Now campaigning against Tommy John surgery .... Tommy John

My son is a pitcher and I've always been strict in him having a light fall workload, then completely baseball free in November and December.  I have a bit of a dilemma this year, as he's been invited to pitch in the Goodwill games this December in Australia.  It's a great opportunity for him, but I cringe at the thought of him pitching in games, and really trying to get batters out, in December.  Still haven't said yes as a result.

Mine played three sports per year all but one year from 2nd grade through 12th. Was mostly a position player until high school; didn't become a PO until the summer before his junior year, and even then didn't carry a high inning load.

Still ended up with TJS 2 months after his 18th birthday.  Dr. said it looked like a very slow, progressive tear that probably started when he was 12 or 13.

In other words, nothing TJ said in the article about preventing TJS would have prevented him from having TJS.

Everyone wants a simple solution.  But correlation does not equal causation.

There are 1000's and 1000's of pitchers that don't end up with Tommy John surgery.  I just don't think you can look at a kid and say "Oh, it's because he threw xxx innings and played SS on his off days".   My son was a pitcher, catcher and SS growing up in his local leagues.  IF, OF and P on his first 3 years of travel on a team that carried 10 kids (so essentially no innings off over a 65 game season and he also had local rec ball).  Heck some days he's play games for both teams.    His first year of playing both travel and local rec leagues he played 97 games (he was 10).  He was crushed that the last tourney got cancelled to keep him from 100.  11U and 12U I'm gonna guess he played 80 games each summer...the kid would play for anyone who would take him.  13U & 14U probably 50-ish and 15U & 16U (including HS and fall ball) probably 75+.  17U I'm gonna guess 50-60.   12U and up he played SS and P...and sometimes caught.  Yes he would play SS then go in in relief....he would also start on the mound then go to SS or even catcher.   He never had ONE arm issue....never iced....not even now that he's in college.   If any one was every a poster boy for what not to do....it was him, but he's fine.   I guess I'm just saying that you can't just automatically say "if a kid throws too much he's gonna have TJ".   I'm not a doctor....I don't know what causes it...but just playing a lot of ball doesn't guarantee it.   Rant over

Buckeye 2015 posted:

There are 1000's and 1000's of pitchers that don't end up with Tommy John surgery.  I just don't think you can look at a kid and say "Oh, it's because he threw xxx innings and played SS on his off days".   My son was a pitcher, catcher and SS growing up in his local leagues.  IF, OF and P on his first 3 years of travel on a team that carried 10 kids (so essentially no innings off over a 65 game season and he also had local rec ball).  Heck some days he's play games for both teams.    His first year of playing both travel and local rec leagues he played 97 games (he was 10).  He was crushed that the last tourney got cancelled to keep him from 100.  11U and 12U I'm gonna guess he played 80 games each summer...the kid would play for anyone who would take him.  13U & 14U probably 50-ish and 15U & 16U (including HS and fall ball) probably 75+.  17U I'm gonna guess 50-60.   12U and up he played SS and P...and sometimes caught.  Yes he would play SS then go in in relief....he would also start on the mound then go to SS or even catcher.   He never had ONE arm issue....never iced....not even now that he's in college.   If any one was every a poster boy for what not to do....it was him, but he's fine.   I guess I'm just saying that you can't just automatically say "if a kid throws too much he's gonna have TJ".   I'm not a doctor....I don't know what causes it...but just playing a lot of ball doesn't guarantee it.   Rant over

So you're taking the position that every player should play 100 games a year and never do anything in the way of arm care from the time they're 10YO on while playing an if position and pitching and they likely won't have any arm issues because your son didn't?

I'm seeing a rash of injuries now at 12u.  One of the kids on our team never pitches or catches, and he plays different sports all year round (cross country in the fall, basketball in the winter, and baseball in the spring).  And he still developed a crack/fracture in the growth plate in his elbow.  It's frustrating.  I really don't know at this point what the cause is.  I am beginning to think that it is something in each individual's body, and not something that we can prevent.

