When you have John Smoltz, one of the best pitchers ever, and a pro hall of famer, calling your book “the most important baseball book in years”, then I think you did something right. The Arm by Jeff Passan walks you through the “billion dollar mystery of the most valuable commodity in sports”. As a lifelong baseball fan and a former pitcher myself, I just could not wait to get my hands(pun intended) on The Arm.
Jeff Passan is the lead baseball columnist for Yahoo! Sports. For the book, Passan(pronounced Pass-In) followed two major league pitchers on their journey to recover from Tommy John. The pitchers, and their doctors, even allowed him to be in the operating room while the pitcher was getting the surgery. Passan gives us a very insightful and thought out interpretation of everything that is going on in that operating room from the tools the surgeon is using, all the way to what music is being played.
In addition to following those two pitchers around, Passan also traveled to Japan to see how they deal with the Tommy John epidemic. The differences between how pitchers are used in Japan and the USA is astounding. For example, in the USA, a starting pitcher usually throws about 100 pitches every 5 days. In Japan, one high school pitcher threw over 750 pitches in 5 days, spanning multiple games. If a coach did that to a kid in the USA, that coach would be thrown in prison.
The Arm explores how one tiny ligament in the elbow controls the entire game of baseball. A pitcher can either gain hundreds of millions or lose hundreds of millions of dollars because of that one, pesky ligament snaps. The worst part? Nobody knows how to prevent it from snapping.