BH: Hello, Matt.
MS: Does it sound funny, us on both phones?
MS: Well, we’re okay.
BH: Well, in my vision of what we’re doing today, and you can correct me at any point.
MS: We don’t know what we’re doing.
BH: Well, what I wanted to do was not make have this a major twenty page interview, it was sort rectifying this egregious error I made with Matt and getting the story about how Opticomp got revitalized, and then to talk to you both about what you’ve been able to do with it so far and stuff like that. Sound good?
MS: Sounds good.
BH: So, Matt, what is the story of getting the Opticomp back together?
MS: The story of the Opticomp. Well, apparently Jim Oschman had it for a while and couldn’t get it to work. And at a meeting, we had the North East regional meeting here at the Schwann Center, and during the meeting are you still there?
BH: Yeah, I’m switching phones.
MS: During the meeting, Alan Demmerle told us about this-that if anybody wants to give it a shot. And I said, yes send it to me. So, it was shipped to my house, in not so short of an order, it actually took a little bit of figuring out. We found that I got it running again. Kevin was able to reinstall a program for us, we had it repaired-three or four different parts of the unit weren’t working properly so together it was kind of a confusing situation. We finally did get it running. I’m not sure if it was set up the same way that they originally tried to have set up, but we did get it running and functional. And where we are now is that it’s a very functional unit and we discovered that you can get that same unit for, what, a fifth of the price John was trying to sell it for?
CS: I don’t remember what the original price was.
MS: I think the Institute may have payed close to $15,000 for that thing.
CS: No, really? Somewhere above ten.
MS: Above ten. So, we’ve got it to a point where you can set yourself up with an Opticomp for what $2,500?
CS: $2,500 to $3,000. The guys in Stanford, the Omega dealers that I’ve been working with to get the thing fine tuned and upgraded, the Omega dealers have a lot of used machines and they’re quoting us prices between $2,500 and $3,000 depending on the video you use.
BH: Wow. So in addition this interview is serving the function of getting the word out that you can intercede for people to get their own Opticomp for $3,000, huh?
MS: The program is now available to Rolfers period. I don’t know if there are going to be any charges. Are there going to be any charges on that?
CS: No charge.
MS: No charge on the software for Rolfers.
BH: Wow. That’s pretty spectacular.
CS: Yeah, Kevin really cleared that with McCormic.
BH: And who’s he?
CS: He’s the co-writer of the software with John Davis. Justin McCormic. I mean, Justin was feeling kind of sympathetic or bad about what occurred from the first software program because of the dealings with John Davis and how the Rolfers that got involved early were not being serviced.
CS: So, he’s in the process of upgrading the software, the Opticomp software and told Kevin that the first program that we’re all using right now would be available to any Rolfer who wanted it.
BH: Terrific. I guess it’s a good point to stop and say that since all this has happened, since the Opticomp was first announced, which was probably four or five years ago, there have been, who knows, fifty or seventy-five Rolfers trained who probably don’t have the slightest clue about it. So Matt, could you give some background-what is the Opticomp and why is this a big deal that we got it working?
MS: It’s documentation for Rollers right now. It’s a physical way to document the changes in a session very clearly. We have a video comparison image. It’s an image that we can superimpose the before on top of the after with a flick of the button. You see the one and then you see the other immediately and they’re in exactly the same position. And the changes are very clearly consistent from one client to the next from one session to the next. And it’s a way for Rolfers to say, okay, this is what we’re doing, this is what it looks like, and people just kind of go, woaw. And also, Kevin has done some awesome work with the Opticomp and moving pictures so that you can do frame by frame analysis of movement. Kevin’s also the advance wizard in this so he probably has one of the only systems that’s been getting better over the years. I know I’ve worked with Frank Wu with his system a few years ago, actually we both did. You were there, right?
CS: Yeah, I was there.
MS: And a six day with Peter Melchior. And it’s very valuable in teaching students so that they can see the changes that people are looking at. The changes become very obvious when you see a body elongate on a vertical axis on the Opticomp it’s very obvious. When you see it in pictures, it’s almost impossible to see.
CS: Just what Matt was saying, I just wanted to add, what he said about when you can dump the picture on top of the other picture and change it with a flick of a button-I think the advantage to us as Rolfers, we were all trained with the Polaroids and our eyes have to shift from one picture to the other and you lose something in that process of shifting.
