“Clueless Joe” Finally Inducted Into The HOF

By Mike Griffen

When Joe Torre was given the reins to the New York Yankees in November of 1995 by, he was made aware that he had been one of the last choices for the job. He had been fired by the St. Louis Cardinals in June of that year and took the helm of the most successful franchise in sports with a managerial record of 894-1003.

The volatile, erratic, and at times pugnacious owner of the Yankees, George Steinbrenner, had fired over 20 managers in his 23 years in New York and void that Torre plugged (much of the media viewed him as no more that, a temporary stopper to be removed once a more suitable candidate surfaced) was made vacant when Steinbrenner fired previous manager Buck Showalter, who had just led the Yanks to their first postseason appearance in fourteen years.

The New York media greeted Torre the sort of hostility and agitation that only the New York sports media can. At the press conference to announce his hiring, Torre kept his wits about him, responding to questions with an amicable steadiness interspersed with his signature brand of dry humor and ease:

“When you get married, do you think you’re always going to be smiling?” Torre said at the news conference. “I try to think of the potential for good things happening. That’s the World Series. I know here we’ll have the ability to improve the team … To have that opportunity is worth all the negative sides.”

The next day, the front page of The New York Daily News‘ Sports section read: CLUELESS JOE . The subtitle, linked to a rather ill-advised article by Ian O’Connor, read: TORRE HAS NO IDEA WHAT HE’S GETTING INTO. In the article, the misguided sportswriter wrote that, “Torre came across as naïve at best, desperate at worst … It’s always a sad occasion when a man becomes a muppet.”

In a way, O’Connor was right. Torre was naïve and he didn’t have any idea what he was getting into. He would realize his lifelong dream of winning the World Series in his first season in the Bronx. Then he would go on to lead the Bombers to the World Series title in four out of his first five years (1996, 1998, 1999, 2000). The 1998 team set the record for highest win percentage and win total in major league history (it has since been broke by the ’01 Mariners) and go down as one of the most dominant in the history of the game. Torre fostered the development of a number of Yankees cornerstones – Andy Pettitte, Jorge Posada, Bernie Williams, Robinson Cano – and future legends – Mariano Rivera and Derek Jeter. The Yankees reached the postseason in every one of the twelve seasons under Torre’s direction. They won ten division titles, six American League pennants and four World Series. So yes, Torre didn’t have a clue not even an inkling of the success that he would bring and the effect that he would have on the legendary Yankees and their fans.

Torre was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame this Sunday in his first year of eligibility as a manager. He had been on the ballot for his performance as a player from 1983-1997. During his 18 seasons in the major leagues, Torre enjoyed one of the most underrated careers in baseball. He sported a career .297/.365/.452 slash-line, belted 252 homers, accumulated 2,342 hits, and 1,185 RBI’s. He made nine All-Star teams, five as a catcher and four at third-base. His 1971 MVP season ranked among the best offensive years of the decade, leading the league in batting average (.363), hits (230), RBI’s (137) and total bases (352). Yet, despite all these accolades, the organization which votes on Hall of Fame candidates, the Baseball Writers’ Association of America (BBWAA), considered Torre a fringe Hall of Famer at best with his highest vote total coming in 1997, his final year on the ballot. But the total (22.2 percent) still came up over 50 percent short of the required total.

When Torre retired from managing after the 2010 season, it was clear that his cumulative career achievements both on the field and in the dugout warranted immediate recognition. Four years later he was unanimously inducted into the Hall of Fame, receiving a 100% vote total.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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NML Sports Almanac: July 22

Sonny Liston vs. Floyd Patterson II, 1963

floydliston

 

After taking the World Heavyweight title from Floyd Patterson just ten months earlier, Sonny Liston successfully defended his title in a rematch against Patterson on this day in 1963.

Patterson had won the World Heavyweight title in 1956 and held it until 1959 when he was defeated by Ingemar Johaensson (TKO 3.) A year later Patterson, known by some as the “Gentleman of Boxing”  became the first heavyweight boxer to regain the title by knocking out Johaensson in five rounds. He would hold the championship until his first bout with the mysterious Sonny Liston on September 25, 1962.

There is very little concrete information about Sonny Liston outside of the ring. Even his date of birth is foggy. He was born on a farm in Arkansas, a state which did not require mandatory birth certificates until 1965. Suggested dates of birth ranged all the way from 1917 to 1933. Following the release of the 1940 US Census in which Charles L. Liston was listed as 10 years old, July 22, 1930 was estimated as the most likely date of birth.

