The Myth of the 130-Inning Limit
The problem is, I’m not sure that that limit exists. I’m going to buck the trend here and challenge the conventional wisdom and say that it probably does not, at least not in the way most are using the term. Oh, I have no doubt that there is an internal target number that the organization is looking at, beyond which they will treat Gibson with kid gloves, shutting him down at the first sign of arm weakness or fatigue. Indeed, I would be disappointed if they did not. But I believe he will be allowed to pitch until that moment comes, regardless of his inning total. I choose to take Terry Ryan at his word when he said in March that such a hard inning limit does not exist.
"It's not a firm number," Ryan said. "He's different from (Francisco) Liriano. He's different from Joe Nathan. ... We're going to make sure that we take care of him, but we're also going to give him an opportunity to develop."
Minnesota Twins send Kyle Gibson down, can't wait to bring him back - TwinCities.com
So where did this idea of the 130-inning limit come from? I think it starts last year and the Stephen Strasburg situation in Washington. In his case there was a firm limit, which was announced very publicly early in the season, preparing the fan base for why Strasburg, their ace, might not be available to pitch in the playoffs. That put the whole question of inning limits after TJ surgery center stage in the eyes of the public. Add to that Kyle Gibson’s recovery from TJ surgery and it was natural for Twins fans to raise the same question regarding our young pitcher.
The next piece is from an article on 1500espn.com that Phil Mackey published last November. In that article Mackey indicated that Ryan had told him earlier in the off-season that Gibson would be on a 130-140 inning limit, similar to Atlanta’s Kris Medlin who pitched 138 innings in his first full season back.
Mackey: How does a 'healthy' Kyle Gibson fit into Twins' 2013 plans? | 1500 ESPN Twin Cities ? Minnesota Sports News & Opinion (Twins, Vikings, Wolves, Wild, Gophers) | Sportswire: Minnesota Twins
From that point, the 130-140 inning limit became standard fodder, being picked up by bloggers and others and passed on regularly. Preseason analysis from the likes of Rhett Bollinger also perpetuated the idea, although they did call it an expectation rather than hard information from management. Soon it was the standard on which all forum threads on Gibson were based. And so here we are today.
I of course could be wrong – there may indeed be an arbitrary number beyond which Gibson will not be allowed to go, one that has not been made public because that is just not the Twins way. But what if I’m not? What if my supposition is correct, and Ryan wasn’t just trying to fool us all in March? What if Gibson pitches for the rest of the season, although probably with extra days of rest? What does that say about how we handle information in the internet age?
One thing it would remind us of is how easy supposition can become “fact” through the process of repetition. That’s something that is not limited to this case, of course. It’s become common in life in general, particularly in politics. The hard-cores on both the left and the right have become adept at repeating the same item of misinformation so often that it becomes factual in the minds of many who listen to them. Think Barack Obama and the furor over his birth certificate. The challenge, then, is to always make sure of our sources before we take as definitive something we’ve read in a blog or forum (or a newspaper or magazine article too, for that matter).
It should also remind us that wisdom comes not necessarily from following the crowd, but from recognizing that wisdom is often something that has to be pieced together from multiple sources, never clearly revealed in any one source but only truly seen in composite. Kind of like a jigsaw puzzle – all the pieces have to be properly placed before the true picture emerges. Thus the challenge is to have the patience to truly investigate a question from all sides, and only when we have all the pieces can we truly put the puzzle together.
And yes, that means listening to people with whom we disagree, recognizing that even from their words we can learn and grow even if we do not adopt their views and positions wholeheartedly.
Finally, it reminds us nothing is carved in stone and the ability to adapt is a hallmark of the human condition. The two articles I linked above seem to be contradictory, until you remember that one was published in November and the other in March. I have no difficulty believing both are accurate. Any change in stance comes from being willing to reassess the situation as more data comes available, in this case as the Twins' staff watched Gibson during spring training.
That’s something every organization and every individual needs to be able to do, to always be willing to be flexible and change ones views when new information merits it. It is only when we become so hard and fast in our positions that we stop looking for new information, that we stop being willing to test our beliefs, that we come close to the danger of ossifying and becoming irrelevant, and of having a fast-changing world pass us by.