Buckeye 2015 posted:

There are 1000's and 1000's of pitchers that don't end up with Tommy John surgery.  I just don't think you can look at a kid and say "Oh, it's because he threw xxx innings and played SS on his off days".   My son was a pitcher, catcher and SS growing up in his local leagues.  IF, OF and P on his first 3 years of travel on a team that carried 10 kids (so essentially no innings off over a 65 game season and he also had local rec ball).  Heck some days he's play games for both teams.    His first year of playing both travel and local rec leagues he played 97 games (he was 10).  He was crushed that the last tourney got cancelled to keep him from 100.  11U and 12U I'm gonna guess he played 80 games each summer...the kid would play for anyone who would take him.  13U & 14U probably 50-ish and 15U & 16U (including HS and fall ball) probably 75+.  17U I'm gonna guess 50-60.   12U and up he played SS and P...and sometimes caught.  Yes he would play SS then go in in relief....he would also start on the mound then go to SS or even catcher.   He never had ONE arm issue....never iced....not even now that he's in college.   If any one was every a poster boy for what not to do....it was him, but he's fine.   I guess I'm just saying that you can't just automatically say "if a kid throws too much he's gonna have TJ".   I'm not a doctor....I don't know what causes it...but just playing a lot of ball doesn't guarantee it.   Rant over

It's one of those things that you can be cruising with no issues then all of a sudden.. BOOM.  Your son is lucky that he has never has ONE arm issue.

Never say never. 

atlnon posted:

I'm seeing a rash of injuries now at 12u.... 

The sports ortho my son saw said the highest rate of injuries he saw was kids from 12-15, and that was across all sports.

During those years the body is growing rapidly, and not always in an even manner.  In my son's case (15 at the time)  the doctor said he had the strength of an 18 year old, and the elbow of a 12 year old. Not a good combo.

Tommy John's heart is in the right place, but this is a classic case of wanting to look backward when we need to be looking forward. We don't have any data about arm injuries from 1960 when Tommy was in high school. I'd bet anything that his high school PCs and rest periods were ridiculous by today's standards, yet he pitched 10 years in the Majors before needing the surgery. He had the right genetics, just like the guys with injury-free elbows today.
Everyone wants to throw hard. It's not solely about scholarships and the MLB Draft, it's about competing. We're in the early stages of understanding how to protect throwers' elbows and shoulders, but smart people are making progress. I'm confident that we'll be much better at arm care in 10 years because of research and development. We won't be any better off if we go back to the good old days.
Stats4Gnats posted:
Buckeye 2015 posted:

There are 1000's and 1000's of pitchers that don't end up with Tommy John surgery.  I just don't think you can look at a kid and say "Oh, it's because he threw xxx innings and played SS on his off days".   My son was a pitcher, catcher and SS growing up in his local leagues.  IF, OF and P on his first 3 years of travel on a team that carried 10 kids (so essentially no innings off over a 65 game season and he also had local rec ball).  Heck some days he's play games for both teams.    His first year of playing both travel and local rec leagues he played 97 games (he was 10).  He was crushed that the last tourney got cancelled to keep him from 100.  11U and 12U I'm gonna guess he played 80 games each summer...the kid would play for anyone who would take him.  13U & 14U probably 50-ish and 15U & 16U (including HS and fall ball) probably 75+.  17U I'm gonna guess 50-60.   12U and up he played SS and P...and sometimes caught.  Yes he would play SS then go in in relief....he would also start on the mound then go to SS or even catcher.   He never had ONE arm issue....never iced....not even now that he's in college.   If any one was every a poster boy for what not to do....it was him, but he's fine.   I guess I'm just saying that you can't just automatically say "if a kid throws too much he's gonna have TJ".   I'm not a doctor....I don't know what causes it...but just playing a lot of ball doesn't guarantee it.   Rant over

So you're taking the position that every player should play 100 games a year and never do anything in the way of arm care from the time they're 10YO on while playing an if position and pitching and they likely won't have any arm issues because your son didn't?

That's not at all what I'm saying.  Was he lucky....probably, but there isn't a 10 year old kid in the world who wanted to play baseball more than this kid did.  Keep in mind that was 11 years ago.   Would I do it now knowing the information that's come available int he last 5-6 years....probably not.   I was just saying that it seems like everyone nowdays just assumes that too much baseball will result in Tommy John surgery.

Buckeye 2015 posted: That's not at all what I'm saying.  Was he lucky....probably, but there isn't a 10 year old kid in the world who wanted to play baseball more than this kid did.  Keep in mind that was 11 years ago.   Would I do it now knowing the information that's come available int he last 5-6 years....probably not.   I was just saying that it seems like everyone nowdays just assumes that too much baseball will result in Tommy John surgery.

 I think you may be wrong about him wanting to play ball more than any other 10 YO. In my experience, if a 10YO is playing ball and playing it fairly well, just about all they want to do is play more ball.