CS: And I think the true advantage of that, what Matt was saying, you can flicker with the image right on top of each other and that’s a huge event. That’s where people are seeing, myself included, seeing changing in Rolfing that I actually didn’t see before as clearly.
BH: I understand that Kevin had to do something with the camera to make the image clearer.
MS: The original camera that John Davis set up the unit with was a tube camera so that depending on how hot the tube was the image size was changing so basically-we used that camera for quite awhile and it was fine, it was fine as long as you kept turning it on and off, or left it on or left it off. You couldn’t turn it on and off during a session. There was a certain sequence that you had to leave it on and the image size would stay the same pretty much so, the problem was that the image size kept changing. So what we have here is a regular video camera and just hook that right in and that works perfectly. Just a regular, you know, hand held palm quarter.
BH: Well that’s terrific. Of course, the mind boggles at the idea of having some documentation that somebody wouldn’t be able to quibble with.
CS: I think that’s the next phase with the guys over in Stanford, we’re actually going to be able to measure this stuff. We’re going to be able to measure it with degree, with angles of improvement, and actual length and things like that. You can put lines right over the joints and see where in a standing position where the joint has changed, where the knee joints are straight through verses curved or the different angle on the tibia verses the femur.
BH: Is this going to be a new software program, a different software program?
CS: Well, that’s up to Justin Mc Cormic. From the conversation with Kevin, Justin has a lot of things going on and can’t devote a lot of time creating the new software for us. But, you know, the guys over in Stanford again, these are Omega dealers, these are the guys that only work with this kind of computer, they’ve actually told me that they can write the software pretty quickly. What they’ve seen already.
MS: It’s actually, it’s not a big a deal that John Davis made it out to be to produce software that manipulates a video image. We also have with the computer, it came with it, a paint program where you can dump the picture, literally take the picture and put it into the program and already do those lines with degrees-you can measure the degrees right off the screen and then put them in the picture with the paint program. So, its not even the Opticomp program; it’s just manipulating it with another program.
BH: I see. Well, that’s pretty exciting. And what have you managed to do with it so far?
CS: (laughter) We’re still working on it. I think I’ve upgraded-what have I upgraded?
MS: The operating system. I don’t know. What we’ve managed to do with it is get a lot of good pictures and document a lot of changes. Let’s see, Louis just put his advanced 5 on Nathan’s computer. We’ve got a lot of baseball players. Evan’s whole ten is still there?
CS: Well, no. We do have his whole ten but it’s on the old monitor, Matt. You know, he looks like a ghost.
MS: Yeah, see that was with the original camera. The clarity of the original camera is nowhere near the clarity of the new camera.
CS: I mean, it feels to me, Bill, that we’re still perfecting it. I mean it still feels like we’re in the perfecting stage and that I have a lot of clients who are computer people and they look at the camera and they say, well, you could do this with a Macintosh, you could do this with an IBM-the way they are now. You don’t need this graphics computer to do this and, you know, the way that things have gone with computers the last few years, we might be able to get software programs written for all those types of computers Macintosh, IBM, and Omegas. So people that have the PC IBMs might be able to use those instead of buying this whole new system.
BH: Well are you in a position to ask somebody to do that in conjunction with me as chair of fundraising?
CS: We certainly could. I think the guys in Stanford, they do work for Omega but, I mean, I don’t know for sure if they’ll do it but I can certainly ask them.
BH: And then find out how much they charge for it and let’s see if we can do a little fund raising around it and just get it done.
CS: It’s technology available for so many different things, and what we’re trying to do is figure out-it’s almost like we get to redesign the program and find out what’s really useful for Rolfers. A lot of stuff that John has on there
MS: You don’t need it.
CS: Yeah, you just don’t need it. And there’s other stuff on there that you do need: you know, like the ability to make little note, to have like one little page for each client so that as you take the picture, you can make little notes about what happened in that session what you worked on, what you thought about it, things like that. That would be really great. And just for records for people, it’s really valuable-just for the educational process-people don’t feel their bodies the way they can see them and for them to be able to see it, they are much more willing to be in the inquisition of, gee, if it looks that different why am I not feeling it? Maybe I should spend some more time paying attention to it and see if I can feel it. And the pace of life that people have over here, that’s a really good thing.
