Posted by: mdegeorge | March 13, 2011

Weekly Diagnosis: March 13

It’s been a week of tragedy for the world at large thanks to the earthquake in Japan (and that notion of tragedy has nothing to do with the bitching billionaires in the NFL, who could float out to see without me batting an eyelid). It’s also been a busy week on the biological front thanks to what may be a banner week in equine fertility, a dubious anniversary for the NHL, and well, yeah, more concussion stuff.

Todd Bertuzzi (Photo courtesy of Creative Commons.)

Moore trouble for the NHL

Tuesday commemorated the seventh anniversary of Todd Bertuzzi’s attack on the Colorado Avalanche’s Steve Moore. Canoe offers an interesting profile of the progress of the civil case, litigation of which has yet be determined. Both sides are assembling crack legal teams with big names in the field while watching the price of damages likely climbing with each passing delay.

It also focuses on the seminal matter in the case, beyond the financial details or criminal terms: the change in the life of Moore himself.

Moore, a Harvard graduate who wasn’t the brightest of prospect but certainly capable of being a solid third- or fourth-line forward, still experiences what we broadly deem post-concussion syndrome. He suffers from headaches whenever he thinks deeply and has had to endure countless medical exams without resolution.

The misery Moore has had to endure is of paramount importance in whatever path this saga follows. But it’s also a public relations minefield for the NHL. The only league without an impending labor controversy/doomsday, they’re on a clear upswing in terms of popularity and could be looking towards an upgrade television contract (especially if NBC is looking for something to fill Sundays in the fall). The case will bring some infamy to the league, something the NHL has to limit as much as possible.

If some is good, Morneau is better

Moore’s case is one of many that attest to the unpredictability of concussions and how quickly symptoms subside. Another comparison from the New York Times shedding some light into that arena is that of Red Sox pitcher Josh Beckett and Twins first baseman Justin Morneau.

Morneau is eight months removed from a concussion sustained while breaking up a double play last season and only played his first game Monday. He still reports symptoms such as fogginess and headaches one to two days a week, but does see the symptoms slowly subsiding.

Beckett, on the other hand, took a baseball to the head just over a week ago and was able to shake off the symptoms with a good night’s sleep. He threw a bullpen session just four days after the incident.

A cursory treatment of the two cases reveals that Morneau has a more prolific history of head injuries, including one as a pro and untold others during his youth hockey and basketball careers. Beckett on the other hand recalls only one other head injury as a youth. Anecdotal evidence isn’t much to go on, but in the absence of anything else, it’ll have to do.

Love is in the stable air

I’m not sure what the official start to the commercial horse breeding season officially is. But judging by the entries on the AP sports digest this week, I think it has arrived.

It was announced Monday that 2009 Horse of the Year Rachel Alexandra is in foal after mating with Curlin, himself a two-time HOY, producing what Alexandra’s owner thinks may be a “superhorse” in the four-year-old’s first foal.

Motherhood also arrived Thursday for 2010 HOY Zenyatta, who became a mother for the first time at age seven thanks to 2006 Preakness winner Bernardini. The gestation period lasts about a year, with births expected in February 2011.

It’s fitting that the two should be bred within a similar timeframe being that they’re two of the winningest fillies of all time. Their rivalry was left unrequited on the track due in large part to Alexandra’s withdrawal from the 2009 Breeders Cup, won by Zenyatta.

It appears the two horses will have to fulfill that rivalry fabricated by silly human pundits like the rest of the world left disappointed by their own lives: vicariously through their children. Expect a Wisteria Lane-type comparison between the two when each of their respective children hit the sale ring, the race track, the breeding circuit, try out for the varsity lacrosse team, or audition for the lead in the school play.

Peavy the injured innovator

Chicago White Sox pitcher Jake Peavy faced an arduous recovery last summer when it was revealed that he had a muscle and tendon become unattached from bone in his throwing shoulder. But thanks to an experimental surgical procedure, Peavy’s recuperation time has been slashed drastically.

Dr. Anthony Romeo developed the procedure, which uses titanium anchors to reattach the loose tendon and latissimus dorsi muscle to the bone, and made Peavy the first MLB starting pitcher to undergo the operation. Romeo has had success using the technique on other athletes such as wrestlers and rock climbers but had yet to use the procedure on as physically demanding, in terms of work load and dynamic range of motion, a position as a major league starting pitcher.

Peavy is progressing slowly but surely through the spring, as is to be expected with any rehabbing pitcher, but still remains month ahead of the schedule were it not for Romeo’s revolutionary intervention. It’s yet to be seen if Peavy’s success enters the new procedure into the substantial arsenal for the increasingly bionic major league pitching ranks. As the mlb.com article points out, Peavy, for all his history of nagging injuries, is an ideal candidate to be the posterchild of this new method thanks to his shoulder’s structurally sound elements like his labrum and rotator cuff, both unscathed in his career.

Weekly diagnosis article of the week

Sports Illustrated’s injury expert Will Carroll gives you all the information you ever thought you could digest about Tommy John surgery. It’s an excellently deep look at the process from incision to recovery that summarizes the various schools of thought involved in the process. It’s nice to go beyond the empty updates and get some insight into just where your favorite ball players disappear to when they’re rehabbing.

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