Saturday, August 9, 2008

A whiter shade of green

Of all the teams I thought Brett Favre would be playing for this year, the New York Jets were not in the top five.

Favre’s trade to the Jets was a dramatic left turn to the saga that has dominated the NFL pre-season. It seems incongruous—a good ol’ boy from southern Mississippi moving to the big city—but I suppose no more so that the same person playing on the frozen tundra of Lambeau Field for 16 years.

The big money to be made in New York was obviously a factor in Favre’s decision, as it was in Alan Faneca’s decision to jump ship from the Pittsburgh Steelers. Which is just fine, as long as you don’t check out the cost of living in New York City too closely.

The precedent for a top NFL quarterback moving to another team late in his career is not good. As ESPN’s John Clayton has pointed out, Johnny Unitas, Joe Namath and Warren Moon did not fare well moving to other teams in the twilight of their careers. Only Joe Montana has made the transition without tarnishing his legacy.

It remains to be seen if Favre has one more year in him. I have been fooled before. I thought he was through after the Packers went 4-12 in 2006, but he keeps coming back, sort of like The Terminator did at the end of the first movie.

If he wanted to play one more season, good for him. I started rooting for the old guys in sports years ago. But you have to question the way he went about this comeback.

He started to tell the media weeks ago that he wanted to come back to the Packers. By that time, the Packers had already begun building their offense around Aaron Rodgers. Did he expect them to drop everything and change plans just to bring him back?

He waffled on reinstatement until last week and built a mystique around the question of whether he would play, to the point where ESPN began adding updates labeled “FAVRE” on a crawl at the bottom of the screen. MLB…NFL…NBA…FAVRE. He really was in a league of his own.

The trade did not end the media circus, as Favre has moved to the country’s biggest media center. Through the miracle of web radio, I caught a bit of the morning show on WFAN the other day. The topic--will Favre be the greatest QB ever to take a snap in a Jets jersey? Probably, as his only real competition for that title is Namath. (OK, who’s the wise guy who voted for Kellen Clemens?) The question would make for great sports-bar debate—but let’s let Favre take that snap first.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

I may feel like crap, but at least I'm not the Pirates

After a long hiatus here, I've been inspired to come back to the world of husband-wife sports blogging by a conversation Bob and I had in the car on the way home from Damon's tonight. (Or as we have come to call it, Damo's. But that's another story for another blog.)

It's worth noting right off the bat (the BAT, get it? Har har) that I am no major fan of major league baseball. Oh sure, I'll follow the World Series and whatever big star is acting like a six year old child and the latest scandal but I get a little tired of it. It's a long season, and frankly, it's difficult to get worked up about major league baseball when you live in Pittsburgh, AKA the Farm Team for the Rest of Baseball.

After coming frighteningly close to reaching .500 this year, the Pirates have engineered a series of brilliant trades, guaranteed to ensure their continued lack of playoff appearances. I'm starting to wonder if the Bucco's head offices have a non-compete deal signed with the Rooneys or something to avoid conflicting schedules once NFL season is in full swing. Not that there's much competition between the Pirates and the Steelers here in da 'burgh, anyway. The Steelers rule, and everyone knows it. Shame that it is, because there's certainly enough love to go around, anyone who followed the Penguins' march to the Stanley Cup finals this year knows that.

At any rate, the Pirates sit proudly in last place in their division, the unremarkable 51-59 record pretty much guaranteed to not improve. Last Saturday, the Pirates traded Xavier Nady and Damaso Marte to the Yankees, AKA the Best Team Money Can Buy, for prospects. In the middle of a game. Seriously. Nady led the team with a .330 batting average, and Marte was the Bucs only real threat as a closer. We got pitching prospects for them. I can't say it any better than Bob Smizik does here, so I won't try. But wait, that's not all. For years, the Pirates management has traded away stars the moment they start showing talent, and we still had one hanging in there. Jason Bay, who claimed over and over to NOT want to be traded, was traded on Friday in a three way deal with Manny Ramirez and some prospects. Guess who got Manny Ramirez? Here's a hint kids. It wasn't the Pirates. But I can't say it any better than Gene Collier does here, so I won't try.

So another season goes down the toilet. This one wasn't too far out of it anyway, but there was that slim, slim hope of reaching .500, of maybe having a not-unreasonable "magic number" for the first time in 25 years, the glimmer of a playoff spot standing shining in the distance, waving in the breeze like a pennant, like Jack Wilson's hair, like the legions of fans who wanted so much to believe that "WE WILL", as the Pirate slogan was so inelegantly and cryptically stated last year. (We Will what? We will play 162 Games? We Will have fireworks? We Will lose a lot of them? We Will sell off all our best players to the real grownup teams in Baseball?) It's all too much for someone who used to be a fan, who might have once wanted to be a fan.

There's still hope, though. We still have the Pirate Parrot, and the guy who runs around the bases dressed as a giant pierogie. NOBODY's getting them. Although I've heard we can be talked out of Lanny Frattere , both LaRoche brothers, and Tom Gorzelanny for a bowl of really good homemade guacamole, a bag of those awesome lime tortilla chips, and tickets to see the next Monster Truck Rally at the Arena.