Wednesday, June 11, 2008

The Curse of Mark Davis

Is it bad that I knew that it was over as soon as Teahen dropped the ball? As a lifelong Royals fan, I am accustomed to (and almost expect) the new and different torturous ways that my favorite team finds to lose. Sure there are many "logical" reasons for why we lost last night (Pena Jr, Yabuta, Tomko, Hillman, Teahen, etc), but I choose to believe there is something greater at work here.

Specifically, the curse of Mark Davis.

In 1989, Mark Davis had a 44 save, 1.85 ERA season with the San Diego Padres. He also won the Cy Young Award that year.

In the offseason, he was a free agent, and the Royals signed him to what was an enormous contract at the time. In 1990, he only made less than one Royal (George Brett) and only by $100,000. That year, he made more than Bret Saberhagen, Mark Gubicza, Danny Tartabull, Frank White, Wilie Wilson (and more than Bo Jackson and Kevin Seitzer combined). Also that year, he had 6 saves. He also had 6 wild pitches, 7 losses, and a 5.11 ERA.

For the next two years, he devastated Royals fans with one more save, and 4.45 and 7.18 ERAs respectively. Also, in combined salary over those 2 years, he made more than any other Royal on the team. Including the King.

Davis went on to torment a string of teams before his retirement, including the Braves, Phillies, Padres and Brewers. But the beginning of that run, and the team that literally paid the most for his hideous performance, was our beloved Royals.

Before Kansas City acquired Mark Davis, the franchise had a 1746-1587 record (.524). They had been to the playoffs 7 times in 20 years. They had won 2 pennants and one World Series. Fourteen winning seasons in 20 years.

Post Mark Davis, the club has gone 1282-1689 (.440) over 18 1/2 years. They have not made the playoffs once and had only 3 full winning seasons (1 strike shortened).

The reason I tie the curse to Mark Davis is for the following reasons:

1. Davis showed the Royals that spending large amounts of money was risky, and didn't guarantee winning. This led to a decade of cutting back that the club still hasn't recovered from.

2. Davis taught the Royals that losing was possible, even probable, even with the odds stacked in your favor. We had the Cy Young winning closer - it should have been automatic. The team learned that losing was possible and it has yet to shake that attitude.

3. Davis' acquisition was the peak of Royals optimism. The frenzy post his signing was palpable among fans. He was the ultimate diappointment - the landmark disappointment. The primer, the trailblazer, for all Royals disappointments since that moment.

The curse of Mark Davis lives on. Last night, it lived on in the glove of Teahen. It lived in the arms of Tomko and Yabuta. It lived in the mind of Hillman. Doesn't matter who is on the field, he can live through them.

What will it take to break the curse? Personally, I believe it will take an incredibly special player. It will take a player that can lead through performance, but more importantly, through attitude. He will refuse to lose. He will "will" the team to break the curse. He will be the second coming of George Brett. Some say it could be Gordon, but he has yet to prove it. Whoever it is, may he come soon.

Until then, the curse of Mark Davis lives on...