|Anything Goes: All Guns Blazing|
Written by Adam Adkins (Contact & Archive) on May 20, 2009
I have no tolerance for gleeful ignorance.Â I cannot help it; if I will take the time to research a topic so I can write about it, why canâ€™t others do the same?Â And heck, if you choose to be dumb, then keep your mouth shut.
Or in the case of this guy, donâ€™t manage a baseball team. Now, my readers might take that as a precursor for the ripping of a big league manager, like, oh, Dusty Baker or whatever dredge is managing the Pirates.Â Actually, no.Â Those geniuses get a day off.
A manager of a high school baseball team outside of Phoenix allowed his young starter -- an 18 year old named Cory Bernard -- to throw 172 pitches in a day.Â The Hamilton Huskies played a doubleheader last Thursday, in the state semi-finals against their rival, Highland.Â Apparently Bernard pitched against Highland previously and was shelled.Â The manager, Mike Woods, wanted to throw his best pitcher.Â Apparently, he wanted to throw him so much that I wonder if the young man could brush his teeth on Friday.
In the first game, Bernard threw 75 pitches in 4 innings of relief.Â First off, thatâ€™s a ton of pitches in a short span, which tells me he really had to work hard to get through.Â Poor command, I would say, although I do not have a box score for the game.Â Even still, 75 pitches is just about what Iâ€™d let my young pitcher do, regardless of the situation -- itâ€™s simply too dangerous.
We are no longer baseball Neanderthals.Â People like Bill James, the folks at Baseball Prospectus and Hardball Times -- and countless others -- have shown us things about the game.Â One of the more major items for me was pitcher abuse.Â Anything other 20 pitches an inning puts tons of stress on the arm.Â We do not know how the pitch counts broke down per inning for Bernard in his relief appearance, but it averages out to 18.75.Â Thatâ€™s a lot.Â Donâ€™t think that Bernard cruised at any point there. And if he did have a 10 pitch inning, Bernard wouldâ€™ve thrown more than 20 or 25 in another one.Â Donâ€™t just look at Roy Halladay or CC Sabathia and see them do that and be fine and assume that young arms can handle it too; they often cannot.Â It may not equal their arms falling off in a ball of flame, but it will often equal a drop in command.Â
So, after Game 1, Bernard had thrown 75 pitches.Â I realize he wanted to pitch, and it was a big deal because of the playoffs and because Hamilton was battling its rival.Â Woods surely asked Bernard if he could go more; Bernard surely said he could.
Bernardâ€™s day should have been over.Â He has a commitment to the University of Arizona, and although ESPN.comâ€™s Keith Law told me via email that Bernardâ€™s name had not come up in any draft rumors heâ€™s heard from those in the game, he could still become something at U of A -- develop a nasty pitch, perhaps?Â Discover weight lifting and gain velocity?Â Start releasing the ball at his ankles and become Chad Bradford?
But, his day was not over.Â Bernard threw 97 more in a complete game shutout (7 innings) to send his team to the state finals.Â Now, it is a little less intense a situation given the 7 inning games, but 172 pitches.
Just think about that.Â The Blue Jays would not think of doing that to Roy Halladay, and he is an experienced and smart pitcher who is 14 years older.Â Pitching both ends of a doubleheader at any level is dangerous -- I realize MLB hardly ever has a double job, but can you imagine any pitcher throwing that many pitches?Â I can recall Mariano Rivera closing out both ends of one, but he probably threw 25 pitches combined.
Weâ€™re not even counting how many throws Bernard made to warm up.Â
Want the truth, folks?Â Plain and simple?Â This was a horrible thing to do.Â Mike Woods, you ought to be ashamed.Â Are you so dense as to think that Bernard would tell you -- in the biggest series of his life against a team that kicked his ass earlier -- that he is finished and cannot go on?Â In front of friends and family?Â You put the onus on an 18 year old, in the heat of the moment, to be the bigger person and realize that it was dangerous.Â That, my friend, no matter how you try and shake it with southernly charm, is horribly wrong and perhaps even criminal.
Itâ€™s likely you ruined whatever chance heâ€™ll have to be a productive pitcher at the college level.Â You probably grew up in the Nolan Ryan era, where guys loved to throw a gajillion pitches.Â The eras have changed; lineups in the big leagues no longer carry 3 or 4 out machines.Â
Plus, Cory Bernard is 18!Â And to you, Mr. Bernard, saying it was all well and fine, I certainly hope you didnâ€™t encourage the crushing of whatever -- albeit small -- chance your son couldâ€™ve had at reaching the major leagues.Â
172 pitches for an 18 year old are wrong.Â I honestly am trying to think of a better way to say it.Â Perhaps evil?Â Mike Woods, you are damn fool, and Keith Law was correct on his personal blog The Dish: you should be fired and right now.