Enjoy this title right now, plus millions more, with a free trial

Only $9.99/month after trial. Cancel anytime.

The Arm: Inside the Billion-dollar Mystery of the Most Valuable Thing in Sports

The Arm: Inside the Billion-dollar Mystery of the Most Valuable Thing in Sports

Written by Jeff Passan

Narrated by Kevin Pierce


The Arm: Inside the Billion-dollar Mystery of the Most Valuable Thing in Sports

Written by Jeff Passan

Narrated by Kevin Pierce

ratings:
5/5 (12 ratings)
Length:
12 hours
Publisher:
Released:
Apr 5, 2016
ISBN:
9780062445636
Format:
Audiobook

Editor's Note

Power & vulnerability…

Perfect for baseball season, in “The Arm” Yahoo’s lead baseball columnist examines the most precious and precarious limb in baseball: the pitcher’s arm.

Description

Yahoo’s lead baseball columnist offers an in-depth look at the most valuable commodity in sports—the pitching arm—and how its vulnerability to injury is hurting players and the game, from Little League to the majors.

Every year, Major League Baseball spends more than $1.5 billion on pitchers—five times more than the salary of every NFL quarterback combined. Pitchers are the game’s lifeblood. Their import is exceeded only by their fragility. One tiny band of tissue in the elbow, the ulnar collateral ligament, is snapping at unprecedented rates, leaving current big league players vulnerable and the coming generation of baseball-playing children dreading the three scariest words in the sport: Tommy John surgery.

Jeff Passan traveled the world for three years to explore in-depth the past, present, and future of the arm, and how its evolution left baseball struggling to wrangle its Tommy John surgery epidemic. He examined what compelled the Chicago Cubs to spend $155 million on one arm. He snagged a rare interview with Sandy Koufax, whose career was cut short by injury at thirty, and visited Japan to understand how another baseball-mad country treats its prized arms. And he followed two major league pitchers, Daniel Hudson and Todd Coffey, throughout their returns from Tommy John surgery. He exposes how the baseball establishment long ignored the rise in arm injuries and reveals how misplaced incentives across the sport stifle potential changes.

Injuries to the UCL start as early as Little League. Without a drastic cultural shift, baseball will continue to lose hundreds of millions of dollars annually to damaged pitchers, and another generation of children will suffer the same problems that vex current players. Informative and hard-hitting, The Arm is essential reading for everyone who loves the game, wants to keep their children healthy, or relishes a look into how a large, complex institution can fail so spectacularly.

Publisher:
Released:
Apr 5, 2016
ISBN:
9780062445636
Format:
Audiobook

About the author


Related to The Arm

Related Audiobooks


Reviews

What people think about The Arm

4.8
12 ratings / 5 Reviews
What did you think?
Rating: 0 out of 5 stars

Reader reviews

  • (4/5)
    The subtitle of this book is Inside the Billion-Dollar Mystery of the Most Valuable Commodity in Sports and "mystery" is an important word.  No one knows for sure why some pitchers can gain incredible endurance and others are prone to injury.  Practices for building arm strength and preventing injury are built more on guesswork than science.  And while new surgical procedures have allowed some pitchers to return to successful careers, they are no panacea. At the heart of The Arm is the fact that throwing an orb overhand a 100+ times in succession is an unnatural action, and the mystery is that anyone manages to do it without injury rather than why some pitchers can't avoid injury.At the heart of this book, Passan provides eyewitness documentation of two contemporary pitchers - Todd Coffey and Daniel Hudson - as they undergo Tommy John surgery and attempt to return to pitching at the top level in Major League Baseball.  In between there stories, Passan interviews various baseball legends: Sandy Koufax, whose Hall of Fame career was cut short in the days before surgeries that could've extended the life of his arm; Nolan Ryan, the opposite extreme, a pitcher known for his remarkable longevity despite refusing surgeries; and of course, Tommy John, whose eponymous surgery changed baseball. The career of orthopedist Frank Jobe, who humbly named ulnar collateral ligament reconstruction for his patient rather than himself, is also documented.  Outside of Major League Baseball, Passan investigates the increasing pressure in youth sports to specialize in one sport early and for coaches to overuse their young players' arms in games.  Tommy John surgery is skyrocketing among adolescents.  An exploitative youth sports industry has also emerged that encourages young athletes and their families to pay to participate in showcases on the hopes of attracting attention of Major League scouts.  Passan also visits Japan where the traditionalist view of "pitch until your arm falls off" in high school baseball is just beginning to be challenged by the younger generation.  The mystery of the arm is not resolved in this book, but Passan does an excellent job documenting what we know about pitching and exposing a seedy underside of our national pastime
  • (5/5)
    Passan, a longtime sportswriter most recently for Yahoo Sports, spent three years learning everything he could about baseball pitchers, and more specifically, the throwing arms of baseball pitchers. A great pitcher commands enormous salaries, and this despite the fact that serious elbow injuries are as common for pitchers as houseflies at a garbage dump. Given the enormous amounts of money at stake, Passan wanted to find out what MLB is doing to figure out how and why pitchers get hurt, and how those injuries might be prevented. The most notorious pitching injury is a torn ulnar collateral ligament (UCL), which is located in the elbow. The surgery to replace the UCL, usually with a tendon from the player's own arm or leg, or from a cadaver donor, is known colloquially as "Tommy John surgery" after the first pitcher to ever have the procedure done. John went on to pitch successfully for many years after the surgery, and the surgery has been refined and developed to the point where it has come to see almost routine. Passan makes a convincing case that the high rate of success has had the perverse effect of disincentivizing teams from trying harder to find a way to prevent the injury. And the success rate, along with the growing tendency for young players to play baseball all year around, has led to an explosion of players as young as 12 or 13 having what is still major surgery, with a recovery window of 12-24 months.Passan does a great job of demystifying the medical and biomechanical aspects of what exactly happens within a pitcher's body and arm when they throw a pitch. And while he never uncovers a "magic bullet" of training or predictive diagnosis that could keep pitchers from blowing out their elbows, he follows up on some promising research developments into the problem, almost all of it being done outside of professional baseball itself. It's hard to believe in an era when the Cubs happily agree to pay 32-year-old Jon Lester $155 million over six years that they aren't trying harder to protect such an outsized investment, but the evidence is right there in Passan's fascinating book.
  • (5/5)
    Read with alternating periods of horror and fascination. The 13 year-old really likes to pitch, may need to look up DriveLine (not far away) once he gets a chance to read the book.
  • (5/5)
    A terrific insight into the world of pitching with a lot to say about youth baseball.
  • (5/5)
    As I was reading this, my hometown team, the Seattle Mariners, kept losing pitchers to injury. As I write, all but one of their five regular starters is on the DL because of injuries. Passan's book explains why highly paid pitchers suffer frequent injuries through multiple lenses: baseball mythology and history in the U.S. and in Japan, sports medicine, two pitchers who are rehabbing from Tommy John surgery. An excellent comprehensive look at pitching injuries and the mechanics of throwing.