Saturday, July 28, 2007

The Curse of Alyssa Milano

After watching Barry Zito get torched yet again last night, I've come to the conclusion that MLB pitchers who have dated Alyssa Milano will end up cursed the next season, have a brief reprieve from her hex, and ultimately wind up a broken athlete down the line. Whether or not this has transcended professional boundaries, into the music or movie field for example, is unknown. What we do know is that she has bewitched quite a few of baseball's young arms and shows no signs of stopping, unless I missed the latest breaking story on E! news. At current count, 3 highly talented pitchers have participated in the Samantha Micelli Talented Pitcher Scholarship Program: Carl Pavano, Brad Penny, and the aforementioned Barry Zito. So let's break this down.

Carl Pavano:

Ole rubber arm and Milano supposedly met during the 2003 World Series, when the Marlins were busy dominating the Yankees to take home the title. The fact that they met at a club during the Series is probably ominous, one might think the baseball gods would not look kindly upon that type of behavior. They dated for 6 months or so, reportedly, and then went on their merry ways. Milano to take a ride on Planet Zito and Pavano to date some stripper/Penthouse figurine. Beside the point. As we all know, Pavano signed with those same Yankees the next year, to the tune of $10m over 4 years - or roughly twice the size of the Devil Rays payroll. Good investment, that.

The stats:

2003 32 201 12-13 4.30 1.26 * Dated Alyssa during offseason
2004 31 222 18-8 3.00 1.17
2005 17 100 4-6 4.77 1.47
2006 -------------DNP-------------
2007 2 11 1-0 4.77 1.23

If you couldn't tell, he's missed some significant time in the last 3 years since signing his big contract. That's $30m for a total of 111 innings pitched. The word "value" doesn't exactly come to mind when thinking about him. "Bust" does. As does "dirtbag." So, roughly 18 months after Carlyssa Pilano split up, his career started to plummet. One could obviously make the case that his career died once he sold his soul to the devil to play for the Yankees, but there seems to be another pattern forming here.

Barry Zito:

I will not hide the fact that I am a massive Zito fan, have been since his early days. Just as much for his wacky persona as his sick 11-5, 12-6, 10-4....whatever curve. Sam took a trip to Planet Zito immediately after she realized the Pavano train was going to crash violently, and who can blame her. Barry took home the Cy Young in '02 and was rapidly becoming baseball's top southpaw not named Randy Johnson, both of whom have since been lapped twice by Joe-han Santana, a Rule V pick taken from the Astros (and people wonder why they can't do jack in the playoffs - it's The Curse of the Joe-Han). That, however, is neither here nor there. Alyssa and BZ dated during the 2004 season and well into the winter. When Cupid decided to pluck the Milano love arrow out of Zito's ass is unclear, but it's safe to say 2005 was free of her voodoo.

The stats:

2002 35 229 23-5 2.75 1.13 (Cy)
2003 35 231 14-2 3.30 1.18
2004 34 213 11-11 4.48 1.39 * Year dated Alyssa Milano
2005 35 228 14-13 3.86 1.20
2006 34 221 16-10 3.83 1.40
2007 21 121 7-10 5.28 1.42 ($126 bazillion dollar contract)

BZ's tenure in Oakland seems to have one anomaly. Whaddya know? Same year he dated Alyssa Milano. Another interesting stat, his BAA (batting average against) in 2004 was .263, well well above his career average. Coincidence? I think not. Obviously. I also do not think it's a coincidence that both Pavano and Zito had fantastic seasons the year after they broke up. This year hasn't exactly been kind to Barry, especially when he was supposed have the advantage heading into the season, with the new lineups yet to face him regularly along with that whole no-DH thing. But the fact is Barry is creating zero hip rotation (note for the young athletes, every single major sport is based upon a minimum of 75% hip rotation - learn it, live it, love it) and one must wonder whether or not Alyssa has been working her magic on a BZ voodoo doll back home. For the sake of Brian Sabean's sanity, and job, we hope not.

Brad Penny:

LA's newest baseball hero rode the Sam Micelli disaster choo-choo throughout the 2005 season, and they decided to part ways during the offseason. Isn't that nice of Alyssa? She always waits until the season is over to release the hook and move on to another thriving starting pitcher. Reminds of a certain Susan Sarandon character, does it not? But for some reason I tend to doubt Milano is quite as cultured as Ms. Savoy. If only because she spent years working alongside Tony Danza, which is enough to turn Stephen Hawking into a bumbling idiot. Well, maybe not bumbling.

The stats:

2005 29 175 7-9 3.90 1.28 *
2006 33 189 16-9 4.33 1.37
2007 21 136 13-1 2.52 1.19

I don't know if you noticed, but Penny is having an alright season. As for the Milano year, it was not exactly Penny's finest year. Now, if you're saying "hey, his 2006 season was worse from an ERA/WHIP standpoint," I see your argument and I raise you this - the splits from that season:

Pre-All Star: 10-2 2.91 ERA
Post-All Star: 6-7 6.25 ERA

Why, you ask? As we all know Brad Penny started that 2006 All Star game. But guess who was sitting front and center during the game? None other than Alyssa Milano, who was busy Bewitching or Decharming or doing whatever the hell she did from whatever the hell that show was that she was on. Coincidence? At this point, it can't be. Therefore, if I'm Ned Colletti, I'm terrified as to what next season will bring from Brad Penny. Quad digit ERA? 20 loss season? Tommy John surgery? A Steve Howe-like cocaine addiction? I wouldn't rule any of it out.

As you can see, the numbers don't lie. Alyssa Milano has cursed 3 potentially great pitchers. And I throw Pavano into that group because he was once the main chip in a deal for Pedro Martinez, and if you watched Petey every start circa '99 as I did, you would know that the only way the Expos could have traded him was if they got the future Jesus of Nazareth in return, because unworldy doesn't even begin to describe those frisbees he was tossing up towards home plate.

Whether or not these guys rebound is questionable. Penny is still in his "denial" phase and has yet to reach a full-on "breakdown" phase. Which we can probably expect at some point next season. Zito's talents and durability will likely see him finish off with a very good career, potentially Hall material. I wouldn't be surprised if Pavano never sees another day in the bigs and just cashes in that final Papa George check, then rides off into the sunset with some C-list NY native "adult actress," because he's just a classy guy like that.

And why Baseball Tonight hasn't devoted an entire hour long special to this is really beyond the grasp of my intellectual understanding. There will obviously be another to find himself under the wing of AM's love tutelage, much to the horror of GM's across MLB. Who is the question. I'm going to go ahead and take a wild guess here, and go with Jon Garland. She's bound to make an assault on Chi-town soon, and I would never wish her upon the Cubbies, the loveable losers that they are.

I think we've finally received the answer to the age old question which has baffled pundits for years on end. Who, exactly, is the boss? It's Samantha. Pitchers beware.