texas Longhorns fan. Even though it's not happening this year, Danks knows we are the greatest school in America.
MLB.com: Finally, the toughest gift all. What would you give to the White Sox "First Fan", President Barack Obama?
Beckham: What does he really need? How about a World Series championship for his favorite team?
MLB.com: You already talked about Danks being a big fan of Texas, and Jake Peavy is a big Alabama fan. Who gets your ultimate holiday cheer for the BCS title game?
Beckham: I'm pretty sure I'm rooting for Alabama, giving Peavy a little love. I'll probably text Danks and tell him that I hope he loses, even though I do like Colt McCoy.
MLB.com: Do you have any holiday message to share before we close?
Beckham: I don't feel like I'm really in position to give any advice. Just remember your family loves you and they should be the main things in your life. People should remind themselves how lucky they are to have loved ones. When it gets down to it, our relationships are things that will last, special things.
MLB.com: And the last question serves as our traditional ending. Please spell Chanukah.
Beckham: OK. It's H-A-N-A-U-K-U-H.
MLB.com: You are a couple of letters off, but as we say every year, there are a number of accepted ways to spell this outstanding holiday.
Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.