Elbow Doctor

Baseball_pitching_motion_2004r“It’s time for … baseball!”*

Yes, baseball season is almost here. And we who live in Los Angeles hope, once again, that our teams will do well. For Jeff it’s the Dodgers. For me the Angels. And both teams look good going into (at the beginning of) the new season.

When baseball season begins in two weeks, many players, especially pitchers**, will be able to play because of the pioneering (to do something for the first time) work of Dr. Frank Jobe. In 1974, Dr. Jobe, who died recently at the age of 88, developed a surgical procedure (medical operation) that has made it possible for more than 1,000 baseball players to continue playing after seriously injuring an elbow.

Pitchers often throw the baseball more than 100 times per game. They throw very hard and their pitching motion (arm movement) twists (turns) and bends (moves it so it’s not straight) the elbow and puts a large amount of stress (force or pressure) on the ligament (strong flexible material that holds the bones together) in the elbow.

After a while the ligament may begin to tear (pull into pieces). And it stretches (becomes longer) so much that it can’t hold the bones tightly together. When this happens, a pitcher begins to feel pain on the inside of his elbow. The elbow may begin to feel loose, and the pitcher may experience tingling (stinging feeling) or numbness (loss of feeling) in some fingers. If the ligament damage is bad enough, it ends a pitcher’s career. Or it did until Dr. Jobe developed what we now call Tommy John surgery, named for the first player to receive the procedure.

To do Tommy John surgery, the surgeon removes a length of tendon (another kind of connecting material) from somewhere in the patient’s body. He also drills tunnels (holes for the tendon to pass through) in the upper and lower bones of the elbow. He passes the tendon through the tunnels, connects the ends to the bones, and adjusts the tension (tightness) of the tendon. When he finishes, the tendon often looks like a figure eight (the pattern or shape of the number eight) as it passes in and out of the tunnels.

After Dr. Jobe operated on Tommy John’s elbow, Tommy went on to have a successful pitching career. According to the Los Angeles Times, he pitched so well after the surgery that Pete Rose, a famous hitter, said, “I know they had to give Tommy John a new arm. But did they have to give him [Sandy] Koufax’s (Koufax was one of the best pitchers ever)?”

If you watch baseball – American or from another country – there’s a good possibility that you’ll see a pitcher who is able to pitch today because of Dr. Frank Jobe’s Tommy John surgery.

* Vin Scully, legendary (famous and admired) broadcaster (person who describes games on TV and radio) who has broadcast Los Angeles Dodger baseball games for 65 years, always begins his broadcasts with, “It’s time for Dodger baseball!”

** For more about pitchers, read my blog post The Knuckleballer.

~ Warren Ediger – ESL tutor/coach and creator of the Successful English web site.

Photo courtesy of Wikipedia Commons. 

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9 Responses to Elbow Doctor

  1. Dan says:

    We never stop learning in here. That elbow operation is amazing.

    Nice picture up there. It truly shows the amount of stress on the arm.
    It almost looks like the arm is going with the ball.

    Lol. That thing about Koufax’s arm is funny.


  2. emiliano says:

    What can be said to a person that loves so much to watch a sport as Jeff or you like to?.
    Only, just have a good season and enjoy the play as much as possible despite your team win or not.

    May be you know it is not my way or having fun, I prefer to watch an Opera, a Ballet, a Rock/Pop Concert
    or a good movie, but some how I envy you both by this pleasure of watching sports, and this baseball in
    particular. I would like to be fond but i can´t, just a pity because it is a lack of my own character.

    Sorry and enjoy. emiliano

  3. Behrooz says:

    Thank you Warren Ediger for article. This article is very interest for me. I agree with Dan. It seems to me, we never stop learning in here. To tell you the truth, I’ve never played baseball. There are anybody play baseball in my country.

  4. Dan says:

    Thank you Behrooz

    If you haven’t, go back and read the previous posts on Baseball one by Warren and the other one by Jeff.
    Both interesting and entertaining. The first one is The Knuckleballer. The link is up there.
    Once there, you’ll be able to find Jeff’s post Pinch-hit Grand Slam.

    Thank you Warren Jeff and Lucy! Keep them coming. I mean the posts.

    Have a nice weekend possibly without trembling of the earth.

    Bye, Dan

  5. Tania says:

    Hi! Like Jeff said “baseball provides excitement, and even a bit of poetry”.
    I wonder how two friends see one each other when plays Los Angeles Dodgers (Jeff’s team) vs. “Angels” (Warren’s team).
    It is very funny.

  6. Tania says:

    Hi! We use the same words: ligament, tendon, control, perfect, anticipa, strategie.

  7. Tania says:

    Hi! Reading the mentioned posts again I have understand better the charm of this game.
    And even the Manny Ramirez’s story who hit a ball to a place called Mannywood.

    I do not know the sport’s terms but we use many English words like “grand slam” and many others.

  8. Tania says:

    Hi! According to Wikipedia , golfers, baseball pitchers, tennis players, and boxes often suffer from elbow disorders.
    I think we can add and the computer using for many hours per day.

  9. Behrooz says:

    Hello Dan and thank you very much for your recommendation. I knew a lot about baseball reading articles and podcasts. Baseball is ? very traumatic kind of sport. I’d prefer football becouse, football is my favorite sport. If you’re not agree with me, please tell me what you think.

    Best wishes Behrooz

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