Wallace Matthews: “I don’t understand inning limits”

Things have been going pretty well for the Yankees lately and this season in general.  One bright spot has been the pitching of Joba Chamberlain.  Sure, he’s had some frustrating outings, but considering his age, he’s showing that he has the ability to be a front-end starter.  So what’s the problem you ask?  Well, according the Wallace Matthews, the Yankees “coddling of Joba is out of control.”  With a headline like that, surely they must have shut Joba down for the rest of the year.  Wait – they’re only pushing back his last couple of starts by a few days?  Is this really worthy of outrage?

Let’s look at some low-points:

[…] and right now, it sure looks like the only thing that can stop them [the Yankees] is injuries.

But no one can stop injuries, not even the Yankees, despite their silly plan to restrict Chamberlain’s total regular-season innings to 160, which means from here on, he will pitch once a week, or less.

So – only injuries can stop the Yankees now, but they shouldn’t be cautious regarding injuries. Brilliant.

Absolutely injuries can be prevented. Why do you think players wear helmets? Sure, innings limits aren’t quite as obvious a form of protection as a helmet is, but same idea.

The logic is quite simple. Say that I decide I want to start throwing a baseball and I want to be able to go outside and throw it 100 times and not wake up sore the next day – and mind you I haven’t thrown a baseball consistently in years. What should I probably do? Go out and throw it like 10 times. Then next time out? A little bit more. Isn’t this obvious? And are innings-limits that much different? You don’t want a pitcher to throw an obscene amount more than he did the previous year.

Matthews then sites a bunch of pitchers who have had high workloads early in their careers and turned out fine – which is really the equivalent of me saying “well my grandfather smoked cigarettes for 60 years and was fine so obviously they can’t hurt you.” (Interesting though that he lists Justin Verlander, whose terrible year last year was almost certainly a product of his overuse. And what about his teammate Jeremy Bonderman? I could go on, but you get the point.)

Perhaps my favorite line though:

So much for scientific “studies.” If a guy is going to get hurt, he’s going to get hurt, and no amount of coddling is going to prevent it, because at some point, they all have to go out on the field and play.

I love how studies gets the scare quotes, like these studies aren’t real. Listen – people who are much smarter than you have conducted these studies and there is a tremendous amount of money on the line.

And since when did baseball turn into Greek tragedy, where a player cannot avoid his divine fate? Hey, ya know what, I’m going to hop in my car and drive 120 mph down the highway without wearing a seat-belt. And I’m gonna remove all my mirrors first. I mean, come on, if I’m gonna get injured in a car accident, it’s going to happen no matter what I do.

So this article is obviously stupid enough, but you know what it’s lacking? An older baseball player who can be outraged about “numbers” and “science” changing the game. Oh, thanks Bob Klapisch and Tom Seaver.

I don’t care enough about what Tom Seaver says to go through this article extensively, but it does provide this gem:

Seaver says Chamberlain will never acquire a warrior-ethos if he’s coddled in his early years.

The Yankees inadvertently are teaching Joba to fear innings, which will only make him soft in the future.

How will Joba succeed if he never acquires his warrior-ethos? If he doesn’t become a warrior, he’ll never be able to properly wield his +5 battle axe and lead his army to victory. Oh wait, wrong game. So what the hell is a warrior-ethos? Oh, right – nothing.

And speaking of nothing – let’s not teach Joba to fear “innings.” He’ll just sit in the dugout, quivering, refusing to take the mound. “I can’t go out there – that’s an inning! I’m terrified of innings!”

How about we worry about him being afraid of real things? Like throwing the ball over the plate for strike 1, which seems to be the only real thing holding him back right now from being an elite starter.


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