Forget Cal Ripkin Jr.’s 2,630-game consecutive game streak for the Baltimore Orioles. That accomplishment pales in comparison to Sports Editor Jeff Cali’s mind-boggling streak that ended recently.

For the record, the Big Guy had covered 3,245 consecutive sporting events — everything from 5th and 6th grade soccer to horsehoes to football to tiddlywinks without ever going on the dreaded disabled list.

Say it ain’t so!

I was sure he wore a cape with a huge “S” on it beneath his clothing. But he’s getting on in years and his stamina is not what it used to be.

The good news is the Big Guy is making a rapid recovery and is expected back in his familiar pilot’s seat soon.

So, if you have noticed the Sports Section not up to its normal high standards the past couple of weeks, you can rest assured a remedy is in the near future.

I did all I could do. I even asked Oral Roberts to come back to his hometown and lay hands on Jeff (I was desperate!).

It’s not easy to try to fill the shoes of a man whose feet make Shaq’s look like child’s play. I don’t have those Cali cat-like reflexes and superhuman endurance qualities, or that steel-trap mind with more useless trivia than the Guinness Book of World Records and other assorted statistics.

I’m not taking Jeff’s ailment lightly, but I’m confident he’ll be back as good as new in a few days. What I am worried about is the disruption in his legendary diet.

Limited to Cup-O-Soup and other assorted liquid yucks, the Big Guy’s digestive system must be in shock. And this is the second time in a few months he has been off his feed.

“Where’s the beef?” he screamed via the telephone Saturday. “I need a Cali-like meal — meat and potatoes. I don’t deserve this! I’m going to end up a shell of my handsome self.”

He received more protein during his first week of life than he’s had in the past seven days. We may have to carry him up the stairs when he returns.

Anyway, the Big Guy is missed and we hope he’s back in the saddle as soon as possible, if not sooner.


Bring ‘em on

My good buddy Greg Mills, head coach of the Allen Lady Mustangs, is looking forward to this week’s STAR Tournament on his home floor.

“The girls bracket is loaded,” Mills said. “Stonewall, Caney, Strother, the Oklahoma City Knights, Roff, Tupelo and Moyers is an outstanding field.”

I’ve always liked Mills’ schedule. He’s not worried about his record. Sometimes, losses in January can pay off in the playoffs in February and March.

The STAR Tournament rotates each year between Allen, Tupelo, Stonewall and Roff.