Monday, March 7, 2011

ANATOMY OF A PITCH, WHY PITCHERS GET INJURED STOP ACTION PHOTOS

We love living in Florida for many reasons. We added another reason when we found out that we could see our BOSTON RED SOX play against the New York Mets 10 minutes from house. It was a spring training game and most of the starters were left behind but we still had the chance to see some of the starts of the future: names we have heard like Exposito, Linares and Kalish (who we did see in the majors last year).

We really enjoy seeing minor league baseball. It is a family oriented environment with prizes being given away. At some games we have seen sumo wrestling and races around the bases. The team's mascot will race a young child or two around the bases and the child always seems to win.

We had great seats between home plate and first base in the forth row and paid $18 a seat: another reason to love minor league games. The seats had a great view of the infield and home plate. It also gave us a great place to grab some pictures. As usual, I had my camera with me! I was focusing on the pitchers and when I looked at a few images I had taken on my LCD screen, ( I love digital), I noticed the arms of the pitchers. The angles and stress you can see in stop action is amazing! Baseball for the most part is a non contact sport. Fans complain how players always seem to be hurt. There is intense speculation and conversation about why pitchers get hurt so often. Some say teams train them wrong and have them pitch too much when they are first brought to the majors and then some of the veteran players from the 50s and 60s say just the opposite. (We baby them. We don't allow them to throw enough and build up arm strength).

If you look at some of these images, you can see why arms get hurt. Actually, I find it amazing that these pitchers do not hurt themselves more often. You might not know but pitchers have actually broken their arms just throwing a pitch. Three major league pitchers -- San Francisco's Dave Dravecky, Cincinnati's Tom Browning and Cleveland's John Smiley all broke their arms throwing the ball. Dravecky was in a little different circumstance. The year before, he had a tumor removed from his deltoid muscle.  Some pitchers can throw a pitch at 100 miles an hour. That's not a typo..100 miles an hour!!!  Read what Dr. Glenn Fleisig, (who studies the biomechanics of pitching), says about the subject. "When a pitcher cocks his arm, where it is turned back to the point where the palm is facing toward the sky, there's about 100 Newton-meters of torque on the arm, which subjects the arm to the same amount of stress as if the pitcher had a 60-pound weight hanging from his hand in that position, Fleisig says.  ( FUN FACT WARNING)

From that cocked position, the arm snaps forward to its release point in 0.03 seconds, and at its peak speed, an elite pitcher's arm rotates at upward of 8500 degrees per second. If that single instant of speed could be maintained, then a pitcher's arm would spin around 24 times in a second. 

"Shoulder rotation in baseball pitching is the fastest motion of any joint in any athlete," Fleisig says; moving faster than hip joints in sprinters or shoulders in elite tennis players.  Hopefully, in these images you will be able to see the stress put on their arms. The awkward arm positions needed and the torque involved has to put a gigantic amount of stress on the bone, joints and cartilage.

With the evolution that our bodies have had in the last 50 years: part due to genetics plus an increase knowledge of nutrition and better training, we are in much better shape. The men and women who compete in our sports are also in much better shape than the people who played ball when I was watching in the 60s. ( Hey, I was a very young fan). I have read that we might have pushed our bodies as far as they are physically able to go: that our body parts are being taxed beyond their ability to cope. The players are bigger, stronger and are able to generate more power but is it too much for our bodies to handle??

Looking at the pictures of these pitchers might help you form a decision. Look at the intensity on their faces: it reflects determination and strength. Both of these pitchers are fighting for a spot on the Red Sox major league team, the same spot. Add that to the equation and you can see why their faces show the stress and why they are willing to push their bodies to the limits: not just their arms but look at their legs and bodies.

9 comments:

FAYErydust said...

wow. I really like your camera and the shots!! I really want to be your apprentice. :)

It's not blurred .. All were perfect shots. This is what I miss for the past 4 days .. reading and seeing posts of other bloggers. :)

JIM said...

Thank You Faye If you were closer I would gladly train you.. but for now if you have any questions please feel free to ask

Kriti said...

Fantastic post Jim - its so scary to see that elbow turn like that. Its crystal clear - WOW!!!

Abhisek said...

WooowwwW awesome shots Jim :D

Debbie said...

Great shots, and yes pitchers practically throw their whole body outta joint when they pitch.

Aaron said...

Great post. I love the motion capture of the pitchers.

When you talk about athletes getting to the point of being to strong for their bodies it reminds of Maurice Green. He was an american sprinter. When he was at the World Championships in Edmonton racing the 100m he tore his leg muscle with 10m to go. He still almost broke the world record racing the last 10m on one leg. The point of the story is they say his muscles were too strong for his body and the force it placed was more than his body could handle.
It is amazing how strong these athletes can get there days.

Lucylastica2 said...

I always used to love photography, albeit I was probably never that good. Just been out and bought a new camera and feel inspired after seeing what you have been able to capture.

Sherry said...

Ouch! As always, your photos are simply amazing.

JIM said...

Thank you Everyone your comments are appreciated and helpful. Kriti doesn't it hurts just seeing it lol. Aaron never heard that story before. The modern sports world may not see records broken as much as in the last 30 years.
Lucy thank you so much for telling me that. That I could inspire you is an amazing thought. Thank You