Monday, July 7, 2008

Things I Just Don't Get

1. Why do people need to drive Hummers? I saw two tonight in a parking lot. This is CONNECTICUT, not the jungle or the deserts in the Middle East. It's a free country, and people can choose do drive whatever they want, but I still don't understand the mentality of the owners. They must be trying to make up for inadequate genital size. At least the high costs of fuel have caused a decrease in overall driving in the US and in SUV/light truck sales, so supply/demand continues to work efficiently.

2. Why is the American Academy of Pediatrics recommending cholesterol screening and treatment with statins starting at age 8? Granted, the amount of childhood obesity is continually increasing and leading to premature diabetes and heart disease, but why not strongly push exercise and healthy diets? The problem is partially genetic, but the creep of adult cardiac diseases into childhood is NOT from genetics, it is from poor behavioral patterns. I think we need a prominent athelete to take a cabinet position such as a "Secretary of Fitness". Recruit Michael Jordan or Magic Johnson for this position...or someone else that could really inspire kids to get off their butts, stop playing so many video games and start exercising. I do not think a lifetime of blood tests (to check cholesterol levels and monitor liver function) and 70+ years of exposure to statins (if they live that long) is a smart idea.

3. Why can tennis players hit a screeching 1st serve well over 100 times in a match and play every other day when baseball pitchers are babied and routinely are pulled when they throw about 100 pitches? The tennis players are swinging their arm and putting as much torque on their rotator cuff as major league pitchers. The serves in tennis often exceed 120 MPH. Then add all of the 2nd serves, forehands, and backhands to the total load on the shoulder. I think the current day major league pitchers are coddled far too much. Back in the day, it was commonplace for the great pitchers such as Koufax, Gibson, Drysdale, etc. to have more than 20 complete games. In 1968, Bob Gibson had 28 complete games!! Now, a pitcher is considered to have an amazing year if they have 3-4 complete games. They are put on strict "pitch counts" and pulled in the 6th or 7th inning. Then, starting pitchers get 4-5 days off until their next start. FYI, Nadal had 221 1st serves and Federer had 197 1st serves in their final match at Wimbledon yesterday!

4. How did the Colombian hostages surive after living in the jungle, eating terribly, being tortured, and experiencing severe infections for 5 1/2 years? It is an amazing story of human determination.


Don said...


Stop making so much sense. Your last few posts are giving me little to work with here. I do wish men's tennis would go back to wooden rackets, but maybe the last Wimbledon final proves me wrong.

Will said...

Steve - you're still tennis-drunk so I think we should probably let this one slide but I'm bored.

1) that was an epic match that will probably never be replicated and a total outlier for number of first serves. Give us the stats for first serves in the Fed's other matches in the tourney. And number of first serves over the next month.

2) where's the data on the shoulder torque? (2a) are you implying that speed generated w/ a titanio-plutonium-rimmed taut stringed racket striking a rubber ball can be compared to a hand throwing a ball wrapped in yarn wrapped in cowhide?

3)pitchers, esp starters, are being protected b/c they're getting injured ... a lot. As Adam Loewen, the O's first round pick in ?'05 gets shut down w/ more arm pain, I only wish we were talking about how to coddle them more. Is it the training regimen? or is it:

4) pitchers are throwing harder, on average now than in the 60's. nobody disputes this.

5) Koufax is an all-time great whose stuff most people believe would be as devastating now as it was then. BUT, there are 13 active major league pitchers with more career innings pitched than he had. Gibson had the highest total of those you mentioned and there are three pitching now higher than him.

7) the pitching mound was raised in 1968 (and subsequently lowered) giving us the largest advantage pitchers had in the modern era and the lowest season ERA since the dead ball era of the early 1900s. Even Gibby himself would acknowledge that. Denny McLain, the poster boy of 1968 pitching won 31 games that year and only 100 more in his other ten seasons.

Bob said...

Swinging a tennis racket whether on a serve or forehand/backhand is similar but not the same motion as pitching. Leg drive, elbow pronation, arm angle are different. Traditional pitching motion is terrible for the arm/elbow and shoulder but it allows for the most velocity and movement on the ball.