Uncertainty about his age was one of the many factors that contributed to Liston’s personal issues. He was considered a shady character by many, with numerous rumors of links to organized crime at the time of the fight.  In an era when white journalists still described black athletes with stereotypes, Liston endured onslaughts of racial slurs being called things such as “jungle beast” or “gorilla.” He had been a gang leader when he was younger, had a lengthy rap sheet, and had spent two years in Missouri State Penitentiary. There were numerous rumors swirling around him including his connections to organized crime and former champions including Muhammad Ali, Joe Louis, Jack Dempsey thought him to be a fake fighter and implied that he sometimes threw fights.

Although Liston had been the No. 1 contender for the title since 1960, Patterson had been urged not to fight him by an array of advisers. President John F. Kennedy suggested that Patterson avoid Liston when they met in 1962. The NAACP pushed him to steer clear of Liston, fearing that a Liston victory would hurt the civil rights movement. Much of the public agreed, including New York Herald-Tribune  columnist Red Smith who simply asked, “Should a man with a record of violent crime be given a chance to be champion of the world?”

When Patterson finally agreed to put the title on the line in 1962, the much bigger Liston wrecked him. It was the third fastest knockout in a world heavyweight title fight at 2:06 and the first time a champ had been knocked out in the first round. The second fight wasn’t much better.

The original fight contract between Liston and Patterson contained a rematch clause. Patterson’s shot at redemption would come on July 22 in Las Vegas. The fight lasted only four seconds longer than last. Patterson went down three times, unable to defend the barrage of ferocious jabs and hooks from The Champ. Punch after punch connected with Patterson’s head and it was only a matter of time until he went down for the final time. That moment came via an easy left-right combo from Liston in the center of the ring.

Floyd Patterson would only contend for the title once more in his career, losing to Muhammad Ali in 1965. He never regained the World Heavyweight title, and his career slowed following the consecutive defeats. He was inducted into the World Boxing Hall of Fame in 1987.

Sonny Liston would lose the title to a young contender by the name of Cassius Clay in 1964; he would never regain it. He was inducted into the World Boxing Hall of Fame in 1991.

Other Events

1912 – The 1912 Summer Olympics, held in Stockholm, Sweden, come to a close. The games marked the emergence of Jim Thorpe, who won gold in both the decathlon and pentathlon but was then disqualified due to complications concerning his amateur status.

1923 – Washington Senators pitching great Walter Johnson becomes the first major league player to strike out 3,000 batters (3,509 career).

1962 – Chicago White Sox outfield Floyd Robinson goes 6-6 with six singles in a 7-3 win over the Red Sox. –

1967 – Atlanta Braves set a MLB record by using five pitchers in the ninth inning in what would become a 5-4 victory over St. Louis.

1990 – Nick Faldo wins his second Open Championship at the Old Course at St. Andrews with a 72-hole record of -18. It is his second major of the year and fourth of his career to that point. Faldo’s mark would stand as the lowest 72-hole score at the oldest course in golf until Tiger’s -19 in 2000.

1990 – Phil Mickelson wins the US Golf Amateur Championship at the age of 20.

1990 – Cyclist Greg LeMond wins his third Tour de France in five years.

2007 – Pádraig P. Harrington defeats Sergio Garcia by a single stroke in a four-hole playoff to win the first of his two consecutive British Open titles. By winning, Harrington became the first Irishman to capture the Claret Jug in since Fred Daly in 1947 while also ending an eight-year drought for Europeans at The Open.

Birthdays

1944 – Sparky Lyle, MLB relief pitcher, 1977 Cy-Young winner (Red Sox, Yankees)

1956 – Michael Spinks, boxer, former light-heavyweight and heavyweight champion

1963 – Eddie Anderson, NFL safety, 19 career interceptions (Raiders)

1965 – Shawn Michaels, [Mike Hickenbottom], WWE wrestler

1966 – Tim Brown, NFL receiver, 14,934 career receiving yards (Raiders)

1970 – Sergei Zubov, NHL Defenseman, 2005-06 All-Star (Rangers, Stars)

1972 – Keyshawn Johnson, NFL receiver, 10,571 career receiving yards (Jets, Buccaneers)

1973 – Mike Sweeney, MLB Designated Hitter/First Baseman/Catcher, 5-time All-Star (Royals)

1983 – Steven Jackson, NFL Running Back, 10,678 career rushing yards (Rams)

Deaths

1979 – Tony “Two Ton” Galento, boxer, charismatic showman, career record (80-26-4)

2007 – Mike Coolbaugh, baseball player/coach, killed by line drive while coaching third base.

