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For John Wildhack, Tuesday was a homecoming

first_img Facebook Twitter Google+ Related Stories 3 things John Wildhack said at his introductory press conferenceWhat John Wildhack’s hiring could mean for Syracuse: 6 experts weigh inSyracuse coaches react to John Wildhack’s hiring as director of athletics Published on July 12, 2016 at 7:42 pm Contact Chris: cjlibona@syr.edu | @ChrisLibonaticenter_img Three years, John Wildhack told his parents. Three years and he’d be done at ESPN. He loved sports and he loved going down to “The Cage,” a storage area in the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications, to pick up a camera. His goal then was to turn passion into profession. On Tuesday, with his itinerary on a long wooden desk in his office and a bottle of water at his side, he thought of why he chose ESPN in 1980, then a startup sports network in the undeveloped town of Bristol, Connecticut.“Because they offered me a job,” he said, laughing.Three years turned into 12 times that until he could turn passion into profession again. That passion brought him back to Syracuse on Tuesday. Fans had clamored for an ‘SU guy’ to fill the Director of Athletics role that Mark Coyle had vacated in May.The way Coyle bolted to Minnesota — head football coach Dino Babers said on Tuesday he found out via a reporter — left a bitter taste for Syracuse supporters. Tuesday was about ridding SU of that taste and making clear that the university has an AD that’s at SU for the long haul. AdvertisementThis is placeholder textIn 1980, Wildhack made the hour and a half trip to Rochester, New York, where ESPN had a team to cover a Professional Bowlers Association event. Ellen Beckwith, who was an executive with the network, interviewed Wildhack in Rochester and recommended him to be hired. It took over 30 years, but Wildhack became one of ESPN’s most tenured employees, seeing the rise of the now-network giant. He saw Bristol rise up as the station’s popularity and success skyrocketed. “When you do that,” he said of seeing the network from infancy to its giant status, “there’s an incredible sense of pride.” The reality of SU’s situation is that it is just a year removed from facing NCAA penalties that will linger for a few more years. While it is by no means a ground-up project, it is in recovery. Last year was the first step to healing, with the athletic program having one of its most successful seasons ever. Just like at ESPN, Wildhack has a chance to put his stamp on SU and build it in his image.At the same time, his challenge at ESPN was always building on already extreme success. The network always managed to stay ahead of its competitors by helping give rise to streaming in sports with ESPN3 or the sports documentary series “30 for 30.” SU’s Olympic sports pose the same dilemma. But realistically, that’s for tomorrow. SU head men’s soccer coach Ian McIntyre said he has yet to meet with Wildhack, who will spend the next few weeks transitioning out of ESPN and in at Syracuse. The first time McIntyre had seen him face to face was Tuesday, before the press conference. Tuesday was more of a pep rally — a homecoming for Wildhack. “It is great to be home,” he said at the beginning of his press conference. For now, that’ll do. Until there are decisions to be made, until he takes over the role in full, until he’s gotten a chance to sit down and actually plan his next few months, right now is just about healing the athletic department after such a sudden departure of the unit’s foremost member. For now, it’s OK to look back at his resume and the potential ways his long tenure at ESPN affects the way he’ll be Syracuse’s AD. It’s OK to extrapolate what he did in his career to what SU needs. It’s even OK to say that, yes, unlike Syracuse former head football coach Doug Marrone, Wildhack has his dream job. For now, it’s even OK to say that the fit “feels so right,” because right now is about the triumph of finding the 11th director of athletics at Syracuse University. Wildhack never did need the bottle of water on his desk, because right now the heat hasn’t quite been turned up. That’ll happen in a couple of weeks. Commentslast_img read more

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Grin-and-bear-it culture can be detrimental to pitchers