BH: Yeah, so you can bring it out automatically with all of your lawyers and engineers (laughter).
MS: One thing that I’m trying to get done here, it looks like I need to buy another frame grabber and that’s part of the system-to be able to produce a picture that you would actually print out because it’s nice to have the individual disk that we can throw in the computer while they’re in session but to have it on a piece of paper that they could take home where we could produce these before and after results to actually do some mailings and get them out to people like physicians and orthopedics and things like that. But we have to able to print them out because no one has the Omega Commodor that they can just plug one of these disks in so the frame grabber is one of the earlier frame grabbers and what I’ve been told is that we really need to upgrade that, and that’s gonna take
BH: How much?
MS: Well, that’s one of the more expensive pieces to the whole thing, I think.
CS: The frame grabber?
MS: The new frame grabber. That’s what the guys over in Stanford told me. I don’t know, I’m thinking a couple of thousand dollars just for that.
MS: Yeah, for the new frame grabbers to be able to get that resolution.
CS: Yeah, it’s stiff. John by no means had it smoothed out.
MS: It was a beginning.
CS: It still came to us as not more than a good idea, and then Kevin took it further along than that, and now we’re all trying get it
BH: When you say, we all, who are all the people?
CS: There’s Nathan, and Kevin, and Steve Glassman’s in there somewhere, and me, and Craig. And then Louis is now involved in it, too, in that he’s using it for a project, a definite project. It’s moving along. And to keep the records of-see some of these people like Lendle can at times let us use the pictures, but the pictures we had of him at the beginning definitely were not magazine quality.
MS: I still couldn’t produce the kind of picture that we would need for magazine quality with the equipment we have without that extra frame grabber. So, I mean we’re still kind of putting it together.
BH: So, do guys accept the assignment of coming up with costs for rewriting the program for different things, for the Mac and the IBM. And when we publish this interview, we hereby set up a fund for paying for this
CS: Yeah, this is definitely, my end of the game is I’m trained in research. That’s what I went to school for, you know, biology, pre-med, that sort of stuff and, you know, to really get a system out of this where we can do scientific documentation with it’s about time. We’ve had doctors come in here and they’re like hennna hemma hemma, then they get their first session and they see themselves on the Opticomp and they’re like, what? They can’t believe what they’re looking at, but they know it’s their body and they can see the changes very clearly, and they walk out scratching their heads like, Jesus, something’s going on here, maybe I should pay attention.
BH: Well it’s perfect for people who are in their heads like doctors.
CS & MS: Yeah, yeah.
CS: It twists them up to a point where they can’t figure what happened, so maybe they should stop trying to figure it out and listen a little bit.
MS: Some do and some quit. Most quit, I think.
MS: I don’t know, that’s my experience.
CS: Really, doctors?
MS: They quit. They can’t figure it out.
BH: Yeah, that’s my experience, too.
BH: But all you need is one, you know. MS: That’s right.
BH: The one that sticks through is the one that becomes a client source.
MS: Right, yeah. That’s like Doctor Earner, he’s an osteopath. He’s going to be working with me hopefully by the beginning of the year and he sees the changes, he almost speaks like a Rolfing teacher when he sees them.
MS: And that’s exciting.
BH: So, I think that’s probably plenty for this section. Let’s move on. What’s this rumor about you guys having Rolfed the Mets?
CS: That’s a rumor all right. I’ve had it with them. I can’t take them anymore.
MS: He really has nothing to do with them. I don’t even know who they are. I can’t spell it even. (laughter)
BH: Well, I’ll tell you, two years ago when it seemed obvious that you were going to Rolf all the Mets, you know, and then to see what kind of season they had, I certainly wasn’t going to tell anybody that they’ve been Rolfed. (laughter)
CS: No, we didn’t Rolf any of those guys. (laughter) No, what happened, what did happen? We were asked to go in and work on a few of the players, not this past season but the’ 91 season. So, we go in there, we get some players involved, and they looked like they were going to go through it, and I mean- Then we submitted the bill to the Mets because the trainers actually called us in, and then the front office, in their penny pinching ways with anything outside baseball salaries, didn’t want to pay. And so I think Matt and I waited for almost until the season started, the following spring training
MS: We almost waited a month.