Think of the difference between pitching a softball underhand and baseball overhand. Softball pitchers can put max effort into every pitch. Very rarely do they get hurt and they can basically pitch every couple of days while throwing hundreds of pitches. The difference is the motion. One is terrible for your arm and the other is much more natural.

Dr. Mike Marshall (1974 CY Winner) preaches a specific set of pitching mechanics that he says completely eliminate arm injuries. It is more over the top with elbow pronation. I have seen video of it and it looks really different. There is a lot more to it but he says he has worked with 100's of pitchers and not one has ever had an arm injury. I believe they can pitch more often and they only get tired but never risk getting injured which is very similar to underhand/softball pitching. However, only 1 or 2 of them ever pitched at the major league level. The problem is the velocity. They can't consistently throw much higher than the mid to high 80's. The torque and whip action just aren't there.

I bet if you asked Nadal or Federer to throw 200 pitches as hard as they could over the course of 3-4 hours, they both would need arm surgery!

Cocameister said...

Wow...thanks Will and Bob. Very thorough analyses.

1) I searched three different sites and could not find data on number of serves for any typical matches in the recent past. I agree that 200 serves is the extreme...let's say the average is 100 serves per match.

2) I have no data on shoulder torque and I agree that the properties of the racket aide the speed of the serve, but the shoulder is still accelerating at a decent velocity.

3. Yes, pitchers now throw a little harder and the mounds have been lowered. But, still, on average, pitchers were still throwing > 90 MPH and pitched more per season. Fine, let's take out that 1968 season. Bob Gibson had 255 complete games, which puts him 73rd on the all-time list for CG!! (leader is Cy Young with 749). The closest active player is Greg Maddux with 109, which puts him at 339th on the all-time list!

Bob, I appreciate the detailed kinesiology lesson on pitching. I can see what you mean, forces on the arm are different. So, I will concede that tennis serves and baseball pitches are not comparable, but I will not concede the fact that our pitchers today are much more frail and coddled than the pitchers of the past as evidenced by the complete game list. However, I will concede a new point, in regards to baseball strategy, that the closer has much more importance in today's game than in the past, thereby making complete games a rarer phenomenon not only because of pitcher fatigue, but because of desire to bring in the "stopper" and pad his save stats.

Will said...

It's all strategy. If you limit the pitch count, you preserve a starter throughout the season and throughout a career. If Koufax doesn't pitch 360 innings/year in his 20s, he doesn't have to retire at age 31 with his arm about to fall off and maybe the Dodgers beat the Orioles in the '66 WS.

Maybe there should be a rule about number of pitching changes allowed in a 9-inning game. I have no problem w/ a starter going 5-7 innings; it's the number of people used to finish the game that's the problem. Nadal would need two weeks of coaching to be a better pitcher than Jamie Walker.

Bob said...

I think changes in the game make it much more taxing on a pitcher.

Why does it seem like so many football players go down with ACL, MCL and meniscus injuries? I don't think I ever remember hearing about these types of injuries before the late 80's. Now many go down with them every year.

jae said...

first post here...

pitching vs tennis vis-a-vis shoulder torque: apples and oranges. agree with bob. i don't speak scientifically here, but i can tell you the two motions feel very different when you execute them. plus, you have the advantage of a longer lever arm with the raquet, which allows you to generate much greater speed for the same torque applied at the pivot point (the shoulder). no coincidence that many fastball pitchers are tall-ish dudes (big unit) with longer arms. give federer a baseball and he throws it 80 mph, tops. maybe only 75.

pitchers being babied: maybe, not sure on this one. yes, the evolution of the closer role definitely plays a role in this. i think the increased use of the slider (more strain on elbow and forearm) plays a role in this also. one more thing - medical advances keep these guys going longer, so a lot of these guys we see today with fragile arms that need careful monitoring would've been "naturally selected" out of the league in the 1960's when their first arm injury rendered them useless. the effect is that you hear more about arm injuries because these guys are able to take the spotlight for longer whereas before, the arm injuries you never heard about cuz they were done and out of the league within a couple of years (or never got there).

football and acl: bigger, faster, turf == death for knees.

julie said...

I heard a rumor that GM might stop producing hummers.