Out of all of the major sports news and topics that caught my attention yesterday, one truly stuck out: Dylan Fosnacht of Rochester High School threw 194 pitches in 14 innings and struck out 17 in a 1-0 win. In a time where prized arms such as Jose Fernandez are falling victim to the curse of the UCL tear, there needs to be accountability on the coaching staffs of the youth and high school programs that these kids participate in.
Now, before anyone begins delving into the story and stating that the coaches checked up on him in between each inning, can we remember what type of human being we are dealing with. We are not dealing with a rational, down-the-line thinking individual, we are dealing with an athlete in the heat of competition. Not only that, we’re dealing with a young one. Put yourself back into the shoes of yourself in the awkward, irrational, chaotic teenage versions of yourselves and tell me that in situations of risk and duress, you might have acted a little bit more foolishly in the past than you would in the present. Furthermore, in a sports culture that throws labels such as soft and “me-players” around, how can any of us expect that a kid would pull himself from a tightly contested ball game in which he clearly is dominating in. We’re not talking about the years in our lives where we’re picking apart potential relationships based on personalities, long-term match or fit with the family, we’re talking about the years when we would dress to fit in, go out of our way to impress and yet still beat around the bush with a crush.
When we talk about the story of Dylan Fosnacht throwing 194 pitches, we’re talking about a kid that was playing so well that there was no way he could take himself out of the game. That said, we’re also talking about a situation where the coach needed to understand who he was talking to under the conditions and make the smart decision. We’ve heard stories about Daisuke Matsuzaka throwing 120 or 130 pitches a game in his day back in Japan and have no issues. We’ve seen Edwin Jackson throw a 149 pitch no-hitter and keep his arm together. With that in mind, we’ve also seen Fernandez, Matt Moore, Stephen Strasburg, Kris Medlen and some of the other bright young arms in the game fall apart, frankly with innocent looking plays and under strict pitch counts. Likewise, we’ve also seen Johan Santana and Chris Carpenter push themselves to the limit, well past those pitch counts, and basically hammer the final nail in the coffin holding their pro careers.
In an era where the Tommy John surgery looms over the entire sport, incidents like this should never be allowed to happen. The fact that Rochester High School won 1-0 might be remembered in the hallways of the school for about 24 hours and in the locker room for about a week or two until the next close contest wipes it from frontal memory. Of course, such a game is a once in a lifetime experience for the pitcher and catcher that worked as a tandem to pull of the miraculous win and probably will stick with them for life. That said, if the cost of that memory is the potential to lose years worth of memories over a college and pro career that could get derailed because of the consequences, would you still want it? In that situation, the player, veins pumping with testosterone, pride and competitive spirit, would either not consider the scenario or even say yes. It’s the job of the manager to know better.