 

Two Years To Simmer: The Fail Mary Rematch

Fail MaryBy Mike Smith

It was Week 3 of the 2012 NFL season. Monday Night Football; Green Bay Packers vs.  Seattle Seahawks. Eight seconds remained on the clock, 4th and 10, Seattle ball on the Green Bay 24 yard-line. The Packers had endured the noise-amplifying confines of Seattle’s Century Link Field and its famed “12th Man” enough to take a 12-7 lead into the final play. Barring a miracle, it appeared that the Packers would walk out of this dogfight with a resilient win. Seahawks rookie quarterback Russel Wilson dropped back, as the pocket began to collapse around him he snaked his way out and rolled left. Packers all-pro defensive end Clay Matthews fought off his block and charged Wilson. Before Matthews made contact the ball was released into the air heading toward a very crowded end zone. Packers safety M.D Jennings elevated for the interception. It appeared that he had won the jump ball to seal a Packer victory. At the last second, Seahawks wide receiver Golden Tate was able to sneak one arm on the ball. This by rule is an interception. If both players catch the ball at the same time the receiver is granted possession of the ball, but in this particular situation Jennings clearly had possession of the ball first. One replacement referee ran in signaling touchback (interception) and the other calling for a touchdown. Confusion – perpetuated by the incompetence of the replacement referees – enveloped the stadium followed by a wave a cheers as the final ruling was signaled as a touchdown. After further review the call which many believed would be reversed was upheld, leaving fans and NFL commentators speechless. After a solid two minutes of silence ESPN’s John Gruden said, “I don’t like the way this game finished I have a bad taste in my mouth.” SportsCenter received it’s highest Nielson rating in the programs history in the immediate wake of the controversy and over 70,000 voice messages were left at the NFL offices by outraged fans. The play would become known as the “Inaccurate Reception,” or more notably, “Fail Mary.”

Why am I talking about a game that happened two years ago? Because I’m a bitter Packer fan who still loses sleep over this play? Well that may be true, but on September 4 the 2014 NFL season will begin with a rematch of this epic fail of a football game. The media will slowly begin to show images of this play and sports anchors will have written many long monologues to hype up this show but we all know what the players will say. Lets start with the Seahawks, they will try their absolute hardest to play it off like any other game and they will still claim as they did that night two years ago that they won that game fair and square. The Packers will say that it obviously has them more intense but at the end of the day it is just another game. Of course that’s what they are going to say, if they make a big deal about it their comments will become the next gift-wrapped SportsCenter controversy and one side or the other will become villains.

That being said, I think everyone knows how highly these teams are anticipating this game. On one hand we have the Seahawks who want to prove that the Packers aren’t good enough to beat them at home like they realistically did two years ago, Then you have the Packers who want revenge and honestly who wouldn’t want a bit of revenge heading into a game on a field where they were embarrassed, ripped off and cheated the last time they were there.

The teams remain the same but many of the faces have changed. Golden Tate who was credited with the touchdown, is no longer a Seahwaks. This cancels out some much anticipated trash talking between him and corner Sam Shields, who he blatantly pushed off of before getting a finger nail on the ball that Jennings caught. Although some faces have changed, not enough time has passed for this not to be a big deal especially for Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers: 

“It was awful” said Rodgers in a post game press conference. “Just look at the replay, and the fact that it was reviewed, it was just awful thats all I’m going to say about it.”

Sherman
Richard Sherman holds up the Lombardi Trophy

The Seahawks will come into this game still bathing in the glory of winning a Super Bowl. They have a long tedious road ahead of them. If you look at history, more times then not the Super Bowl Champions cannot even survive one playoff game. Many believe that the Seahawks will be different because of their dominating defense.

You better believe that the Seahawks defense will be ready come September. There is no doubt in my mind that internally Richard Sherman is preparing his team to take this one personal. This defense could come out of the tunnel with a scary look in their eye when this Thursday night rolls around. However, even with a defense as fierce as the Seahawks, an angry Aaron Rodgers is something that is arguably even more intimidating. Rodgers has been doubted his whole career and every time someone seems to doubt him he performs on a level that stuns the critics. Rodgers wasn’t recruited out of high school because people doubted him, he went on to be a
projected number one pick in the NFL draft. But when the day came, Rodgers waited in the Green Room. He waited, and waited, and waited to hear his name called. The Packers finally took him with the 24th pick, and after years as Brett Favre’s understudy, he won a Super Bowl,  and followed with a league MVP in his fourth year as a starter. In 2012 critics were on his back for a couple of average starts, he answered with a six touchdown performance against the Falcons on Sunday Night Football. After that game he was asked what he had to say to the critics and he answered by just saying, “shh”.

