Rise in Elbow Surgeries Starts With Youth Leagues

The Yankees' Masahiro Tanaka could be the next good pitcher headed for Tommy John Surgery.

Baseball has a significant problem. It isn’t steroids or performance enhancing drugs and it isn’t tobacco use or betting on the games by players or managers. The problem baseball has starts where the game itself starts and that’s on the pitcher’s mound.

While the number of Tommy John surgeries may just be an exception to the normal rule in 2014, we cannot just dismiss them as such. More and more pitchers are missing entire seasons because of the need for Tommy John surgery and personally, I don’t think this should be seen as a surprise.

Consider for a second the career leaders in innings pitched in Major League Baseball. On the list of the top 100 pitchers with the most innings pitched, there is not one active pitcher on the list. Think about that for a second; not one active pitcher on the top 100 of career innings pitched.

The argument made here will be that baseball and baseball strategy are entirely different animals today then they were 100 years ago and I can’t dismiss that case at all because it’s true. If you look at the record for most innings pitched in a single season, you would have to go to number 105 before you hit a pitcher from the 1900’s.

The great Cy Young had 511 wins and over 7,000 innings pitched.

Oh, so that many guys from the 2000’s are on there? Uh, no. The other 104 guys all pitched in the 1800’s. Back then it was routine for pitchers to throw both games of a double-header and in most cases they would throw complete games in both of the games.

Because of the incredible amounts of money going to pitchers today and the specialization of relief pitching and closers, the number of innings that starters pitch annually has dropped significantly. The question that comes from this is shouldn’t pitchers be healthier considering the fewer innings they are pitching?

It’s in that question that many of the causes of arm problems may exist. The biggest reason arm surgeries are exploding in my opinion starts in the youth leagues where kids are throwing too many innings and not always with the best mechanics. Cal Ripken, Jr. made a great point in a recent interview when he said that most youth baseball organizations today are focused on tournament-style play rather than league play.

What that means is that kids will play six or seven games in just a couple of days and coaches are relying on their ‘horses’ to pitch huge innings during those tournaments. That’s a lot of stress on young arms. As part of that equation is also the act that young kids are being taught to throw breaking balls at a tremendously growing rate and that isn’t good for the arm either.

More curve balls and more sliders means more torque and stress on the arm and more specifically the elbow. There just isn’t a need for kids to throw so many innings and so many breaking balls. Another thing to keep in mind too is the specialization of young kids which is totally wrong in my opinion. Kids are being forced to chose one sport to focus on rather than keeping the opportunity to play multiple sports.

Kids need to get out there and play different sports so that they develop different muscles. The strain that is put on the elbow of a kid who is working on his pitching motion 12 months a year is too great and that’s why we are seeing this rise in these surgeries.

We need to get back to letting kids be kids. That’s a message for parents as well as coaches.

The World Cup is Almost Over; MLB Races are Fantastic

I really hope the World Cup Final doesn't come down to a shootout. That's no way to settle the 'World's Greatest Championship."

The day I’ve been waiting for over the last month is finally here. The World Cup Final is today! I’m not celebrating the game itself, I’m celebrating the fact that this nonsense will be over. I’ve violated my own mantra on a couple of occasions by even writing about it but now I get to bask in the glory of it being over for another four years.

If you wonder why I despise ‘futbol’ so much a lot of it has to do with the over-saturation of it. ABC/ESPN will have a two-hour pregame today which seems a bit much. Heck, I even hate the six-hour Super Bowl pregame so two hours of soccer is about the equivalent of that in my mind.

I really don’t have anything against soccer players. They are tremendously talented and extremely conditioned athletes but that leads me to part of the problem I have with soccer. If the World Cup Final ends in a shootout today then I believe it to be a travesty. If these guys are so well-conditioned ┬áthen why are they not playing until someone scores?

Can you imagine the Stanley Cup Final being decided by a shootout? Ugh…

Oh… Is it too much to ask soccer players that when they score a goal they actually run to their teammates and celebrate rather than do everything they can to celebrate individually? Athletes in other sports are guilty of this as well but it’s abundantly obvious what soccer players are doing when they score and that’s to celebrate “me” rather than with “we.”

Of course as little scoring as there is in soccer I guess I can’t beat them up too much.

Andrew McCutchen hit homers in the ninth and eleventh innings to carry the surging Pirates to a win last night.

