Jeff Passan is an award winning columnist for Yahoo Sports and has covered baseball for over a decade. ‘The Arm’ is an in-depth, interesting look into what Passan calls ‘the most valuable commodity in sports’. It’s a look into a sport that, at times, seems stuck in the past with an inability to understand why pitchers are dropping like flies with the same injury. While no one knows for sure, Passan provides some possible solutions but really he provides more insight into some of the absurdity that exists in America’s pastime when it comes to pitchers while putting a human face on the injury.
Passan points out in the introduction that Major League Baseball (MLB) spends some $1.5 billion annually on pitchers salaries. Despite the money, pitchers have been having to undergo UCL surgery (more commonly known as Tommy John surgery) at a rapid rate to the point that MLB is now involved in finding a solution and renowned orthopedists have called it an ‘epidemic’.
While Passan goes all over the place, including to Japan, to give you a better understanding of the stress that is being put on a pitchers arm at earlier and earlier ages. The real compelling part of this book however is his following of two pitchers coming back from their Tommy John surgeries.
Daniel Hudson was a hot shot starting pitcher for the Arizona Diamondbacks. During his first outing after surgery, he blew his UCL tendon out again. Passan tracks his second rehab to a successful conclusion as a reliever for the Pittsburgh Pirates.
The other pitcher Passan follows is a journeyman reliever named Todd Coffey. To say that Coffey is a unique fellow is an understatement. Older, larger and brash, Coffey had a harder time making it back to the majors after his second Tommy John surgery. In fact he never did eventually retiring this past summer.
‘The Arm’ is a very interesting read for any baseball fan. If you are not, it might be even more interesting because at times it is unbelievable. While it can drag at times, you will not find a more in depth look at Tommy John surgery and how it effects the lives of those who undergo the surgery.