first_imgUntil then, Mattingly said, “we didn’t hear a thing about it.”By Tuesday, Mattingly had been informed that speaking up might not have made a difference — Stripling tore the ligament when he threw his first cut fastball in batting practice. However, Stripling was able to pitch another inning of BP that day. Pitching against the Diamondbacks, he was able to strike out one major-league hitter (Tony Campana) and get a ground-ball double play out of another (Mike Jacobs). According to the in-house radar gun at Salt River Fields, Stripling was throwing in the low 90-mph range.Even if Stripling was able to do all that with a torn UCL, his elbow certainly didn’t get better over the past week. Now he has approximately 12-18 months — the typical recovery time after a Tommy John procedure — to wonder “what if.”“That sucks,” Mattingly said of the diagnosis. “The kid was on a good roll.”Stripling admitted Friday that he made a mistake by not reporting the injury sooner. But what about that conventional wisdom: What is it, and where did it come from?The ethos of playing through injuries is powerful and pervasive among players in their first major-league camp. One rookie pitcher declined comment altogether when asked what he would do in Stripling’s situation.Jarret Martin, a left-hander in his first major-league camp was in a similar situation in June 2012. He was set to pitch one inning in the Midwest League All-Star Game, two days after his final start of the first half with the Single-A Great Lakes Loons.After the all-star game, Martin had a burning sensation in his left shoulder below the armpit. He made the five-hour drive back from Geneva, Illinois to Midland, Michigan and didn’t report the injury until after he’d thrown a few pitches.Martin was ultimately diagnosed with a strained latissimus dorsi and tendinitis in his left biceps — the result of altering his mechanics to compensate for the lat injury, he believes. The 24-year-old didn’t pitch another game until late August.“If I have something nagging, I’m going to get it in an earlier stage,” he said. “I want to stay on the field. Coming down here to rehab, having this Arizona heat fry your brain — I was here in July, August — that’s tough. That’s really a test on your mind power, working through that.”If he were in Stripling’s position, would Martin have reported the elbow pain right away?“That’s a tough question,” he said. “If I felt it in BP, I’m going to finish BP. I’m going to 100 percent finish BP until I just can’t. Then I’ll play catch the next day. If it gets to the point where I know it’s hurting — I kind of know when I’m not right because I start compensating — then I know I need to stop.”Red Patterson and Seth Rosin, two right-handers in their first major-league camp with the Dodgers, said they would have reported the injury, too. Yet both pitchers said they understood Stripling’s hesitation to speak up.“You go from being a big guy over there (in minor-league camp) to here being a rookie,” Patterson said. “You’re trying not only to impress the staff, the front office, you’re trying to impress the teammates, the guys who have been around a few years.”Patterson described the hesitation to report injuries as an “unwritten rule” among the rookies. “I think rookies are the ones who say it amongst each other the most,” Stripling said. “Maybe they learned it from older guys. There’s no hazing by any means.”Stripling’s career isn’t over. There are many success stories of pitchers recovering from Tommy John procedures early in their careers to have success in the majors. Dodgers reliever Brian Wilson has had the procedure twice: first as a junior at Louisiana State University and again in 2012. He’s saved 171 games over parts of eight seasons.In an impressive 21-game debut at Double-A Chattanooga last year, Stripling went 6-4 with a 2.78 earned-run average. Sometime, probably next year, he’ll get the opportunity to show why he was the 10th-ranked prospect in the Dodgers’ organization by MLB.com.In the meantime, a painful lesson lingers: It’s better to speak up too soon than too late.“It’s one thing we talk about with young guys — it happens every spring,” Mattingly said. “You ask them to let somebody know, but they don’t want to tell anybody because they want to compete.” “Thank you everyone for your thoughts and prayers,” Stripling wrote on his Twitter account Tuesday afternoon. “Everything happens for a reason!”One reason: Maybe his sad saga can serve as a cautionary tale against conventional wisdom.It was conventional wisdom that carried Stripling through two innings of live batting practice on Feb. 21. He first remembered feeling something in his elbow late in the first inning, when he snapped off a cut fastball to Joc Pederson, then he pitched another. Afterward, Stripling didn’t tell any Dodgers coaches, trainers, or teammates that he was in pain.Five days later he made his Cactus League debut against the Arizona Diamondbacks, facing 12 batters in two innings. Still, he didn’t report the injury.“Then I tried to pick up a ball (Thursday) and just couldn’t really throw it,” Stripling said. GLENDALE, Ariz. — Ross Stripling stood in the Dodgers’ clubhouse at Camelback Ranch on Friday giving a demonstration to a group of reporters. His prized right elbow was dangling in the air with an imaginary baseball in his hand.“They said it’s really bad if I feel it here, in the back of my motion,” the 24-year-old pitcher said, holding the arm at a 90-degree angle.“But I feel it more here with my curve and my cutter,” he continued, completing his throwing motion, his arm now in front of his body, “which is better than if I feel it back here.”By Tuesday, Stripling was in Los Angeles meeting with team physician Dr. Neal ElAttrache. Before they reviewed the results of a contrast MRI exam on Stripling’s elbow, all they had was that little slice of hope hanging by the thread of an imaginary baseball. Then came the diagnosis: Stripling would undergo the ligament-replacement procedure known as Tommy John surgery. His season was effectively over.center_img Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Errorlast_img read more

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