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Why, exactly, is Tommy John’s opinion on Stephen Strasburg relevant?

Aug 17, 2012, 10:05 AM EST

Stephen Strasburg Getty Images

Everyone has an opinion on the looming Stephen Strasburg shutdown.  And since the shutdown is driven in part by two-year-old Tommy John surgery, why not ask Tommy John? Colin Cowherd did:

“From the time I came back until I quit in 1989, I never missed a start in 13 years. Now, we were archaic back there, but here’s my take on the thing: There’s no guarantee (if) you shut him down. The Yankees screwed Joba Chamberlain over. I mean, this poor kid has had all kind of problems, and they had Joba Rules. …It didn’t help him a bit. He still had to have Tommy John surgery. So there’s no guarantee that you’re shutting Strasburg down, that he’s going to be healthy down the road.

I don’t disagree with any of that sentiment and I think that anyone who agrees with the shutdown program needs to likewise admit that we have nothing approaching good science regarding the relationship between post-surgery workloads and future health.

That said: why are we asking Tommy John about this? I know the surgery has his name on it and stuff, but it’s not like he has some sort of unique insight on it. My dad had back surgery a couple of years ago and no one asks him about whether anyone else who gets it should go back to work.

  1. metalhead65 - Aug 17, 2012 at 10:16 AM

    I would value his opinion over that of some inernet saber stat geek.

    • 18thstreet - Aug 17, 2012 at 10:46 AM

      And yet, here you are.

      • metalhead65 - Aug 17, 2012 at 11:01 AM

        clearly you have not read my posts! I loath everything about saber metrics! it was a shot a craig who values them more than anything.

      • 18thstreet - Aug 17, 2012 at 12:48 PM

        I’d really like some sort of advantaged stats that show my most popular, least popular and most-thumbed posts.

        Hey, inernet stat geeks — can you get on that? I’d like to know my value over replacement commenter.

    • paperlions - Aug 17, 2012 at 10:55 AM

      Would you value it over those making the decisions about Strasburg’s work load? You know, those guys that work with Strasburg every day and know more about this specific situation (with more to lose and gain) than anyone else….especially TJ, who likely has never even met Strasburg.

      Because…you know, no internet saber stat geek is giving an opinion. It is what the Nationals think versus what TJ thinks.

    • Alex K - Aug 17, 2012 at 11:04 AM

      Why? Because he had the surgery 38 years ago? The process and recovery are most likely totally different than when he went under the knife. Why does his opinion matter more than any other player that has ever had the surgery?

    • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Aug 17, 2012 at 11:14 AM

      Absolutely shocked you’d value the opinion of people who do research into a topic rather than someone who has no more knowledge than an average individual on the street

      /not shocked

    • townballblog - Aug 17, 2012 at 12:07 PM

      No disrespect Craig but his opinion is just as valuable as yours, or as any of ours for that matter. After all, it’s just an opinion.

      @Metalhead65: did you mean meathead65?

      • 18thstreet - Aug 17, 2012 at 12:52 PM

        Take that, Rob Reiner.

      • metalhead65 - Aug 17, 2012 at 1:22 PM

        not at all did you mean toolballblog?

      • 18thstreet - Aug 17, 2012 at 1:30 PM

        Take take, uh … I got nothing.

    • Old Gator - Aug 17, 2012 at 12:57 PM

      I have never seen any statistics the prove that Craig loves stats more than anything. Have you?

  2. largebill - Aug 17, 2012 at 10:17 AM

    Normally, your analogy to your dad’s back surgery would be apt, but not in this case. If your dad was a school bus driver and he was commenting on how his back responded to hours in the drivers seat his opinion/observances would be valid. Likewise, with decades as a major league pitcher and decades since as an observer, John can be considered a subject matter expert on pitchers. Is he a medical doctor, no, but he wasn’t speaking to specific medical issues but merely saying what many others have which is that there’s no definitive evidence that a certain number of innings is a deal breaker.

    • Craig Calcaterra - Aug 17, 2012 at 10:19 AM

      Bill: I swear to God I’m not trolling you, but my dad is a school bus driver. He drives in the New Albany, Ohio district. It’s basically his retirement job. Haha.

