In memorandum: Tanaka and the rising Tommy John problem
There is a point during the Oscars where everything comes to a halt and for as long as it takes; we remember those lost who touched our lives on the silver screen. It is a reflective and heartbreaking moment all wrapped up in a few short minutes. This moment, of reflection and heartbreak, can best describe this baseball season.
Masahiro Tanaka’s partially torn UCL is just another UCL torn away from baseball fans of up-and-coming talent that we will be without for quite possibly a year. As a baseball fan, I have enjoyed his amazing run this season. Now that it is cut short? I am in dismay. We are now plagued with a series of what ifs and can he come back? For a sport trying to find superstars like basketball or is competing with the TV ratings of the World Cup, (take that one in for a minute) this is a catastrophic blow for the sport. Guys like Tanaka could be those superstars that the MLB craves. For now, his entire career is in jeopardy.
According to this MLB Daily Dish, there have been 37 players between the majors and the minors that have undergone Tommy John. 37! And that is leaving out position players like Miguel Sano who also underwent Tommy John. We have walked on the moon, created weapons of mass destruction, put freaking lasers on dolphins and yet why the hell have we not figured out why 37 pitchers have to have Tommy John surgery this season?
By the time these pitchers are on pitching counts the potential for damage is already there. MLB does not seem to care that much. They have put out a “study” and seemed “alarmed” at the growing problem. Yeah, thanks MLB for being so quick and decisive about this problem. You have such a great track record of implementing policies to keep up with the times (steroids, instant replays, and can I please get some YouTube highlights!). Can we go ahead and add Tommy John to that list? The bigger question is does anyone have a solution?
There are many theories and if you have any background in physics it should make a small fraction of sense. This article does a great job of breaking down what is the problem. Pitchers, as soon as they were big enough to throw off the mound have been putting incredible strain on their UCL. The greater the velocity, incorporated with unregulated pitch counts (anyone who played Little League can attest), along with underdeveloped arms will cause damage to the elbow. MLB does not need a study; they need to be lobbying for pitching regulation from college down now!
Nevertheless, it seems to be the NFL concussion issue all over again. We are just at the beginning of a major issue that is clearly affecting the sport we all know and love. It is only going to get worse as we go along killing the seasons of the teams we root for and killing the fantasy teams we put together. Unfortunately, the sport we follow is adverse to change in a big way. They are not going to lower the mounds, they are not going to put pressure on development leagues that they rely on for players to make the necessary changes. Instead, we as fans are going to suffer every year by getting an inferior product.
It seems fitting to end with the pitchers we lost this season so without further ado, here is the memorandum of the pitchers lost this season …
Hopefully, we will not have to add Masahiro Tanaka to this list.