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VJH
09-07-2004, 11:44 AM
As both a tennis and baseball fan, there is no better season than late August/early September. The pennant race is heating up and the US Open graces Flushing Meadows. As a Yankee fan living in Boston, this pennant race has been very exciting. The Yankees are in a free fall and the Sox look unstoppable. (To all those Sox fans out there, Yes I am worried and No, I don't think the Yankees will get by the Sox this year...The curse seems to be over).

I've been awed by the awesome serving power of Roddick and Johannson. Simultaneously, Pedro and Schilling have never been better **sigh**. As a result, I couldn't help but consider the following:

Fact: The upper body mechanics of a powerful serve use as a foundation smooth throwing technique (albeit focused upward towards contact as opposed to forward towards the catchers glove).

Fact: These days, most starting pitchers are removed from the game after throwing approximately 110-120 pitches. Closers are good for 20-30 pitches and can't be used more than days in a row (in general). An average 3 set match will yield 80 or so serves. A 5 setter can lead to over 130 serves.

Fact: A pro's tennis racket weighs between 11.5 and 14 ounces (generally speaking). A baseball weighs between 5 and 5.25 ounces.

What is interesting to note is that a starting pitcher, who throws 120 pitches in a game is then rewarded with at least 4 days of rest in between starts. Agassi who won on Monday, has to tee it up again on Wednesday (1 day of rest). Not to mention, that tennis players have to keep this pace (day on, day off) for 2 weeks.

Granted the fact that a racket is at minimum 27 inches long may negate some of the actual weight of the stick as it pertains to the throwing motion. It is unlikely however that the racket's serving weight would be reduce to or under 5.25 ounces.

Are baseball players coddled? Or are tennis players just workhorses.....

tetsuo10
09-07-2004, 12:42 PM
You make a good point about starting pitchers being coddled. Wasn't it in the old days of Koufax, et. al. that pitchers always pitched on 4 days rest (not 5 or 6) and basically pitched the whole game (not 5 or 6 innings)? But pitchers are also paid by owners, so they see them as investments to be protected.

While the arm motion is basically the same for serving and pitching, it just feels to me like there's more stress on the arm just throwing a baseball. Maybe that the racket takes most of the stress out of the arm, with it being 27" and the material it's made of. It would be nice if someone can post any links that has done any studies on this. I've also wondered if Roddick can throw a baseball in the 90's.

Tennis Guy
09-07-2004, 02:58 PM
Interesting. I am also a big fan of baseball and I think both games are very similar.

degreefanlindi
09-07-2004, 04:07 PM
Great post! I am also a huge Yankees fan, but am from NY. How do you find it being the outcast Yankee fan there in the Boston area?
This years' pennant race is surely exciting, all around the majors. The NL WC is up for grabs, as are three of the four divisions in the AL. It will be interesting to see how Boston does against some of the better teams now, and I think the winner of the east will come down to the final series between NY and Boston.
To answer your question, I sincerely think baseball players are coddled and tennis players are workhorses!

VJH
09-08-2004, 07:01 AM
Degreefanlindi,

I have to admit, being a Yankee guy in Sox country is tough...I probably make it a little more difficult on myself by wearing my Yankee gear to the few Sox games that I have attended (even if they aren't playing the Yankees). In the end though, it is comforting, because I know the wheels will always come off the Sox's train. Everyone at my office will be miserable....And I will be wearing the cheshire grin....

Camilio Pascual
09-08-2004, 09:37 AM
As a result, I couldn't help but consider the following:
Fact: These days, most starting pitchers are removed from the game after throwing approximately 110-120 pitches. Closers are good for 20-30 pitches and can't be used more than days in a row (in general). An average 3 set match will yield 80 or so serves. A 5 setter can lead to over 130 serves.
Are baseball players coddled? Or are tennis players just workhorses.....

Your facts are very questionable. I'll just address one. I'd be willing to bet most starting pitchers are removed before throwing 80 pitches, that 110-120 pitches figure of yours is more of a maximium than an average.
You also fail to consider how precisely the pitched ball must be placed. Three pitching errors out of 80 pitches can easily lose a ball game. Baseball is so much more of a precision game than tennis. Also, a pitcher throwing a 5 oz. ball @ 90 mph without the benefit of a tool such as a racquet (lever with a sling) has imparted more energy to the ball than a server hitting a 2 oz. ball @ 125mph. He also has to think about that baseball coming back at his head or knees or bread basket at 130mph from 60' 6" away. I pitched, that is a consideration, something 3rd basemen think about, too. I think you are trying to force a meaningful comparison that is just not there. They are both truly great sports, let's enjoy them as they are.

tetsuo10
09-08-2004, 09:55 AM
I think the point he was trying to make is that after 80 pitches, the pitcher sits for 5 days before pitching again. Tennis players have to serve and also hit groundies, which can also contribute stress to the arm (not to mention all the running around), and still play the next day. There's no doubt getting hit by a baseball can be life-threatening. In fact, I hate when commentator talk about itimidation by Roddick, etc .... Please, this is tennis. You're not standing 60' facing Clemens throwing at your head with a rock-hard ball!

