The New York Mets and the curse of Santa Claus
Beware, Mets fans: the team revealed Tuesday that David Wright will play the role of Santa Claus at next Tuesday’s holiday party, one of the club’s most popular annual charitable endeavors. But like an action shot on the cover of Sports Illustrated or an appointment to defend the dark arts at Hogwarts, it is not an honor to be taken lightly.
For the better part of the past decade, the position has quite obviously been cursed; any player who has pulled on the red-and-white suit has either left the team, been injured or suffered a serious decline in production thereafter. Consider the following:
The Year: 2004
The Santa: Mike Cameron
The Fallout: Tremendously popular amongst teammates, Cameron played Santa and then suffered a frightening outfield collision with Carlos Beltran the following August, knocking him out for the rest of the season and ultimately ending his Mets career.
The Year: 2005
The Santa: Kris Benson
The Fallout: Perhaps the most famous Mets Santa of them all, Benson entertained in 2005 while his wife, Anna Benson, infamously showed up wearing a revealing Mrs. Claus costume. A month later, the Mets sent both Bensons packing in a trade to Baltimore.
The Year: 2007
The Santa: John Maine
The Fallout: Coming off a career year and looking every bit like a future cog in New York’s rotation, Maine played Santa Claus in 2007. The following year, he suffered the first of what became a litany of shoulder issues, resulting in multiple surgeries, robbing him of fastball velocity and ultimately leading the Mets to non-tender him this November.
The Year: 2008
The Santa: Mike Pelfrey
The Fallout: Like Maine, Pelfrey had just completed a career year when the Mets tabbed him to be St. Nick. The following season, Pelfrey’s ERA jumped from 3.72 to 5.03, his walk rate spiked and he lost more games than he won.
The Year: 2009
The Santa: Jeff Francoeur
The Fallout: The affable Francoeur seemed a perfect choice for Santa after raking in his first few months after a trade to New York. He played the part well, before hitting just .237 for the Mets in 2010 and losing his starting job to Angel Pagan. Frustrated with his production, the Mets eventually dealt Francoeur to the Rangers, who cut him after the season.
You’ll notice one year missing from the story: 2006, the only only other time Wright played the role of Santa Claus. All Wright did the following year was enjoy the best overall season of his professional career, winning a Gold Glove and a Silver Slugger and perhaps proving he is immune to the curse.
That’s the gamble, at least, that the Mets are taking in 2010.
—–Follow along on Twitter @AnthonyDiComo.