      • Craig Calcaterra - Aug 17, 2012 at 10:20 AM

        Oops, I’m now realizing your point. I’m an idiot. No news, that. Carry on.

      • Francisco (FC) - Aug 17, 2012 at 10:22 AM

        I love it when stuff like this just lines-up in real life.

      • stlouis1baseball - Aug 17, 2012 at 11:36 AM

        That is hillarious Craig.
        On a separate note (although I believe you)…as an Atheist your swearing to God carries no meaning. You realize that right? As a result, I suggest from now on…
        I think you should say “I swear to my Garage Door.” Or…”I swear to my Apple Tree.”
        Or better yet…”I swear to my Atlanta Braves.” Hahaha!

  3. southcapitolstreet - Aug 17, 2012 at 10:25 AM

    What I want to know is why are we asking Stephen A. Smith about this?

    • chadjones27 - Aug 17, 2012 at 10:42 AM

      So he can argue with Skip Bayless. And that’s good television.

      • skids003 - Aug 17, 2012 at 12:27 PM

        Yeah, two of the biggest morons on the planet arguing about anything.

      • chadjones27 - Aug 17, 2012 at 1:58 PM

        I see a bad celebrity boxing match and bad ESPN reality show coming on.

      • uclafightfightfight - Aug 17, 2012 at 2:54 PM

        Speaking of which, Celebrity Death Match would be such a great show to bring back…

  4. mybrunoblog - Aug 17, 2012 at 10:26 AM

    I would be interested to hear Tommy John’s opinion on Strasburg. The man pitched like 20 years in the bigs and was the first pitcher to get the type of surgery Strasburg received. Let’s face it. We all have an opinion on this. It just that some people’s mean more than others based on their history. People like Tommy John!

  5. danaking - Aug 17, 2012 at 10:32 AM

    What amazes me is baseball people are still guessing about this innings and arm wear issue. Why hasn’t baseball studied–through repeated MRIs–how arms respond, what arms look like as they start to break down, and what level of workload may contribute to a breakdown–so they can catch these signs in a surgically repaired arm and make decisions based on medical fact, not a GM’s guess.

    I don;t want to rush Strasburg, and I sure don;t want to see him hurt again, but Rizzo has no real idea if he’s doing anything to prevent that, given the lack of medical evidence. The Joba Rules failed spectacularly. baseball takes care of pitcher’s arms like never before, yet the number of injuries doesn’t seem to be diminishing. Creating new surgical procedures is great, but where’s the science that will actually contribute to well-being?

    • danaking - Aug 17, 2012 at 10:33 AM

      Also, I expect Tommy John knows at least as much about this as does Mike Rizzo.

    • mets79 - Aug 17, 2012 at 10:44 AM

      Danaking, the problem with compiling all of the medical evidence is that there are so many variables within each patient (pitcher) that there is no true control experiment to verify the findings. Each pitcher has a different delivery which creates more or less stress on different areas of their arm. The age and overall fitness of the pitcher would create a variable as would the type of pitches they threw (split finger, change up etc). Starter or reliever. I’m sure there are more but that is just off the top of my head. Medical science is not an exact science and never will be

      • danaking - Aug 17, 2012 at 5:06 PM

        Mets79,

        You’re right, there are a million variables. What they should be able to see, if they had enough data, is what changes occur in a ligament that is about to go south. Does it fray? If so, where? It’s not going to be an exact science, but right now they have no idea. Think how this decision might get made if they could MRI Strasburg’s arm today and say, given the condition of that ligament, they see no reason to shut him down, or, conversely, to say he’s showing signs that led to trouble in 65% of all pitchers who showed this condition. medical judgment will still come into play, but it has to be better than someone picking an arbitrary number of innings and saying this is the safety level.

