Christy Mathewson was right about the curveball in spring training

Pitchers who throw the curveball too early in spring training can expect to pay a heavy price.  Just ask the late Hall of Fame pitcher Christy Mathewson. Even 100 years ago, a pitcher who started snapping off Barry Zito-like curveballs right out of the gates, would more than likely develop elbow problems before too long.   In other words, a pitcher is flirting with danger if he starts throwing curveballs too soon in the spring.

Before there was ESPN, before there was sports talk radio, there was the newspaper. And much like today’s retired athletes who found a second career in the media, for some a second career awaited in the newspapers. Which takes us to Mathewson, a winner of 373 big league games in 17 seasons, 16 with the New York Giants and one short stint with the Cincinnati Reds.

Mathewson was a columnist for the New York Times sports section. On Feb. 6, 1920, 100 years ago, with spring training around the corner, he broached the topic with his readers. For instance, Mathewson dispelled the notion that “back in the day” players reported to camp to get into shape. Granted, many did, but it was not because management looked the other way. Mathewson relates story about spring training and getting in shape.

To no one’s surprise, one of the greatest pitchers of them all, also defended the pitchers’ training camp regimen, writing:

“I honestly think that the lot of the pitcher on the training trip is the hardest of them all. It is just a steady grind. He goes out each morning with a catcher who has a big mitt and a loud voice. The best kind of a catcher for this work is one who is never satisfied, no matter what you give him.”

Mathewson then got to his point about the curveball:

“I never tried to throw a curve for ten days, at least, after going South. A misplaced curve early in the season may give a man a sore arm for the rest of the year.”

Five-and-a-half years after he wrote that column, Mathewson died at the age of 45 in Saranac Lakes, NY. But 100 years later, his sage advice lives on.

Garoppolo why Eli Manning belongs in Hall

For sometime, even before New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning announced his retirement, there has been a debate over whether he should be elected to the Hall of Fame.    After all the critics say, he finished with a .500 record as quarterback.  Supporters of Manning’s Canton, OH bid say his two Super Bowl victories should seal the deal for his election.  With Jimmy Garoppolo’s performance in Super Bowl LIV, I think we can put the former argument to rest.

Manning belongs in the hall, pure and simple.  Take nothing away from Garoppolo, who has two Super Bowl rings, serving as Tom Brady’s caddy in New England.  And for three quarters against the Chiefs on Sunday night, he was nearly superb.  But when it came to crunch time, Garoppolo did not execute and until he can prove otherwise – and he is only 28 so he has time – his performance will be measured against those who can.  And Manning proved he can.

His two championship rings were the result of his late-game drives against New England.  When it came to crunch time, with a world watching and dissecting his every move, Manning came through.  That is the measure of a champion and Manning did it not once but twice.

So let’s end the babble about Eli Manning’s Hall of Fame qualifications.  If there was any debate, that issue has been put to rest, thanks to Garoppolo’s fourth quarter meltdown.  Until the 49ers quarterback can prove otherwise, he will have to live with “what might have been”.  Manning may have regrets, but his performances when it mattered should not be among them.  Two Super Bowl rings, delivered at crunch time against a perennial champion no less, are more than enough to punch his ticket to Canton.