The Philadelphia sports scene has become so grim that a pitcher needing shoulder surgery is treated as good news.
Phillies pitcher Roy Halladay will have arthroscopic shoulder surgery on Wednesday, one day after his 36th birthday. The surgery will remove a bone spur, and repair a torn rotator cuff and frayed labrum.
That doesn’t sound like good news, but Halladay was one step short of ebullient when conveying the news about his surgery. He spoke of pitching again this season. He spoke of the surgery possibly “turning back the clock” two or three years. Halladay made the surgery sound like a magical elixir that would restore the form and results he displayed in his prime.
Halladay’s reaction makes sense. Now he knows why he’s lost velocity off his fastball. Now he knows why he’s having difficulty with location. Now he knows why his shoulder is sore.
But Halladay’s struggles started before he experienced soreness these past two weeks. And the bone spur didn’t develop overnight. While Halladay views the surgery with optimism – and it’s completely understandable why he is taking that approach – the rest of us should view the surgery with caution.
Pitchers generally don’t return from shoulder surgery more effective than they were in the years prior to the surgery. In other words, shoulder surgeries don’t often “turn back the clock.”
Even Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. sounded a cautionary note. Doctors won’t know the full extent of Halladay’s injuries until they operate and get a better look inside his shoulder. For example, the partial rotator cuff tear could be close to a full tear.
Even if the surgery cleans up all the problems, that doesn’t necessarily mean Halladay will be the pitcher who arrived in Philadelphia seeking a championship a few years ago. And that brings us to another sticky situation.
Let’s assume that Halladay’s surgery is successful and he is able to pitch in August or September. There will be questions about where Halladay will pitch next season. His Phillies contract expires this year. Will he return to the Phillies? Not if he wants to win that elusive championship.
FIRST LOOK: We’ll get a first look at Eagles rookies this weekend, with rookie and free agent camp starting Friday at the NovaCare complex. Actually, much of practice is closed, so we won’t really get a good look.
Quarterback Matt Barkley will be the featured performer. It’s a little easier to tell if a quarterback looks sharp at a mini-camp than an offensive lineman, such as first-round pick Lane Johnson.
SOUNDS OF SILENCE: Nobody should be surprised by the Sixers’ silence in the wake of Andrew Bynum flamenco dancing in Madrid during the first-round of the NBA playoffs.
As I wrote in a Sixers Notebook last November, owner Josh Harris and the once-ubiquitous CEO Adam Aron disappeared from public view once it became clear that Bynum wasn’t going to play for an extended period of time. With Bynum apparently more interested in auditioning for Dancing with the Stars then the first round of the NBA playoffs, Sixers management was once again silent.
Bynum’s dancing was disturbing to fans who shelled out money for tickets and merchandise this season in expectation that Bynum would play. At the very least, the Sixers should have expressed disappointment at Bynum’s footloose adventures in Spain and made it clear they would not re-sign him.
The only reason not to make that statement is if the Sixers are leaving their options open in terms of re-signing Bynum. And that’s a scary thought.
DANCE FEVER: If the Sixers re-sign Bynum and he can’t play yet again, perhaps he could earn some of his salary by joining the cheerleaders for dance routines.
CUP FEVER: No sporting event is more exciting than the Stanley Cup playoffs. By the way, those of you who picked the Sharks and Senators as the first teams to wrap up first-round series, please raise your hand.
DERBY FEVER: Does any sporting event receive more hype for less of a payoff than the Kentucky Derby. The race is exciting, but do we need three hours of pre-race coverage for a 2-minute race?
ROAD WARRIORS: All four visiting teams almost won the opening game of the NBA’s second-round playoff series. The Pacers handily beat the Knicks and the Bulls stunned the Heat. The Grizzlies almost beat the Thunder and the Warriors should have beaten the Spurs.
The Spurs’ Game 1 comeback against the Warriors was one of the most thrilling games I’ve seen in ages. They were trailing by 16 points with four-and-a-half minutes left. Tim Duncan was in the locker room with a stomach virus. A Spurs victory seemed impossible. But they pulled it off against the upstart Warriors, who showed they are for real by winning Game 2.
All four NBA series are tied at 1-1. And you know the Warriors and Grizzlies think they should be ahead 2-0.
UNWELCOME BREAK: With four series, why couldn’t the NBA schedule a game for Thursday night? Having a night off during the second round doesn’t make any sense.
BOB-BING FOR TROPHIES: If the Flyers use the amnesty clause on Ilya Bryzgalov and his expensive contract, they will look even worse if Blue Jackets goalie Sergei Bobrovsky wins the Vezina Trophy. Bobrovsky is one of three finalists for the best goalie award, along with the Rangers’ Henrik Lundqvist and Sharks’ Antti Niemi.
WHO’S YOUR DAD-DY: Philadelphia is home to so many unique sporting events. Friday and Saturday the city hosts the Aberdeen Dad Vail Regatta, which is celebrating its 75th year. The Dad Vail, which takes place on the Schuylkill River, is the largest collegiate rowing event in the United States.
HAPP-Y ENDING: It was great to see J.A. Happ escape relatively unscathed after getting hit with a line drive Tuesday night off the bat of the Rays’ Desmond Jennings. “Unscathed” might seem like the wrong word for a head contusion and skull fracture behind his ear, but it’s the right word when you consider that the ball bounced off Happ’s head and went all the way to the dugout, approximately 200 feet away.
Happ, a former Phillie, is fortunate the damage wasn’t much, much worse.
Eric Fisher, who has been covering sports for more than 24 years, has never been flamenco dancing – at least not that he can remember.