Yukan Fuji published a nice piece Monday about former Yakult Swallows pitcher Shohei Tateyama, a guest at a panel discussion that accompanied a coaching award event in Tokyo on Sunday.
The 38-year-old Tateyama, who said he was injury free as a teenager, went under the knife 10 times in his baseball career. He was joined by Dr. Kozo Furushima, the chief of the Sports Medical Center of Keiyu Orthopaedic Hospital in Tatebayashi, Gunma Prefecture.
Dr. Furushima has a fairly distressing slide show of the inner workings of young elbows and shoulders that have suffered severe damage through pitching and throwing too much.
“It’s hard to look at these images of children. But this is the reality. I want people to understand the reality because we must put an end to excessive pitching and throwing in practice.”Former Yakult Swallows pitcher Shohei Tateyama, according to Yukan Fuji.
Commenting on the National High School Baseball Federation’s new rule limiting players to throwing 500 pitches over a seven-day period, Furushima said, “From the standpoint of injury prevention, it has no meaning, but from this people will begin to ask ‘Why is this rule necessary’ and begin a discussion.”
Here’s a Kyodo News interview in English with Dr. Furushima.
I scanned Japan’s twitterverse for opinions on the pitch restrictions that Niigata Prefecture’s high school baseball federation plans to implement for its spring tournament next year. There’s a lot and here is a sample of the most common threads.
@hoyu412 writes: I’m opposed I suppose. This rule favors private schools who stockpile pitchers. We’ll see fewer pitchers who create legends at Koshien like Matsuzaka, (Yuki) Saito and (Kosei) Yoshida. Suguru Egawa’s strikeout record will never be surpassed. We’ll no longer praise those pitchers with stamina who avoid injury.
@kaichi4280 writes: Perhaps the problem is more about proper mechanics than pitch counts. Care for arms has progressed since the old days. There’s no mistaking this rule will give an advantage to private schools. I hope this arrangement doesn’t spread nationwide. I’m opposed.
Most of the tweets I’ve seen appear balanced and understanding of the need for arm health. If these rules were to expand nationwide, opponents fear the elimination of any possibility of no-hitters and legendary performances, the dominance of private schools — which is more or less already the case. One sentimental tweet asked: “Are you going to deny a boy his last chance at glory and leave him with a lifetime of regret because he needs to be yanked off the mound after throwing 100 pitches?”
@fukuda_yu2 writes: I agree with the pitch limits. People who love baseball like things the way they are, but the views that this will favor private schools or hinder the development of act pitchers are too short-sighted. The root of the problem is decreasing baseball participation. It’s great that there are baseball clinics but we need the courage to change the fundamental system. Our chance to adapt for the future is now.
A lot of those in support of changes to the system admit it that it will take getting used to, but generally say, “How can you talk about fairness and developing ace pitchers, when this is about the health of each and every individual.”
Under the heading MBGA, there was this response in English: