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. Jockey gave away “Mad Bum” underwear to Giants fans

    Oct 31, 2014, 6:05 PM EDT

    Madison Bumgarner Madison Bumgarner

    Madison Bumgarner’s post-season performance prompted Jockey to make underwear with “Mad Bum” on the backside, a special gift to Giants fans at Friday’s World Series parade in San Francisco.

  2. Rockies exercise option on 42-year-old LaTroy Hawkins

    Oct 31, 2014, 5:17 PM EDT

    LaTroy Hawkins Getty Images

    This season Hawkins became one of 16 pitchers in MLB history with 1,000 or more appearances and if healthy he’ll move into the top 10 next season.

  3. Rangers decline Alex Rios’ $13.5 million option

    Oct 31, 2014, 4:26 PM EDT

    Alex Rios AP AP

    Rios is now a free agent coming off a season in which he hit .280 with four homers and a .709 OPS in 131 games.

  4. The Cubs to announce the hiring of Joe Maddon on Monday

    Oct 31, 2014, 4:00 PM EDT

    Joe Maddon Getty Getty Images

    The end of this awkward, orchestrated process is in sight.

  5. Rays exercise $7.5 million option on Ben Zobrist

    Oct 31, 2014, 3:50 PM EDT

    New York Yankees v Tampa Bay Rays Getty Images

    He’ll be eligible for free agency next offseason at age 34.

  6. Blue Jays claim Andy Dirks off waivers from Tigers

    Oct 31, 2014, 2:44 PM EDT

    Andy Dirks AP

    Dirks missed the entire season following back surgery and then a hamstring injury.

  7. The Giants victory parade is going on . . . now!

    Oct 31, 2014, 2:30 PM EDT

    giants logo

    Go O.D. on some hot trolley action.

  8. Eric Chavez joins the Yankees as special assignment scout

    Oct 31, 2014, 2:14 PM EDT

    Toronto Blue Jays v New York Yankees Getty Images

    Chavez played for the Yankees in 2011 and 2012.

  9. HBT Daily: One last look back at the World Series and a look ahead at the Hot Stove Season

    Oct 31, 2014, 2:00 PM EDT

    HBT Daily Logo

    Our last HBT Daily of the year gives a brief taste of the coming winter.

  10. Indians exercise $3.5 million option on Mike Aviles

    Oct 31, 2014, 1:18 PM EDT

    Mike Aviles, Asdrubal Cabrera AP

    This season he hit just .247 with a .616 OPS in 113 games and Aviles hasn’t cracked a .700 OPS since 2010.

  11. Should Alex Gordon have tried to steal home on Wednesday night?

    Oct 31, 2014, 1:03 PM EDT

    Screen Shot 2014-10-31 at 1.01.27 PM AP

    Some random, hypothetical musings on a Friday afternoon.

  12. GM says Red Sox will have “a conversation” with free agent Jon Lester

    Oct 31, 2014, 12:12 PM EDT

    Jon Lester Getty AP

    He was drafted by the Red Sox in 2002 and made 241 starts for Boston.

  13. The Tigers exercise their option on Joakim Soria

    Oct 31, 2014, 11:47 AM EDT

    Screen Shot 2014-10-31 at 11.46.21 AM AP

    The only question for next season is what inning he’ll pitch.

  14. Brewers decline Rickie Weeks’ option

    Oct 31, 2014, 10:50 AM EDT

    rickie-weeks-brewers2 AP

    Weeks has spent his entire career with the Brewers after being the No. 2 overall pick in the 2003 draft.

  15. Daisuke Matsuzaka has a multi-year offer to return to Japan

    Oct 31, 2014, 10:19 AM EDT

    Daisuke Matsuzaka AP

    Matsuzaka left Japan in 2007 to sign a six-year, $52 million contract with the Red Sox and had immediate success, but dating back to 2009 he’s combined to throw 418 innings with a 5.10 ERA.

  16. Ruben Amaro unveils a “The Phillies Way” handbook

    Oct 31, 2014, 9:43 AM EDT

    Pittsburgh Pirates v Philadelphia Phillies Getty Images

    The mind reels when thinking of what may appear in such a publication.

  17. HardballTalk’s Top 150 Free Agents for 2015

    Oct 31, 2014, 9:00 AM EDT

    Division Series - Detroit Tigers v Baltimore Orioles - Game One Getty Images

    Including writeups for the top 63, because we’re not always all about round numbers.

Featured video

Final take away from World Series
Top 10 MLB Player Searches
  1. H. Pence (2250)
  2. M. Morse (2227)
  3. J. Panik (2138)
  4. Y. Cespedes (2123)
  5. M. Moustakas (2044)