MLB Races Are Heating Up

While you’ve been inundated with World Cup and LeBron James coverage, Major League Baseball has been cruising along. When you open up the standings tomorrow morning you’ll notice that in five of the six divisions are about as hotly contested as you can get.

Take the National League Central for instance where four of the five teams are within 2.5 games of each other. St. Louis and Milwaukee are tied, the Reds are a game and a half back while the surging Pittsburgh Pirates have closed to within that 2.5 I mentioned.

In the National League West, the San Francisco Giants and LA Dodgers are separated by a single game and in the NL East, Atlanta and Washington are tied at the top.

In the Junior Circuit, we find the only divisional race that is not close and that’s the Central where the Detroit Tigers have stretched their lead over Kansas City to 7.5 games by winning five straight games and seven of their last ten.

The AL East has seen the surging Baltimore Orioles take a three-game lead over Toronto. The Yankees are four games out but received some bad news this week. Their ace Masahiro Tanaka is out for some time with an elbow injury. The team is hoping rehab will do the trick rather than surgery.

Two of baseball’s biggest disappointments also reside in the AL East where Tampa Bay and the defending champion Red Sox are both 9.5 games out of first.

The AL West has turned into a very nice race after it looked like Oakland might run away with it early. Even though the A’s have won seven of ten, the LA Angels have won nine of ten and trail Oakland by just a game and a half.

At this point, the races in MLB deserve your attention. Once your done doing your ‘Ole’ cheers that is.

Thursday Sports Rants; Tanaka, The Olympics and Vince Young

The Yankees have signed the 25-year old Japanese phenom Masahiro Tanaka in hopes that he'll return them to the playoffs.

The longer I keep writing about sports and sports betting, the more I realize that there is just no shortage of topics. On any given day, there are at least two to three stories per sport worth noting and that’s where I find myself again today. With that said, I find myself loaded with thoughts on several issues so let me get to them.

Yankees Break the Bank… Again

The New York Yankees have scored several free agents already this season and they may now have arguably grabbed the top one on the market. Japanese sensation Masahiro Tanaka, who was in the midst of a bidding war by several teams, will sign with the Yanks for $155 million. When added to what they’ve already spent this offseason, New York has spent almost a half a billion dollars to get back to the World Series.

Most scouts rate Tanaka even higher than Yu Darvish, but whether he finds the same success he has had in Japan will remain to be seen. He comes off a season in which he went 24-0 and I have a very hard time imagining him, or any other pitcher for that matter doing that in the Major Leagues.

One thing is for certain; the Yankees are very serious about winning another championship. They should be too because Boston winning them doesn’t make the Bronx Bombers feel too good.

Intolerance and terrorism could dominate the games in Sochi, Russia.

Future of Olympics in Limbo?

The Winter Olympic Games are just a few weeks away from taking place in Sochi. For those of you not familiar, Sochi is in Russia and is located along the eastern coast of the Black Sea. This current Olympics makes me wonder if we’ll even see an Olympic Games in the future considering the political strife these games are already causing.

By now you know about the Russian Government’s attitude regarding homosexuality and how that will be a major issue of these games. The other issue is terrorism. These games have already been called ‘the most likely to have a terrorist attack’ by one political pundit. The American Government is so concerned about the safety of their fans and athletes that they have deployed warships into the Black Sea.

This whole scenario makes me wonder about the future of the games. We saw terrorism at the 1972 Games in Munich and again in Atlanta in 1996 and while those were obviously horrible events, they were somewhat centralized. What if we see an attack on the scale that Russia has already seen where not just a few, but hundreds of lives could be lost.

Is this what has become of the Olympic Games?

Vince Young Files for Bankruptcy

It wasn’t that long ago when the University of Texas was winning a national championship behind the arm and legs of Vince Young. The Longhorns now have a different coach and Vince Young is no longer in the game of football. At the age of 30 now, Young’s football career is likely over which is a shame but what is really sad is that he filed for bankruptcy today.

Millions of Americans do this all the time but they didn’t have $25 million contracts though. Young is not the first and won’t be the last professional athlete to do this but his story is but another warning shot across the bow of future professionals. Some of Young’s reasoning for filing was that he is on the hook for nearly two million dollars in unpaid loans.

It seems almost impossible for most of to think about blowing $25 million but apparently it can be done. Hopefully Young can get himself right sooner rather than later.