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Anna Claus is naughty and nice

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Anna Claus is naughty & nice


Celebrates Kris mess



Mrs. Santa Claus has become a problem.


Anna Benson arrived yesterday at the Diamond Club in a fire-engine red, low-cut Mrs. Claus outfit, looking like the North Pole by way of Bada Bing. She snuggled next to her husband, Kris, in a Santa suit. She patiently distributed toys to 105 city children, then dished naughty nuggets to a dozen reporters.



"Hell no, I'm not going to change for anybody," Anna announced. "He loves me. I'm very true to myself and to Kris."



Kris Kringle . . . Kris Benson . . . You name the Kris, Anna has the best of intentions toward the guy. But then there's the mischievous Anna, the one who is inadvertently sabotaging her husband in his own clubhouse.



We're not talking about Anna, the model. That Anna is just fine with us, even if she ruffles prudish Met ownership. She can pose topless, bottomless, reindeer-less, whatever-less. Anna's degree of nakedness should in no way affect Benson's spot in the rotation.



But then there's this other Anna, the one who says things that are not just silly, or stupid. They are ignorant, bordering on nasty.



Her latest deceit yesterday was to dismiss a published news article by Adam Rubin of The News as a series of distortions.



Rubin had called up the couple in Atlanta to find out whether Kris Benson was shaken by Minaya's trade talks with Kansas City, Baltimore and Texas. Rubin also told Anna Benson what he'd heard from a reliable source, that Met ownership wasn't pleased with her plans to pose for Playboy.



Rubin showed amazing restraint in that story. He warned Anna Benson, several times, that she probably shouldn't say some things, but she persisted. She told him to write everything.



"All of it is truth," she said then.



She grumped that Omar Minaya planned to create "an all-Latin team." She said that the Bensons were giving a million dollars (from his $22.5 million-plus contract) to New York because of 9/11. She said if Kris were traded, the Bensons should get their money back.



She also attacked Carlos Delgado, which Rubin reported.



Yesterday, Anna and the Mets were making nice to each other again, and this story in The News was all supposed to be nonsense.



"The first rule of journalism is: 'Don't believe what you read in the papers,'" Anna Benson said, complaining that "quotes have been twisted around."



Jeff Wilpon, watching the spectacle, said the only thing that matters is how Kris Benson performs on the mound. There is a part of us that wants to celebrate Anna Benson as the best thing to happen to tabloid sports sections since Tonya Harding. She may not be what most people have in mind when they think Baseball Wife, but here is a woman wacky enough to make daily headlines.



"That (interview in The News) was the tip of the iceberg, for wrongness," Anna said yesterday. "I'm known for being outrageous. That's part of my personality. I had a child at 17. I was 'one of those girls.' Just please don't punish (Kris) for it."



Unfortunately, it isn't that simple. There is inevitable fallout for Kris Benson, who may well remain at Shea. The Mets were not trying to unload Benson. They were attempting to upgrade their team, if possible.



Minaya spoke with Kris Benson this week, told the pitcher he was still part of the Mets' plans. That is what Kris Benson wants. When the Bensons flew into New York this week, the baggage handler at the airport, the doorman at his apartment, all said they were glad he wasn't traded.



"When I was in Pittsburgh, I kind of welcomed a trade," Kris Benson said. "But I've never been on a team as complete as this one. I'm a very proud part of the Mets."



Anna Benson wants New York, too, even as her mouth keeps making airline reservations.



"I'm a TV personality, an actress, a model," she said. "People are going to be saying all sorts of things about me. My husband is not responsible for what I do and vice versa."



Come February, Kris Benson probably will walk into a Florida clubhouse with Delgado and the other Latin players. They will remember what the guy's wife said.



Anna Benson didn't have time to shock people yesterday, and she certainly didn't apologize. Mrs. Claus had big plans for the city. She wanted to go shopping. She had tickets for a Broadway musical.



"Wicked," she reported.



Santa's little helper, she ain't.

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