Bases Loaded

Each week this section will feature three stories from around the baseball world and a preview of the weekly story in the works. Each base will focus on a different facet of the game. First base will focus on news from college and amateur baseball, second base will feature an update from the world of minor league and independent ball and third base will feature  interesting news from any level of America’s pastime.

First Base- The KU baseball team honored Floyd Temple with a ceremony and the Inaugural Floyd Temple Alumni game Saturday. Temple coached the Jayhawks for 28 years and is the winningest coach in the team’s history.

Second Base- A homerun derby that took place on an aircraft carrier earned the title of “MiLB.com’s best promotion.” The derby took place on the USS Yorktown on the Charleston Harbor. American war veterans were included in the festivities put on by the Charleston RiverDogs.

Third Base- The San Francisco Giants won the 2012 World Series Sunday night in a four-game sweep of the Detroit Tigers. Buster Posey led the way for the Giants with a game-tying two-run homerun in the sixth inning to tie the game at three. Marco Scutaro’s 10th inning RBI single was the deciding run in the 4-3 final score.

Stepping into the box- I am working on a multimedia project on diversity in baseball.

High school pitching routine

High school is an important time for pitcher to make sure they keep their arm healthy to avoid Tommy John surgery. Each player and team has their own routine to ensure a healthy arm. Here is an example.

Clemen: High school pitcher Eric Huss explains the way that he keeps his arm healthy.

Huss: I start out with just stretching out my arm before I even throw just to make sure everything is stretched out. Then I start with some short toss and keep tossing until I get really far away and stretch it out all the way. I don’t throw anything besides a changeup or a fastball grip until I’m fully stretched out and then once you get closer in I can start practicing other pitches like curveballs so I don’t hurt my elbow or my arm trying to do that.

Huss: For my pitching warm up, we start off by, we do four fastballs in the top left corner and each corner of the box and then after that we do changeups to each corner and then I finish off with curveballs to each corner of the box

Huss: After the game I always jog awhile just to get my blood flowing through my arm and then I ice when I get home and usually don’t throw until the next day when I do some long-toss.

Huss: I usually do band work to strengthen my arm and certain balance practices and all sorts of things to help strengthen my arm and keep it healthy and then every, once a week or twice a week, I do a bullpen to keep my arm and everything good.

Clemen: For Hometown Nine, I’m Jacob Clemen

Exciting postseason draws poor television ratings

The 2012 MLB postseason has continued the trend of poor viewership despite thrilling on-field action. Professors diagnose the problem and evaluate the effects of the numbers on networks and advertisers.

Clemen: MLB postseason viewership remains low through many exciting games. Professor Max Utsler explains the reasons for this and how it affects advertisers.

Utsler: It isn’t related to sports at all, it’s just the fact that we have a fractionalization of the T.V. audience we just keep adding more and more and more and more channels.

Utsler: Also we have a lot more viewership methods that we can get our T.V. through things like Netflix and Hulu.

Utsler: A lot of sponsors and advertisers buy on the basis of how many thousands or millions of people are going to be watching. So they would use that as their leverage to negotiate a lower spot rate. On the other hand, these sports teams, sports leagues or networks would come back to them and say “well now wait a minute. Yeah you’re right there maybe the overall numbers are down, but you know one thing. You know that the people who watch these sporting events are going to be watching in real time they’re not going to DVR them so you get a better quality audience viewing your commercial spot if you stay with sports.”

Clemen: Professor Suzanne Shaw uses other media to follow baseball.

Shaw: I use several sources. During the season I watch MLB.com a lot and then I also use USA Today.  One of the reasons I like USA Today is I like the Tuesday, where they have stats for all the players.

A visit to The Hookah House

To get out of my comfort zone I went to The Hookah House on Massachusetts Street and spoke to the small groups of people that were there Wednesday night. While pretty much all of the people there were my peers in age and as college students, they were not the type of people I usually associate with.

At first, it was difficult to approach people as I didn’t want to impose on their comfort but once they got talking I really enjoyed listening to the things the smokers had to say. I started off by just trying to listen and remove myself from their conversation but it was awkward to be sitting just listening to strangers so I started to probe a little bit and ask questions.

The main issues that came up dealt with young adulthood and the frustration of being independent but limited by rules in regards to drinking. Several groups told me that the reason they came to The Hookah House was that it was 18+ rather than 21+ so they could have a place to go out in the evenings or on weekends where they were allowed. They all enjoyed smoking hookah but I found that it served as more of an aside to the social aspect of going out with friends than as a primary activity.

A lot of the other issues that were shared had to do with stresses from school, work, relationships and juggling several or all of those things. Conversations side-tracked to politics and television which illuminated the social differences between myself and the hookah smokers.

In all, it was a rewarding experience and gave me an alternate perspective on a group of my peers and I enjoyed the roughly hour and ten minutes that I spent at The Hookah House.

One story idea that I thought would be interesting to pursue is the issue of minors in a college town. What do those that don’t have a fake I.D. or choose not to underage drink do for entertainment in a place so saturated with a culture of drinking?

Another idea to pursue would be the history behind hookah and what caused it to grow in popularity in recent years. I’m sure the management of The Hookah House would have some good insight on this.

Finally, a story on the misconceptions about smokers or the accurate perceptions of those who smoke tobacco could be an interesting look at a portion of the population that doesn’t get a whole lot of coverage.

