An ignominious end to an unsatisfying year …

   Boy, am I going to be glad when that Times Square ball drops tonight. At my age you ought not sit around rooting for time to pass, since it manages nicely on its own without any cheerleading, but I gotta tell you this year as been a tough one.

   I suppose the Detroit Lions fans have a lot more to whine about than I do. I am a Packers fan, and I was terrified that the combination of one team playing largely not to lose (my guys) would be at a disadvantage to a squad with ample incentive to avoid winding up embarrassed in the record books. In the end, I wound up feeling sorry for our friends in Michigan (the whole state, not just the Lions), who have more to complain about than most when it comes to 2008.

   When I moved out to the Midwest in 1991 after three decades or so on the East Coast, I lived in northern Indiana and would visit southern Michigan from time to time. I had lived in Michigan as a kid, and I was struck by the kind of sad lethargy that I saw as I traveled around the lower part of the state.

   This was a purely visceral observation, but it was disconcerting to see so many lovely, stately older homes that had seemingly gotten kind of tired, so many downtowns that seemed not tired but truly exhausted. I am rooting for the whole state to fare better in coming years, which is not so much a prediction as a silent prayer.

   I did make some predictions last year, and was essentially dead on with at least one of them. I wasn’t one of those who got mad at Packer management over the Brett Favre debacle; that pathetic business seemed to me to be largely of Favre’s making. I didn’t think Favre would drag the Jets into the playoffs, though he did offer a nice early fake up the middle that such might be their fate.

   Being an odd amalgam of the naive and utterly cynical, I have long since given up on the notion that legendary athletes should retire in a timely fashion so as not to disrupt our treasured memories of their finest moments. It happens so rarely that they step away while still on top of their game that it almost seems unfair to ask them to do so when the normal instinct is to play they games they love for as long as they possibly can.

   Besides, I’ve never been able to shake the feeling that there were more heroics that we were supposed to be able to enjoy from Jim Brown and Sandy Koufax, for example.

   Having said that, here’s the first prediction for 2009: Favre is done. If could play golf even half as well as he does – and had the dough to do so wherever and whenever I wanted – that’s what I would be doing.

   Happy New Year!

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