CS: We almost waited six months for payment. Then we finally did get paid, and then we go in during the season, fortunately at the start of the ’92 season I was damaged, Matt went in
MS: And you went in for spring training.
CS: That’s right, I did go in for spring training, and what happened there the team physician, there was a new team physician, they got a brand new team physician, an orthopedic. I had conversations with him and sent him literature over the past winter. Once I got him on the phone to talk to him a little bit about it, he said he didn’t want me in the training room the following season. When I asked him why, his response was, the players
MS: -weren’t that smart.
CS: The players weren’t that smart, and they wouldn’t know who to go to, Craig, if they got hurt, you or me. This is a young, young orthopedic surgeon, 35 years old, first year having a baseball team under his
BH: Well there is some evidence that they aren’t that smart.
CS: Well, that’s true. I totally agree with that. I have no problem with that, Bill. But (laughter) the physician was definitely worried that the players were, it was almost kind of an ego thing. And I said, Doctor Alchech there’s really no problem there. If they come to me before you, I won’t say a word until they see you. And he again reiterated that the players weren’t very smart and-it was obvious he didn’t want me there for some kind of personal control issues or something.
BH: Well, none of the players that you had already done didn’t stand up for you evidently.
CS: Absolutely, they did. They did. And I was in the training again by mid season. Actually when I was injured, Matt got down there and worked on Vince Coleman again who kept damaging his hamstring every time he stayed away from the work for more than a couple of weeks.
MS: Yeah, see the first two people that we went in for, one was Vince who had a huge something on his hamstring that was probably a tear or something. What do they call it?
CS: You and I thought it was a fascial tear but
MS: It was big hole that wasn’t very deep so it felt like a fascial tear but they say, oh there’s no fascia there.
BH: Uhuh. (laughter)
MS: We kept putting it together, then he’d pull it out, and we put together, and-so we were holding it together, but we weren’t the miracle curers for them. I don’t know how you’re going to miracle cure, but anyway it was that and another who had been hit in the thigh with a line drive. This is what we were asked to fix. That was our initial
BH: That’s certainly what Ida Rolf had in mind (laughter).
CS: They don’t get the advantage of alignment balance. They are still stuck, and it’s one thing that I still have in my notebook, is to call some people in the front office that are some friendly people, not the general managers, and have them start to take a look at the last fifteen years of baseball and how many players have been on the disabled list, compare it with the prior fifteen years. And my contention is, especially since I played when this change was occurring
BH: The artificial turf.
CS: And them thinking the way to prevent injury is to add strength to the body.
BH: Oh my, I didn’t know about that. So;
CS: That’s changed over the past fifteen years, everybody’s lifting weights to prevent injuries but what’s occurring is there are more injuries. I’d love to use Sagel Page’s quote, the guy who played till he was sixty, probably threw more pitches than any pitcher alive; never got to be in the big leagues because he was at the time of Jackie Robinson and he was too old to pitch by then, but his quote, you know, was, you can never be too loose. They’re not going by that one anymore. (laughter)
CS: He pitched some 40-45 years, and I’m going to do some work on this: Trying to get the team to see that the traditional physical therapy and strength routines aren’t helping in the long run. When they put the numbers together, and I talked to some people in the front office this winter and, you know, they lost two or three million dollars to players who couldn’t perform.
MS: We had that run in the first year, we ended up getting called in to work on Goode and I ended up doing the first session on him. And they said, you have to work on his shoulders, his shoulders are too tight, shoulders too tight. So, I did the first session and at the end of the session, I was going to work on his shoulder. Everything in the back of his shoulder was mush, it was complete mush. They had just gotten in there and just mushed it, and I said, I don’t know this is a little weird. I wouldn’t work on it, and then he played two days later, felt-what did he say? Something like he was pitching the best he had in six months or something like that and then he had a really sharp ache in the shoulder. I said, well you better get it checked out. Well thank God he got checked out. That’s when he discovered he had that thing that he’d been playing with for, what, a year and
CS: Rotator cuff tear.
MS: Yeah, and he went’ and got surgery, and then he was better.
