Why the hell is Grady Sizemore trending on Twitter in 2021, and what does it have to do with Bo Jackson?

Why the hell is Grady Sizemore trending on Twitter in 2021, and what does it have to do with Bo Jackson?

Illustration for article titled Why the hell is Grady Sizemore trending on Twitter in 2021, and what does it have to do with Bo Jackson?
Image: AP

People apparently enjoy painful memories, as the twitterverse is currently talking about a lot of “what could have beens.” Waking up this morning, not quite fully caffeinated, I saw that Grady Sizemore was trending, and immediately questioned the entirety of the space-time continuum. A tweet was posted yesterday asking people to name one athlete they wish they could have seen have an injury-free career, and it took off. Sizemore was noted a lot, as were many others. Soooo, since we’re discussing what athletes we would have liked to see play a fully healthy career, let’s put together a list. Because who doesn’t love a good list?

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Bo Jackson

Bo Jackson

Illustration for article titled Why the hell is Grady Sizemore trending on Twitter in 2021, and what does it have to do with Bo Jackson?
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This list could be just “Bo Jackson” 12 straight times, and I would feel completely pleased with my creative output. Jackson was a cheat code of an athlete, both in baseball and in football. Legend has it Jackson ran an electronically-timed 4.13 second 40-yard dash. In the NFL, he averaged an absurd 5.4 yards per carry. The NFL requires a minimum of 750 career rushing attempts to qualify for their all-time leaderboard — Jackson carried it 515 times. If he met the threshold they require, his 5.4 YPC average would be tied for second best amongst running backs all-time. The two-way athlete, who also played in the MLB, regularly showcased his rocket of an arm and extreme athleticism in the outfield. In 1991, Jackson suffered a fractured and dislocated hip while playing for the Oakland Raiders, and never played football again, and managed to only play two more seasons of baseball. We were deprived of a full career from arguably the best athlete professional sports has ever seen.

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Brandon Roy

Brandon Roy

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Roy, a fan favorite of the Portland Trailblazers, was a dynamic and lethal guard, possessing true superstar talent. The 2006 NBA Rookie of the Year (garnering 127 of 128 votes) averaged 14.5 points per game in his rookie ’06-’07 campaign, but the injury bug started early. He played in only 57 games that season because of knee problems. The following season, Roy injured his ankle in the final game before the All-Star break, but was selected as a reserve for the 2008 All-Star Game. He had a procedure done during the ’08-’09 preseason to remove cartilage from his knee, and then suffered a slight meniscus tear in the opposite knee late in the ’09-’10 season. Roy had surgery, but came back eight days later to lead the Blazers to a dramatic Game 4 victory in the first round of the playoffs. Roy’s knees were deemed to be “bone on bone” at this point in his career, but he fought through it. His heroics in the 2011 playoffs, leading a 23-point comeback against the Dallas Mavericks, is still regarded as one of the best moments in Blazers franchise history. He retired due to injuries before the following season.

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Derrick Rose

Derrick Rose

Illustration for article titled Why the hell is Grady Sizemore trending on Twitter in 2021, and what does it have to do with Bo Jackson?
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Another guard whose career was cut short, Rose was on fire to start his young career at about the same time that Roy was fading out. During Rose’s second season in ’09-’10, he averaged 20.8 points, 6.0 assists, and 3.8 rebounds per game, earning his first All-Star selection. He built on that the following year, upping his numbers to 25.0 points, 7.7 assists, and 4.1 rebounds, and getting back to the All-Star Game. The following season he was named MVPof the league. In the ’11-’12 season, Rose played in just 39 games, and later tore his ACL, causing him to miss the entire next season. Rose, still in the NBA, has not played more than 66 games in a season since, enduring several other long absences due to injury.

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Ken Griffey Jr.

Ken Griffey Jr.

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Image: Getty Images

The most beautiful swing the game of baseball has ever seen, Griffey could very well be the all-time home run leader had he not been derailed by injuries. The 1997 AL MVP, who finished his career seventh all-time on the home run list with 630, had an eight-year run between 1993 and 2000 where he hit at least 40 home runs in seven out of eight years, eclipsing 50 twice. After being traded to the Cincinnati Reds in 2000, he averaged only 300 plate appearances, 16 home runs, and 44 RBI per year over the next four seasons. He topped 30 home runs only twice more in his MLB career, and never appeared in the World Series.

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Terrell Davis

Terrell Davis

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Image: Getty Images

Davis burst out of the gate with four incredible years as a running back for the Denver Broncos, starting with his 1995 rookie season. He posted 1,1117 yards that year, 1,538 the following, 1,750 the year after that, and is one of only eight running backs all time to eclipse 2,000 rushing yards in a season, which he did with his 2,008 yards in 1998. He was quickly on the rise to all-time greatness, but never played more than half a season for the rest of his career. During the fourth game of the 1999 season, Davis tore his ACL. He played in only five games in 2000 due to a stress fracture, and was limited to eight games in 2001 because of another knee injury. He retired following the 2001 season. Although he’s enshrined in Canton in the Hall of Fame, Davis was only able to give four years of excellence due to injuries.

