The Curse of the Bambino, The Curse of the Billy Goat. Those are just a couple of the famous curses throughout professional baseball. But could there be one in the video game universe of the sport too? Football has one with cover athletes of the “Madden NFL” video game franchise. Known far and wide as “The Madden Curse”. There has been a little talk starting as to whether “MLB: The Show” franchise has given cover athletes the same fate.
For those that aren’t that familiar with “The Madden Curse”, I’ll give you a slight overview of what it essentially is. The cover athlete of a game usually has an outstanding year the season before the game comes out. The season that follows or coincides with said athlete getting the cover, turns out to be the complete opposite in some way. Whether it be just an abysmal performance or season ending injury. Now this doesn’t happen with every cover athlete of course. Or else they would probably stop putting athletes on the cover and put waterboys instead.
While since 2006, 8 out of the last 18 “Madden” cover athletes (2010 and 2014 had two athletes) have fallen victim to the cover curse. Only 2 out of the last 16 “The Show” cover athletes can even remotely be thought of as falling to a curse. At least within two seasons after being on the cover. Why might that be? First a little history on “The Show” franchise.
Brief History of “MLB The Show”
“MLB The Show”, developed by Sony, started in 2006. There were a couple successful predecessors. Including, “MVP Baseball”, and the regular “MLB” franchise. Along with more cartoon-like games, such as “MLB Slugfest” and “The Bigs”. The only competition per se over the past 15 seasons has been “MLB 2K”, which had some good games. But the 2K version fizzled out after “MLB 2k13”. “MLB The Show” has outlasted pretty much every other baseball video game franchise.
The only other two I can think of that are still relevant are “RBI Baseball” which is kind of cartoon-like and “Out of the Park Baseball” which is pretty much just a General Manager simulation game. Those two games still don’t hold a candle to “The Show”. It’s Godzilla while all the others are the townspeople hiding underground.
Comparing the cover athletes
As I mentioned before, 8 out of the last 18 “Madden” cover athletes have been hit by the “Madden Curse”. That’s just under half, which honestly is more than it should be. Not all of the 8 are one-year wonder players etc., either. They include Hall Of Fame RB Shaun Alexander, and future Hall Of Fame TE Rob Gronkowski. So it has hit a wide variety of players.
For “MLB The Show” on the other hand, barely 12% of the past 16 cover athletes have been hit by a curse of any sort. Neither of the two are currently thought of as future Hall of Famer(s). One being 2015 cover athlete, Yasiel Puig. Who is possibly not coming back to MLB that soon, after sexual assault allegations have come about recently. The other being 2020 cover athlete Javier Baez who had a dismal year during the shortened season last year. Baez is also leading the league in strikeouts to start this season, which doesn’t spell good fortune ahead.
What Keeps “The Show” From Having A Curse?
There are a few little factors that play into their not being an MLB version of the “Madden Curse”. But I wanna focus on the more relevant factor. During their respective regular seasons, the MLB has less of a chance for season ending injuries. It’s not because the NFL season is shorter, 17 games compared to 162 for MLB. But the fact that the MLB season is longer, is one of two main reasons that come to mind.
With a longer season comes more time for recovery, giving the players more of a chance to bounce back and produce. If in an NFL season a player gets injured around week 7 and is out for 4 weeks, it could screw up their whole outlook for the season. A 4 week injury also makes a better case for them to be considered a victim for the “curse”. But if an MLB player gets hurt around that same time for their season, and is out for the same duration, they still have around 4 months to come back and produce at a high level.
The main and most relevant factor, is the physical toll each sport takes on a certain player’s body. Baseball is definitely more of a mental game than it is physical. While football is very physical, as well as mental just in different aspects. So even though the season is longer, there is less of a chance for a baseball player to tear or break something while running to first base over a football player being hit by a 270 pound lineman.
Overall, there is just less attributing to the possibility of a “MLB: The Show” cover athlete than a “Madden NFL” cover athlete to fall victim to the “curse”. Maybe the discrepancy will get smaller over the next 16 years, but it’s very doubtful.
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–Zach Derosia (@Derosia_14 on Twitter)