FanDuel - WFBC

June 27, 2007

Record 7 40-year-old pitchers to start on Wednesday.: Is it because of modern medicine, better physical training, expansion (requiring more pitchers and diluting line-ups), better pitching mechanics, clear or cream, just plain coincidence, or .......

posted by BigTallChris to baseball at 11:23 AM - 31 comments

Money. If you're willing to pay a +40 year-old pitcher big bucks to keep doing what he's doing, they'll hang around and keep doing it. Conditioning. Physical training is far more advanced than it has ever been. Some of them look out of shape (David Wells), but most of them could still kick our asses. Modern Medicine. Tommy John surgery, nutrition, hyperbaric chambers, massage therapy, cortisone shots, "scoping" of joints; it all leads to longer and healthier careers. Managing Remember reading all those interviews with old-time retired baseball players/managers that mocked current pitchers and their "pitch counts" and how none of them could hold up to the workload that they had "back in the day?" Well, not too many of them were pitching as well as these guys were in their forties. Modern day pitchers know that it's not a sprint, it's a marathon.

posted by grum@work at 12:06 PM on June 27

I don't remember anyone even counting the number of pitches a pitcher had to make until the 60's when they starting counting Koufax because of his arm condition. Young and the boys pitched until they couldn't anymore. Even Grover Cleveland late in his career still pitched lots of innings very effectively. And Ryan pitched well into his 40's with his conditioning programs for his legs and shoulder. And as far as mocking the newer players under the conditions that the "older players" pitched I can't think of anyone today playing that could have pitched like they did. I have said it before there aren't many individuals that could have made it yesteryear...Yes, the pitchers of today with a few exceptions(Wells and a few others) are in better condition than the older players but it took unbelieveable guts to pitch then rain, shine or whatever and they did it day to day and season to season because they LOVED to PLAY the GAME.......7 40 year olds in one day I can remember grandfather telling me that Cy Young was the oldest pitcher to start and win a baseball game that he could remember. And that was in the late 20's but he was talking about the later teens and as he would put it and my father later on that was when men were men. I have told so many of these stories to my son and grandson but my father and grandfather used to talk for hours around the fireplace and discuss this player or that and my grandfather was well into his 70's in the late 20'sand early 30's. Nobody then even worried about how old a player was as long as he produced on the field. Ruth was KING and lead baseball back into a national past time era that may never be equaled again. I love watching all the old 40 years old pitchers some were good some didn't have a real great day but one thing for sure even at 40 you can still have fun playing baseball and today get paid a lot of money doing it.....

posted by The Old Man at 12:54 PM on June 27

Old Man, of course there "aren't many individuals that could have made it yesteryear." There aren't many individuals who did make it yesteryear. You're selectively remembering the ones who survived the physical trials.

posted by stevis at 01:21 PM on June 27

I chalk it up to the two "S"s: Surgery and Steriods. Though the steriod guys tend to break down more. Okay - grum basically covered this one. However, I also think that the reason why you see so many young'uns on pitch counts and with arm trouble is that now, unlike in the past, kids are being taught and throwing curve balls, splitters and breaking balls very early on. These are the pitches that wreck havoc on your elbow and rotator cuff. Not good for the growing boy. Think about how many prospects you hear about having to have Tommy John surgery and the like before they even come close to having a career. It used to be kids didn't learn half those pitches until they were well into their late teens/early twenties.

posted by WeedyMcSmokey at 01:26 PM on June 27

Old Man - I think I can suggest why we have the instances of surgery, sitting down and pitch counts that we do now, versus the "throw 'till you arm falls off" theories of yesteryear. Money. Insurance premiums. Liability. These guys are just too valuable and teams too liable to screw around too much. I have thought for some time that if you're looking for the number one reason why teams and players just don't take chances, it's this.

posted by WeedyMcSmokey at 01:29 PM on June 27

Ditto Grum. Also, money in a different way. If you have a quality pitcher, you're going to manage him better, reduce his pitch counts, and generally work harder to maintain your investment. Additionally, players generally take better care of themselves now, being full time athletes.

