In the latest ESPN issue, Lindsay Berra (yes she’s related to Yogi) wrote an interesting article on what some people are referring to as “The Tommy John Epidemic.” Of course I’m talking about the surgery that in today’s day and age seems to be just something that happens somewhere along a pitcher’s career.
Not only did I read the article, but I was lucky enough to catch Ms. Berra on SiriusXM’s baseball channel, where she was able to elaborate a little further.
I know that she spent a great deal of time compiling the information she shared in her article, and kudos for her in writing the piece.
After reading the article and listening to the interview, I felt disappointed. Not in Ms. Berra mind you, but rather the wide range of opinions many of the experts believe is the cause of UCL Replacement Surgery.
Everyone interviewed had an opinion, and each opinion – in at least one person’s mind – was the solution to the problem.
That in itself IS the problem.
Too many opinions… too many egos… no solution.
Meanwhile… wait for it…Yup… another talented arm just went under the knife and won’t pick up a baseball for for a longer period than he’s ever done in his life.
I have very little patience with so-called experts that supposedly know The Answer, but can’t seem to give a concrete reason why their own pitchers fall apart. Also, while I applaud research groups and their efforts to find The Cure, I can’t help but question certain groups that have spent decades (and lots of others people’s money) trying to find answers, only finding themselves right back at Square One with everyone else.
And I’m sorry, but I have a major problem relying on doctors – that make a living repairing arms – giving us the solution to the problem. I mean to me, that’s like asking an active bank robber how he would break into banks.
So as another prospect makes plans to spend time with his arm in a sling, we are left with the same-old, same-old…
Clean up your mechanics…
Watch the pitch count…
Don’t throw curve balls and especially sliders until you’re older…
Overhand throwing is an unnatural movement…
Injuries are a part of the game.
To be fair, the actual UCL Replacement Surgery has advanced by leaps and bounds since Tommy John himself had his elbow sliced open. But let’s not forget that the surgery neither promises a return to the mound, nor guarantees that the ol’ elbow will blow up again. The general rule of thumb: replacement parts have a shelf life of somewhere between 5-10 years.
It’s interesting to note that Tommy John Surgery no longer is specific to UCL replacement. Stephen Strasburg did not rupture his original UCL, but doctors decided to weave a tendon over his frayed ligament as a “it’s probably going to happen anyway,” approach.
Either way, it’s pretty clear (and depressing) that there is not one fully accepted solution, which means more and more pitchers (and position players too) will suffer an injury that only seems to plague baseball players, and not other “overhand sports” like football, tennis, volleyball, and the javelin.
Before someone asks me where I believe The Answer lies, let me beat you to it. I side with the Dr. Mike Marshall arm action. I know several instructors that believe his arm action will eventually be the way to go, but either don’t want to rock the boat with an opinion contrary to the masses, are afraid that doing something different will cause their players to leave them, or don’t want to put in the time to learn the arm action themselves.
I’ve never had any type of surgery on my arm, shoulder, or any baseball-related body part, but as a high school and college pitcher, I dealt with posterior shoulder fatigue, and a burning sensation in what I used to think was the base of my biceps muscle in my pitching arm. Since making the jump to the Marshall arm path five years ago, I have yet to experience either issue, while consistently throwing a baseball year-round, including competitively. More importantly, my pitchers have made it clear that the “normal pitcher’s pain” they were taught to suck it up, has become a thing of the past.
But the intent of this article isn’t to sell Mike Marshall. I just wanted to share my two cents on the article.
Click on the link below to read the article. Let me know what you think.