It's Monday, it's Memorial Day, and I want to take a moment to say "Thank you" to all of those who are currently defending our country, have previously defended our country, or are related to those folks. Today, more importantly, I want to encourage everyone to take a moment to think about those who have made the ultimate sacrifice. It's what Memorial Day is all about. They've protected our freedoms, and allowed us to continue with our lives, free to do what supports our families and gets us through our days. So thank you, all of you.
Onto the post for the day (and yes, truly a topic that accentuates our collective insignificance on a day like today) — hey, we had another hamstring injury in Houston over the weekend! I have no idea if it's something in the water, or if the screwy Houston weather has some sort of adverse effect on human tissues, but I defy you to name another city that has had more significant hamstring injuries in the last twelve months.
Actually, the timeframe would be the last 12 months and four days, as it was a year ago from this past Friday when the Rockets championship hopes were dashed by a Chris Paul pulled hamstring in Game 5 of the Western Conference Finals. The most recent hamstring injury suffered by a Houston athlete came on Friday night, as George Springer suffered a Grade 2 hammy pull while sliding into a wall in foul territory.
Springer's was the latest in what's been a borderline macabre Year of the Hammy in Houston. So let's rank these hamstring injuries, in reverse order of severity and adverse effect on Houston sports. Here we go....
10. Bruce Ellington, Texans WR, Week 3, 2018 vs NY Giants
The Texans had already been bitten by receiving corps hamstring injuries to Keke Coutee and Will Fuller. After a ten-yard catch in the Texans' Week 3 loss to the Giants, Ellington was placed on injured reserve, and eventually released on November 1. DeAndre Carter replaced him on the roster, and was pretty solid in the return game and as an emergency slot receiver.
9. Alex Bregman, Astros 3B, 4/9/19 vs NY Yankees
This hamstring tweak was a little scary, mainly because it came just days after Bregman had inked a six-year, $100 million deal. Thankfully, Bregman only missed a couple games and is squarely back in the running for American League MVP.
8. James Harden, Rockets G, 10/24/18 vs Utah
Before he was lighting up the league for 36 points a game this season, Harden's hamstring injury was the latest in a series of "what else can go wrong?" moments in the Rockets' early season swoon. He would miss three games, two of which would be 19-point and 20-point losses, but thankfully he would come back to have one of the greatest regular seasons in NBA history.
7. Jose Altuve, Astros 2B, 5/10/19 vs Texas
Altuve should be returning from this injury soon, as he begins a rehab stint in the minor leagues this week. Ultimately, missing Altuve for a couple weeks didn't really matter, as the Astros have been one of the hottest, most prolific hitting teams in baseball. I'm not gonna lie, though, it'll be nice to have the little fella back.
6. Whitney Mercilus, Texans LB, sometime in 2018 training camp
I'm not sure when exactly Mercilus was injured in training camp. I just remember being in West Virginia with the Texans, and after a couple days, asking my fellow cohosts "Hey, where the hell has Mercilus been?" Mercilus would wind up missing all of training camp, a sadly appropriate lead-in to his most disappointing season since signing his five-year contract extension in 2015. Mercilus never really got out of second gear in 2018, but with Jadeveon Clowney holding out, he should get plenty of reps to re-prove himself this summer.
5. Will Fuller, Texans WR, sometime in the 2018 preseason (and lingering into the regular season)
Honestly, if we are talking about injuries to Fuller, he might need his own post. Fuller's 2018 season will be remembered for the ACL injury that ended it, but in the first half of the season he dealt with a hamstring injury that sidelined him for the Patriots game in Week 1 and limited him at various times. (One Fuller aside — Googling his injuries alerted me to a website that actually PREDICTS injuries each season based on past history. 2019, man. What an age we live in.)
4. Chris Paul, Rockets G, 12/20/18 vs Miami
That we have two Chris Paul injuries in the top four on this list accentuates just how daunting the remaining three years (and $120-plus million) of his contract are. Paul's hamstring injury during this past season kept him out for 17 games, but it did help create the ecosystem in which James Harden could go on a binge of 30-plus point scoring games.
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3. George Springer, Astros OF, 5/24/19 vs Boston
Here is the injury that gave rise to this post. It remains to be seen just how many games Springer will miss, and what the impact will be on the Astros' season. Undeniably, though, this drops an injury boulder right in the middle of his MVP candidacy, as a healthy Springer was leading the league in several offensive categories in the American League.
2. Keke Coutee, various times during the 2018 season
Coutee's injury is this high up the list for a couple of reasons. First, when he was healthy, you really caught glimpses of the major impact the 2018 rookie could have on the offense, impact like two 11-catch games against the Colts. Second, the repetitive nature of the injury made it awfully hard to plan week to week. Reliability and availability are the two BEST abilities. The good news is that Coutee looks spry in OTAs.
1. Chris Paul, Rockets G, 5/24/18 vs Golden State, Game 5 of the Western Conference Finals
In a city sports landscape littered with hamstring injuries, the No. 1 tweaked hammy on the list is a no brainer — Paul's injury may have very well cost the Rockets an NBA title, and single-handedly changed the narrative on whether it all makes sense to have Paul here on a max deal. Sports are a game of inches, and a game of hammies.