posted by Bonkers at 02:24 PM on June 27

Even Grover Cleveland late in his career still pitched lots of innings very effectively. After he destroyed his arm once. See Dick Radatz v. Dennis Eckersley in a previous thread discussing pitcher health. The reason you think every pitcher from nineteen ought never was so fantastic is because the only ones you remember are the ones that survived (as stevis suggests). If pitchers of that era were so fantastic, why didn't they all pitch until a ripe old age, especially when you consider that players today make enough money were they can afford to retire early.

posted by yerfatma at 04:21 PM on June 27

unlike in the past, kids are being taught and throwing curve balls, splitters and breaking balls very early on. This is one of my pet peeves when I'm umpiring. I can't count the number of times a 14-year-old with a low- to mid-70s fast ball (more than enough to get past most young hitters) got 2 quick strikes on a batter, then proceeded to try 3 straight curve balls, none of which found the zone. Now on 3-2, he's forced to come to the hitter with predictable results. I've asked more than one coach why he lets his pitchers do this, and the answer usually is that "Dad will pull him off the team if I don't let him throw the curve". I have to agree that breaking balls at too young an age have been the ruination of many a young prospect.

posted by Howard_T at 04:25 PM on June 27

I don't remember anyone even counting the number of pitches a pitcher had to make until the 60's That's because they stayed jacked up on monkey testosterone back then.

posted by louisville_slugger at 04:28 PM on June 27

How old do you think Grover Cleveland Alexander was when he left baseball.? And there is no question the pitchers threw their arms out but then did have more time between games and more rest. I wasn't taught the curve ball by my father until I was in high school and then I went into the Navy and a few years later WWII. Let me tell you about a pitcher by the name Warren Spahn remember him? Well he served in WWII and a remember a story about him in Germany throwing a grenade into the German forces. And he came back from the war and when on to win 300+ games after 1944. Of course the players are too too valuable today, look at the money they make now as compared with then. Not even comparible. Radatz destroyed his career for a lot of other reasons then bad mechanics. And yerfatma, then did pitch until a very ripe old age then please remember the life time wasn't 78.5 years for males then. I will finish this later my grandkids want to go to the Angel game now here in sunny Southern California. Later Oh yeah, one incident of monkey testosterone doesn't even compare with the problems of steriods today. Try again.

posted by The Old Man at 04:40 PM on June 27

The Angel's game was in the bottom of the sixth and they were down a run when you posted....looks like you're gonna be late!

posted by louisville_slugger at 04:53 PM on June 27

I'm sure these are all factors but the truth is us Boomers are just tough.

posted by sickleguy at 05:22 PM on June 27

please remember the life time wasn't 78.5 years for males then Pro athletes (outside the NFL) probably tend to live longer and the likelihood of pitching in the major leagues next year is far greater if you pitched in the league this year. It's not as though pitchers were dropping dead at 39.

posted by yerfatma at 05:45 PM on June 27

That's because they stayed jacked up on monkey testosterone back then. one incident of monkey testosterone doesn't even compare with the problems of steroids today. Try again. Old Man: I believe that is what they call a funny.

posted by THX-1138 at 06:05 PM on June 27

When The Old Man was a boy, they didn't have funny. They walked barefoot, uphill both ways, for miles just to get to stoic. And they liked it. And they were grateful for bleeding feet and being stoic.

posted by jerseygirl at 06:15 PM on June 27

I can't think of anyone today playing that could have pitched like they did. I have said it before there aren't many individuals that could have made it yesteryear Oh, you've mentioned it a few thousand times. But remember players in your time were bionic. I will finish this later my grandkids want to go to the Angel game now here in sunny Southern California. Why do people pay these huge amounts of money to see games is beyond me. You could stay at home and watch most of it on the television and not come near paying what the fans do attending games in person.-ucla512 Your son thinks you're crazy for paying those prices.

posted by justgary at 06:37 PM on June 27

When The Old Man was a boy, they didn't have funny. They walked barefoot, uphill both ways, for miles just to get to stoic. And they liked it. And they were grateful for bleeding feet and being stoic. And when it was snowing, they would wrap baked potatoes to their feet to keep them from freezing during the walk to school. Then, they would eat those baked potatoes for lunch. On the way home, they would have to run home as fast as they could, barefoot in the snow, because they ate their "baked potato shoes" for lunch.

