Sunday, July 12, 2009

Reason for Mets 2009 struggles revealed: It's Hallmark's fault. Santana is cursed.

All has been revealed. I now know why the Mets season has gone into the dumpster.

Yes, the injuries. But I’m talking about what caused the injuries.

It’s the Hallmark curse.

I popped into a card store Saturday for the unveiling of the 2009 ornaments, and there, much to my horror, was Johan Santana hanging with the other over-priced Hallmark collectibles.

I’m all for decorating my baseball room Christmas tree in colorful Mets designs. And I even bought a Santana ornament made by Forever last year.

But I didn’t want Hallmark even knowing that the Mets existed. Because every player picked by the company for its “Day at the Ballpark” series soon watches his career and life spiral down.

1996: Nolan Ryan

The series started out with Ryan, a safe, reasonable choice. But there was an obvious faux pas. The ornament depicted The Express as a Ranger, where he is best remembered for giving Robin Ventura noogies, instead of with the Mets, where he won his only championship. And did you see the photo of Ryan with Tom Seaver in the latest Sports Illustrated? He looked like Don Zimmer! Retirement has not been kind.

1997: Hank Aaron

Also safe. Who wouldn’t want Hammering Hank ushering in the holidays? I hang this one front and center on my tree. Sadly, Hank had to watch his glorious career home run record broken under a cloud by Barry Bonds.

1998: Cal Ripken Jr.

The Iron Man, of course, set the consecutive games record several years before this ornament was released. The next season? Ripken went from playing in 161 games in 1998to just 86 in 1999.

1999: Ken Griffey Jr.

It was hard not to love Junior in his Mariners days. Sadly, two months after Christmas, Junior browbeat the M’s into shipping him to the Cincinnati Reds.

2000: Ken Griffey Jr.

After the whole trade debacle, Hallmark asked for a mulligan and issued another Griffey ornament. It was actually the same pose, but with a new paint job. A bad one, in fact. It showed a solid red jersey with only a sleeve patch to indicate it was in fact a Reds uniform. And, of course, Junior has never been the same.

2000: Mark McGwire

This was he first two-ornament year. Hey, why mess with one player’s career when you can trash two? McGwire was hurt for much of 2000, but still hit .305 with 32 jacks and was rewarded with an ornament. The next season a broken-down Mac gimped with a .187 stick and 29 homers and four years later showed up before Congress all weepy and looking like a deflated balloon from the Macy’s parade.

2001: Mickey Mantle

After the double jinx of 2000, Hallmark played it safe by picking a player whose career couldn’t possibly be hurt. Heck, they picked a player who’s life couldn’t be ravaged by the curse – one who was dead for six years. Not that it appears on my tree. I don’t put Yankees on my Christmas tree.

2001: Sammy Sosa

Sammy hit 64 homers in 2001, and then showed up on Christmas trees. He had one more decent season before going from King of the Windy City to corking bats, ticking off teammates and getting run out of town. Next thing you know, Sammy, who seemed to speak English well enough in his assorted television ads, needed a translator to say practically nothing when hauled before Congress. After a season where he seemingly was not quite the Sammy of old, he found himself out of a job, and finally, his positive test from 2003 leaked.

2002: George Brett

Brett, a clean-cut and respected guy, was already in the Hall of Fame when Hallmark decided to test the curse and make him an ornament. Truth be told, a guy like Brett was needed to off-set the horrible karma from the other guy selected for that year.

2002: Derek F. Jeter

Talk about cursed. Derek F. Jeter went from being an over-rated, smug Yankee punk with no range to an even bigger over-rated, smug Yankee punk with even less range. And the Yankees have not won World Series since Hallmark cast him in plastic.

2003: Ted Williams

After the whole Jeter fiasco, Hallmark must have decided that it needed to salvage the whole line of ornaments. And why not the Splendid Splinter? He was one of the best players of all time, though a little crusty in his later years. And he had died the year before, so there was nothing embarrassing that could happen. Except, of course, when it was revealed that his son talked Dad into lopping off his head and freezing his body after death, and having the rest of the family going to court to reclaim the body.

2003: Jason Giambi

Oh, if that wasn’t enough, the second guy selected that year was soon to be linked to an alleged steroid scandal. Did Hallmark learn from Jeter? Apparently not. Look, when you dance with the Yankees, bad things are going to happen.

2004: Willie Mays

Ahhh. Here we go. The Say Hey Kid. No ‘roids, no goofy family members. It’s all good. Except, of course, that the former Met is for some reason depicted as playing for some other team.

2004: Barry Bonds

Well, Barry’s life pretty much went to hell after Hallmark dropped this baby. He barely played the season after the ornament was released, and we all know what’s happened since. Hmmm. With Bonds, Sosa, Giambi and McGwire, you could have a little theme tree working.

2005: Albert Pujols

Hallmark clearly tried to learn from its past mistakes and picked a picked a squeaky clean player from a great baseball city. The next season, Pujols broke down and missed three weeks of the season, losing just enough of the season to allow Ryan Howard to pad his stats just enough for misguided sportswriters give Howard the MVP award.

2006: Alex Rodriguez

OK, let’s see. Since getting his Hallmark ornament, ARod:
-- Slipped into a prolonged batting slump that became so bad that Manager Joe Torre batted him eighth in some post-season games.
-- Used his contract escape clause to get out of his record-setting contract, inviting mountains of criticism, even after taking the Steinbrenners to the cleaners for an even bigger contract.

-- Was caught by the New York Post trailed him leaving assorted establishments in Toronto with a young lady who didn’t appear to be Mrs. A-Rod. Then, he was found leaving Madonna’s apartment, also without Mrs. ARod.

-- Discovered that Mrs. ARod didn’t want to be Mrs. ARod anymore.

-- Was alleged to have tested positive for steroids back in 2003 trying to earn that monster contract, tarnishing whatever positive reputation his still had.

-- came down with a mysterious hip ailment that caused him to miss a chunk of this season.

2007: David Ortiz

Hallmark robbed Ortiz of his power. Big Papi went from 54 homers to 35 to 23 to 11 this year, with his average dipping to .221. Keep in mind that Ortiz is a DH, so all he’s supposed to do is hit. Since he’s not doing much of that anymore, well, the Chowderheads aren’t going to want to keep him around.

2008: Nomar Garciaparra

This was a surprise pick, because Nomar was already in decline when he was fitted for the tree. But 2008 was a nightmare. Battered by injuries – including one that mysteriously came when the Dodgers needed a roster spot for Manny Ramirez – Nomar played in just 55 games and drove in just 28 runs. Now he’s in Oakland, with just two home runs and a weak .267 stick.

And now Hallmark has chosen to curse Our Man Johan. We’ve already seen some of the carnage. The Murphy drop. The disastrous game against the Yankees. The Mets inability to score runs when he’s on the hill. And, finally, the disintegration of the entire team around him, one at a time.

Thanks a lot, Hallmark.

Look, would it be too hard to mix in a couple Phillie ornaments?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Santana cursed. That's a good one. All Johan needs is to pitch against the (D)Reds every single game.