By Art Stevens
FEEL GOOD: Normally when a pitcher gets into his thirties, you’ve got to watch carefully for a downturn in his abilities. I give you Jamie Moyer of the Colorado Rockies, who is now the oldest pitcher in MLB history to have won a game. Jamie, who has pitched in the past for seven other Major League teams, pitched and won a game for the Rockies on April 17th at the ripe old age of forty-nine. Wouldn’t it be great to see him continue on into his fifties next year? I’ll be rooting.
NBA UPDATE: The playoffs are barely started, but in reality, could it be that they ended when Derrick Rose of the Chicago Bulls went down with a season-ending injury in the Bulls first game? There are, maybe four or five teams that have a legitimate shot, but my friends, after watching the way LeBron played throughout this season, and in his first playoff game against the Knicks, I really DO think it is over. LeBron, before this season, was a very, very good player. He has a chance now to enter the realm of the great ones.
WAKE-UP TIME: Pitchers get hurt. The very nature of their physical motion insures that will happen in varying degrees, and at times and places that cannot be predicted. In my opinion, when a pitcher is sound, it makes little difference to his well being whether he pitches a complete game or comes out after six or seven innings. This has been proven in past years when the goal of starting pitchers was to finish the game. They worked on a four-man rotation, not five. They pitched every four days, not five. They came out early only if they became ineffective. They didn’t bother with a pitch count, just common sense from the pitcher and the manager. The reasoning used for today’s practices comes mostly from the high salaries paid to the pitchers, and managements’ attempts to protect that investment. I would agree with that thinking if I were shown that the injuries were greater years ago. That is just NOT the case. I give you Johann Santana, Stephen Strasburg, Josh Johnson, Jordan Zimmerman, Chris Carpenter, Tim Hudson, Joba Chamberlain, and many, many others. All fine pitchers. You will find that they were almost always taken out of their games after six or seven well-pitched innings, or when their pitch-count reached around 100. Despite this babying, they all went down with injuries. Pitchers years ago (before the advent of the really big salaries,) pitched hundreds of complete games with no more detrimental effect than pitchers have today. Believe me, I am not alone in this thinking. I urge you to try to listen to people like Nolan Ryan, Tom Seaver, and so many others.
DOWNER: Mike Pelfrey of the Mets felt a twinge in his pitching arm the other day, had an MRI taken, and at least as of now, it looks like he will have to undergo season-ending Tommy John surgery. This is a surgical graft procedure in which a ligament in the elbow is replaced with a tendon from elsewhere in the body. If there were a good side to such a sad story, wouldn’t it be how far medicine has advanced on this operation? Tim Kremchek is a leading ‘Tommy John’ surgeon. He says: “The player has over a 95% chance of coming back.” Some, when they return, pitch with MORE power. Some really struggle. Good luck to Mike.
MY TAKE: I have a very good friend named Fred. To Fred, the Holy Grail in baseball is the no-hitter. So much so, that when one is potentially going on I have to call to let him know so that he can tune it in. According to Fred, a pitcher should NEVER be taken out of a game if he has a no-hitter going. He believes the prestige and the honor of joining that list is that great. In the first week of this season a pitcher took a no-hitter into the 7th inning. The manager later said that if he had gotten through that inning without giving up a hit (which he did not), he would NOT have sent him out for the 8th inning because his pitch count through spring training was not high enough, and his arm not yet strong enough. Fred was apoplectic. I like to watch a no-hitter in progress as much as the next guy. It’s fun. Nice accomplishment for the pitcher, but come on guys, the name of the game is ‘WINNING.’ The no-hitter counts in the standings as ONE GAME, same as if you had won the game 16-15. Lighten up, Fred.