        All innings are not created the same. 160 innings for a dominant pitcher is not at all the same as 160 innings for a pitcher who is in and out of trouble and frequently pitching out of jams. Even pitch counts should have a better measurement than the current one size fits all. Let’s say two pitchers throw 15 pitches in an inning. One pitcher retires the side in order on a 1-2 pitch, a 2-2 pitch, and a 3-2 pitch. (There are several two-strike fouls.) The other pitcher allows a single and a double on the first two pitches and spends the rest of the inning working out of a second and third jam. Who worked harder, and likely put more strain on his arm? Yet pitch counts say both innings were the same.

        I don’t know what the answer is, but it seems bizarre baseball hasn’t invested more money into figuring this out better instead of letting non-medical men make wild ass guesses involving arms worth hundreds of millions of dollars.

    • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Aug 17, 2012 at 11:18 AM

      Why hasn’t baseball studied–through repeated MRIs–how arms respond, what arms look like as they start to break down, and what level of workload may contribute to a breakdow

      Probably b/c no one would want to see the harsh reality? That almost every pitcher is doing harm to his body just by throwing. Reminds of an article written many moons ago when pitch counts were just becoming en vogue, and a pitcher asked his coach to monitor all throws (warmups, pick offs, etc) and the pitcher was around 250-300 by the end of the day.

      There was a great article in SI.com* about Lincecum and his funky mechanics a few years back. In it, they talked to some doctors about why, when track and field sprinters and swimmers are continuing to break records every year, do we not see increases in fastball speed (for instance, why hasn’t anyone thrown 110+?). They did a study applying force to the human shoulder and realized that at about 20lbs of pressure, the shoulder breaks. What kind of force are pitchers applying now, 20lbs. We’re at the limit of what pitchers can do without serious injury, so is it any wonder that, without changing anything, a players elbow tears or shoulder rips apart?

      http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2008/writers/tom_verducci/07/01/lincecum0707/index.html

  6. hushbrother - Aug 17, 2012 at 10:37 AM

    Why not ask him? He gave a not unreasonable response to the question.

  7. Mr. Jones - Aug 17, 2012 at 10:38 AM

    Reblogged this on Sports w/ KJ.

  8. thephilsabide - Aug 17, 2012 at 10:39 AM

    Being that only a relatively minuscule amount of human beings have ever had the opportunity to experience TJ surgery, I think listening to any of them would offer valuable insight.

  9. Kevin Gillman - Aug 17, 2012 at 10:39 AM

    Why should we ask him? Because he is speaking the truth. There is never any guarantee that Strasberg will be healthy next season, or even 5 years from now. Plus there is never a guarantee Washington will be in the postseason next year, so just take this moment, try and do whatever you can to win a WS, because chances are they won’t be doing it next season, due to injuries to their key players. Live for the moment.

    • someguyinva - Aug 17, 2012 at 11:02 AM

      I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again…

      The “injuries to key players” argument is a very tough sell to Nats fans, given the fact that they’ve currently got the best record in baseball this year in spite of significant time lost to injury by Werth, Morse, Desmond, Ramos, Storen, and Ryan Zimmerman.

      Is Tommy John an expert on Tommy John surgery and its effects on Tommy John? Yes, but the plural of anecdote is not data.

      Does Tommy John have access to the same medical information about Steven Strasburg that Mike Rizzo has? No, and Rizzo’s decision here (which he announced in February) is based on that and the same treatment plan that was used for Jordan Zimmermann.

      Will the Nats be guaranteed to win the World Series if Strasburg pitches? No.

      Will the Nats be guaranteed to not win the World Series if Strasburg is shut down? No.

      Will the Nats have a better shot at winning in the post-season if Strasburg pitches? Maybe, but short series are so unpredictable.

      Does Mike Rizzo know more about baseball than any of us commenting on this blog? I’d say Absolutely Yes.

      • Kevin Gillman - Aug 17, 2012 at 11:30 AM

        You don’t get it someguyinva….there is no guarantee Washington will ever be in the postseason again….period. The biggest difference between Zimmerman last year, and Strasberg this year is last year, the Nats never were contenders for the postseason, so in all likelyhood, they never had a shot at the postseason last year. Now with Strasberg, they can easily skip his turn every now and then, especially if they clinch the postseason, or how about putting Strasberg on an Innings limit, and never go above 6 innings, so if he does go over 180 IP, it won’t be much higher. The point is Steven can get hurt next season, and then what do you have? Just too much of a risk here.