If this track record is any indication of how Rodgers plays when he wants to make a statement, the Seahawks should be on their heels.

 

Summer of Love

Ever since Kevin Love was drafted fifth overall by the Grizzlies, (traded on draft night to the Timberwolves in a package which included OJ Mayo), he has been one of the best scoring, rebounding, and overall players in the league. His mix of outside shooting and dominant rebounding make him arguably one of the best big man in the game today. It is not uncommon to see Love have 20 point 20 rebound nights and in the 2010-2011 season he went on a streak of 53 straight games with a double double. The only thing holding Love back from joining the ranks of LeBron James and Kevin Durant is that he plays for the Minnesota Timberwolves. The Timberwolves always seem to get out to an impressive start but fizzle out towards the end of the season. Love is looking for more. He wants a NBA championship and he’s made it clear that has no interest in renewing the four-year contract he signed in 2011 and plans to become a free agent in hopes of joining a championship caliber team. Rather than watching his star player just walk out the door, T-Wolves General Manager Milt Newton  and head coach, Flip Saunders, have made their intentions to trade Love clear. In this article I will name five teams that I believe will make a run at Love and some potential trade scenarios surrounding each team. While there may be no Love lost between the Wolves and KL42, there will be plenty of teams trying to make a connection with a versatile stretch four like Kevin Love.

1.) Golden State Warriors

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Ever since hiring Steve Kerr, the Warriors brass has stated that they want to spread the floor and add more to their 3 point barrage. Many reports have come out saying that Golden State is the front runners for Love. The only dilemma is that Golden State is torn on whether or not they should include star shooting guard Klay Thompson in any potential deal Kevin Love. If Klay is moved, Andre Iguodala will most likely be moved to shooting guard, the position he played two years ago with the Denver Nuggets. The Warriors are the front runners for Love due to their plethora of young talent. Love has even stated that he would sign an extension with the Warriors if traded there. It is entirely feasible that Love will be wearing the Blue and Gold next year.

Potential Trade:

Warriors Receive: Kevin Love(PF, $15,719,063*)
Kevin Martin**(SG, $6,792,500*)

Timberwolves Receive: Klay Thompson(SG, $3,075,880*)
Harrison Barnes(SF, $3,049,920*)
David Lee(PF/C, $15,012,000*)
2015 First Round Draft Pick

This trade would benefit both teams. The Timberwolves receive three players who all have playoff experience. They also get one of the best shooting and perimeter defenders in Klay Thompson, an All Star caliber player in David Lee, and a former 7th overall pick in Harrison Barnes. They also receive a 2015 first round pick, and while the Warriors are most likely bound for the playoffs again, barring an epic collapse, any first round pick would help a fringe team like the Timberwolves. The Warriors would receive their guy Kevin Love. The stretch four that upper management and Steve Kerr have been looking for. They acquire him by only having to lose one true piece in their scheme in Klay Thompson. Overall this is a fair trade and with the Warriors in the lead, we may just see Kevin Love playing his home games in Oracle Arena next year.

2.) Boston Celtics

CelticsLogo_History

Danny Ainge and the Boston Celtics have been looking to bring in a big man ever since the departure of Al Jefferson. In recent years they have drafted Jared Sullinger, Fab Melo, and Kelly Olynyk. They have also signed Vitor Favereni, Brandon Bass and has been on the team since 2011, and Kris Humphries was brought in with the blockbuster KG/Pierce trade. While all of those players have shown sparks in small bursts, they have not provided the Celtics with enough to send them into a deep playoff run. The addition of Love would give them that spark and vastly improve their rebounding and inside scoring. Rajon Rondo has recently come out and said that he would love to have Love on his team. Having Love would improve Rondo’s assist numbers by giving him a go to player in the paint. A recent picture shown of Kevin Love hanging out in Boston with Rondo has had Celtics fans gushing and if Danny Ainge can work his magic, Love could end up in Boston.

