Originally Posted by mth123
Just some thoughts about some of the stuff discussed in this thread.
1. I do think we've progressed quite a bit in 10 years in the understanding of pitch counts, innings progressions and increasing the odds that we can keep young arms healthier.
2. Blaming Dusty and the Cubs for what happened to Prior seems a lot like blaming the mid-evil "healer" for treating some one with a bacterial infection with leeches.
3. Just because there are examples of guys who have made massive innings jumps with no ill effects does not mean that the current trend of limiting innings jumps and pitch counts is a worthless general practice. I'm sure there are examples of people who have smoked 2 packs a day without ever experiencing heart disease or lung cancer and others who have lived the model lifestyle yet still been stricken, it doesn't mean it would be in the best interests of a person's health to smoke. I feel the same way about innings progressions and pitch count limits. There will be guys who stay healthy even if they are "abused" and others who will be handled carefully and still end-up with injuries. It doesn't mean that following the general practice in order to increase the odds of staying healthy is a worthless practice. IMO, it would be irresponsible to go against this current "wisdom." It's not a guarantee, no one ever claimed it was, but thowing caution to the wind with a young arm is crazy IMO. I hope the Reds follow some version of this with Aroldis Chapman this year (though Chapman is a little older than the traditional 30 innings jump theory which mostly has been intended for kids 23 and under).
4. Of course money is a motivator in how these arms are handled. Money is the motivator for everything in professional sports.
Your smoking scenario is a perfect analogy to pitching. Some people can drink and smoke all their lives and still live to 85 years old. But it is still a proven fact that smoking is very dangerous to your health. You are much more likely to die a young, gruesomely painful death if you smoke than if you don't smoke. Perhaps that guy who made it to 85 while smoking would have made it to 100 if he had lived clean.
Similarly, there are a few rare guys like Nolan Ryan who can pitch all day every day for 27 years and never suffer an injury or see their effectiveness decline. But it is still a proven fact that pitching too much is very dangerous to your health and will hurt your level of effectiveness. Nolan Ryan had a career ERA+ of 112, which is good but not that much better than average (compare it to Mark Prior's 179 ERA+ in 2003 for example). Perhaps Nolan Ryan would have delivered a much better career ERA if he had not been overworked so severely.
Avoiding cigarettes is very likely to lead to a healthier, happier, longer life.
Avoiding overworking your pitching arm is very likely to lead to pitching more effectively, suffering fewer injuries and having a longer career.