      • someguyinva - Aug 17, 2012 at 11:50 AM

        I do get it, Kevin; I just don’t agree with you.

        I’m a Nats fan, and there’s a part of me that wants Strasburg to pitch this year, long-term consequences be damned.

        However, there’s a bigger part of me that’s see a long-term picture where the Nats and Rizzo get a reputation of being better than other teams at taking care of their players and looking out for their health, a reputation that pays off in free agent signings, or re-signings of existing players when their contracts are up, etc.

        Sure, Strasburg (or anyone) can get hurt next year, and that might have a negative impact on the team’s post-season fortunes; I expect we’ll see just how much of an impact it might have this year, after Strasburg is shut down.

      • Kevin Gillman - Aug 17, 2012 at 4:30 PM

        Okay, we disagree with this, and that’s fine. But allow me to say one more thing on this subject. I am an Indians fan, I have seen years where they were supposed to have promise, where they were building to compete for years to come, only to compete for say 2-3 years, because that window of opportunity dwindles before our very eyes. When you are an emerging team, such as your Nats, you do whatever you can to compete, because you never know when that next opportunity will come. Someone earlier brought up how Strasberg has the worst numbers of the 5 starters since May, and although that might be true, the Nationals are a better team, better starting pitching, better pitching all around with Strasberg in the rotation. But I guess we will find out, one way or the other.

  10. ramrene - Aug 17, 2012 at 10:40 AM

    The Nationals shutting down Strasburg because of his TJ surgery only tells part of the story. I remember reading a story at ESPN (I think) a year or two back that studied the health of pitchers who make a large leap from year to year in innings pitched early in their career.

    The study showed that anyone who pitches more than 30-innings over the previous year’s total is at high risk of breaking down then listed the many examples. And that was for pitchers who did not already have TJ surgery.

    Now, with regards to Strasburg, take that component and then factor in a component of a pitcher who already had TJ surgery and the risk becomes that much more.

    The question of should you risk someone’s career for a run at a World Series title really comes into focus with regards to Strasburg and what we now know of increased innings pitched from one season to the next and when there’s an additional element of already coming off TJ surgery. It may be easy for some guys to say, it’s worth it but they’re not responsible for the well being of the asset and of the many years that asset can produce for you.

    • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Aug 17, 2012 at 11:21 AM

      This is the Verducci Effect (from Tom Verducci of SI, phrase coined by Will Carroll of Baseball Prospectus), and it’s pretty much been bunked.

      http://deadspin.com/5877565/the-verducci-effect-is-overworked-and-broken-down

    • Kevin Gillman - Aug 17, 2012 at 11:32 AM

      So going by that theory, Strasberg pitched 40 IPs last season, so he is already exceeded that, with 136 IP. He should have stopped at 70 IP.

  11. hoopmatch - Aug 17, 2012 at 10:45 AM

    It’s funny that even Tommy John calls it Tommy John surgery. Shouldn’t he call it “me surgery?”

  12. beefytrout - Aug 17, 2012 at 10:47 AM

    I guess if Tommy John had told Strasburg to be as sexy as he can, then that would be worthy of relevance on this site.

  13. hornbuckle - Aug 17, 2012 at 10:52 AM

    It’s relevant the same reason yours is. It’s not.

  14. hasbeen5 - Aug 17, 2012 at 11:02 AM

    Why is Colin Cowherd’s opinion on anything relevant? They guy is worse than Rome.

  15. mf44srq - Aug 17, 2012 at 11:04 AM

    This whole shut down drama is stupid. Strasburg is like an expensive sports car. Goes really fast, impresses the chicks, but mostly sits in the garage. Drive Strasburg like you stole it! You just might win a couple of World Series doing it.

  16. brewcrewfan54 - Aug 17, 2012 at 11:09 AM

    Tommy John’s opinion on it is as valid as any of the thousands of other sporswriters and former players who have weighed in on it.

