Justin Verlander’s ERA is as bloated as a beached whale, while Kate Upton is as curvy as a 12-to-6 breaking ball. Toss in the dating headlines that have been swirling through the rumor mill for months, and you have yourself a juicy, traffic-spiking story.
But you do not have a curse.
Don’t tell that to the New York Post, and its recent story that hinted at that.
Take the article for what it’s worth, a likely tongue in cheek attempt to get Kate Upton’s name – and her body – onto the site and therefore, right along with it, a major PV bump.
Toss in the New York sports spin, which listed the former Jets wearin’, butt fumblin’ quarterback, Mark Sanchez, who also had some previous history with Upton.
A cursed history, perhaps?
As die-hard sports fans, we are always looking for someone, or something to blame.
For weeks, analysts and critics alike have been trying to figure out what is wrong with Justin Verlander this season. Most have assumed that the Detroit flamethrower might be fighting through an injury, and simply not mentioning anything to his team’s training staff.
The New York Post had the different theory, and not one that’s injury related, unless you were to refer to the condition as a groin pull – pointed in the direction of rumored girlfriend Kate Upton.
The paper went as far to call it “The Curse of Kate Upton”, mentioning other athletes affected.
Could the blond bombshell really be negatively affecting Justin Verlander’s game?
Let’s face it, attractive women can and do distract most men, and that very point is regurgitated in our society on a regular basis.
95% of heterosexual men are strapped to an imaginary leash and led around by what’s in their pants – and that’s probably a conservative guesstimate, too.
We see this phenomenon showcased in commercials…
…in the movies…
….and on the radio…
Heck, There’s Something About Mary – one of the classic comedies of all-time – headlined a trio of creepy men following, stalking and flirting with a beautiful and desirable woman. Cameron Diaz’s character, Mary, was a perfect WIFE that LOVES sports.
Maybe that’s Justin’s problem: he’s just been heading out there “with a loaded gun”.
So, yes, Verlander’s velocity is down and his ERA is up. He can still bring some heat, just not as much as Upton. It doesn’t mean that he’s cursed, pinning Upton as the “Lily of the Valley”.
When you see this, do you immediately think of a curse?
No – and the answer is simple: Verlander’s challenge is both mechanical and “between his ears”.
Pitching is not just winding up and slinging the ball… it’s an art form. A pitcher has to consistently repeat his delivery and maintain excellent mechanics.
Detroit manager Brad Ausmus recently acknowledged that there were mechanical corrections that could be made with his workhorse starter.
Verlander’s stats have been alarming, especially for an organization armed for a World Series run.
Consider the following regarding Verlander’s 2014 season, when compared to his career:
- His 4.80 ERA (17 starts) is his worst since 2008, when he posted a 4.84 mark in 33 starts
- The 6-7 losing record is currently his first losing mark since 2008, when he went 11-17
- The 85 strikeouts puts him on pace for 170 K’s, his fewest in a season since 2008 (163)
- His 43 walks put him on pace for 86 total, the most since, you guessed it… 2008 (87)
- Verlander hasn’t posted a shutout or complete game since 2012
- His 1.49 WHIP is his worst mark since 2005, when he pitched just 11 1/3 innings
Again, the numbers can improve, and Verlander recently threw two consecutive quality starts, both on the road, against the Indians and Astros.
In a recent interview with the Detroit Free Press, Verlander admitted that the recent stretch was “encouraging”, but that “no pitch has felt completely normal”.
That quote uncovers what’s likely to be a tug of war between Verlander’s mental game and his mechanics. Tied within could also be some necessary adjustments to an aging Major League frame.
But whatever comes out of this, don’t blame Upton.
Yes, the whole girlfriend curse concept took off five years ago when Dallas Cowboys starting quarterback Tony Romo was floundering in games. This was around the same time that Romo was dating another blond WIFE in SPORTS, Jessica Simpson. If you recall, she proudly flaunted a grotesque pink ‘Boys jersey during games.
One could also go back even further to the evolution of the SI cover curse, which, oh, by the way, Miss Upton has graced a few different times.
So while so many people go ahead and blame the hot model, the magazine cover or a phantom injury, the Detroit Tigers have to hope for one thing… that its ace is focusing only on his game.
Well, as much as that invisible leash will allow.
* Stats as of June 29, 2014, and via ESPN.com