Monday, July 28, 2008

You Can't Go Home

Hey Peeps and anyone else checking in. A special "Hey" goes out to soon to be free agent Hazel Mae.

It is often said that the toughest thing a professional athlete has to deal with is coming to grips with the fact that their career is winding down. The signs seem to be obvious to just about everyone – except of course the player in question. In most instances, the observers of the game (media and fans) are right – it is time for the player to call it a career, but sometimes these guys surprise everyone and put a halt to the downslide and prove to everyone they have plenty left in the tank. It doesn’t happen often, but when it does, it presents an interesting scenario for the players in question and the team he has been part of – sometimes, you just can’t go home.

Two of the most talked about “old-timers” in their respective sports, both thought to be in the twilight of their respective careers shocked everyone with seasons that were reminiscent of the way they performed in their prime. Of course the two players in question are (former) Toronto Maple Leafs Captain Mats Sundin and Green Bay Packers QB Brett Favre. In what many speculated would be their final season in professional sports, both turned in stellar 2007/2008 seasons. The way in which they approached their off-season and the decisions they faced couldn’t be more different.

Favre, who had (threatened) talked about retiring on more than one occasion over the last few years held a press conference to announce his retirement from professional football. While some expressed surprise that Favre would quit the game after coming off a season where he led the Pack to the NFC Championship Game, many felt that after a few sub par seasons, Favre would go out on a high note. It only took a few months for Favre to change his mind and decide that maybe he did have something left in the tank, and wanted to return to the Packers – maybe his wife wanted more face time on another “Farewell Brett” tour of the NFL. The manner in which Favre let it be known that he wanted to play in 2008 put the Packers in a bad spot – he was bush league – and the way he has used to media to get back into the game has been shameful.

The Packers, very rightly, want to move forward with Aaron Rodgers – Brett Favre, for all his professed love for the organization, wants the organization to do what is best for Brett Favre, NOT the Green Bay Packers. Favre, and his backers, want to ignore his last few years and think that the 07 season is more indicative of his ability at this stage of his career – well, the 07 season except for his final pass attempt against the Giants. Favre, the good ol’ boy who just loved to play football, has proven to be a calculating, ruthless, vindictive and bitter man who wants not only to play in 08, but to play for a team that he can try to stick it to the Packers twice a season. His request to be released, followed by his threat to come to camp, followed by the list of teams he would be willing to play for show just how much contempt he has for his former employers and the fans of Green Bay. He’s hell bent on screwing their upcoming season by being a distraction.

Mats Sundin on the other hand, handled his off-season in a totally different manner. Sundin would not be bullied or pressured into making a decision – he said from the outset that he would not make any announcements on his future until well into the summer – his last statement was that he would make public his future plans on August 1st (maybe he will hold a joint press conference with Hazel on August 1 – to announce where they will be this season, Toronto? Kidding). Sundin has acknowledged that he has received enticing offers from both Montreal and Vancouver, but hasn’t closed the door on Toronto just yet.

Sundin has been always been a classy individual – he proves that time and time again. He owes the Leafs nothing – for those who will criticize him for coming back to play for another team when he didn’t accept a trade to help the Leafs before the deadline – again, he doesn’t owe the Leafs, or us in the Nation, a damn thing. “We” are in rebuild mode and as such, Mats doesn’t fit into the grand plan of things – tough to say, but for those of us who have waited our entire life for a Stanley Cup, it is time to wish Mats well and move on without him.

When it all comes out in the wash – Sundin will come out of this with his head held high, while Favre will come out looking bad.

You can’t go home…unless you are Cristiano Ronaldo.

The Portugal international’s off-season has garnered attention all over the world. Ronaldo has stated publicly that he would welcome a move to Real Madrid, even though he is under contract with Manchester United for four more years AND they have no intention of selling him to the Spanish giants. Ronaldo is SO high profile that his story is news in North America – were message board champs are quick to criticize and characterized him as being a greedy spoiled athlete who is only in it for the money.