Potential Trade:

Celtics Receive: Kevin Love(PF, $15,719,063*
Kevin Martin**(SG, $6,792,500)

Timberwolves Receive: Jarred Sullinger
Kelly Olynyk
2015 First Round Draft Pick
2016 First Round Draft Pick

The difference between the Warriors and the Celtics offer is that the Celtics are more focused on trading draft pick assets instead of actual players. Although neither team was able to get a deal done before the 2014 draft, the Celtics have enough draft pick depth that they could still afford to trade a 2015 and 2016 first round pick. Throwing in Olynyk and Sullinger only makes it sweeter because they’re too of the most promising big men on the Celtic’s roster. The Timberwolves would be adding a lot of youth to their roster, which is a necessary thing for a rebuilding team. A lineup consisting of Rondo, Love, and Jeff Green would be formidable and in a weak Eastern Conference it might be enough to fuel a run. Love has stated that he would sign an extension in Boston as well. Boston has all the assets to acquire Love, it is up to Danny Ainge to work out the kinks.

3.) Denver Nuggets

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The first year under Brian Shaw did not go as planned. The Nuggets caught the injury bug and missed the post season. But missing the playoffs may actually have been beneficial for the Nuggets. Denver ended up drafting Croatian big man Jusef Nurkic and got an absolute steal in Gary Harris at 19th overall (both picks came in a trade via Chicago.) Love would be a great fit in Denver as a player who can work inside but also stretch the floor. A 1-2 tandem between Love and star point guard Ty Lawson could be deadly. The Nuggets have great young talent to offer for Love. And while Kevin never stated he would sign an extension in Denver, if the team makes a successful playoff run, there would be no reason for him to leave. The Nuggets have been looking for a star player since Melo left, and Love could fill that void.

Potential Trade:

Nuggets Receive: Kevin Love(PF, $15,719,063*)
Kevin Martin**(SG, $6,792,500*)

Timberwolves Receive: Kenneth Faried (PF, $2,249,768*)
Wilson Chandler (SF, $6,757,913*)
Aaron Afflalo (SG, $7,750,000*)
2015 First Round Draft Pick

When I first started writing this article I had the Magic as a 3rd team in this trade. They were trading Afflalo to the Nuggets for the 11th overall pick. The Nuggets got Afflalo and only gave up Evan Fournier and the 56th overall pick in the 2014 draft (which turned into Roy Devyn Marble out of Iowa.) Regardless the Nuggets acquired a player that could be a true kicker in acquiring Kevin Love. Chandler and Faried have both proven that they can make a big difference on the court when healthy. Both players will prove to be beneficial to the Timberwolves scheme.

4.) Sacramento Kings

KingsLogo_tcm28-713308

The Kings have stated that they’re willing to trade for Kevin Love even if he wouldn’t sign an extension. Since the new ownership has taken over the Kings they have done their best to acquire top-level talent. They made a blockbuster trade for Rudy Gay mid-season last year and were in talks with the Pistons to acquire Josh Smith in the 2014 offseason. After being at the bottom of the barrel in the West for quite some years now it seems as if the Kings are trying to make necessary adjustments so they can at least contend in the crowded Western Conference. Even if he’s only there for one year, Love could make a huge, CC Sabathia on the Brewers type impact on the young, talented Kings. He would spread the floor and add a nice compliment to All-Star center Demarcus Cousins. The addition of Kevin Love could lead to a playoff run for the Kings and may spark his interest in returning to Sacramento. This prediction may be a stretch, but it’s entirely possible that the Kings to make a run at Love and acquire his services in Sacramento.

Potential Trade:

Kings Receive: Kevin Love(PF, $15,719,063*)
Kevin Martin**(SG, $6,792,500*)

Timberwolves Receive: Ben McLemore: (SG, $3,026,280*)
Jason Thompson: (PF/C, $6,037,500*)
Jason Terry: (SG, $5,450,000*)
2015 First Round Draft Pick

The T-Wolves get quite the haul in this trade. For starters they receive Ben McLemore. The 7th overall pick of last years draft got off to a rough start with Sacramento, but he’s overflowing with potential and a change of scenery and starting role in the backcourt alongside Rubio may boost his stats and his confidence. They would also receive Jason Thompson, a veteran that when healthy has proven that he can be a difference maker at times. He won’t provide the outside scoring that Love did, but he will be a great rebounder at power forward for Minnesota. As for Jason Terry it is not just his play that will benefit the Timberwolves. He would be a great mentor for a young Minnesota roster. Being a champion and one of the greatest shooters in the NBA, he will provide great locker room chemistry to the team, an attribute that is not directly accounted for on the stat sheet. He is also on an expiring contract so they will receive about $5.5 million cap space next year.

