Is fastball mania putting young arms on the brink?

"Batters are so accustomed to gearing up for the heat that so-called “soft throwers” — merely in the low 90s — now find it easier to exploit the art of pitching.

“They’re always looking to hit the fastball, and I personally think that’s helped my game,” Giants reliever George Kontos said. “A little bit of movement — whether it’s a sink or a cut or a good change-up — will have guys mis-hitting the ball just off the sweet spot.”"

I confess I have been trying to convince my son to try one of these weighted ball velocity programs. He has refused. He is smarter than I am.

In the first surviving rules of baseball, drafted in 1845, Article 9 states:  “The ball must be pitched, not thrown for the bat.” The goal was to maximize the interaction between the fielders and hitters.

The game needs to evolve.  Moving the mound back is a good idea. Change the HR rules, make them put it in play.  Younger fans are looking for more action.  If the game doesn't evolve, the younger fans will just watch news highlights.

 

CmassRHPDad posted:

"Batters are so accustomed to gearing up for the heat that so-called “soft throwers” — merely in the low 90s — now find it easier to exploit the art of pitching.

“They’re always looking to hit the fastball, and I personally think that’s helped my game,” Giants reliever George Kontos said. “A little bit of movement — whether it’s a sink or a cut or a good change-up — will have guys mis-hitting the ball just off the sweet spot.”"

I confess I have been trying to convince my son to try one of these weighted ball velocity programs. He has refused. He is smarter than I am.

I heard a podcast that said there were only 12 out of 70 something qualified starters averaging under 90 and only two of them were good.

Velocity is bad for pitcher health but it works, period.

I for one, and I don't think I am alone in  this, think that if you moved the mound back the movement on sliders and cutters would be so big that hitting would be more difficult.  Don't believe me...go break off some good curves and pronated changes at 70 feet and see how much more movement they have.

"Fastball mania" has been around as long as the fastball. Long before the radar gun, the guys who threw hard (Johnson, Feller, etc.) were gods of the baseball world - fans and players may not have been able to put a number on it, but they always knew who threw the hardest.

Throwing too much, too young, too hard.

There is a 14 year old in Wisconsin throwing 87 mph.  My thought is if my 14 year old threw 87 I'd never let him pitch.  Young ligaments aren't built to withstand that torque.  

Fortunately the Dad does limit his innings, but still.  It is a marathon, not a sprint.  Teenagers are sprinting towards being a draft pick and getting millions in a signing bonus.  I get it.  But it doesn't lend itself to career longevity and leaves many by the wayside along the way.

It's like any measurable physical feat in sports - the training and conditioning evolves and allows for feats once thought impossible. It wasn't that long ago that the four-minute-mile seemed like an incredible accomplishment. 

I will also argue that I don't necessarily believe injury rates are truly any higher than in the past. I don't believe there is some epidemic of arm injuries. Pitchers have always been prone to injuries - throwing a baseball is an incredibly destructive act on the human arm and shoulder. The difference is that 40 years ago (maybe even more recently) you didn't have a lot of options. When you got injured you stopped pitching or you pitched with pain as best you could. I'm sure if you dug up some of those old-timers and did MRI's you'd find a lot of damaged ucl's. 

Kevin A posted:

100 MPH people used to be rare.   Just read an article that says there are close to 70 guys that hit 100 or more in the MLB system somewhere...

I know nothing about pitching.....But I found that interesting...

 

I was in awe of Mark Wohlers, the first guy to consistently hit 100mph (3-5 times an inning).  The whole stadium cheered when Armando Benitez hit 100 that one and only time.  

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