Frankie O: Ending of Favre's streak provides clarity

Frankie O: Ending of Favre's streak provides clarity

Wednesday, Dec. 15, 2010
2:37 PM

By Frankie O

I wanted to use this space writing about my holiday obsession, the fantasy football playoffs, but something happened this week that hasnt happened in about twenty years and I felt that was worthy of everyones attention. Brett Favre missed a start for his football team. That had not happened for 297 games. More than 18 seasons. Since September 27, 1992. (Not to mention 24 straight playoff starts.) I think this is the most significant consecutive games streak in pro sports, even more so than that one in baseball that you might have heard of.

Over 18 straight seasons of showing up, playing a position where the goal of the opposition is to knock you out. Well, they finally did. I found it odd that at first I really did not know how to feel about it. Thus is the dilemma of Favre and what he has come to represent. As he passed Lou Gehrigs hallowed 2131, Cal Ripken became a national treasure. Thats the magnitude of baseballs numbers, and the measure of Gehrig and Ripken. While we are more passionate as fans towards football, the numbers dont seem to stick in our consciousness the same way. The numbers 714, 61, 4189 and 2131 were revered by youngsters my age as we came to love the game.

In football however, while a stats geek like me will know a lot of them, career totals are not something we discuss a lot in the bar. (Unless you discount Walters 16,726. EVERYONE here knows that!) Favre now owns all of the most important stats for a QB: Wins, touchdowns, passing yards and consecutive starts. As a QB you must play at a high level to give your team a chance, and most importantly, you must be in the game to do so. Hes done this better than anyone, or has he? Hes done more, but I dont know if hes done it better. For he also is, the undisputed, undefeated, turnover king of all-time and its not even close! Number one in picks with 335 and for good measure, number one in fumbles with 165, for a whopping 500! How cool is that?

And that is the story of Favre, you get and you give. For all of his greatness, he still only has one ring. But what made him what he is, is how he did it. Watching all of the video this week reminded us of what he once was: youthful, exuberant, bounding with energy and possessing a cannon of an arm. Listening to John Madden calling one of his games would almost make you blush. He was a swashbuckling gunslinger who would take us on a thrill-ride with danger lurking around every corner. Whatever the outcome, the ride was awesome. He was a star we could not stop watching.

Then, the other stuff happened. I often lament that the worst part of being a fan is getting old enough to meet some of your heroes. In todays age, we get to learn too much about the men who play kids games for a living. Favres off-field life was no less mesmerizing than his one on it. His dealing with tragedy catapulted him into celebrity status. Poor Brett. Watching what he went through, how could you not like the guy?

Then the retirement sagas began. (Not to mention the untimely interceptions that torpedoed seasons.) For one who was supposed to be the ultimate warrior, he was now being cast in a different light. A selfish light. In the bar, not to mention the national media, he was becoming a punch-line. Sides were being taken and it was an easy way to start a lively conversation. I personally was on the side of having had enough. My favorite description was calling him the John Daley of football: A train-wreck waiting to happen, on and off the field. What he has done to his legacy in the last four years has been as much bad as it has been good.

But like most stories, the ending has provided with clarity. Thats who Favre is. Hes good and bad and someone cant paint a perspective of him on either side they choose. Like the rest of us, hes not perfect and the flaws are there for all to see.

So I guess the ending of his streak, while throwing ANOTHER pick, is only fitting and not a moment too soon. Its time to move on.

While the discussion will center on his all-time rank among quarterbacks upon his imminent final retirement, he will be in the neighborhood, but not at the top of my list. (I have 500 1 reasons!) But what I will recognize and never deny, is that he did everything in his power to give his team a chance to win. No matter what, he showed up to play and left it on the field, 297 straight times.

Brandon Morrow has a healthy sense of humor about his pants-related injury

Brandon Morrow has a healthy sense of humor about his pants-related injury

Brandon Morrow's body may not be healthy, but his sense of humor sure isn't on the disabled list.

The Cubs closer had to go on the DL Wednesday after he injured his back changing out of his pants early Monday morning when the Cubs returned home to Chicago after a Sunday night game in St. Louis.

