The Epidemic > Comments on Jeff Passan's The Arm > The Science Doesn't Support It

Since every major publication and writer who is familiar with my work and observations seems to place their loyalty to a fellow writer above little things like the truth and the (literal) health of the game of baseball, let me rebut Jeff Passan's more recent and misleading, libelous, and now slanderous, claims about my work, myself.

My comments are based on comments Jeff Passan made in interviews after the publication of The Arm...

UPDATE: Huge news. I haven't talked to Dr. Glenn Fleisig of ASMI recently, but he recently gave an interview that was released on September 20, 2017 in which he says the following about the concept of Timing.

What are good and bad're using your whole body, if you're doing it correctly...proper mechanics is all about TIMING. You're moving your arm in concert with the rest of your body...One thing to look at in terms of a checkpoint is, when the front foot lands, where is the arm...if you're out of whack at foot contact, then you're probably screwed and you're going to put too much force on your arm. So some of the things we look at at foot contact is if the throwing arm is on its way UP...If the forearm was already vertical before foot contact, we'd call that an EARLY arm. If at foot contact the forearm is still horizontal, or the wrist is even below the elbow, that would be a LATE arm. What you want is you want your wrist to be above the elbow at the first time of foot contact and almost to the vertical position. That means your TIMING is good.

I haven't talked to Dr. Fleisig recently, but it appears that he, and presumably ASMI, has adopted my entire framework for describing and evaluating pitchers, at least when it comes to Timing.

The Science Does Not Support It

With respect to my work and the science, Jeff Passan has this to say about it...

While I appreciate in many aspects of life somebody who is as certain as he is about things, in this case, I'm sorry.

The science just does not support it...

I'm sorry but the science simply doesn't back him up.

It just doesn't.

As I discuss in The Science Behind The Epidemic, which is a review of the relevant research -- something that Jeff Passan neglects to do in The Arm -- The Epidemic draws upon my 10 years of research into what the science (actually) says is driving the Tommy John surgery and Thoracic Outlet Syndrome epidemic.

That includes my work to support the efforts of Dr. Cynthia LaBella to get the word out about her 2011 study of young pitchers, elbow, and shoulder pain...

...a study that Jeff Passan disregards and simply ignores in The Arm.

As for the Inverted W and Timing, my 2010 comments about Stephen Strasburg, the Inverted W, and Timing problems...

What the not so durable guys do is they take their elbows back but they also take them up. Now, that's actually painful to do, but it's not that bad in and of itself. The problem is that when you take the elbows back and up, you can end up with a Timing problem.

...led to Douoguih's 2012 Study of the Inverted W and Timing. Here's what Dr. Douoguih told me about his opinion of the relationship between the Inverted W and Timing (after first refuting a lie that Passan told me)...

I never told him that we didn't invite you. I would not say that.

I didn't realize this study would create such a firestorm.

I told him that our data showed an increased injury rate requiring surgery in pitchers who exhibited the inverted W, it just didn't reach statistical significance. Because it did not reach statistical significance I can't make the claim that the inverted W increases injury risk.

My hunch is that it does.

I appreciate your pioneering efforts and would never try to discredit your work in a malicious fashion like that.

I know we don't really know each other that well but I do hope that you don't get too down on yourself because people want to shoot down your effort to shed light on a complex subject.

It usually means that you're on to something.

Wiemi A. Douoguih, MD
Medical Director MedStar Sports Medicine
Washington Region

Finally, Dr. Glenn Fleisig of ASMI has recently come to agree with me that Pointing the Ball at Second Base -- something that Jeff Passan goes out of his way in The Arm to say isn't harmful -- is something that should NOT be taught. As a result, Dr. Fleisig has advised USA Baseball to revise its guidance on training pitchers.

So who are you going to believe?

Dr. Glenn Fleisig of ASMI, Dr. Weimi Douoguih, or Jeff Passan?

The answer to that question should be obvious.

So what's going on? I think a large part of the problem is that Jeff Passan is a baseball dad -- he's become THAT DAD -- who seems to be dead-set on teaching what he wants to teach to his son and his son's friends, and went so far as to write a book to (try to) justify his beliefs.

Making The Arm one big exercise in cognitive dissonance reduction rather than a serious piece of journalism.