Here’s a breaking news story that you won’t hear anywhere other than the Frappe: There IS a curse on the home run derby champion. You wouldn’t know it from reading any column by any ESPN writer (like this one, or this one, and this one). It seems to me that ESPN is defending this tradition a bit too adamantly, it’s as if they had something invested in this annual event . . . oh wait, they do.
One of the writer’s mentioned above even admits that all of the statistics do point to a slight drop off for all derby participants, but then goes on to try to explain all of these statistics away. Okay, so maybe curse isn’t the right word, but it seems clear that certain players have a rough recovery following the derby. Everyone already knows about Bobby Abreu’s slump after winning it in 2005. While Vlad Guerrero had a fine season overall last year, he didn’t hit a single homer in the month of July following his derby victory. Similarly, in 2003, Garret Anderson came into the derby with 22 HRs, won the derby, and only hit 7 more on the rest of the season.
So get off A-Rod’s back; if the man thinks the derby hurts his swing, then it probably does. He’s not the first player to say this. As an Angels fan, I was thrilled when Vlad won it last year, and I’m just as thrilled that he chose to sit out of it this year.
It appears the curse on Josh Hamilton started early, when he could only muster 3 homers in the final round after setting a record with 28 in the first. It’s too bad, because as we heard countless times during tonight’s broadcast, “He has such a great story.” As for tonight’s winner, Justin Morneau, we’ll have to wait and see which camp he falls in. He didn’t appear to over exert himself as much as most contestants do.