After going under the knife for microfracture surgery on his right knee in September, former Tribe great Grady Sizemore appears to be another cautionary tale of an athlete leaving it all on the field with little regard for the long-term affects that ultimately short-circuits a possible hall of fame career.
Sizemore’s intention is to continue his road back onto a major league roster this year. Unfortunately, with the news that his rehabilitation will keep him shelved until the summer months, an outside observer is probably looking at his plight as a ship that has long passed. And for those of us who got to watch his highlight reel efforts day in and day out, the sobering reality is that Sizemore’s body has waved the physiological white flag.
It’s quite interesting to look back at the trade from Montreal that brought him here. Sizemore being the proverbial shot-in-the-dark sweetener in the package of Cliff Lee, Brandon Phillips and the immortal Lee Stevens. While Lee was solid at best until his breakout 22-win, Cy Young-winning season in 2008, and Phillips never blossoming (and frequently clashing with then-manager Eric Wedge) until being traded to Cincinnati, Sizemore became a model of consistency with his 30-homer, 30-steal potential, coupled with sterling defense that made him a frequent, if not daily, Web Gem highlight; as consecutive Gold Gloves in 2007 and 2008 attest.
His rise to stardom even lead to him being a Sports Illustrated cover-boy with a subhead championing greatness that was still in the embryonic stages. Simply put, Sizemore was so much more than the object of affection of Grady’s Ladies; we were watching an all-timer who had barely scratched the surface of his prime. He had the proverbial “it.”
But now we see a guy who has become betrayed by the rigors of being an iron man (and it really shows just how much a freak of nature Cal Ripken, Jr. was). The piper demands his due eventually. Even for those who willfully lay their health on the line for the rush that comes from a win; for those who fight their managers for the right to not take a needed day off.
It sure looks like we are seeing a great baseball player’s career ending ultimately unfulfilled. It is sad, unfair, cold ending to a baseball legend in the making. Here’s hoping he can resuscitate his career, but we’ll likely be thinking and talking fondly about a growing baseball supernova that never got the ending we have wanted and hoped to write.