  17. natslady - Aug 17, 2012 at 11:11 AM

    For the last three months, Steven Strasburg has been (by ERA) the worst starter in the rotation. Also, for the last three months, the team has a greater win percentage with the other four starters than with Strasburg. Why are we worrying about whether the Nats’ No. 5 starter gets to pitch in the playoffs or not?

    Sorry–couldn’t resist. Please, MAKE IT STOP.

    • The Rabbit - Aug 17, 2012 at 12:44 PM

      Win records? Really?
      Both Strasberg and Zimmermann have been hosed out of that “all important” win stat by the pen over the past 3 months. Both have been on inning/pitch limits so I haven’t seen either go much past 6 innings, if at all, so their win and ERA stats are highly dependent on the bullpen.
      BTW If they are approaching the limit, come out at 5.2 innings with a runner on, and the pen allows the runner to score, the starter gets charged, not the pen. Just take a look at the Phillies starters’ ERA’s if you don’t think it makes a difference.
      If you don’t think Strasberg should pitch in the post-season, that’s fine, but these stats aren’t relevant to that decision.

      • natslady - Aug 17, 2012 at 1:01 PM

        Rabbit, I understand. They aren’t relevant for another reason also, namely that they were accrued against all teams, including some pretty bad teams, solely against the good teams that will make the playoffs.

        Just trying to counter the “Nats are crazy for shutting down their best pitcher” when he is arguably not at present their best pitcher. Seems like a lost cause though–that meme has entered the idiot world, so I used idiot stats.

      • natslady - Aug 17, 2012 at 1:01 PM

        Rabbit, I understand. They aren’t relevant for another reason also, namely that they were accrued against all teams, including some pretty bad teams, not solely against the good teams that will make the playoffs.

        Just trying to counter the “Nats are crazy for shutting down their best pitcher” when he is arguably not at present their best pitcher. Seems like a lost cause though–that meme has entered the idiot world, so I used idiot stats.

  18. natslady - Aug 17, 2012 at 11:19 AM

    ThomasBoswellWP: Since May 15 (3 mos), Strasburg has worst ERA in Nats rotation (3.96). Z’mann 2.42, Detwiler 3.40, Jackson 3.76, Gonzalez 3.82.

    Thomas Boswell ‏@ThomasBoswellWP
    Since 5/15 Nats .571 w Stras, .623 w other SP.

  19. Dan McCloskey - Aug 17, 2012 at 11:19 AM

    Personally, I think Tommy John should refer to it as Frank Jobe Surgery.

  20. bigleagues - Aug 17, 2012 at 12:21 PM

    Craig: here is a simple counter . . . why is it were accepting that Mike Rizzo is taking the right action here?

    Also, WHAT IF for a variety of unknown factors in the future that we simply cannot foresee – that this is the best opportunity Strasburg ever has to be part of a team that would otherwise have a great chance to make it to the World Series? And it becomes the biggest regret of his career that he was not allowed to contribute to his 2012 team’s post season fortunes.

    • natslady - Aug 17, 2012 at 12:52 PM

      My sympathy for this line of argument is extremely limited. And I say that as a person who has lived and breathed with this athlete for years, stayed up til midnight for the draft signing, followed him through the minors, re-watched the debut many times, laughed at the Miss Iowa game, sweated with him in his Florida rehab, and winced if he clipped his fingernails wrong (he did, and had to leave a game early as a result).

      Everyone has regrets, life deals them out to you along with birthdays. Strasburg might as well regret that he tore his ligament or that he was born in the year 1988. You can regret things you did wrong, but you mourn things you have no control over–and this is one of them, if it should happen according to your “what if.” In the end, face it, Strasburg is a paid, a very well-paid, entertainer. My sympathy goes to the “economic” suicides in Europe, not to a wealthy young man if everything doesn’t fall exactly his way.

      This whole “what-if-they-never-get-a-chance-at-a-WS-ring” leaves me cold, maybe because I’m female, and because I was born before the law was changed, I never had a chance at athletic competition past elementary school. I don’t live vicariously through Stephen Strasburg’s “feelings.” He’s a great athlete. But his “big regrets” don’t trump medical advice, or the chance his teammates NEXT year might have for a World Series ring if he is at full health and strength.

