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Tommy John is Angry


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just saw this...not sure if I can see the whole article, as the Globe wants a subscription. I'll copy what I can.

He and his son are campaigning against the preventive TJ surgery given to kids.

 

LA QUINTA, Calif — Tommy John is angry.

But not about not getting into the Hall of Fame despite 288 lifetime wins, or about the fact that if you Google his name, it comes up either surgery or underwear.

Tommy John is upset that the majority of Tommy John surgeries are now being performed on kids.

“My God, it’s appalling,” says John. “They’re in there getting their arms cut up. It shouldn’t be.”

https://www.bostonglobe.com/sports/redsox/2018/06/11/now-campaigning-against-tommy-john-surgery-tommy-john/6Ua1oABxkXq4KibVK3cS9J/story.html?p1=Article_Recirculation_Pos1#comments

 

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“My God, it’s appalling,” says John. “They’re in there getting their arms cut up. It shouldn’t be.”

He went on to pitch 14 more years and never missed a start.

His message now is simple: “Don’t cut on kids.”

John, now 75, doesn’t have the surgery statistics on the tip of his tongue, but his 40-year-old son quickly comes in for relief.

“Fifty-seven percent of all Tommy John surgeries are performed on teen-agers between 15 and 19 years old,” says Tommy John III, a chiropractor with a sports medicine background.

He has written a book called “Minimize Injury, Maximize Performance: A Sports Parent’s Survival Guide” in which he questions the scare tactics of the $15 billion youth sports industry.

“It’s more often less about the kids — and more about the cash,” he writes.

He and his father appear together at speaking engagements. Two Tommy Johns trying to stop kids from having Tommy John surgery.

Kids, they say, are being pressured into overperforming, causing degenerative joint problems. They are overstimulated, less aware, overcoached, and underdeveloped. They shouldn’t be playing just one sport.

Meanwhile, youth sports injuries are rapidly rising.

“It’s an epidemic that needs to stop,” says Tommy John III.

More than 2.6 million children age 19 and under are treated in emergency rooms for sports and recreation injuries each year, according to the National SAFE KIDS campaign.

The number of Tommy John surgeries increased 343 percent from 2003 to 2014, with the highest rise in the 15- to 19-year-old age group, according to a study published in the Journal of Shoulder and Elbow Surgery.

The push for college scholarships and playing on multiple teams in the same sport are among the reasons.

“Specialization is hurting American youth athletes more than it is developing them,” says Tommy John III.

That never happened to his father. When the four-time All-Star was growing up in Terre Haute, Ind., an indoor facility was a bathroom and the pitcher never touched a baseball in the offseason. In the fall, as soon as his father’s crops were harvested, John switched to basketball.

“We’d stomp it in and I’d be out there shooting baskets for the rest of the winter,” he says. “I played baseball in between basketball seasons, essentially.”

As a kid, Tommy John III had Yankee Stadium as his playground, and Don Mattingly, Dave Righetti, Dave Winfield, and Willie Randolph were his friends. He didn’t know they were baseball stars.

“They were just people that my dad happened to go to work with,” he says.

He started in his father’s footsteps. He was the Gatorade Player of the Year in Minnesota in 1996, then a pitcher and second baseman at Furman University. But while pitching in summer ball, he felt soreness in his shoulder.

His shoulder became infected after a dye injection, and he was on IV drugs for a month. The infection ate away tissue, and although John had a successful college career and also played professional baseball, he was never the same. He signed with the Dodgers in 2003 but was released in spring training.

The game was still in his blood, so he started his own baseball performance company. He gave more than 11,000 training lessons to kids as young as 6. While doing that, he noticed that 9- and 10-year-olds were displaying the same physical and nutritional problems as the older professional athletes he cared for.

That led to sleepless nights and guilt.

“I’m laying there and I’m thinking, ‘Wait, I’m accelerating exactly what I’m trying to talk about preventing,’” he says. “I started to realize that I was a part of the problem.

He shut down his baseball school and earned a doctorate in chiropractic care. He opened the Dr. Tommy John Performance and Healing Center in San Diego in 2014.

In his book, he says children are overfed yet malnourished, and overstimulated by technology. He doesn’t like Gatorade and makes his own sports drinks, minus the sugar.

He has made some enemies, but he wears that like a badge of honor.

“Isn’t that what life is all about — fighting for what you believe in?” he says.

Breakthrough in 1974

Many high school athletes believe that, even without an elbow injury, Tommy John surgery will make their arms stronger. Their parents seek out the best surgeons.

“Do it now so it’ll make him better because he’s a pitcher and he’s probably going to need Tommy John surgery down the road,” says John. “And Dr. Jobe was adamant about this. The surgery doesn’t make you better. It just corrects a problem in your elbow.”

Even so, 25-30 percent of teen-aged athletes who undergo Tommy John surgery are out of baseball two years later, according to Dr. James Andrews, the acclaimed orthopedic surgeon.

Before John’s initial surgery, he endured 40 cortisone shots in his first 11 seasons to ease his pain. After the surgery, he won 164 games. That’s one fewer than Sandy Koufax won in his entire career.

It hasn’t been enough to get him into the Hall of Fame. In December, he fell short on the Modern Era Committee vote

“You know one of the reasons why I’m not getting in the Hall of Fame?” he asks.

“It’s right here,” he says, pointing to the long, crescent-shaped scar above his elbow. “What I did on the baseball field is being overshadowed by the surgery.”

A quarter of active major league pitchers have already had Tommy John surgery. Because of technology, they have smaller scars, but they also have smaller résumés.

“You don’t pitch 26 years. You don’t win 288 ballgames. You don’t have a 3.34 ERA. You don’t start 700 games. You don’t have 162 complete games unless you do something,” says John. “I mean, I did it.”

The landmark surgery that transplanted a tendon from John’s right wrist into his left elbow was initially problematic. John was left with a claw hand and no feeling in his fingers and part of his arm. A month later, he secretly had a second surgery to reposition the ulnar nerve.

John was so determined to keep pitching that he had already enlisted Hoyt Wilhelm to teach him the knuckleball if all else failed.

The Hall of Fame has requested the cast, but John says they can’t have it until they let him in.

 

“I never asked for the surgery to be named after me,” he says.

He says that Jobe would regularly meet with surgeons to explain the procedure with the clunky name “medial collateral ligament replacement with the palmaris longus tendon.”

According to John, Jobe got tired of saying that, so one time he said, “You know, the surgery I did on Tommy John. And they all went, oh yeah, yeah, yeah, OK, and they all knew. And then he said, I’d just cut it down to Tommy John surgery, and it stuck.”

Give it a rest

John believes that parents have delusions of grandeur about their kids, that the chances of being a big league pitcher are minuscule.

“This is what parents don’t want to hear,’’ he says. “There are 10 million kids that play ball from ages 8 to 18. Now, 750 of them have a chance to make it to the big leagues and 350 are pitchers. Three hundred and fifty out of all those kids are going to make it to the top. Your son has got very, very, little chance of making it. Should he try? Absolutely.”

He believes sports centers are selling parents a bill of goods.

“I can never understand why parents buy into this b.s. that you pitch all year long,’’ he says. “That you train like this and it’s going to make your kid the greatest ever. It’s not going to happen.‘’

He asks parents, who is the best pitcher in baseball?

“Then I ask them, does Clayton Kershaw throw all year long? No? Why not? Because rest is a part of training.”

John turned 75 on May 25 and still looks good in pinstripes. He was still pitching minor league batting practice into his 60s. He still gets sentimental when he tosses a ball with his son. He admits he wept during the famous father-son catch scene in “Field of Dreams.”

Now he wants to do something that transcends baseball.

