Larry and Brian,
Thanks for the replies. The history on this is that I brought the car into a "new" shop (regular shop was backlogged) to fix a check engine light and resolve a compaint about unusual tire wear. The tire wear turned out to be a belt separation, but the tech came back and said that the whole steering setup was shot. He estimated between 2 and 3mm of play at the joints. Since the car would have to be out of service for longer than I could leave it, I took it back and had my regular mechanic look at it a couple weeks later. He didn't notice any significant play in the front end.
Will try to get the front end up in the air tonight. A quick visual inspection showed that at least one boot has split around the circumference of the joint and lost most of its grease. It sounds like this pretty much condemns the joint?