By the way, go 'Stros!!! :D Cubbies are gonna choke again.

Bungalo Bill
09-08-2004, 10:27 AM
I think two big differences are in physical exertion duriing points. A tennis player serves and then "fields" the reply. This exchange can happen over given amount of time.

The other is the serve compared to a pitcher has two chances before a point is awarded from his serve, where a pticher has foul balls, longer pitch counts, etc. that can skew the amount of throws during a baseball game.

There are some similarites in a pitching motion to a serve but there are many clear differences.

I am a fan of the "little engine that could". Go A's!

Camilio Pascual
09-08-2004, 12:14 PM
There are some similarites in a pitching motion to a serve but there are many clear differences.
I am a fan of the "little engine that could". Go A's!

Amen to that, the footwork isn't even close!

VJH
09-08-2004, 12:49 PM
tetsuo10 hit the nail on the head. I was really trying to highlight that both a tennis player serving and a pitcher throwing are using similar mechanics (at least in relation to the shoulder and arm). A pitcher is throwing a 5 ounce ball and a tennis player is swinging a 12 ounce racket. A pitcher requires 5 days rest and a tennis player gets a single day of rest.

I pitched at a division 1 college as well as playing some semi-pro baseball. I am also now a 5.0 tennis player. Personally, I never felt that I needed 4-5 days rest between starts as a pitcher (I threw in the high 80's low 90's). I can serve all day without problem. I think the culture of both games are just different.

Camilio, the facts I chose were based on worse case scenarios. While I agree that many pitchers are pulled at the 80 pitch count, you often see them throw 90-100 towards the end of spring training to build arm strength and stamina.

I also realize that the concerns of the pitcher and infielders are much different than that of a server. I wasn't trying to go down that road with my comments. The games are different with different potential hazards.

Although I agree that a pitcher needs to be very precise with the release point, throwing towards a pretty narrow strike zone whose real size varies marginally based on the ump behind the plate, I would argue that a tennis server needs the same precision/racket control while trying to hit spots in a service box. Just a few degrees one way or the other of the racket face can have significant results on flight of the tennis ball.

While the service box is much larger than even the largest strike zones, a pro tennis player isn't just trying to get the ball in the box, but hit a ball to a specific spot in 3 dimensions: east/west (out wide or down the line), north/south (deep in the box or shallow in the box (if trying to angle someone off court) and height over the net. Height over the net is important because this will impace the height of the ball when it reaches the receiver.

A pitcher lives in 2 dimensions: north/south, east/west.

tetsuo10
09-08-2004, 02:46 PM
VJH, how hard do you hit your serves? Being able to throw in the low 90's is impressive and was just wondering how that translate into a tennis serve.

Camilio Pascual
09-09-2004, 03:20 AM
VJH - I liked your post, but a pitcher lives in 3 dimensions, hence the change up or the practice of maintaining the same arm speed with different velocity pitches. I especially liked your comment about the strike zone(s), there are so many of them and they vary from pitch to pitch, sometimes. I'm sure batters will agree to that! Anyway, glad to hear from one so passionate about tennis AND baseball.

VJH
09-09-2004, 07:48 AM
tetsuo10

The short answer to your question is that I serve in the mid 120's. However, the serve has been the single most difficult of my game to improve. I've only been playing tennis for about 10 years now (I am 35 and started playing a few years after I graduated from college). That means from about age 6-25 or 19 years, I had been directing my throwing motion forward. I also played quarterback in my adolescence and highschool....More forward throwing.

So when it came time for me to learn how 2 serve, I was challenged by 2 things really, incorporating the toss (use of the left arm for something other that initiating the "throw") and directing my throwing motion towards contact.

For many years I was so frustrated by this. I can remeber thinking that I could only serve in the mid 80's, but can throw a baseball in the low 90's.....this just didn't make sense to me.

After many years of working on my technique, I've become somewhat happy with my service results...(we all could have a higher first serve percentage :-)). I've learned how to direct my throwing motion up and incorporate my hip into the stroke.

kevhen
09-13-2004, 12:05 PM
Tennis players are in better shape and generally just have one hard pitch. Pitchers have fastball, slider, curveball, etc, which can do more damage to the elbow, wrist, and shoulder since there is different mechanics involved in each pitch.

Being in NY and Boston last week, all the pubs had there TV's turned to baseball and nobody was watching tennis. Then on the weekend everyone was watching football. Maybe the US Open should start a week or two earlier before the football and baseball seasons heat up so we can get more people to follow and talk about the sport.