      • beefytrout - Aug 17, 2012 at 1:16 PM

        How many yards away from Strasburg are required to be at all times?

      • bigleagues - Aug 17, 2012 at 2:08 PM

        Your personal feelings are all fine and well, and Strasburg has said (or not said) all the right things to this point. But ultimately, I think it’s more Boras than anyone else who is driving this ship. And he could have the best medical advice in the world, but as TJ said, there isn’t anything close to consensus on this issue – particularly because Strasburg has already had the surgery.

        The joke among pitchers, is not if – but when they’ll get TJS – mainly because what we do know is that more often than not the pitchers arm is stronger and more durable post-procedure. It’s a legal form of performance enhancement, if you will.

        It’s great that Boras wants to preserve Strasburg’s long-term value and all, and that Rizzo is willing to play along – to the possible future detriment of his career in Washington – but in 4 years when extension talk starts – don’t expect Boras to give Rizzo and the Nationals any kind of discount for taking it easy on his arm this season.

        As I have said before, I like the Nationals. I believe they will be good for several, if not many years to come. But for a variety of reasons, there is no guarantee that they will have a better shot at going the distance than they have this year.

        And attempting to do it by voluntarily sitting one of the best pitchers in baseball, while well intentioned and on the side of caution, may, in fact, not have any basis in practical reality.

        Damned if you do, damned if you don’t, I suppose.

      • natslady - Aug 17, 2012 at 3:19 PM

        That is certainly true. If there were an obvious answer, it wouldn’t be a debate. I’m trying to listen to all sides, but the bust-every-gut-because-you-may-never-get-another-chance is the one I hear most from (a) outsiders who want to see a “good fight” and (b) ex-athletes–and ex-coaches–who maybe didn’t have the career they wanted and (c) pundits whose job it is to debate stuff, some good analysts, some just hunting for clicks.

        Before the Nationals led the league for three months running, no one paid much attention. It was like the Zimmermann shutdown, a sort of footnote, that’s “curious” but not significant. When the season is over all the outsiders and the ex-athletes and the pundits will depart for the next Red Sox scandal, and we here in DC will have a 2013 season and a 2015 season, etc., with the team we care about. And that’s my issue–these people don’t care about our team. And why should they? But we do. We support Rizzo (and Boras) because they got us here.

        As one of the players said, “We don’t like the decision, but we understand it.”

      • natslady - Aug 17, 2012 at 3:26 PM

        As for Boras–no, he doesn’t give a discount. But if you are an agent, do you place your players with the team that’s going to abuse them, or the team that is going to use the best medical advice toward the player having a long career? It’s not the discount, it’s the steering prospects to a team you trust to protect the players’ earning potential.

        Yes, at free agency Strasburg (and Harper) may both be gone. That’s a financial issue. But if both are healthy and productive, have been well-coached through the minor-league system and managed well in the majors, don’t you think the Nationals will continue to benefit from a stream of the best Boras clients? I do.

      • natslady - Aug 17, 2012 at 3:33 PM

        Another issue that outsiders don’t care about but we do is the competition, in particular the competition from the team that has RGIII as its quarterback. It will take more than one playoff run, more even than one World Series, to make this into a baseball town–even to make the field more level as they say. We need years and years of winning team, of exciting teams. As you say, bigleagues, that’s entirely possible. But it’s “policy” thing, you make a policy and you stick with it, otherwise Lucas Giolito doesn’t know if the system he signed into is trustworthy.

        I don’t think that 2012 is our only chance at a playoff run. The team’s not built that way, dependent upon the health and productivity of a few stars. So, get back to me in five years, we’ll see. But no one can ever know for sure.

      • bigleagues - Aug 18, 2012 at 3:18 PM

        (b) ex-athletes–and ex-coaches–who maybe didn’t have the career they wanted

        Here is the one response to all that you just said, because I feel I need to perhaps offer this from the perspective of a failed athlete who didn’t get very far, but who also worked around some very accomplished and eventually very famous athletes.

