The trend nowadays in the stands is to point out the location of the radar gun to your bros or your kids when you get to the game. Hell, I point out the radar gun location to chicks I take to games just so I can explain what it all means. (sidenote: I’m a bit of a baseball nerd. I call pitches to myself from the couch, just like that Hanley Ramirez and Joe Mauer ESPN commercial). The higher the reading on the radar gun, the more the crowd oohs and ahhs with excitement and the more the hitter fears that your 98 mph heater has a chance to come uncorked, under their chin. Some men have rocked the radar to sleep each night with nasty stuff (Randy Johnson, Roger Clemens, Nolan Ryan, and more recently Stephen Strasburg) while others have hit triple digits in their relief outings (Armando Benitez, Billy Wagner, Mark Wohlers, etc). The most recent, and possibly most popular setup guy in at least the American League, in Joel Zumaya suffered the fate that most who reach back for some extra spice on that fastball have happen, and had his elbow basically disintegrate before our very eyes on Monday night against the Twins in Minnesota.
It’s too early to speculate on the severity of the injury however, as a former pitcher and student of the game, I can say with 100% certainty that his season is over and likely he’ll never be able to bounce back from this injury from a mental standpoint. He can be re-worked and re-tooled to probably throw low 90s again, and maybe come back up to be a middle reliever type (see: Jason Grilli) who may piddle around the bigs and collect a check for a few years because of the name on the back of his jersey but.. in all honesty… his season and likely career is over. The mental side of this injury is going to be a major hurdle if he were ever able to come back. His mechanics and the torque that he generates by simply loading up his back side is just too much for a healthy arm to deal with, let alone an arm that will now have to be repaired from a 2nd major injury.
Having watched the replay over and over (and over and over), and reading Laird’s reaction to the play, I am going to say he suffered a dislocation of the elbow joint and with the violent thrash on his follow through, his elbow ligaments pinched on the joint and either tore or absolutely shredded. To take it even further, the way he was holding his arm after the play, I would not be surprised if his biceps muscle completely tore off the bone and coiled up at the top of his shoulder.
You can see the replay yourself on many of the other sites around, it’s a pretty gruesome replay. You can see his elbow initially hyperextends when preparing for release and then instead of aligning back properly, his release and follow through whips his forearm across his body while his upper arm (humerus) slowly follows.
Let’s hope it’s a simple hyperextension and nothing major like complete elbow reconstruction. Upon reading the name “Dravecky” in the first few tweets after the injury, I wanted to make sure I put something together to get this out to let the masses (or at least you donk readers) know that it is very unlikely that he has fractured his humerus.
I hate to talk about the man like he’s dead but, my heart did get all warm when I first saw him light up the radar gun on ESPN against the Yankees in the 2006 playoffs. He seems like a good dude, and unfortunately the “Guitar Hero” shtick or the “oh he was moving boxes” shtick will follow him for the rest of his career. Never again will I likely see him jelly-leg ARod like he did in 2006, but at least we can say it happened.
We’re praying for you Zoom.