5.) Houston Rockets

They should really go back to this logo.
They should really go back to this logo.

Houston is my surprise potential destination. The first four teams mentioned have had at least some ties to Love. The Rockets haven’t had any connection, but they could be a great fit. A big three of Love, Dwight Howard, and James Harden could bring a championship to Houston. They could realistically overtake the Spurs or Thunder with that core group of players. The Rockets recently traded away center Omer Asik, so they have enough cap space and another draft pick as a weapon to acquire Love. They have a decent amount of firepower to obtain Love and with him on their roster who knows how far they could go.

Potential Trade:

Rockets Receive: Kevin Love(PF, $15,719,063*)
Kevin Martin**(SG, $6,792,500*)

Timberwolves Receive: Jeremy Lin(PG, $14,898,938*)
Terence Jones(SF/PF, $1,618,680*)
Troy Daniels(SG, $816,046*)
2015 First Round Pick
2015 First Round Draft Pick (via Pelicans)

The Timberwolves would get Jeremy Lin, a former star (or is it flash in the pan?) who is on an expiring contract and in 2015 almost $15 million dollars will come off the books and into his pockets. They would also receive Terence Jones who has looked brilliant in short bursts. If he can improve his consistency then he can prove to be a great addition for the T’Wolves. Troy Daniels is a fun little player. After playing in the D-League for most of the year he got his chance during the Rockets playoff run. He hit a clutch 3 in Game 3 in the Western Conference Playoffs against the Trailblazers. He would be a nice bench piece and someone who could come in and hit a triples when necessary. The draft picks are what make this deal sweet for the Timberwolves. They not only receive the Rockets pick – which will probably be in the latter half of the first round -but they also receive the Pelicans first round pick that the Rockets acquired via the Omer Asik trade. A pick that could even end up in the lottery. Both of these draft picks would go a long way towards the Timberwolves success and could prove to be quite beneficial. The Rockets could be a dark horse, but if they could acquire Love, they would be a threat to not only the Western Conference, but the entire NBA.

So there you have it, five potential destinations that Kevin Love may end up. Thank you for reading, and if you feel I missed a team, or disagree with one of my trade scenarios feel free to comment in the comment section below. Once again thank you for reading and I hope you enjoy this and the rest of the content provided by NML-Sports.com.

Tommy John Turmoil

Jose Fernandez will miss the remainder of the 2014 season and part of 2015 after undergoing Tommy John in mid-May.

The most influential player in baseball this season isn’t even on any team’s active roster, but former Yankee pitcher Tommy John and the surgical procedure named after him have never been more relevant. As of June 3, 2014, 16 starting pitchers have undergone Tommy John surgery, not including the countless number of players receiving treatment on the minor league level.

Repeated throwing can cause microtears, degeneration, and finally, rupture of the ulnar collateral ligament (UCL). The player may point to a single throw where they hear a pop, but in reality the ligament has likely been ready to rupture for months or even years.

While Tommy John is much more common for pitchers, position players are also vulnerable to suffering what is arguably one of the worst injuries in sports. Miguel Sano, a third base prospect for the Twins and sixth overall prospect in the game according to Baseball America, had to undergo Tommy John surgery and will miss the entirety of the 2014 season.

So the question arises, why has the number of Tommy John surgeries shot up so high? The answer is simple, pitchers trying to light up the gun instead of pitching a consistent speed while mixing control and movement. Overthrowing adds stress to the elbow there weakening the ligament, leaving them with a higher likelihood of tearing of the UCL.

Dr. James Andrews, one of the foremost Tommy John surgeons in the country, had a great quote that sums up why so many pitchers have fallen to Tommy John. He says, “Do not always pitch with 100% effort. The best professional pitchers pitch with a range of ball velocity, good ball movement, good control, and consistent mechanics among their pitches. The professional pitcher’s objectives are to prevent baserunners and runs, not to light up the radar gun.”

If pitchers focused more on pitching a consistent game with movement and control rather than bringing the heat, the number of surgeries necessary would drastically fall in 2014. We will look at top pitchers on the DL with Tommy John Surgery and their velocity and compare it to top pitchers who throw at a lower velocity but have the same if not better success to show how high velocity throwing pitchers can pitch successfully and still stay healthy.

