- The Washington Times - Sunday, May 10, 2009

WHATEVER IT TAKES

On Thursday, the will-he-or-won’t-he saga of Brett Favre was hogging all the attention until it got pushed aside by Manny Ramirez and his 50-game suspension. Two big stories, two big names. And a common thread.

The pair are linked, and not just because of their brilliant careers and Hall of Fame credentials. Although the circumstances are different, neither one can just walk away.

Manny took something he shouldn’t have, presumably for that extra edge. Of course, he isn’t alone. Like so many others, he believed his extraordinary talent wasn’t enough. Also, he will be 37 in three weeks. His creeping age must have been be a scary prospect. So he apparently broke the rules to keep going — maybe squeeze out one more fat contract, regardless of the cost.

Which turned out to be nearly a third of the season, several million dollars and irreparable damage to his reputation.

Favre, who turns 40 in October, also will do whatever it takes to squeeze out another year or two, to stay in the game. It appears to be a pathological need, one he can’t even be honest about. Twice now he has “retired,” the second time conclusively, yet here he is, knocking on doors. His family has practically begged him to give it up. To this point, he has shown that he can’t, regardless of the cost. His image has been tarnished, and his wife and kids must be wondering about his priorities.

Maybe Favre will finally go home and be a full-time dad, but that notion doesn’t look promising. Reportedly, he sent his shoulder X-rays to the Minnesota Vikings, hoping for clearance to play a 19th season. But you never know. Maybe he’ll just say no, and mean it. For Manny, on the other hand, it’s a little late for that.

TWT Five ” BASEBALL’S FIRST-MONTH SURPRISES

1. Blue Jays - Right there in tough AL East behind young stars Aaron Hill and Adam Lind and a pitching staff that’s more than ace Roy Halladay.

2. Mariners - Worst American League record in 2008. Best ERA in 2009.

3. Royals - Led by the latest Big Thing, the remarkable Zack Greinke, the pitching has been terrific. But can they hit enough?

4. Rays - Last season’s big success story is this season’s big disappointment so far.

5. Angels - Scuffling around .500 after last year’s best record in baseball. A tattered pitching staff will do that.

HE SAID WHAT?

“He will never get the benefit of the doubt again. Any questionable situation, people will automatically stereotype and refuse to give him the benefit of the doubt.” - The Rockets’ Shane Battier on teammate Ron Artest

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