Bases Loaded

Each week this section will feature three stories from around the baseball world and a preview of the weekly story in the works. Each base will focus on a different facet of the game. First base will focus on news from college and amateur baseball, second base will feature an update from the world of minor league and independent ball and third base will feature  interesting news from any level of America’s pastime.

First Base- The Kansas Jayhawks baseball team resumed scrimmages last weekend with two games. The Crimson team won on Saturday but surrendered the split to the Blue team.

Second Base- Minor League umpires reached an agreement with Ump-Attire.com to make it the sole supplier of umpiring uniforms for the Minor Leagues.

Third Base- The Boston Red Sox acquired John Farrell from the Toronto Blue Jays by trading infielder Mike Aviles. Farrell will replace Bobby Valentine who was fired following a disappointing season for the Red Sox.

Stepping into the box- This week will feature a video on the great tantalizing postseason so far.

Young athletes alarmingly uninformed on Tommy John procedure

By Jacob Clemen

Many high school and collegiate athletes are dangerously uninformed about Tommy John surgery, according to a study on perceptions of the elbow surgery.

The study, published in Physician and Sportsmedicine and authored by Dr. Christopher S. Ahmad, showed that 51 percent of high school athletes and 30 percent of high school coaches believe that players without elbow injuries should receive Tommy John surgery to enhance their performance.

The list of professional baseball pitchers that return from their Tommy John surgeries throwing harder than they threw before the ulnar collateral ligament reconstruction surgery is lengthy. Kerry Wood and Stephen Strasburg are two of the most notable instances of their post-surgery velocity increasing or coming more easily.

The surgery, which involves replacing the UCL in the elbow with a ligament from elsewhere in the body, was developed by Dr. Frank Jobe for Dodgers pitcher Tommy John in 1974. The surgery is required when the ligament in the elbow becomes worn down from overuse or an isolated tear.

The risk of elective surgery

Athletic trainer Jessica Christensen cautions against performing the surgery if no prior injury exists.

“I would never recommend electively repairing your ligament when it’s not damaged,” Christensen said. “I don’t think the elbow surgeons that I know would voluntarily do this surgery.”

Ahmad’s study showed that patients are able to return to the previous level of pitching  between 80 and 90 percent of the time.  While the surgery has a very high success rate and recovery is likely, no surgery is without its risks.

Malcolm Kelner, sophomore outfielder for the Emerson Lions, agrees that the risks do not outweigh the potential gains of the surgery.

“I would not recommend (surgery) to anyone I know because there is no guarantee that the surgery will benefit your arm,” Kelner said. “Many major league players have undergone Tommy John  and have never been the same. So for those who surgery is not medically needed, why would you take that risk?”

Strength stems from recovery, not surgery

It is unclear what exactly leads to the increased strength in the arms of major league pitchers. It is possible that a ligament from another part of the body simply performs better than the original or worn-down UCL in the elbow.

Ken  Wainwright, certified athletic trainer for the University of Kansas baseball team, suggests that the surgery is not the cause of the increase in arm strength.

“When you talk about strength I don’t think it is the surgery that is doing that, I think it is the rehab,” Wainwright said. “You spend nine months making your shoulder, your core and everything stronger and more stable. That is going to make you perform better.”

Wainwright also doubts that strength increases rather than just returns after surgery.

“For the people saying that this surgery is making them stronger than before the surgery, it goes back to this type of injury taking a long time to occur,” Wainwright said. “Gradually over that process your performance wanes. Gradually you start to throw slower, you start to lose control but you find a way to get through it.

With such a drop in performance over time Wainwright explained it is likely that the improvement is an illusion.

“I’m not sure people are better. I think they’re back to where they would have been,” Wainwright said.

  • Click here for an audio piece on training techniques for high school pitchers

Ahmad’s study indicated that athletes believe surgery will bring more than just enhanced strength. The study said that every group studied believed that performance, control and speed were all improved post-surgery.

Ethics of elective surgery 

According to a report on FoxNews.com experts are concerned that players may even use Tommy John like a performance enhancing drug by altering the elbow through an unnatural and potentially dangerous procedure to increase their physical ability.

Kelner, however, believes the decision to have surgery should be left to the player.

“I would not liken it to performance enhancing drugs,” Kelner said. “While surgery can’t be considered a natural process, it involves correcting the body with itself. Drugs involve consuming foreign agents.”

Bases Loaded

Each week this section will feature three stories from around the baseball world and a preview of the weekly story in the works. Each base will focus on a different facet of the game. First base will focus on news from college and amateur baseball, second base will feature an update from the world of minor league and independent ball and third base will feature  interesting news from any level of America’s pastime.

First Base- Detroit Tigers’ pitcher Drew Smyly played a large role in the Tigers’ 6-4 victory over the New York Yankees in the American League Championship Series Friday night. Smyly pitched for the Duluth Huskies as recently as 2009 before making the Tigers’ roster this season.

Second Base- The minor league director for the Minnesota Twins retired after over 50 years with the organization. Jim Rantz was the minor league director for 27 years.

Third Base- Yankee captain and postseason legend Derek Jeter will miss the remainder of the postseason after fracturing his ankle. The Yankee shortstop also recorded his 200th postseason hit in the game Saturday.

On Deck- I will expand on the Tommy John story from last week in my first multimedia package.