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Bobby Orr

Bobby Orr

Illustration for article titled Why the hell is Grady Sizemore trending on Twitter in 2021, and what does it have to do with Bo Jackson?
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The first dominant offensive defenseman, Orr won two Stanley Cups with the Boston Bruins in 1970 and 1972. He was a perennial all-star, and won the NHL James Norris Memorial Trophy for the league’s top defenseman a record eight times, all consecutively. The toll of his physical playing style caught up to him, putting a ton of pressure on his knees. He had surgeries on his knees more than a dozen times in his career, leading to him playing only 26 games in his final three seasons with the Chicago Blackhawks. Orr retired after the 1979 season, and was inducted into the NHL Hall of Fame immediately, at age 31. At the time, he was the youngest player ever to be inducted to the Hall, with the NHL waiving their customary three-year waiting period to enshrine him.

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Bill Walton

Bill Walton

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Image: AP

A player with a personality to match his athleticism, Walton, after a brilliant career as a part of John Wooden’s UCLA Bruins, was a key member of the only Blazers franchise to win an NBA Championship, doing so in 1977. He was essentially never fully healthy, but he was a walking double-double when on the court to start his career. From 1974-1978, Walton averaged 17.1 points, 13.5 rebounds, and 2.6 blocks per game. Walton had a chronically-broken bone in his left foot that plagued him throughout his career, and battled injuries dating back to high school, where he broke an ankle, a leg, several bones in his feet, and underwent knee surgery. He missed four full seasons, and only played in 44% of his NBA games.

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Kerry Wood

Kerry Wood

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One of the biggest “what-could-have-beens” on this list is Wood, who was heralded as the next great pitcher before he ever set foot in the major leagues. In only his fifth career MLB start, the Cubs pitcher tied the record for most strikeouts in a game with 20 against the Houston Astros in 1998. Not only did Wood strikeout 20 with upper 90s gas and a curveball bending from hell, he only allowed one hit, a dribbler. That start is considered by many to be one of the greatest pitching performances ever. Wood’s career was incredibly injury-plagued — he landed on the injured list 14 times in his 13-year career, never reaching his promise.

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Don Mattingly

Don Mattingly

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“Donny Baseball,” who started his career as a well-rounded, power-hitting first baseman, won the AL MVP in 1985 with the New York Yankees. Between 1984 and 1986, Mattingly averaged a .340/.382/.982 line with 30 home runs and 123 RBIs. In 1987, a congenital back issue flared up, which was alleged to be caused by rough housing in the clubhouse with reliever Bob Shirley. True or not, he slipped two discs. While still respectable, his production was never the same. He averaged a .296/.351/.440 slash for the rest of his career, and only topped 20 home runs once over a nine-year period. With the winningest organization in all of American professional sports, Mattingly never won — or appeared in — a World Series. And he’s not in the Hall of Fame.

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Penny Hardaway

Penny Hardaway

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In my opinion, one of the most underrated guards in NBA history is Anfernee “Penny” Hardaway, who positively dazzled in his 1-2 punch role with a young Shaquille O’Neal in Orlando. Over his first four seasons, from 1993-1997, Hardaway was a three-time All-Star, averaging 19.7 points and 6.7 assists per game. Hardaway and Shaq defeated Michael Jordan and the Bulls 4-2 in the 1995 Eastern Conference finals. After losing in the finals to the Houston Rockets and being dismissed the next year by the 72-10 Chicago Bulls, Hardaway badly injured his knee. The injury caused him to miss 63 games in the 1997-1998 campaign. Shaq had been traded to the Los Angeles Lakers, and Hardaway never regained his athleticism. The Magic was over. Hardaway was later traded to the Phoenix Suns in 1999, and spent the next nine seasons averaging 11.3 points per game while playing for three different teams before retiring in 2006.

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Grady Sizemore!

Grady Sizemore!

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Image: AP

And that brings us to Sizemore, the muse for this lovely endeavor. After a short stint in the majors in 2004, his first full season on the big league Cleveland roster came in 2005, where he slashed .289/.348/.484 with 22 home runs, 81 RBI, and 22 stolen base. He could hit for average and power, had speed on the basepaths, was a plus defender with a strong arm, and all at just 22 years old. In 2008, his home run total jumped up to 33, and he stole an impressive 38 bases. He was destined for greatness. Unfortunately, it was not to be. In 2009, Sizemore played in 106 games due to a groin and elbow injury. He needed two surgeries before 2010. He was never able to get back and get right. He appeared in only 33 contests in 2010, and in 71 the following season. He underwent abdominal surgery, a back surgery, and three knee surgeries, keeping him from seeing the field from 2012-2014. Sizemore’s star had worn out. Sizemore bounced around the majors in 2014 and 2015, appearing for four different teams, before hanging it up.

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