The Mets and the Curse of Kris Kringle (updated)
The Mets revealed Friday that infielder Daniel Murphy, the subject of a smattering of trade rumors in recent weeks, will play Santa Claus during next Tuesday’s annual holiday party to benefit local public schoolchildren at Citi Field. Though of course his selection is a privilege, few would blame Murphy for hesitating to suit up.
For the better part of the past decade, the position seems to have been cursed; every 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 memorable 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: 2006
The Santa: David Wright
The Fallout: By enjoying the best statistical season of his career in 2007 and winning Gold Glove and Silver Slugger awards at third base, Wright appeared to nix the curse of Santa Claus once and for all. But then he made a critical mistake, agreeing to suit up again four years later. Keep reading to see what happened.
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 in 2010.
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. Some argue that despite a strong first half in 2010, he never truly recovered.
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 scored points for his jolliness, 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.
The Year: 2010
The Santa: David Wright
The Fallout: Making his second career appearance as Santa, Wright suffered a stress fracture in his lower back the following April, struggled while attempting to play through the pain, and ultimately spent more than two months on the disabled list. The resulting career lows in batting average, on-base percentage and slugging were only half the story; Wright also endured fallout from owner Fred Wilpon’s critical comments about him in the New Yorker magazine.
—–Follow along on Twitter @AnthonyDiComo.