In May of 2007, Grady Sizemore was on the cover of Sports Illustrated. Right there, in big font: "He is without a doubt one of the greatest players of our generation." The up cycle of Cleveland baseball had arrived in a major way and they were "built to last." This is the exact same logic currently being applied to everyone's darlings, the Texas Rangers. I am here trying to warn all fans, of the Rangers and otherwise, of a fact that Clevelanders know very well: the greatness of your future is not promised. When your future does arrive, it may be very, very sad and strange.
Yesterday, that cropped up in the Twitter feed. What does it mean? It means that Grady Sizemore is now a "brand ambassador" for a sunglasses company that is "built on technology and innovation", a company that offers "optimal clarity, comfort, durability, and technology integration, guaranteed to enhance daily living or mission oriented pursuits." Another defining feature of this sunglasses company is that you have probably never heard of them.
Well, perhaps Grady is being added to a roster of ambassadors that befits a man of his stature. The list he joins includes:
Manny Puig, a man who "told the world that he could hand feed sharks WITHOUT a cage or a mesh suit, [and] was laughed at. When he began to show that he was right, he quickly established himself as a foremost expert in shark behavior. When Manny realized that he could take giant alligators and maneuver them with ease instead of squaring off head to head, nobody believed it."
Todd Fairbain, the president of "Otte Gear, an elite purveyor of tactical clothing and equipment designed specifically for US Special Forces Units." You ought to hurry because Otte Gear's front page informs that "all sizes of Earth and Multicam Patrol Parkas and Trousers are now in stock!"
Ali Nilforushan, "a World-Class Equestrian rider that competes currently in the West Coast League. Born in Tabriz, Iran, Nilforushan has been a competitive rider for more than 20 years...One thing is for sure; whether on the field or off, Ali prefers Gargoyles Eyewear." Also, judging from his brand ambassador page, we're to believe that Ali has a way with women.
I don't mean to imply that Gargoyles (or Otte Gear or any of the associated parties) are of a low quality; for all I know, they are a fine pair of sunglasses. Nor do I mean to imply that Sizemore's Q Score is exactly equivalent to Manny Puig's. I do mean to imply that this was not the future many were eager to write for Sizemore.
A year ago, in its run-up advertisements for the 2009 playoffs, MLB featured star baseball players by highlighting their journeys to the majors. Players went "beyond" something: Tim Lincecum was "beyond dedication", Ryan Howard was "beyond inspiration", the Upton brothers were "beyond motivation" and Grady Sizemore, Cleveland's own, was "beyond determination." You can still find the spot if you scroll through the video bar on this site. It's a good advertisement: it makes Grady seem heroic and important by portraying him as one of baseball's gifted crown princes.
At the time, the ad let us imagine Grady was still a superstar in the grand scheme of baseball, even if he had finished 2009 on the shelf. And now, with Sizemore's super-sized star clearly dimming, artifacts of his portended greatness seem to be everywhere: his B-Ref page's sponsor asks to the ether, "Is Grady Sizemore the number one outfielder in Fantasy Baseball?" No, he's not.Nor are his "ladies" doing much talking anymore; their message board features mostly spam posts these days. And, finally, he's not "one of the greatest players of our generation." He's just another road flare alerting everyone to the car crash that is Cleveland Indians baseball.
He is a Gargoyles Brand Ambassador, though.