Skip to content

Tom Seaver thinks pitchers today should be like him and his Hall of Fame friends

Aug 30, 2013, 8:23 AM EDT

Tom Seaver

This is in keeping with my observation from the other day that, when talking about the pitchers of yesteryear and their heavy work loads, people almost always talk about the exceptional and other-worldly talented, not the ones who never made it because their arms blew out.

Here’s Tom Seaver talking to Bill Madden of the Daily News about how today’s pitchers get hurt because they’re coddled, and how his generation (and the generation before) was not coddled and look how good they were:

“Take a look at all of them, Marichal, Jenkins, Spahn, what do you think made them successful?” Seaver asked. “They conditioned their arms by pitching more, not less, starting from when they signed their first contract. Jenkins threw 300 or more innings half a dozen (actually five) times. Same with Palmer, Carlton and Marichal. I keep going back to that (July 2, 1963) Marichal-Spahn game when they both pitched 16 innings and threw almost 500 pitches between them.

“Neither one of them had any adverse aftereffects from it.”

No, they didn’t. And that’s one of the things which made them absolutely incredible pitchers. It’s quite possible, however, that there are tons of anonymous guys who would have come up in the 50s and 60s and had great careers — or even good careers — but never did because they blew out their arms in Double-A or two years into their major league career and were done for.

The point isn’t that coddling pitchers is the way to prevent injuries. Obviously guys still get hurt, so Seaver’s points about coddling not being the answer could have a lot of validity to them. His point that we don’t know what’s going to lead to injuries certainly has validity, because we don’t. The point is that Hall of Famers like him and Marichal and others are not the best examples of a better way of doing things precisely because they were, by definition, exceptional.

I am certain there are pitchers in the game today who could log the innings that those guys did and be just fine. Felix Hernandez? Justin Verlander? CC Sabathia? There have to be several. But there are tons of guys who fate and physiology are not going to allow to do that, just as there are guys who pitched alongside Seaver back in the day who could not do it either without blowing out their arms.

Teams and doctors need to figure out how to help those guys. How to tailor workloads and physical regimens to — if possible — prevent catastrophic injuries from occurring. Maybe that is futile. Maybe there is absolutely no way to prevent this stuff. But I feel like it’s worth trying to do that with the best information and evidence we can rather than to just throw up our hands, say “there’s no hope” and immediately go back to four-man rotations and 300 inning workloads for everyone.

Because while that did work for Tom Seaver and Fergie Jenkins, it didn’t work for a lot of Joe Shlabotniks whose careers were over before they began thanks to blown out arms.

Latest Posts
  1. Most people in L.A. still can’t see Dodgers games. There’s some progress though. Kinda.

    Jul 29, 2014, 11:03 AM EDT

    dodgers logo

    As in: one side of two warring factions has agreed to a resolution. Unfortunately, it takes two to tango.

  2. “Disinterested” Felix Doubront sure seems like he’s trying to get the Red Sox to trade him

    Jul 29, 2014, 10:47 AM EDT

    World Series - Boston Red Sox v St Louis Cardinals - Game Four Getty Images

    Two days ago Felix Doubront talked at length about how he wants to be back in Boston’s rotation following a demotion to the bullpen and, if the Red Sox aren’t willing to use him as a starter again, he wants to be traded.

  3. Discarded by the Twins, Vance Worley has turned his career around with the Pirates

    Jul 29, 2014, 10:05 AM EDT

    Vance Worley AP

    Last night Worley tossed a complete-game shutout against the Giants, improving to 4-1 with a 2.54 ERA in 50 innings for the Pirates.

  4. Must-click link: sexual depravity — and possibly rape — in the minor leagues

    Jul 29, 2014, 9:46 AM EDT

    Click Here large

    Dirk Hayhurst takes a graphic look at depravity and likely illegality in the low minor leagues.

  5. Neil Walker turned a fantastic double play last night

    Jul 29, 2014, 8:55 AM EDT

    Neil Walker

    Ask yourself: how does a dude in this position — leaning in the opposite direction of first base — turn and get anything on his throw?

