With today's announcement that Jamie Moyer has a sprained Ulnar Collateral ligament and a strained flexor pronator tendon in his left elbow and will be heading to the disabled list for an undisclosed amount of time, the Phillies, and baseball may have seen the last of the ancient (former) Mariner. While it is currently unknown if he would need surgery (possibly the dreaded Tommy John surgery), his injury is said to be more severe than that suffered by fellow Phillie J.A. Happ, leaving his return to the game (this season or in the future) in doubt.
If Moyer does not return from this injury, it can not be said that he did not have a full career. He played for seven different teams (Chicago Cubs, Texas Rangers, St. Louis Cardinals (who told him nineteen years ago that he should give up on pitching and become a pitching coach), Baltimore Orioles, Boston Red Sox, Seattle Mariners and Philadelphia Phillies) over the course of a twenty-four year career and made an All Star Game appearance in 2003 with the Mariners. He was tenacious, overcoming setbacks, including injuries and a number of stints in the minors early in his career to be a successful pitcher, with a career length that is truly rare. He is one of only three active pitchers (the other two being Andy Pettitte and Tim Wakefield) to have beaten all thirty MLB teams. He holds a number of records that are almost entirely due to his longevity in this league-- the largest age difference between a pitcher and a hitter (27 years when he pitched this year to 20 year old Starlin Castro), oldest pitcher to pitch a complete game shutout, and most home runs given up by a pitcher. He is the second oldest pitcher to pitch in a World Series game (only Jack Quinn of the 1929 Philadelphia Athletics was older). He is one of only four pitchers to have wins in four decades (1980s, 1990s, 2000s, and 2010s) . He is the oldest non-knuckleball pitcher to start a game.
What is interesting is what he has succeeded without. His pitches do not overpower so much as they confuse. His "fastball" flies by in the mid-eighties-- and he manages to get hitters to miss. His game proves that the ability to throw hard and fast is less important than the ability to locate the ball. The Jamie Moyer Guide to Great Pitching goes something like this (with thanks to Remember the Phitans who wrote this originally:
But his contributions both in the game and beyond did not stop there. He won the Lou Gehrig Memorial Award for his determination and drive, and the Roberto Clemente Man of the Year Award, an award that recognizes the player for his sportsmanship and community service. During his time in Philadelphia, he has mentored Cole Hamels (who was only an infant when Moyer attended his first Spring Training 26 years ago), and his pointers helped Roy Halladay to his perfect game earlier this year. He also founded Camp Erin, for children and teens who are grieving the loss of a loved one, and plans to bring the camp to as many as 60 cities nationwide, including all 30 mlb home cities.
At the beginning of this season, Moyer said that "The game would tell me when I can't. ... And right now I don't feel like the game has told me that I can't". It could be that this injury is Father Time's way of telling Jamie Moyer that he can't. But, I would not count him out just yet-- if Moyer's career thus far has taught any lesson it is not to count him out.