The Milk Curse

Baseball and curses go together like peanuts and Cracker Jacks. You don’t have to look much further than the Diamondbacks current opponent the Chicago Cubs to realize how bad a curse can go. A lot of people will mock the idea of a curse but ask any Cubs fan who has seen a span of 68 years since their team was in the World Series all because an usher removed a guy with a stinky goat from his Wrigley Field seats.

I would like to think I am a rational and educated individual. I went to college and once worked on an engineering team of rocket scientists so I know scientifically there is no basis for a curse. But I have been connected with the game of baseball long enough to know that strange things occur in this game that defy rationalization.

You would think that a franchise as young as the Arizona Diamondbacks would not have had enough history to have developed a curse and I would likely believe you but lately I have begun to second guess that assessment. I’m not officially suggesting that I am a fan of a cursed team but I’m starting to believe; just a little.

Arizona Milk Producers Growth Chart finalCurses come in various shapes and sizes. There are hexes, spells, jinxes, magic, prayers, and even hoodoo. Sometimes places can be cursed and sometimes objects are the focus of the bad luck. There are even instances where the curse is a result of something good that takes a turn for the worst. This last category is where the proposed Diamondbacks may fit.

From the very beginning of the franchise the Arizona Diamondbacks have had a long-standing relationship with various businesses and groups. Some of these are sponsors and others are just advertisers. One of those groups who have been around since 1998 is the Arizona Milk Producers.

Each season the Arizona Milk Producers sponsor one giveaway directed at fans age 12 and under. The giveaway is a growth chart poster that can be hung in a young fan’s bedroom to measure how tall they are getting supposedly after drinking their milk. The growth chart features a Diamondbacks player holding a milk product next to the measuring marks.

Looking at something as wholesome as milk you would never expect that to cause any kind of misfortune towards either the team or the young fans but upon closer inspection I’m beginning to wonder if perhaps the baseball gods are lactose intolerant.

Over the seasons I’ve begun to realize that the player who is featured on the Arizona Milk Producers growth chart suddenly see a distinct decrease in their production within one or two seasons. The first time I noticed this was in 1999.

After a successful rookie season in 1998, Diamondbacks first baseman Travis Lee was tapped to represent the team on the Arizona Milk Producers growth chart in 1999. Rather than increasing his production as expected, Lee saw his batting average drop 30 points, his slugging percentage fell nearly 70 points. Home runs went from 22 to a paltry 9 and would never return to the level before he was on the growth chart.

If this were the only example you could chalk it up to coincidence but let’s look at further evidence. In 2002 Diamondbacks Legend Luis Gonzalez was featured on the growth chart. After an outstanding 2001 season where he hit 57 home runs he saw his season end early in September when he tore up his elbow sliding to make a catch in foul territory. The Diamondbacks were eliminated in the first round of the playoffs despite having a better season than in 2001 when they won the World Series.

In 2009 outfielder Chris Young was featured on the growth chart. While he had a decent season in 2010 making the all-star team, his production fell so low since that point that he was sent to Oakland and has become a part-time player for the Athletics.

Ian Kennedy had a stellar season in 2011 winning more than 20 games the first time in his career. That season he was featured on the Arizona Milk Producers growth chart. He has since struggled to the point where there is talk he may be moved to the bullpen due to his ineffectiveness.

Last season the Arizona Diamondbacks announced that August 26th there would be Daniel Hudson Growth Charts for fans 12 and younger. Early in the season Hudson suffered a season ending injury requiring Tommy John surgery followed by a second surgery this season. He is still on the disabled list.

It has gotten to the point where I cringe every time the promotional calendar is released. Who will be the cursed player this season? Looking at the schedule, August 11th the Arizona Milk Producers are sponsoring Miguel Montero Growth Charts for the first 5,000 kids through the gates.

I don’t have to tell you that Montero is struggling this season. His batting average is the lowest it has been in his career. His slugging percentage is almost 100 points lower than his career average. Perhaps this is just a result of overwork or trying to live up to the contract extension he signed last season or it might just be the latest in a growing list of cursed athletes who have been featured on the Arizona Milk Producers Growth Chart.

Don’t get me wrong, I love milk but I’m starting to carry a lucky rabbit’s foot and a horseshoe with me whenever my wife sends me to the grocery store. You can’t take too many precautions. If a stinky goat can cause a World Series drought of 105 years who knows what a few cartons of milk can do?

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