Just Imagine If There Was No Tommy John Surgery

All of us as St. Louis Cardinals fans — actually, all of us as baseball fans — should be thankful for Dr. Frank Jobe, an orthopedic surgeon who died a few days ago at age 88. You may or may not have heard of him, but there’s no question you’ve heard of his greatest contribution to baseball: ulnar collateral ligament replacement surgery, better known as Tommy John surgery.

collage-Tommy JohnThat surgery is something we as Cardinals fans are quite familiar with, isn’t it? Jason Motte is still recovering from undergoing the procedure last May.

And just imagine what the 2011 Cardinals pitching staff would have been if there were no Tommy John surgery and a pitcher’s career — as happened with Sandy Koufax — just ended because of elbow injuries.

Of course there already wasn’t Adam Wainwright that season, since he’d had Tommy John surgery in February. But there also wouldn’t have been Chris Carpenter (who had the surgery in 2007), Jaime Garcia (2008), Jake Westbrook (2008), Kyle McClellan (2005 — and remember how good he was in the starting rotation early that year?) and Octavio Dotel (2005).

Just imagine … no happy flights and magical September and October without them, and that’s just one Cardinals season.

Also just one team. Last July Will Carroll, an expert on sports injuries, published a study at Bleacher Report that indicated one-third of current MLB pitchers at the time had undergone Tommy John surgery.That was 124 of 360 pitchers and even Carroll was stunned at the high number. Here’s his full list of the 124, if you’re interested.

Continue reading

Hats Off, TLR. Brilliant Strategery.

Score one for Tony La Russa.

As so aptly put by 2xAught7 in his tweet, it was brilliant strategery by TLR to have Miguel Batista start the game last night, with bad weather imminent in downtown St. Louis. And reading this quote from Dusty Baker backs that up all the more: “The information we received was probably not the same information they received.”

Well, Dusty, there’s this thing called the Internet, and you can look up this thing called the radar, and it shows you what weather is approaching …

In contrast, look at this — praise for TLR’s move from Brandon Phillips?

“I’m going to give the Cardinals two thumbs up for what they did,” the Reds’ Brandon Phillips said. “They changed their pitcher on us at the last minute, that was a very smart thing to do.

“The next thing you know they brought in their starter who was going to start the game, and he was fresh.”

The Reds didn’t do that, of course. Edinson Volquez warmed up before the game began at 7:15 p.m. and was thus unavailable after the two-plus hour rain/storm delay. Even though he never set foot on the field, he’s listed in the box score as the Reds starter. Just like The Poet is listed as the Cardinals starter.

Continue reading

And Now We Know What TOOTBLAN Means

Why didn’t you leave this habit in Chicago?

With all the good that happened in last night’s game — and there was so much, yet again — it’s foolish to focus on the one and only bad part of the game.

Yet I am.

Yes, Ryan Theriot was 3 for 5 last night, raised his average to .323 and had an RBI. But, along with that RBI, we saw for ourselves what TOOTBLAN means.

It was the fourth inning, Kyle McClellan (who had a couple of tremendous at-bats facing Clayton Kershaw) was on first after being walked and Theriot was up. He hit a long fly deep to left-center that bounced off the wall. McClellan to race around the bases to score. Yay! And, though Tony Gwynn Jr. fielded the ball right away since it bounced off the wall, Theriot kept zooming along right past second base. Perhaps he thought he could make it to third since Juan Uribe threw the relay from Gwynn to home? Or perhaps he just didn’t think. Regardless, Rod Barajas alertly threw to third, which Theriot was not even close to yet. So he stopped, caught in a rundown. Casey Blake threw to Aaron Miles and, in a moment of hilarity and some weird former Cub cosmic convergence, Our Little Namesake chugged along and caught up with Theriot to tag him out. (See the play here, positively labeled “Theriot’s RBI double.”) And there you have it, TOOTBLAN.

Continue reading