If the pundits are correct, we might just see the end of the Brett Favre saga that has stretched from Mississippi to Wisconsin to points unknown come to an end later today. The Hall of Famer and star of Something about Mary could be suiting up for the New York Jets or Tampa Bay Bucs.
What a strange story this has been. Legend retires (was he asked/forced to do so before he was ready?), apparently given a chance to recant (opted to stay retired?) before his former team went out and burned two draft picks on quarterbacks, decided to play, and everyone involved seems to have fumbled the ball ever since. I've tended to be on the Packers' side through most of these goings-on, in part because of one item nobody was bringing up: sure Favre had a great season last year, leading his team to the brink of the Super Bowl while completing an all-time personal high 66.5 percent of his passes (and 28/15 TD/INT ratio), but what about the previous two seasons when the aging gunslinger combined to complete 58.6 percent and had a 38/47 TD/INT rate? Does no one remember? There were calls for the man to retire then.
I'm not convinced whoever starts Favre this season is going to get the 2007 version. The 2005/2006 version wasn't that great, and he's not getting any younger. Learning a new playbook and dealing with what is now sure to be a bit of a media circus won't help matters. Put it this way - I won't be selecting him for my fantasy team, even if I'll be cheering for him personally, if only because I'd hate to see him go out on the bottom when he had already gone out about as triumphantly as can be hoped.
Across the country, my Los Angeles Dodgers have recently picked up another future Hall of Famer - one Manny Ramirez from the Boston Red Sox (who happen to be my favorite American League team, so I have some mixed feelings here). General opinion seems to be that simply getting Manny has made the Dodgers the clear favorite in the National League West, especially when combined with the fact that the Arizona Diamondbacks failed to add a big bat themselves.
Call me skeptical, but I'm not convinced. The Dodgers are still a team that doesn't showcase a single player in the prime of his career, outside of maybe catcher Russell Martin. Everyone else has either seen their best days already, or those days are yet to come. Does 2B Jeff Kent have anything left in the tank? Will SS Rafael Furcal return from a back injury? Who plays SS now that Nomar Garciaparra is on the DL again? Juan Pierre offers speed, but not much else, and Andruw Jones should be embarrassed about how his career has fallen apart at just 31 years old. Can Brad Penny come off the DL and be a front-of-the-rotation anchor? Closer Takashi Saito might never pitch again, which hurts the bullpen depth. Lots of questions. Plus, the Diamondbacks do have very strong pitching, both in the rotation and the bullpen (don't underestimate the trade they did make to acquire setup man Jon Rauch from Washington for a song), and their young position players have a ton of talent. I'm still looking for Arizona to come out on top, while hoping Manny can somehow equal more than the sum of his stats.
The good people of Boston, meanwhile, are going to love Jason Bay, I think. Not nearly as well-known (but younger and plenty talented), Bay already seems to have brought new life to the Red Sox (and yes, I admit Manny seems to have done the same for the Dodger fans, if not the Dodgers themselves). This is still a very good, very deep veteran team, and I look for them to be playing in October.
Finally, I'm having trouble catching Olympic fever. Listening to Fox Sports radio on the morning drive yesterday, host Steve Czaban was reading from a columnist (wish I could find the link) who was painting an extremely gloomy picture of not only the Beijing air, but the not-even-trying-to-hide it propaganda of the Chinese government, the not-even-trying-to-hide-it attitudes of the sponsors who are salivating at the hopes of tapping into the world's 3rd-largest economy, and the weight of so many other issues that seem to overshadow the games themselves.
I have no boycotts planned. Worse, even, I think I'm finding myself apathetic about these Olympics. If I do end up watching, I'll hope to be thrilled by what is sure to be inspiring achievement on the track, the gym floor, the swimming pool, the court, and I'll forget about the nasty parts while hoping and praying the athletes doing the inspiring are clean. I'm just a bit discouraged today that the purest of sporting events feels anything but right now.