CS: But it was classic though, Bill. You know, Matt-if you’re injured, my experience is Rolfing brings it out and Goode had been hiding that injury for at least nine months to a year.
BH: Did he know?
MS: And so his body had armored it up, he had signed a $25 million dollar contract in between tearing his arm and actually getting the Rolfing, so he was kind of holding himself together the best he could with what he had and then the Rolfing kind of brought that out. It gave him so much mobility in the first five innings and then the tear really came out, and he had surgery a few weeks later and they don’t get that. They don’t get that Dwight would have gone all winter long without surgery because he would have finished the season with the mediocre stuff that he had been throwing for the whole year. And without the surgery, there was no chance of improvement it would have been mediocre to worse.
BH: And then he didn’t receive any Rolfing after the surgery?
MS: No he has not really. He keeps on, he’s a funny kid. I finally got him last week in St. Petersburg and was trying to get him to go to Ron Thompson down in Tampa and he had kept saying that he wanted to do it, he wanted to do it. But I think he’s the kind of kid
CS: He’s chicken.
MS: Yeah, he’s a big chicken and he says things that he’s not going to follow through on.
CS: He complained a lot. Getting into the hips on the first session, he didn’t like that at all. If he can do anything under anesthesia, I think he’d rather do it that way.
MS: But he said that he wasn’t going to try to do anymore, and you just have to let him go. You can’t force this stuff down him.
BH: Right. So, all in all with the people that you’ve worked on, who’s around that thinks you guys are great?
CS: Uh, Vince Coleman, definitely. David Cone but now he’s with Kansas City.
BH: Well he can go right over to Bria, she’s already had experience with Brad Saberhagen.
CS: He’s a funny guy, too. He was having a finger problem, tendonius in his index finger, his pitching finger. He was out for a number of weeks. I got to work on him just a couple of times, he was back on the mound, and he didn’t want any more work. A few weeks later, he’s out with the same problem and doesn’t want the work. So, I don’t know what goes on in some people’s minds. I have a feeling, and I was talking about this to a fellow just a few days ago, it seems-and this comes from Ralph Kinder who’s a Mets broadcaster
BH: An old Pittsburgh Pirate, yeah.
CS: He said it seems that today’s ball player because they’re getting so much money, if they have one little ache or pain, they’re not going to play because they’re frightened they’re going to injure themselves and not make the kind of money that they’re making now. In the olden days, and this is what Ralph said, if you let somebody else in your position because you had an ache or pain, and he did well, you weren’t going to get your position back. But the money, because they’re making so much money, it saves their position for them. And it makes sense because they gotta if they’re going to be paying a guy five million a year, he’s going to play as soon as he’s ready. But it’s not like they have to go out and bust their butt and get out there with their aches and pains anymore. They can just sit back on the disabled list and kind of heal, you know, and its not very motivated. It’s the biggest difference I see when they play, and these kids today, it’s gotta be the money. The kids today, they’re personally motivated but they’re not team motivated. And it’s pretty sad. It’s not a team atmosphere when we’re in the club house. It’s some place that I thought I was going to be wanting to work in and it certainly is not a place where I would want to work in. I’m so fed up trying to deal with the baseball players’ egos and the teams in the front office. I’m going to have to get away from the Mets now and go for other teams because there has just been so much frustration. I worked all last year and couldn’t get anybody to pay me anything. I’m owed, well, it doesn’t matter-a lot of money.
BH: Oh you don’t need the money. Didn’t you make five million a year when you were pitching?
CS: Yeah, yeah. I wish. Well, if I did, my investors took care of it for me.
BH: Oh, you mean those rich guys?
CS: Yeah, my investors, they’re doing well. (laughter) But, no, I wish I could’ve made that money, but my parents had me too early. But it’s been very frustrating working with the teams, with the Mets. I’ve talked to Willy Kay, and he’s talked to Matt about it. It’s to the point that I really have the feeling that I should be going other places with this rather than the Mets, because of the connection I had has somehow kind of back-fired on us in a way.
MS: They’re not a lost cause completely.
CS: No. This last year, we didn’t get to work on any of the players. I mean, it was record amount of people on the disabled list-eighteen players.
