sam's notes

notes on government, sports and popular culture

Monday, August 22, 2005

...But the talk wasn't always politics on Saturday night. As we sat at First Horizon Park and watched single-A prospects try to play their way to the major leagues, my neighbor discussed why middle-market teams such as Cincinnati, Pittsburgh, Milwaukee and Kansas City (which just broke its 19-game losing streak over the weekend) were having such trouble regenerating their minor league systems. It seems like most teams were able to rebuild in ten-year cycles when their crop of young players would mature.

It had to do with pitching, we concluded. Too many young prospects are blowing their arms out. As a result, big-market teams like the Red Sox and Yankees are the only teams able to sign experienced big-league pitchers. Even that doesn't work out, as the Yankees are finding out this season.

Then I read this N.Y. Times article on the former Dodgers reliever Mike Marshall, who a set a record with 106 appearances in 1974. His durability gained him a reputation as a "physical freak", while his strong personality and intellectual approach to the game made managers and coaches uncomfortable.

Now Marshall trains young pitchers to avoid injury at his Florida research center. What baffles him is the fact that no major league teams are willing to contract for his center's services:

"We need to eliminate pitching injuries. I don't understand why baseball, with all the money they have invested in pitchers, doesn't research this. The stress that pitchers put on their elbow creates Tommy John surgeries. No pitcher I've trained has had a pitching arm injury."

One team, however did show interest in Marshall's program:

"The Reds has an assistant general manager who was interested in my program......But they changed general managers and they dropped me. Dan O'Brien wasn't interested in having me there."

The Reds' team ERA: 5.26.

Fire Dan O'Brien at the end of this season.


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