 

Pitchers on DL with Tommy John Surgery

Jose Fernandez, Miami Marlins: 

A.J. Griffin demonstrates what overthrowing looks like.

Average Velocity: 96.2 MPH

Max Velocity: 100.7 MPH

Difference: 4.5 MPH

Jarrod Parker, Oakland Athletics:

Average Velocity: 92.5 MPH

Max Velocity: 96.8 MPH

Difference: 4.3 MPH

A.J. Griffin, Oakland Athletics:

Average Velocity: 90 MPH

Max Velocity: 94 MPH

Difference: 4 MPH

The key here is in difference. In the next paragraph I will show pitchers who aren’t on the DL but may throw faster than pitchers on the DL list. The key for them is that they only throw the heat when needed. These three pitchers, and others who required the surgery, use their fireball way too often. Since their difference is so low, it shows their max and average velocity isn’t far apart. The overuse adds strain and ultimately leads to Tommy John. In this portion I’ll show three pitchers who are just as successful yet aren’t on the DL since their difference is higher.

Pitchers that didn’t need Tommy John

Max Scherzer, Detroit Tigers:

After taking home the Cy-Young in 2013, Max Scherzer has picked up where he left off so far this year.

Average Velocity: 94.2 MPH

Max Velocity: 99.4 MPH

Difference: 5.2 MPH

Yu Darvish, Texas Rangers:

Average Velocity: 93.7 MPH

Max Velocity: 98.9 MPH

Difference: 5.2 MPH

Justin Verlander, Detroit Tigers:

Average Velocity: 94.2 MPH

Max Velocity: 100.3 MPH

Difference: 6.1 MPH

Scherzer and Verlander and former Cy Young winners; Verlander a former MVP. Darvish was the runner-up in 2013. Their difference in average in max velocity is at least 5 MPH. All three know when is the right time to use the heater and don’t overuse it. Their knowledge and use of control and movement provides not only stability in their outings but also a much safer pitching environment. If more pitchers used that method it could help to reduce the incidence of Tommy John surgeries. Of course, that would be a hit in Dr. James Andrew’s wallet, but the way things are going right now, I’m sure his wallet’s nicely padded.

The chaos surrounding Tommy John surgery thus has been a blemish on a what has been a very interesting MLB season so far. Hopefully pitchers will learn from past mistakes and will start pitching healthy.

I hope you enjoyed this article and as always you may leave any feedback in the comment section, or reach me at me email fappianodan@gmail.com. Thank you and I hope you enjoy the rest of the content here at NML-Sports.com.

Do The Vick and Johnson Signings Make The Jets A Contender?

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Johnson rips through the Jets defense in 2011

On the surface, the New York Jets acquisition of Chris Johnson and Michael Vick this offseason make them appear to be serious contenders in the AFC East. On the surface. Sure if you were creating a team in Madden these two would be a terrific duo. Hell, you wouldn’t even have to pass. Drop back hit the edge, press the spin button five times and you’ll be livin’ in the endzone. We however, live in something called reality and it’s not nearly that transparent. That being said, I do think that the move to obtain these two playmakers is one that couldn’t be passed up. Last season the Jets finished with a record of 8-8, pretty good if you actually look at who they had. Geno Smith showed glimpses of pretty solid quarterback play on one of the least talented offenses the league has seen in years. The defense of this Jets team is what held them together, but that has been the case for sometime now. How else could the butt-fumbling Mark Sanchez have taken this team to back to back AFC title games?  Sexy Rexy may have had a part in it, but in today’s NFL, a league in which offense dominates, the Jets have, to their credit, proven that great defense still wins games. Four years ago, Chris Johnson became just the sixth player to rack up more than 2,000 rushing yards in a single season. Many people placed him alongside Adrian Peterson as the best backs in the game. But this is a “what have you done for me lately” kind of league and Johnson hasn’t had more than 6 touchdowns since 2010. Last season, although he passed the 1,000 yard mark for the year, he saw his yards per carry average drop to a pedestrian 3.9 and his longest run was just 30 yards. A lot of people are aggressively blaming this on his poor offensive line in Tennessee, which very well may have played a big role in his decline. In addition to a staunch defense, the Jets teams of 2009 and 2010 relied on their smash mouth running game. This was largely thanks to terrific offensive line play featuring the likes of all-pro blockers such as D’Brickashaw Ferguson, Nick Mangold, and Alan Faneca. Together, this loaded offensive line gave “The Sanchize,” as they were calling Mark Sanchez back then, hours in the pocket and opened up massive holes for their backs. So will Chris Johnson improve in New York? I think so. Will he return to his former self and be the leagues leading rusher? Doubtful. Running backs have poor mileage, meaning their body breaks down quicker than players at other position (Adrian Peterson is an exception.) Every position on the field takes a toll on your body but running backs historically have had shorter careers (3.75 years shorter) because of the substantial strain on their bodies. This is something that NFL teams take pretty seriously. For example two years ago Monte Ball was bashed by the media for staying in at the University of Wisconsin for his senior year because they said he would put unnecessary miles on his legs. This has not been the case thus far but it is too early in his career to tell . Mileage on a running back is certainly important but in my opinion Johnson has a little bit more in the tank.