“Whether I get in the Hall of Fame or not doesn’t matter to me,” he says. “But if we can save one kid from getting cut on, it will mean the world to me.”

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Whatever happened to parents letting their kids be kids?    Neither my ex nor I ever pressured my daughter, other than to honor a simple commitment.   She tried youth soccer, but once she tired of it, we didn't push her to stay in it after that one league ended, just honor her commitment for that youth league for that season.   She loved acting, and in fact got a middle school award for her lead role in Bye Bye Burdie.   But when she felt burnt out on acting after that year, we respected her wishes to back off from it as she had completed her commitment to that performance.

Parents, let your kids be kids!!!  They will only be a kid once.   Muchas gracias

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It's actually great advice. Scouts aren't looking for specialists as much as they want athletes and students.

Same thing happened to me. I was ready to give up football after my sophomore year just because some assistant coach from like North Dakota State started making contact. I had a coach that cared enough about my well-being that convinced me to quit travel ball and continue playing football and basketball.

Now I'm 33 and I see he was right. I was good, but not so good that I needed to start thinking I'd go pro or planning on which scholarship offers to accept (there were none by the way). More like good enough to walk on and play for some D2 no name school. I made a ton of memories playing football and basketball.

Travel ball? Most of the memories consist of playing against guys that ended up going pro. But no actual personal glory.

Kids need to play. They don't need a year round commitment like a job.

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One thing that stuck with me is that with all this advancement in training and knowledge about foods and nutrition, the kids are still not getting proper nutrition.  What the heck are parents feeding their kids?  AO, you're one of the good parents.  Parents are vicariously trying to live through their kids and spending all this money on personal training and other items to help their kids get to the "next level" and get their kid a scholarship.  Much like reaching the majors, receiving a college scholarship is very unlikely. 

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gotta agree with Tommy John saying high school kids shouldn't be having so many Tommy John surgeries.

it's gotten out of control.

some MLB pitchers have had two Tommy John surgeries.........

Tommy John pitched for a lot of years with different teams --folks tend to remember the LA Dodgers and NY Yankees time (he also pitched for the Halos - what? One year?)

I remember when he was on the cover Sport Illustrated as part of what was then a vaunted Chicago White Sox rotation. Can't name them all now but remember them standing in a semi-circle around the mound -- Gary Peters, Tommy John,  etc.

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I push my kid to the limit ... he’s scheduled to get the TJ surgery 3 years from now. Advance scheduling saves money ?

Seriously, I had no idea kids were getting TJ surgery at such a young age. I watch a lot of youth baseball pitchers throwing junk at 10 yrs old and up. My 12 year old throws fastball only for now. 

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With the big money in sports has come a rise in the number of parents who see them was a ticket to unfold riches. For every Mike Trout or Max Scherzer, there are hundreds of kids who blew their arms out at a young age and never recovered.

I played for a coach in sixth grade who was obsessed with winning. All that I learned from him was that no matter how hard I worked, I would never see the field because I didn't have obvious athletic talent. It was enough to kill my interest in participating in sports ever again - and this was in the mid 1960s. Same coach in football, basketball and baseball. 

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I was lucky and got bounced out of Little League after one year. I'm a lefty and had a decent fastball so they put me on the mound, but there was one problem. I couldn't find the plate if it got up and bit me. I also couldn't hit a baseball, not unlike some of our own 'hitters'.

My last memory of LL was walking five or six batters in a row and everyone yelling at me. Nice.

 

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28 minutes ago, fan_since79 said:

I was lucky and got bounced out of Little League after one year. I'm a lefty and had a decent fastball so they put me on the mound, but there was one problem. I couldn't find the plate if it got up and bit me. I also couldn't hit a baseball, not unlike some of our own 'hitters'.

My last memory of LL was walking five or six batters in a row and everyone yelling at me. Nice.

 

I can see how it has impacted your adult life by reading your post on here. 

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