Bullet Dodged

Featured Card: 2001 Topps Reserve Rookie Graded Autographs #133, Ryan Madson

At the time it happened, I expressed regret over the fact that Jonathan Papelbon’s signing meant the likely end of Ryan Madson’s career as a Phillie. While I still feel that way, Saturday’s news that Madson will need Tommy John surgery and won’t throw a single pitch in 2012 suddenly makes the Papelbon signing and Madson’s subsequent departure much easier to take. I have read very little in the way of blogger reaction to the news, but I assume that it’s plenty similar to mine: given all the injury problems plaguing the Phillies at this time, if they had resigned Madson in the hopes of using him as their closer then the season would suddenly be on life-support. None of this should be construed as wishing my being glad it happened to Madson — nothing of the sort. The only people who know exactly what transpired during the Madson-Phillies contract negotiations are Madson’s agent, Scott Boras, and Ruben Amaro. Whatever happened, I understand that baseball is first and foremost a business. Madson’s departure in no way reflected upon his time with the team, him as a person, or the type of ballplayer he is. I wished him nothing but the best in Cincinnati — provided he blew every save opportunity he got against the Phillies.

Hopefully, he will be one of the lucky ones and his career will get back on track after the surgery. In the meantime, while I’m breathing a sigh of relief that this injury didn’t impact the Phillies, it is a reminder that this type of injury can happen to any pitcher at any time. The fact is that throwing a baseball at speeds of 90 MPH or more is physically very stressful — the fact that the human body is capable of achieving such an amazing feet does not mean that it’s something one should be able to do on a consistent basis for years on-end. Pitchers like Steve Carlton, Nolan Ryan and Greg Maddux are freaks of nature. Major arm injuries during a pitcher’s career are the norm, and this type of thing could happen just as easily to Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, Cole Hamels, Papelbon, or anyone else on the staff… at any time.

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