• WHAT’S WITH ALL THE TOMMY JOHNS? — Former longtime baseball pitcher Tommy John would probably like to be remembered for his 288 wins in his lengthy 26-year major league career rather than for having a bum elbow that made his name famous.
John won nearly half of his games after having the now-infamous elbow surgery that bears his name. His career was thought to be over in 1975, but after having what at the time was a new procedure, he was able to pitch successfully until 1989.
John’s numbers are Hall of Fame worthy in the eyes of some. While he did lose 231 games, he had an ERA of 3.34. He was 6-3 in five postseasons and was 2-1 in three World Series with a 2.67 ERA.
If nothing else, he should be in the Hall of Fame for recovering so tremendously from an injury that before had ended so many careers. He was considered a trailblazer for other pitchers, who saw this procedure as a way to continue their careers, not end them.
Baseball is going through an epidemic right now of elbow injuries as this year’s list is lengthy. You never seemed to hear about this 15 or 20 years ago. But a week doesn’t go by now that there’s not a report of a pitcher being out for the rest of the year. The Kansas City Royals certainly are going through it with Luke Hochevar. His absence already has been felt because the Royals’ bullpen, the best in the American League last year, has been in shambles from the opening game of the season.
• CHANGE ONE-AND-DONE RULE — The list of freshmen and underclassmen who have declared for the NBA draft is about a mile long.
All but one of the top-rated freshmen in the country from this past season have decided to be “one and done,” and the only remaining star, Jabari Parker of Duke, will announce his intentions on Wednesday.
The “one-and-done rule” is nothing more than a farce and needs to be changed.
I’m in favor of the college baseball rule. Let high school seniors declare for the NBA draft or have to spend three years in college before being eligible. If that would happen, I would bet that most of the early entrants will fail, which would lead to less and less 17- and 18-year-olds chasing the NBA dream when they’re clearly not ready. More often than not, they’re listening to outside influences who are hoping to get their hands in the pockets of these players.
The college game certainly would flourish as these young talents would be able to develop their games in three years and be NBA-ready after their junior years.
We’ve been spoiled by the success of LeBron James, Kobe Bryant and Kevin Garnett. They were exceptions, as God simply blessed them with both the physical and mental makeup to be stars immediately. For every LeBron, there are about 50 players who wind up failing and end up being basketball vagabonds. By declaring early, they have no education to fall back on and often drift from job to job just trying to make a living.
There’s more to basketball than being able to run and jump. You must be strong physically and emotionally. These youngsters who come out are simply boys against men. And too often it ends up badly.