Everyone Is a Doctor When It Comes to Masahiro Tanaka

Masahiro Tanaka

Tuesday ended up being “that day”. “That day” is the day I have feared since Masahiro Tanaka returned from an elbow tear on Sept. 21. of last season. “That day” is the day Tanaka would land on the disabled list again.

I ranked Tanaka No. 1 on The 2015 Yankees Order of Importance and I said:

At the end of Good Will Hunting, Ben Affleck’s character (Chuckie Sullivan) tells Matt Damon’s character (Will Hunting), “You know what the best part of my day is? The ten seconds before I knock on the door ’cause I let myself think I might get there, and you’d be gone. I’d knock on the door and you just wouldn’t be there. You just left.”

You know what the best part of my day is? Every day when I sign online or go on Twitter or turn on the TV or the radio or check my phone and I don’t hear bad news about Masahiro Tanaka’s right arm.

Tanaka and Pineda are the 2015 Yankees. The success of this season and making sure the Yankees don’t miss the playoffs for a third straight time lies in the health of those two. If they stay healthy, the Yankees have the best 1-2 punch in the AL East. If they don’t, the Yankees don’t have a season.

Well, April 28 ended up being the day when I heard the bad news about Tanaka, and now that he is out of the rotation for at least a month, the first-place Yankees are in trouble. Not as much as trouble as the 2014 Yankees were in without Tanaka because they couldn’t hit, but enough trouble that it’s to rely on Chase Whitley again.

This time it’s not an elbow issue, it’s a forearm one that Tanaka thought was a wrist one when he went to the doctor. His latest MRI didn’t show any new damage to his already-damaged right elbow, but it did show a forearm strain that may or may not be related to the tender wrist Tanaka also has.

The moment George King tweeted that there could be an issue with Tanaka, you could feel the smiles of the old guard, the lazy newspaper columnists in the city, grow bigger and their Grinch-like hearts enlarge at the idea of turmoil around the Yankees and their ace. And when Brian Cashman held a “press conference” with reporters at the Stadium, everyone quickly earned their medical degree and a lifetime of knowledge in orthopedic surgery.

I used to think you had to be really smart, get into a good college, do extremely well there, apply to med schools, get into one, do extremely well there, graduate and then do a residency to become a doctor. I didn’t know you could just write for the Daily News or Post to become one. There are a lot of doctors out there that could have saved a lot of time and money and who wouldn’t be paying back hundreds of thousands of dollars in student loans if they had only gotten a job on the copy desk with either of the two tabloids out of college and then worked their way to columnist to achieve their dream of being a doctor or surgeon.

If you have read the columns written by Dr. John Harper of the Daily News or Dr. Kevin Kernan of the Post, which both read like the flaming bag of dog crap that Billy Madison leaves on old man Clemens’ front steps, you would know they are clearly as qualified as someone like Dr. James Andrews or Dr. David Altchek to diagnose an elbow tear or even suggest Tommy John surgery. Dr. Harper and Dr. Kernan probably don’t know what MRI stands for let alone have the ability to read one or understand what goes on in a human elbow, but every chance they get, they’re quick to let you know that “Masahiro Tanaka should get Tommy John surgery!” and that he should have gotten it last July. Somehow they write under the impression that Tommy John surgery is a very simple procedure with a 100 percent recovery success rate.

On Wednesday in the Daily News, Dr. Harper had a column titled “Future of Masahiro Tanaka’s elbow could be doomed as Yankees’ ace head to disabled list” (the typo on “head” is there, so I left it in). In the opening sentence, Harper cites fellow doctor Pedro Martinez, who must have used the $146 million he made in his career to attend medical school after retiring in 2009 as a source for Tanaka needing surgery. Later on, he cites Dr. Curt Schilling, in trying to prove his point. And in between, he filled his word space with a timeline of Brian Cashman’s “press conference” and quotes from the Yankees general manager, who said he will follow the doctors’ orders. The real doctors. Not the newspaper ones.

Kernan’s “column” (if you consider 693 words of bad one-liners and quotes and tweets a column) on Wednesday in the Post was titled “Why Tanaka Needs Tommy John Surgery”. With a headline like that, I expected the byline to be of someone like Dr. Andrews or Dr. Altchek or someone who has performed the surgery or someone who is an expert on the surgery or someone with a medical degree. But nope, “By Kevin Kernan” was right there.

Tanaka is now on the 15-day disabled list. Brian Cashman said we likely won’t see him back in the rotation for a month. If everything goes right, Tanaka should be healthy and back to putting up zeroes by the end of May. But that’s if everything goes right, and when it comes to arm injuries, things rarely seem to go right.

If Tanaka ever gets Tommy John surgery, it will be because a real doctor decided he needs it and not someone who plays a doctor in the newspaper.