The story made national rounds, not only in the baseball world, but resonating with non-sports fans, as well. After all, it's not every day a guy who gets paid millions for his athletic endeavors injures himself on a mundane every day activity.

But it's all good, because even Morrow can find the humor in the situation, Tweeting this out Thursday afternoon:

Morrow's back tightened up on him and didn't loosen up enough the next two days, making him unavailable for the Cubs doubleheader Tuesday at Wrigley Field.

The team decided to put him on the shelf Wednesday morning so an already-gassed bullpen wouldn't have more pressure during this stretch of 14 games in 13 days.

The Cubs are in Cincinnati this weekend for a four-game series with the Reds. Morrow is eligible to return from the DL next Wednesday in Los Angeles as the Cubs once again take on the Dodgers — Morrow's old team.

The 33-year-old pitcher is 16-for-17 in save chances this year while posting a 1.59 ERA, 1.15 WHIP and 25 strikeouts in 22.2 innings. He's only given up a run in 2 of his 26 outings as a Cub.

Eloy's comin' to Charlotte, but how long before he's playing on the South Side?

Eloy's comin' to Charlotte, but how long before he's playing on the South Side?

The No. 1 prospect in the White Sox loaded farm system got a step closer to playing in the major leagues Thursday.

Eloy Jimenez was the headliner in a ridiculously large number of promotions throughout the organization that signaled that despite a 25-games-under-.500 record at the big league level, the rebuilding effort is progressing nicely.

But antsy fans and observers who want to see the fruits of that effort land on the South Side as soon as possible have the same question now that Jimenez is a Charlotte Knight as they did when he was a Birmingham Baron: When will he be inserted into Rick Renteria's everyday lineup?

Director of player development Chris Getz didn’t have that answer Thursday when he was discussing all the minor league movement. But he outlined exactly what’s had White Sox fans salivating over the idea of Jimenez in the major league lineup.

“He’s done nothing but hit with us, and he’s continuing to do that,” Getz said on the conference call. “He’s driving the ball to all fields with power. The hit tool is very good, as well. He’s hammering fastballs. Talking about maturity, he’s definitely beyond his years in how he handles the game as a whole.

“When he steps into the box, it seems that you’re looking at a guy that plays in the big leagues already, and he’s not. He’s controlling the zone, he’s driving the ball, he’s making good decisions. We’ll see what he can do up at Charlotte.”

With Jimenez mashing at Birmingham this season — to the tune of .317/.368/.556 with 10 homers and 42 RBIs in 53 games — plenty have wondered why a pit stop at Charlotte is even necessary. General manager Rick Hahn has answered that question in the past, pointing to the different kind of pitching that Jimenez will face, and Getz echoed that thinking Thursday.

“At Charlotte, you’re going to run into guys that have a little more experience,” Getz said. “Some may have pitched in the big leagues, some might have been labeled those ‘4-A’ types. But what comes with that is more off-speed pitches, pitching backwards, being able to locate a little bit more. It will be interesting to see how he does respond with guys attacking him a little bit differently.

“We as an organization believe he’s going to be able to accomplish pretty much the same type of things he’s been accomplishing at Charlotte.”

That would be good news for those eagerly awaiting Jimenez’s arrival in Chicago because if he dominates at the plate at Triple-A the way he did at Double-A, then another promotion could be a possibility before the 2018 major league season runs out.

Of course before that happens, the White Sox want Jimenez to master things at the Triple-A level. Hahn mentioned before the season started that a good developmental season could end without Jimenez joining the big league squad at all. Like with all things in this rebuilding effort, the White Sox are going to be patient and do what’s best for the long term.

“He’s never played at Triple-A,” Getz said about a player who prior to joining the White Sox organization last summer had never played above Class A. “Now do I have full confidence that he’s going to go up there and hit? Sure. I absolutely do.

“If he continues to do so and forces our hand, we’re certainly going to have that conversation about him coming to Chicago. Let’s just get him in the lineup tonight and see what he can do.”