        Those of us who enjoy and engage in athletic competitions, do so because win or lose, we love to compete. And, despite not being paid millions of dollars to compete, there are millions of amateur athletes, young and old, who will compete until their arm falls off; or their legs no longer work the way they want them to, or their eyes fail them, etc . . . It really has nothing to do with being a failed or frustrated ‘ex-athlete’.

        Strasburg is an immense talent, but he has been coddled since High School. I don’t know if what Rob Dibble says is true as to the extent of Strasburg’s fathers involvement in his career . . . but if it is, then that does strike me as a tad bizarre.

        My opinion on the Nat’s/Strasburg saga comes from the experience of being fan for nearly all my life as well as seeing these top athletes go about their business up close and knowing how fleeting and fickle history can be in the future.

        In 1999, few minor league players had more upside or hype associated with them than Nick Johnson. He remains the best hitter I have ever seen in the minors . . . and I’ve seen some guys that are now well on their way to knocking on the front door of the HOF.

        Males can continue physically maturing well into their 20’s. Sometimes when that growing is done, and their body chemistry begins to change, they become more and more susceptible to injury.

        I sincerely hope this doesn’t happen . . . but what happens if – even with all of the precautions – two, three, four years from now Strasburg’s shoulder blows out, which in turn, triggers other injuries as he attempts to compensate for the pain as he heads into free agency?

        What we do know, right now, is that the Nat’s and Strasburg have a chance to make history together.

        What we don’t know is just what the future holds.

        Snapped ligaments happen every day, regardless of workload and regardless of position played.

        League Championship Series and World Series births sometimes happen once in a career – if ever.

        I sure hope that future luck is on the side of Mike Rizzo and the Nationals.

  21. mtm1321 - Aug 17, 2012 at 12:22 PM

    Who wrote this article? Do you even know who Tommy John is?
    Your sarcasm and creative ideas are misplaced and do not make for a good article or read.

  22. pdowdy83 - Aug 17, 2012 at 12:34 PM

    Why are people still focusing soley on the TJ surgery aspect of the shutdown? Stras has never pitched more than 125 innings in a season until now. He pitched a grand total of 44 innings last season and all of the sudden people just want to ramp him up to 225-230(if pitching in playoffs). Just because he mostly skipped the minors doesn’t mean his arm doesn’t have to be built up properly. If he never had TJ surgery this would have happened last season when the Nats weren’t in contention but because of the surgery it was pushed a year further. Add in the surgery to the equation and you are looking at even more incentive to not ramp him up too much. This isn’t Chris Carpenter or Adam Wainright with a history of multiple 200 inning seasons under his belt.

  23. xmatt0926x - Aug 17, 2012 at 2:54 PM

    His opinion is as relevant as anyone else. Why not? Why is anyone asking anyone about this? Who’s opinion is relevant? It’s all a guess on anyone’s part from what I’ve read. He had the surgery and pitched long after it. I’d say that makes his opinion as relevant as anyone else’s.

  24. seanatch - Aug 17, 2012 at 3:06 PM

    “That said: why are we asking Tommy John about this? I know the surgery has his name on it and stuff, but it’s not like he has some sort of unique insight on it. My dad had back surgery a couple of years ago and no one asks him about whether anyone else who gets it should go back to work.” Stupid comments, they named the surgery after TJ…he might know a little bit about it. Poor comparison.

    • natslady - Aug 17, 2012 at 4:00 PM

      It was an accident they named it after him, a curiosity. But he did have the surgery and a subsequent career, so his opinion is certainly as good as any other pitcher who had the surgery, no more, but no less. I don’t happen to agree with his opinion but his credential is not “My name is Tommy John,” his credential is, “I was a major-league pitcher, I had the procedure, I rehabbed from it, etc.”

  25. delawarephilliesfan - Aug 17, 2012 at 3:42 PM

    “I know the surgery has his name on it and stuff, but it’s not like he has some sort of unique insight on it. ”

    So…….. a Major League Pitcher who had Tommy John surgery does not have any unique insight?

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