Jim Thome and the Twins are on the cover of this week’s Sports Illustrated? Swell, when do the Timberwolves break camp?
It’s not that we don’t like the glow of any national attention on our fair city, it’s just that Sports Illustrated has a long-recognized ability to destroy those who appear on its cover. Even Sports Illustrated acknowledged that there’s a regression in performance of cover subjects 37 percent of the time. True, it’s just superstition. But so is the power of Homer Hankies and rally caps. It’s going to take more.
In fact, the issue that comes out each year on this date is particularly brutal for those bestowed with the honor of a cover.
One year ago this week, for example, SI featured the Detroit Tigers on the cover. For most of the season, the Tigers looked like the team to beat. After the issue came out, the Tigers went 3-5, were caught by the Twins on the last weekend of the season, and lost to Minnesota in a one-game playoff. Coincidence?
Two years ago on this date, the Chicago Cubs got the honors. They were ahead in their division by 10 1/2 games on the day the issue came out. They won the division, but in the week after the issue came out, they lost four of their final six games, recorded their only non-winning month of the season, and lost three straight postseason games to the Dodgers and watched the World Series on TV.
A football story graced the cover on this date in 2007, but the next week the Boston Red Sox were featured.
The Red Sox won their opening series in the playoffs, but — inexplicably — dropped 3 of the first 4 games to the Cleveland Indians in the league championship series before — not so inexplicably — the Indians collapsed and lost three straight games to the Red Sox, who went on to win the World Series.
Proving what? That the only antidote to the Sports Illustrated curse are the Cleveland Indians.
In 2006, it was Alex Rodriguez’ turn.
The Yankees were favored to win the World Series in 2006, what with their best record in the league and all. Alex Rodriguez had 1 hit in 14 ABs, and the Detroit Tigers beat the Yankees in a shocker, beating the Yankees in three out of four games.
This week in 2005, football was on the cover. But an insert asked if the Philadelphia Phillies were born to be wild cards in the playoffs.
They might’ve been in the playoffs had they not lost two important games to the New York Mets in the last week of the season. They missed the playoffs by one game.
Oh, and the Eagles. They lost 8 of their last 10 games that season after Donovan McNabb, the cover boy on that issue, was injured and missed the games. That’s a triple play for the SI jinx if you’re scoring at home, or — as Keith Olbermann used to say when he was funny — you’re alone.
Last week, by the way, Tom Brady and Randy Moss were on the cover of Sports Illustrated. The Patriots lost to the Jets.
As for the Twins, they’ll capture the Central Division title tonight or tomorrow afternoon. They’re playing — get this — the Cleveland Indians. Maybe they can keep them in town for the playoffs.