05.16.08

Looking Back on Dr. Conlin’s Diagnosis

Posted in Baseball, Medical Science, Sports Journalism at 2:09 am by

One of the more irritating aspects of the Philly.com redesign is the “People Who Read This Also Read” feature – a mouthful in and of itself, now with a tendency to highlight ancient articles. Tonight my Flyers reading took me to Bill Conlin’s April 2 column.



…isn’t it time for somebody to step forward and admit that Tom Gordon’s right shoulder is cooked?

The 19-year veteran, whose lack of stuff and command was tragically exposed in a ninth-inning, Opening Day meltdown, has pitched the past two seasons with a torn labrum. I got this e-mail yesterday from an orthopedic doctor friend who used to pitch and understands the slippery slope Gordon is trying to climb: “Why would the Phillies continue to believe that an aging reliever with a known labral injury could stay healthy for any length of time without surgery? Bad shoulders do not get healthier with age and work without getting fixed . . . What do the Phillies have to gain by keeping him on the team?”

Good question, Doc. Here’s a sport obsessed with pitch counts and which coddles pitchers from cradle to outright release, yet unblinkingly permits injured pitchers to throw. What kind of hypocrisy is that? Does anybody believe that Freddy Garcia was healthy a single inning last year? Gordon is a warrior who wants the baseball. Pride in who he is and where he has been in the sport impels him to take the ball, suck it up and try to earn the $5.5 million he will be paid this season whether he wins Fireman of the Year or winds up having the labrum surgery that will effectively end his career. Flash is 40. He can’t come back a year from now and make a living serving up Nerf balls.

Now, I’m well aware that Gordon, like, oh, every single relief pitcher in the world, might yet start to suck, and/or injure himself further. But since then he’s put up a 1.06 ERA in 18 games.

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