The Elbow Ligament Curse

The Elbow Ligament Curse

Over the last several weeks, injuries have continue to mount
for the Atlanta Braves. First, it was Kris Medlen. Shortly after being labeled
an ace by a couple of writers, Meds went down and would need a second Tommy
John. It was only a few days later when Brandon Beachy followed suit. By the
end of spring training, Cory Gearrin was next in Dr. James Andrews’ waiting
room. What the hell is going on?
Only last year, other players went down with similar
ailments. Jonny Venters missed the season, Eric O’Flaherty was hurt early in
the year, and Cristhian Martinez’s shoulder was so wonky that no one even knows
what happened to him.
What brings this rash of injuries to Braves pitchers?  Is it the pitching program? Perhaps, a return
to Leo Mazzone’s program would fix all the problems Atlanta is suffering from.
Or was it a problem inherent with the rehabilitation program for pitchers?
Maybe the Braves are rushing players back before their arm strength can handle
it.
Perhaps the fault is not with the Braves, but with baseball
in general. A third of major league pitchers last year had experienced at least
one Tommy John surgery and that number is rapidly rising. In the time it took
me to type that last sentence, three pitchers suffered ligament damage to their
elbow. That stat is in no way made up.
Could it be the problem can’t be solved by professional
teams? Pitchers throw more and more than ever. A young girl named AmandaWhurlizer’s arm was worked so hard in little league, that she dated Michael
Jackson, married John McEnroe, and was arrested for buying crack in Manhattan.
MANHATTAN! This epidemic has gone too far when Manhattan residents are forced
to buy crack, clearly to quell the pain that pitching brought upon them.
Before Tommy John created his own surgery, and humbly named
it after himself, elbow ligament damage was a death sentence. People’s elbow
would snap off and fall to the ground while people would perish from blood
loss. True story.
In that way, these pitchers are lucky, but that does not
explain how the Braves got to this point. You have to go back. Way back. All
the way back to…
June 19th, 2012.
The Braves officially released Livan Hernandez. It was a
perfectly reasonable move with a reliever who sported an ERA approaching 5.00
with five homers given up in 31 innings. Signed at the end of spring training
to provide a veteran presence out of the pen capable of being a long man,
Hernandez’s brief time with the Braves provided few memorable moments and many
did not shed a tear for the Cuban-born right-hander. In fact, many were still
confused how Hernandez was on the team considering his biggest moment came
during the 1997 playoffs when a pitch that was about ten feet outside was called
a strike to Fred McGriff.
In truth, the warning signs came before the 19th.
Hernandez had been designated for assignment on June 15th. The next
day, Beachy left a game with an elbow injury. On the 18th, as
Hernandez sat in limbo, awaiting his fate, Beachy was diagnosed with a
partially torn UCL and would need Tommy John. The surgery, not the man.
Since Hernandez was officially cast off, the injuries have
continued to pile up and not all have been normal. Gearrin was demoted last
year and completely shut down. Tim Hudson’s ankle was shattered – SHATTERED! –
into a million pieces and to add insult to injury, he was kicked across the
country to San Francisco. Martinez’s face is on milk cartons. Medlen’s avatar
was actually changed to Tommy John on twitter because Medlen is in the midst of
a personality crisis as his name is never mentioned without Tommy John.
The curse has spread and Peter Moylan, a former Brave, needs
another surgery. Simply growing up a Braves fan was enough to force Indians
pitcher Blake Wood to need Tommy John surgery. Chipper Jones recently had to
put a deer down at his ranch because it too was suffering from elbow ligament
damage.
But it all starts with Livan Hernandez. Cuban-born,
Hernandez learned the dark magic of voodoo before coming to America. Leaving a
team is always difficult, but being told to get out and don’t let the doorknob
hit ya where the good Lord split ya was too much for Livan. He needed his
revenge. He needed his pound of flesh.
He got it and more. Meanwhile, the Braves are starting Aaron
Harang’s cadaver. Livan…you win.  We
yield. Please lift this curse and we will celebrate your name by forgetting all
about your cheap strikeout of the Crime Dog. Just stop this madness!

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