Kerry Wood

There’s a great article up at the NYT this weekend (it’s a preview for an article that’s going to me in the times mag this sunday) concerning the sad case of Kerry Wood.

Wood was rookie of the year in ’98, had a nasty curve, and a fastball clocked at 101+. Wood holds the MLB records for fastest to reach 1000 strikeouts in both IP and appearances, as well as the record for strikeouts in a game (20, tied with a certain other pitcher who doesn’t need to be mentioned). And since then? torn labrum, torn rotator cuff, torn ulnar collateral ligament, Tommy John surgery, etc, etc. He’s currently on the DL for the 11th time in his 10-year career.

The article reads as a cautionary tale, and an interesting analysis of major league pitching, conditioning, and what might be wrong about baseball’s current philosophy concerning coddling young pitchers. It’s long, but well written and interesting, so I recommend it if you’ve got some time to burn today or this weekend.

“PITCHING A BASEBALL is, to put it mildly, a torturous and self-destructive act. Pitching is the fastest known motion in human biomechanics, the shoulder rotating at the rate of 7,200 degrees per second at its maximum, or the equivalent of 20 full revolutions per second. At the time of the ball’s release, the forces acting on the shoulder are basically equivalent to the pitcher’s body weight; they are akin to someone of similar size trying to yank his arm out of his shoulder socket. Right before release, the pitcher’s elbow straightens at a rate of 2,000 degrees per second, or the equivalent of 5.5 full revolutions per second.”

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