A different perspective for your consideration – part my own and part from a family member who is friends with one of Ronaldo’s closest friends. The other side of the argument is, the Spanish league is much better suited to Ronaldo’s long term future in terms of health and longevity in the game (definitely not as physical as the Premiership), the quality of life Ronaldo would enjoy in Madrid is far and away better than life in Manchester, and Spanish chicks are hotter than British chicks (ok, I made that up, but its true). Ronaldo is already financially set for life with guaranteed endorsements in the tens of millions – it is definitely NOT about the money.

From my perspective, albeit based on cultural, he hasn’t forgotten about the treatment after the 2006 World Cup where fans in England wanted to lynch him for “getting Wayne Rooney thrown out of the quarter final game”. We may forgive, but we never ever ever ever forget. The threats, insults and disrespect directed at a 22 year old kid who was playing for his country is shameful – the fact that it was totally overblown and distorted to serve as an excuse is just a joke. He went back to England to boos and catcalls – many in his “home” park of Old Trafford – and played his heart out for two years.

For those who are criticizing him – remember this, he has NOT ONCE said he wouldn’t play for Manchester United, he simply said he would like to play for Real – going on to say that if the transfer didn’t happen, he would report to Manchester and give his all for the Red Devils. Remember this Manchester United fans - if you have forgotten, you can bet your bottom dollar Ronaldo hasn't.

You can’t go home…but you can stay a while longer, until the lease expires.

Boston Red Sox LF Manny Ramirez tells ESPN Desportes that he has had it with Sox management. No need to post links or recount what was said as it was all over the news. Fans and media have been quick to react and criticize Ramirez, talking about how he has become too much of a distraction to stay in Boston and that it is imperative the Sox get rid of this guy – of course, AFTER the 2008 season.

Some are already making Ramirez out to be the scapegoat if Boston misses the playoffs by one game – for him pulling himself out of the lineup before Friday’s 1-0 loss against the Yankees – one question. If Boston misses the playoffs by ONE game, one single game, with Manny in the lineup for 140+ games…just how do you think they’ll do without him in the lineup next year? Manny said enough is enough – backing Manny on this one. Sox management, while celebrated in New England, don’t seem like the most ethical people…maybe Manny has something to gripe about…something(s) you, me or the reporters aren’t privy to?

Is Red Sox Nation looking to blame Manny for the 2008 season because it would be too hard for them to look at guys like Varitek, Ortiz, Beckett and, to some extent, Papelbon, who are all having sub par season for them?

Is it possible that Manny, in venting his anger and frustration, is simply saying things that other Sox players would love to say – but can’t? Does anyone really think Manny is the only player who is unhappy with management? C’mon gang, if your best player is being jerked around by management (even if it isn’t to the extent he claims) do you think others aren’t feeling the same way? Ramirez is likely the only player who has the stones to stand up to them – of course the 10 – 5 thing helps his courage.

Maybe I missed something but doesn't Manny vent and then go out and produce? He is a professional - he doesn't let outside stuff get to him when he is on the field - shouldn't ALL professionals do that? Shouldn't his teammates block all that stuff out and follow Manny's example? Isn't that what they are PAID to do as professionals? Stop reading the columnists who are looking for something to write - they know not of what they write.

That’s it for today gang – vacation was much longer than anticipated, but posts will be updated daily again. Thanks for taking the time to check in.

Four songs of the day by the Fine Young Cannibals - one of each of today's notables.

For Brett Favre and the Green Bay Packers - Ever Fallen In Love

For Mats Sundin and the Maple Leafs - Blue

For Cristiano Ronaldo and Manchester United - Johnny Come Home

For Manny Ramirez and the Boston Red Sox Management team - Suspicious Minds

Hazel, here's hoping things are groovy in your world.

I'm Out!


Post a Comment

<< Home

Website Counter
Website Counter