January 24, 2005
Under The Knife
Two Weekends in the Valley
It was just over a year ago that I was in a similar position. This time, I'm sitting in the "C" Terminal of O'Hare Airport, watching snow and planes stack up outside the window. I'm using the time wisely, burning up cell phone minutes and writing. I left Phoenix's Sky Harbor Airport this morning at 9 a.m. local time and if I told you that it was 9 p.m. now, would you feel a bit sorry for me? Me, neither.
I spent the last two weekends in Phoenix attending two functions where I was invited to speak. At both, I ended up learning far more than I taught. I was honored to speak at the American Sports Medicine Institute's "Injuries in Baseball" course, run by Drs. Jim Andrews and Glenn Fleisig. Now in its 23rd year, the conference is a who's who of baseball's best doctors, trainers, coaches...and one writer.
The ASMI Course was so full of information that there's no way to summarize it in this column. We're learning more and more about shoulders, with many of the doctors seeming hopeful that labrum surgery will have some level of survivability. The technological advances, including data collection, high-speed video analysis and other things that would make your eyes bug out, promise to predict injuries and reduce their incidence. Anyone who saw Tom House's presentation on Day Three left with their head spinning. I even got a chance to sit down with Bill Thurston, the head baseball coach at Amherst College and one of the top pitching coaches in the college game. I showed him the way I teach the curveball and I was shocked to see he approved!
After a quick trip back to UTK HQ in Indy, I was back in the Valley of the Sun. Again, it was my honor to speak at the Brewers Symposium, where I discussed the state-of-the-art in pitching research with a group of team executives, medical staff, coaches and scouts. The Brewers are probably not the first team that comes to mind when you think of smart organizations, but get ready to change that thinking. From Doug Melvin on down to rookie ball, this organization is sharp. Look at the data from this season's Dick Martin Award ranking: the Brewers came in a close second to award winner Tampa Bay. The smart-guys list there is long, from Reid Nichols (player development) to Jim Rooney (minor league pitching coordinator) to Roger Caplinger (head trainer). This might not be the year in which the Brew Crew breaks their decade-long losing season streak, but that day isn't far off. Even PECOTA will agree with me.
To say that it's been an interesting ten days would be gross understatement. Where there has been a trickle of interest in medhead information, it's now becoming a flood. Organizations are seeing the value of injury maintenance, prevention and management as the key part of modern baseball that they are. It will continue to be a differentiator, one of those inefficiencies in baseball that can be exploited by the smart teams. It's even more heartening to see that many of the teams at the forefront are ones in the so-called small markets.
NOT powered by O'Hare Aiport in Chicago, which somehow has absolutely no Wi-Fi coverage, on to the injuries…
I'll be back as needed before the THRs start, but I have a couple projects you'll see this season that I think you'll really like. I've hinted at one of them in this column. Until next time, stay healthy!