  6. Yu Darvish: “I just blame the parents of Brett Gardner”

    Jul 29, 2014, 8:23 AM EDT

    Brett Gardner AP

    This is one of those quotes that, if the translation was mangled, could have created an incident.

  7. And That Happened: Monday’s scores and highlights

    Jul 29, 2014, 5:00 AM EDT

    Marlins celebration Getty Images

    A three run lead and Rafael Soriano on the hill usually leads to an un-tuck fest. Not last night it didn’t.

  8. Report: Red Sox open to trading both Jon Lester and John Lackey

    Jul 28, 2014, 11:41 PM EDT

    red sox logo

    The Red Sox hold some interesting cards going into Thursday’s trade deadline.

  9. VIDEO: Derek Jeter passes Carl Yastrzemski for seventh on all-time hits list

    Jul 28, 2014, 10:26 PM EDT

    648bbcda87835c87e67dd6081897c327 Getty Images

    With three hits against the Rangers this evening, Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter has passed Hall of Famer Carl Yastrzemski for seventh-place on baseball’s all-time hit list.

  10. Brandon Belt is making progress from his concussion, but Hector Sanchez needs more time

    Jul 28, 2014, 9:20 PM EDT

    giants logo

    The Giants currently have two players sidelined with concussions. Brandon Belt appears closer to returning than Hector Sanchez.

  11. Mark Teixeira hopes to return from lat strain on Tuesday

    Jul 28, 2014, 8:28 PM EDT

    Mark Teixeira AP AP

    Mark Teixeira is out of the Yankees’ starting lineup for the eighth straight game tonight due to a lower lat strain, but he’s aiming to make his return tomorrow.

  12. Blue Jays acquire Danny Valencia from Royals for Erik Kratz and Liam Hendriks

    Jul 28, 2014, 7:29 PM EDT

    Danny Valencia Getty Getty Images

    It’s not a big deal, but the Blue Jays and Royals have pulled off a trade this evening which will send infielder Danny Valencia to Toronto and catcher Erik Kratz and right-hander Liam Hendriks to Kansas City.

  13. The Mariners and Orioles have called the Red Sox about Jon Lester

    Jul 28, 2014, 6:51 PM EDT

    Jon Lester Jon Lester

    We heard yesterday that the Dodgers have been in touch with the Red Sox about a deal for left-hander Jon Lester, but they figure to have plenty of competition leading up to Thursday’s non-waiver trade deadline.

  14. Report: Indians “very willing” to trade Justin Masterson

    Jul 28, 2014, 6:17 PM EDT

    Justin Masterson Getty Getty Images

    An impending free agent, Justin Masterson owns a disappointing 5.51 ERA over 18 starts this season and is currently on the disabled list with right knee inflammation.

  15. Brewers minor leaguer suspended for drugs

    Jul 28, 2014, 5:34 PM EDT

    Police Blotter

    Looks like he picked the wrong week to not stop doing amphetamines.

  16. A’s lose Craig Gentry to broken hand, call up speedster Billy Burns

    Jul 28, 2014, 5:17 PM EDT

    Craig Gentry A's AP

    A’s outfielder Craig Gentry began the season on the disabled list with a back injury and now, after hitting just .264 with zero homers and a .625 OPS in 80 games, he’s going on the shelf again with a broken hand.

  17. A lost Red Sox World Series ring leads to some good things for a Yankees fan

    Jul 28, 2014, 5:03 PM EDT

    Screen Shot 2014-07-28 at 4.43.30 PM AP

    Do the right thing and good things happen. Not always, but here, yes.

  18. Yankees designate Jeff Francis for assignment

    Jul 28, 2014, 4:46 PM EDT

    Colorado Rockies v Chicago Cubs Getty Images

    Two weeks ago the Yankees acquired Jeff Francis from the A’s as a roster reinforcement, but now they’ve designated the journeyman left-hander for assignment.

  19. So maybe Cole Hamels is available after all

    Jul 28, 2014, 4:00 PM EDT

    cole hamels getty Getty Images

    After a couple months worth of reports that Cole Hamels is not on the market . . . maybe he’s on the market.

Featured video

Three legends off to Cooperstown
Top 10 MLB Player Searches