CS: Eighteen players were on the disabled list. There’s only twenty-four on the team. (laughter) So, they were pulling guys from minor leagues, making trades all year long. Matt and I know at least three or four injuries, three or four key players that really would’ve made a difference with them. That is, if they would’ve gotten the work, they would’ve been able to stay on the active list.
MS: We had major conversations with Howard Johnson and saying, “look, we’re looking at you, we’re watching you move, you need to do this. Oh, yeah, yeah.” We get the yeah, yeah, later, tomorrow, give me the phone number deal, and then Howard ends up with two knee surgeries.
CS: Two knees and a shoulder. Couldn’t stop calling me from San Diego wanting a Rolfer desparately.
MS: After it happened.
CS: After surgeries. I got it. I researched a Rolfer out there and got the best that I could find. And I just called him last week. ” Oh, I haven’t done that yet.” Just thinking to myself, you know, that’s very strange since you were requesting this and demanding that the week you got home from the season in September or October, and now …I don’t know. I’m so confused.
MS: I think there’s a side to Rolfing that’s not “fix it”. It’s not about fixing it, and what we’re doing is working to integrate that and the “fix it” stuff. And these guys, they want fix it, that’s what they want. They just want it to get fixed. To try to bring this other stuff in, even if we do it covertly, is funny. It creates a funny dynamic with these people. They know something else is up but they don’t want to deal with it. They have no intention of dealing with it, they just want to get fixed. It’s a thought frontier for Rolfing. That’s why it’s called Rolfing and not physical therapy.
CS: Yeah, bring that up. That’s who we’re battling with down there is physical therapists and orthopedics. They see us as some kind of, you’re going to take our place kind of thing. They don’t get that it could work together. And they see us a competition rather than as cohorts in keeping players on the field. And the orthopedics and the trainers don’t have a lot of knowledge of how to prevent things. The only way they do it is by strengthening.
BH: That’s a pretty depressing story.
CS: Yeah, but it’s good therapy for me to get it out again. Thanks for bringing it up. (laughter)
BH: Well, I’m glad to know you didn’t go out and Rolf the Mets, and then they showed up at the bottom of the league.
CS: They did actually fairly well, Bill. I mean, right in August, the beginning of August, they were four games out.
MS: And Coleman’s doing great. And then they turned these bills down, and the trainer who I had been working with said, and this was after the players kind of wanted me back during the season. The trainer says anything that Doctor Alchech okays, the team’s gong to pay for. So, I start working on them down there, and I’m doing that, and I submit some bills before they go on this August trip. And the general manager comes down, waving the bills in my face, saying, “We’re not going to pay these”. And I said, “Well, Steve said that you were and Alchech okayed it”. And he said, “Well, I didn’t talk to Steve about it”. So, there was a miscommunication there. Then, they come back after a ten day road trip and they’re eleven games out. There was justice there, somewhat. (laughter) They were out of it by the time they got back.
MS: I think Craig was home doing voodoo.
CS: It’s a tricky thing. Baseball in general is a-there’s not a lot of integrity there. Not much at all.
MS: To me, this also goes into the bigger picture of all the other people we’ve been working on who sort of do what they do when they want to do it, and that’s about it. If you want to deal with what they want when they want it, that’s fine. But don’t go in there expecting the kind of respect you get from a regular client.
CS: There you go. That’s good.
MS: And don’t go in there expecting to be master in your own kitchen. I think they barely look at us as something more than a massage therapist, and that’s a tough one to deal with. ” You do massage, don’t you? Is this some kind of wierd massage? And why are you charging us so much for these exotic massages?” So, we’re still bucking that, but there’s nothing less for this to be expected out of being pioneer. It’s what you get to do.
MS: You signed on, you got your certification. This is what we do. Craig always says, Babe Ruth struck out more times than anybody.
CS: But we know him as a home run leader.
BH: You know who Babe Ruth is?
CS: Matt didn’t know who he was, Bill.
MS: I know who he was. They named a candy bar after the guy. (laughter)
CS: People that know him as a home run leader don’t know that he struck out most, too. That’s what we feel like we’re at. We gotta strike out a lot before we get there.
Certified Rolfer Craig Swan was a former pitcher for the New York Mets. He and Certified Rolfer Matt Spencer practice in Greenwich, Connecticut.