Last night I decided to investigate why the shift lever in my VW had around 2 inches of forward/back play, and discovered that the relay ball was strangely absent from my linkage. Today I took a quick trip to the local junkyard to find a newish one in hopes of saving myself a bit of money (shipping is always way overpriced on small items IMO).
Apparently there had been a recent run on ABAs as only two of the ten A3s on the lot had engines installed. One of those remaining was an automatic, but the final one had the part I needed and removal went quite smoothly. I will clean it up and install later this week, hopefully restoring the transmission to proper condition.
Update: Installed the used relay ball, my Jetta now shifts better than it did when I bought it! This feeling leads me to believe that the relay ball may have been absent for quite a while.
While looking around the lot I snapped some pictures of some of the more interesting cars.
**Warning the following images may upset**