posted by BigTallChris at 06:46 PM on June 27

I have said it before there aren't many individuals that could have made it yesteryear... It all comes down to the almighty dollar bill ya'll. Back then they didnt get paid squat compared to the salaries of today. So they played through minor injuries and the such...Now with guaranteed money teams will let players sit when they get hurt so as to not chance losing them for 15-60 games or worse yet the season, while still having to pay them fat cash. So players are somewhat softer these days. Take Chipper Jones for example, he was on fire all season till he bruised his thumbs in a collision. He ended up being off and on for a week, then gone for like 2 weeks. He had them take MRI's on it and there was no damage. He came back for almost 2 weeks and He then missed another game with a groin pull and it was reported he might go on the DL again...now he didnt, but that is because Smoltz made a big stink talking to the media, the team was on a slide, they hadnt been scoring any runs, challenged Chipper indirectly...you know that old hat... Not to pick on him Chipper directly, just trying to use an example for what goes on compared to back then when players needed off-season jobs to pay da billz.

posted by dezznutz at 07:57 PM on June 27

Damn that has got to hurt, pulling your groin while you have two bruised thumbs. What did he use? And they were grateful for bleeding feet and being stoic. Beautiful JG, I loved it.

posted by jojomfd1 at 11:26 PM on June 27

So they played through minor injuries and the such I think it's great you don't have any evidence for this claim. And that you would argue from the specific to the generic with Chipper Jones. If we're accepting single player empirical evidence, how do you square your claims with a guy like Johnny Damon, who refuses to come out of the line-up even when he was four displaced ribs? Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose.

posted by yerfatma at 05:53 AM on June 28

I think it's great you don't have any evidence for this claim. In fact, after I read, "Back then they didnt get paid squat compared to the salaries of today", my first thought was the opposite conclusion: that, quite likely, if the being-paid-squat players of yore started getting minor injuries, they shrugged and went off to work at the factory where they'd at least make a good steady paycheck; whereas today, players are motivated by the prospect of a huge salary to subject their bodies to incredible amounts of abuse.

posted by lil_brown_bat at 07:22 AM on June 28

I think the pitchers are lasting later into their lives because they're all signing contracts that start in June. Grum's list of reasons covers a good deal of it in my view. I would add to that the previously discussed shortened workload of all pitchers, plus the desired pursuit of statistical milestones that now take a lot longer because of the shortened workload. On edit: and it occurs to me now that free agency dangles the carrot of getting just one more World Series appearance -- pitchers in previous eras didn't have as easy a time picking which team they wanted to play for.

posted by The Crafty Sousepaw at 08:30 AM on June 28

Let me tell you about a pitcher by the name Warren Spahn remember him? Well he served in WWII and a remember a story about him in Germany throwing a grenade into the German forces. And you punk kids today throwing grenades in Afghanistan and Iraq will never be as good as grenade throwers were back in the good ol' days! Now get off my lawn!

posted by The_Black_Hand at 08:36 AM on June 28

And you punk kids today throwing grenades in Afghanistan and Iraq will never be as good as grenade throwers were back in the good ol' days! Now get off my lawn! You guys are brutal. Funny stuff.

posted by BornIcon at 09:16 AM on June 28

And you punk kids today throwing grenades in Afghanistan and Iraq will never be as good as grenade throwers were back in the good ol' days! You have to admit the improvements in equipment have made it easier to be a decent grenade tosser.

posted by yerfatma at 09:28 AM on June 28

You have to admit the improvements in equipment have made it easier to be a decent grenade tosser. Well that and steroids. for miles just to get to stoic. Awesome.

posted by tron7 at 10:56 AM on June 28

Damned juiced-up grenade throwers anyhoo!!

posted by THX-1138 at 11:01 AM on June 28

That's "grenadiers", THX. If you weren't such a damn wet-behind-the-ears whippersnapper, you'd know that.

posted by lil_brown_bat at 11:17 AM on June 28

Garsh, ah jus' don' know nuthin' 'bout no fancy book learnin'.

posted by THX-1138 at 11:39 AM on June 28

So they played through minor injuries and the such. And we all know how well that works out for everyone who tries it...

posted by grum@work at 11:39 AM on June 28

Either way, those sissy modern pitchers went 3-1 against the panty-waist hitters they faced.

posted by yerfatma at 12:19 PM on June 28

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