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He might be older now, but Vick’s mobility and agility are still game-changing

The Jets’ other addition, Michael Vick is an athletic stud and seven years ago I think Jet fans would be way more excited to have the likes of this man on their team. Father time has started to creep up on Vick and no matter how hard coaches try, they cannot keep him healthy. Vick has only played one complete season in his NFL career and his durability will likely only get worse with age. But you never know maybe the Jets will suffer the same fate as the Eagles, Vick gets hurt and the back up ends the season with the best QBR in the league, assuming Vick wins the starting job out of camp that is. That notion puts a lot of pressure on the young Geno Smith, but weirder things have happened. For the Jets, it comes down to this. They need Chris Johnson to be really good, not necessarily great just really good. Again he does not have to put up numbers like he has in the past but he has to give the Jets a key explosive element on offense that they desperately need. For Vick it really is too early to tell if he will get the nod as the starter. We do know this, with an asset like Vick you would be stupid not to utilize his mobility as well as arm strength in some way or another. All in all if these players stay healthy and play like all fans of the game know they can they will improve this Jets team. To the hopeful Jets fans that think these transactions put them in serious contention in the AFC, I am deeply sorry but they are not 99 overalls any more and this is not Madden.

Remembering Lacey

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Payne and Lacey Celebrate a Big Ten championship

The Michigan State Spartans make annual trips to the hospital to visit patients and bring them something they are all looking for, hope. Two years ago what started as a routine visit for the Spartans would change one player, as well as his teammates lives forever.

During one visit Michigan State star Adreian Payne met Lacey Holsworth. Lacey was a 6 year old girl from St. Johns Michigan who was in the middle of a battle with neuroblastoma a very rare form of cancer.As the team was leaving Lacey asked Payne one question.  She asked him to stay, and he did.

Over the next two years Lacey and Payne grew incredibly close. Payne would make frequent visits to Lacey where they would talk and color together for hours.They even began texting on a daily basis. Lacey became the biggest Michigan State basketball fan and part of Adreians family. He  began to call her his sister and she referred to him on many occasions as her brother.

This season Lacey became an even larger part of the Michigan State organization. You could see her in the stands at every home game and she also made special appearances on the court. On Senior Night Lacey was carried out onto the court by Adreian at the Breslin Center with a smile from ear to ear. Most recently, Lacey was on top of the world while cutting down the net with Payne after Michigan State won the Big 10 championship.

Payne and Lacey on Senior Night at the Breslin Center
Payne and Lacey on Senior Night at the Breslin Center

As March rolled around and the NCAA tournament began Lacey was the highlight of many sportscasts and found her place in even Big 10 rivals like the Wolverines and the Badgers fans hearts. Before every tip off and throughout every game fans got to see Lacey who was always smiling in the stands.

Just a few weeks ago Michigan State competed with Uconn for a right to go to the Final Four. And you guessed it, Lacy was there. The whole team wore, “Pray For Lacey” bracelets during the game. The Spartans efforts in this game fell short but you still saw a smile in the stands from little Lacey. She was proud of her “brother”

On Wednesday morning Lacey lost her battle with cancer.”I’m so proud of Adreian, for what he did to help that girl these last couple of years, he gave her a lifetime of memories and she gave us a lifetime of memories,” Michigan State coach Tom Izzo told reporters.

Social Media has exploded over the past couple of days with the hashtags “Pray For Lacey” and “Princess Lacey”. Even though Lacey’s time on this earth was cut way to short, because of an unlikely friendship she got to experience her life to the fullest. As her parents said in an official statement , “Lacey is now dancing with the angles”. Lacey will live forever in the hearts of many and after all Spartans never die.

 

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Lacey Holsworth
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