 I think people are much more sophisticated than you and understand that it isn’t the amount of time, it’s how the time is spent.

throwing a baseball is not a natural motion, I had arm problems my whole life, I didn't take care of it properly I was an 80's kid. My son has had a sore arm every single time he ever pitched...and he always took care of his arm. He stopped pitching after 14u because he was tired of his arm hurting.

Every elbow and shoulder has so many throws in it, they are all different. You don't know how many that number is...IMO you use your head, do your best to take care of it, be honest with yourself on how it feels and if it blows it blows. There is no way IMO to prevent it.

I have seen so many kids on the SAME programs have totally DIFFERNET results when it comes to arm health...it is genetic.

old_school posted:

throwing a baseball is not a natural motion, I had arm problems my whole life, I didn't take care of it properly I was an 80's kid. My son has had a sore arm every single time he ever pitched...and he always took care of his arm. He stopped pitching after 14u because he was tired of his arm hurting.

Every elbow and shoulder has so many throws in it, they are all different. You don't know how many that number is...IMO you use your head, do your best to take care of it, be honest with yourself on how it feels and if it blows it blows. There is no way IMO to prevent it.

I have seen so many kids on the SAME programs have totally DIFFERNET results when it comes to arm health...it is genetic.

I believe it is mostly genetic but being smart can't hurt either.  Pay attention to what the experts in the field have learned from their years of research and make good decisions based on those findings.

In the end, it is important for your kid to be lucky!  Some of the best guys have fallen prey to the injury bug, and unfortunately, sometimes it just comes down to being more fortunate than the next guy.

Thanks for sharing the article.   Irony is oozing from this story.

Sports is something that never sits still.  Competition makes it so.  Tommy John can't compare what it was like coming up in the MLB in the 50s, 60's, 70s to the MLB today.   LIghtyears of difference.   Listening to these old timers is great and their perspective at that time when they were young.  I was listening to Hank Aaron the other night on an ESPN broadcast.   Certainly an all-time great but things are different today and it is mostly about the money.   I'm not saying it is right or wrong, but I can pretty much guarantee you if this (today's money) was dangled in front of any of these old time greats back in their day  then they would have done anything to keep playing baseball. 

We understand medicine and the human body much more today.   Heck, my Dad had a pace maker installed this Monday and it was outpatient surgery.  If we have the knowledge and opportunity to improve our lives/careers through medicine, why wouldn't you do it.  That decision lies with the family and the individual on what to do with their body. 

As always, JMO.

Sultan, I'm going to assume your statement was made with tongue planted firmly in cheek.  As the parent of a pitcher that had TJS, I can assure you IT IS A BIG DEAL.  Life or death, no.  But to an athlete that has devoted his entire life to chase a dream, it can be a cruel end.  Not all the stories are the smooth, feel good stories.  It took over 20 months for my son to return to his pre-injury form.  LOTS of frustration during the recovery because all he heard was you will be back in 10-12 months better than ever.  Well, that wasn't the case.  Even to this day, 30 months out, he still doesn't feel like he is all the way back.  He may never feel the same again.

While I will agree that there are MANY things in life that are worse, let's not just blow this off like it's nothing more than a sprained ankle.  The rehab is long and VERY difficult, mentally way more than physical.

Everyone balances their desire to obtain something, do something, experience something, with their fear of failure, pain, rejection, injury, etc. As a parent you should educate yourself the best you can. And at the same time foster a competitive spirit that has no fear of failure. It's kind of hard to teach a young man to push himself and the benefits of pushing himself when your constantly saying "How's the arm? Don't throw too much. Take it easy. Don't over do it. Be careful. Watch out." 

Yes we need to educate ourselves and educate our kids. But we also need to understand you ain't going to obtain anything of worth without the willingness to accept and challenge the risk that will be there. You are not going to get stronger in the weight room if your afraid your going to blow out your knee every time you step under the squat rack. Your not going to throw to your max potential if your afraid to throw to your max potential out of fear you might blow out your arm. 

The intent to throw the s@@t out the baseball must be present in order to do so. Fear has no place in it. So I ask this question. What is the level of risk your willing to take in order to be the best you can be? Because the fact is you are taking a risk or your not taking a shot. You can't regulate the risk out of competitive sports and maintain a competitive sport. I believe that kids suffer injury from not throwing enough and then trying to throw too much. I believe that too many kids try to throw to a gun and don't spend enough time developing a strong arm that needs to throw for a gun. I believe that too many kids play too many games and don't spent enough time working on the things that make them good at the game. 

