Thursday, July 31, 2008

He Just Doesn't Want To Let Go

What is going on in the swamps of Mississippi? Or, for that matter, the not-frozen-tundra-at-this-time-of-year in Wisconsin?

The Green Bay Packers are offering Brett Favre $20 million to stay retired as a Packer. Favre just can’t stay away from the game. He has decided he wants to play another year, and says that he was rushed into a decision when he retired back in March.

To add insult to injury, Favre reportedly wants to be traded within the NFC North, to either the Vikings or the Bears. The Packers appear to be granting his wishes. Favre, for his part, refused to speak to the Buccaneers and the Jets. Brett Favre in a Minnesota or Chicago uniform would be like Jim Brown playing for Pittsburgh. Or, like Troy Aikman playing for the New York Giants.

Competition is addictive, especially when you have been great as long and as recently as Favre. However, $20 million is nothing to sneeze at, even for someone who is already set for life.

The Packers are probably correct in trying to begin the Aaron Rodgers era. They are taking the position that last year’s season was an aberration, and that Favre just doesn’t have much left in the tank. They have also avoided a public relations hit, by leaking Favre’s interest to play in Minnesota or Chicago. I have to admit, though, that Favre would instantly improve the Vikings or Bears. In turn, that would severely hurt the Packers and make the NFC North wide open.

All of this probably means that Detroit will probably win the division, win three playoff games, and win the Super Bowl. Just kidding on that one.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

What I Did This Summer

I promised I would be on sabbatical through the beginning of August, and I’ve very nearly made it!

This blog will continue to focus on the three sports I love the most: college football, the NFL, and college basketball. There are other things that are worthy of comment from time to time, and I won’t forget those, especially as we approach the baseball post-season and another NBA season. Coming later in the week will be the beginning of college football predictions and projections.

Outside of this blog, I have a real job and a real life. My job takes me around the country. For the past seven weeks, I have been working at a client site outside of Boston. That’s a long way from Texas, according to Google Maps and any other map out there. Thanks to the wonders of modern commercial air travel and a client that will pay for it, I can travel to New England every week.

The highlight of my summer came a few weeks back, when I was able to go to a baseball game at Fenway Park in Boston. Every baseball fan should do this once in their lives, whether they like the Red Sox or not. Tickets are hard to come by, as the team has sold out every game for the last five years. I was lucky to find a ticket on the team website the week before the game, but that is easier said than done.

I had never experienced baseball quite like this before. I had a seat in the right field grandstand. This part of the park is rarely shown on television. It is covered and contains wooden chairback seats that have to be at least 50 years old, if not older. It also has an obstructed view, as there are posts holding up the upper deck. It didn’t matter, because I was in the park. I spent the first part of the game moving around the park and taking in the atmosphere. It was a big party. The fans love their team. The team store knows it, and sells t-shirts for what seems like half the team. You can not only get a David Ortiz jersey, but you can also get a Manny Delcarmen t-shirt. In addition, you can get a Daisuke Matsuzaka shirt in Japanese.

However, the fans don’t go to Fenway just to drink expensive beer and to hang out. They go for the game and for their beloved Red Sox. The fans cheer a simple little first inning run like it decides a post-season game. They are knowledgable of the game and appreciate effort. On this night, a Tuesday night game against the Twins, catcher Jason Varitek took the night off until the seventh inning. He received a standing ovation from the crowd for simply coming out of the bullpen. By this time, the home team was down 5-2. Where I come from, people are leaving late in the game to beat traffic and to try to get to bed. Not in Boston. The fans stayed and were rewarded with a 4-run eighth inning, to give the Red Sox a 6-5 win. The denizens of Red Sox Nation were happy on this night.

The ownership of the Red Sox has done an awesome job of adding additional revenue enhancements without totally tearing up the ballpark. There are now some luxury boxes in left field, along with seating on top of the Green Monster in left field. When entering the park, you can tell it is old. However, the park is clean and well-kept, especially for a facility that is nearly 100 years old.

Fenway Park is a treasure. I would go back if given the opportunity.