When you are spending all of your time playing games when is there time for proper training and learning how to properly throw? No long toss we have a game tomorrow. No long toss or too much throwing your pitching this weekend. And this starts with 8 and 9 year old kids. And it goes all year long. So they play games all the time and don't spend the time developing their arms properly and that's just my opinion on this. My experience is that I believe kids should spend way more time working at the things that make you a player and less time actually playing games. They should be brought along in the process and developed and as they get older, stronger, developed, they can start to play more games during the HS years. They play 20 something games during the HS season. They can play through the summer and early fall. Then they can get back to focusing on development and training. 

For me I accept the risk. I also believe there is more risk with being ignorant and unwilling to learn. The desire to be seen. The desire to be showcased. The belief if you play enough games you will suddenly be a stud. No you will get really good at being who you already are. Slowly, gradually, develop a strong healthy arm through proper mechanics, proper training, proper rest, over all physical development and stop thinking your missing out by not playing 12 months out of the year and playing on the top travel team. Yes there is risk and that is fine. Yes there are kids more likely to have TJ because of genetics. But imo much of this issue has been brought about by the belief you can get there if you don't miss out. No you need to miss out and develop so you don't miss out when you are developed. 

Max Scherzer perspective: 

http://www.espn.com/blog/washi...k-like-an-8-year-old

"Year-round throwing works for me," Scherzer says. "That’s what I did when I was 8 years old, and my arm never hurt."

Wait, what? In an uber-alarmist age when pitch counts are paramount, when complete-game shutouts have been replaced by complete winter shutdowns, when the most talked-about hurler in baseball is Tommy John, the key to success is ... just keep throwing?

Whenever I shut down my arm, whenever I actually stop throwing, that's when my arm hurts the most," Scherzer says. "Everything just doesn't feel good, so I literally throw year-round."

That wasn’t always Mad Max’s M.O. His first few years in the big leagues, he did what all the cool kids did, going dark from October until January. But inevitably, when he powered up his power arm again, it would bark louder than a German shepherd in a thunderstorm.

"My shoulder just hurt too much to get through it," says Scherzer, a first-round pick of the Diamondbacks in 2006 who was traded to the Tigers following the 2009 season. "Specifically, the biceps tendon. It just took forever, all the way through spring training. By the time the season started, it would finally feel good."

So a couple years into his tenure with Detroit, he flipped the script. Now, instead of holstering his hose for three months, he just keeps right on throwing. From the moment the season ends, all the way through the end of the year and beyond, he throws at least twice a week. We’re not talking about pitching off a mound and pumping 95 mph heaters into a catcher’s mitt. Instead, Scherzer just plays catch. Ya know, like an 8-year-old would. And in true kid fashion, he couldn’t care less who he’s throwing to, just so long as he’s throwing to someone.

SultanofSwat posted:
younggun posted:

As the parent of a pitcher that had TJS,

One of my kids had TJS also. 

I am sorry to hear that your kid had this injury.  I guess I just find it odd that you would have such a flippant response to this procedure.  Having gone through it, you obviously know the statistics.  While TJS is quite common and thankfully predictable, we never hear about the 10+% of guys that never recover.  Like I said earlier, there are a lot worse medical issues a person can face, that does not minimize the procedure.  From my perspective, ANY medical procedure is a big deal when its you (or your child) going under the knife.  Maybe not so much from the outside looking in.  Just my perspective.  We can agree to disagree.

old_school posted:

throwing a baseball is not a natural motion, I had arm problems my whole life, I didn't take care of it properly I was an 80's kid. My son has had a sore arm every single time he ever pitched...and he always took care of his arm. He stopped pitching after 14u because he was tired of his arm hurting.

Every elbow and shoulder has so many throws in it, they are all different. You don't know how many that number is...IMO you use your head, do your best to take care of it, be honest with yourself on how it feels and if it blows it blows. There is no way IMO to prevent it.

I have seen so many kids on the SAME programs have totally DIFFERNET results when it comes to arm health...it is genetic.

Absolutely 100% correct!  Paying attention to pitch counts, strength & conditioning, and arm maintenance are all important and doing these things will increase the chances of playing longer. But when it gets down to it, genetics is the most determining factor - followed by good throwing mechanics.

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