A Black Plague descends upon the Arizona Diamondbacks

The name is deceptive - a cruel joke.

Steve Sparks - does he provide a spark? Does he spark a team to excel? Or is it more like sparking an illness?

You should see this guy’s grin. Damn, he seems happy. Kinda like a Grim Reaper that loves his job.

He began his career commonly enough. The Milwaukee Brewers were mediocre before they promoted him to the majors, and mediocre during his time there. This was his “warm up”… gotta get loose for the exertion that spreading calamity brings.

In 1999 the trouble began. After a low profile first season in Anaheim, the Sparks-infested 1999 Angels fell from 85-77 the previous year to 70-92, nearly a 100 point drop in winning percentage. After breaking the fever and expelling Sparks, the Angels immediately recovered to an 82-80 record the next year.

Sparks wasn’t through with Major League Baseball. Oh no… he was just getting started. In 2000 his Dark Cloud fell over the Detroit Tigers. After once again building a falsely good first impression with a nice (tiger-nice) 79-83 record in 2000, he dropped the axe the next three years, as the Tigers regressed from 66-96, to 55-106, and finally to a legendary 43-119 debacle last season.

Arizona, a young innocent naive team who obviously was not familiar with Doctor Doom, allowed Sparks to enter their home. They had a solid 84-78 record in 2003.

This time Sparks went for the throat. He must have been angry beyond words when his planned greatest masterpiece, a followup to the 43-119 Tiger tragedy, fell through when the Tigers finally wised up and exiled him. He settled for helping his Oakland team lose a playoff series to the eternally cursed Boston squad. Boston was still cursed… Sparks is just a worse curse.

He would make them pay. The Tigers were boring prey anyway… they were a shattered team. Arizona… ripe to receive what only he could provide, would be quickly mind-blown.

Before the season, Arizona talked about making the playoffs.

With Doctor Doom in the house, Arizona currently stands at 35-82, a .299 winning percentage. If this pace continues, Arizona will finish at 48-114, with the worst winning percentage since 1962 Except for the 2003 Detroit Tigers!. Maybe not the masterpiece he dreamt of, but a damn fine accomplishment nonetheless!

Oh… and the Tigers, the very first year after sending Sparks packing?

54-61, a .470 winning percentage. 205 points higher than last year.

Recently, Sparks was thrown out of the starting rotation in Arizona.

Will this help? Does this reduce Sparks’s nefarious influence?

Unlikely. He’s started a majority of his games pitched every year except last year. Just ask the Tigers if putting him in the bullpen helped.

If anything, it pisses him off further. I pity the rest of the year in Arizona.

Doctor Doom… will he be coming to a team near you, next? Or will MLB owners finally have the courage to deny him?

All this over a knuckleballer? Have you lost your mind?

One word: Lithium.

Brian, are you autistic with a gift for stats?

Honestly, you’re just so drawn to them, and focused on irrelevant minutiae. Fly Qantas exclusively, perhaps?

I take comfort in noting that none of the people who replied have a good sense of humor.

Those who’ve paid attention in the past know that my prior statistical baseball posts were highly rational. Those who know baseball know that baseball players (and often even managers) are anything but rational.

Baseball journalism is far sillier even than the players. Countless times I hear stuff like “Greg Maddux OWNS Team X. He’s 9-0 against them in his career. Easy prediction: Cubs will beat Team X on Sunday”.

While my post is a satire of superstition in baseball primarily and irrational ignorant sports journalism secondarily, it actually operates as BETTER journalism than a large majority of completely serious baseball journalism. Howard Cosell was correct when he lambasted the state of sports journalism and broadcasting, and it has not improved since his time.

Goddamnit I want an ESPY for this!

Old boy, I have a sense of GOOD humor. I tend to laugh at it whenever I see some. Cheerio. :D

Your senses have been bludgeoned by your involuntary Anarchism. You have to shake the fog off first.

Oh, and it helps if you’re a Smartie Jock.

{Hears Crickets Chirping}

I’ll have to redouble my efforts to watch Around the Horn and Pardon the Interruption!

I AGREE WITH BRIAN. This is why I can’t get into regular season baseball or basketball games. What’s the coventional wisdom among players and coaches? You’ll win a third of your games, and lose a third. It’s what you do with the last third that counts. Great. So which team’s respective thirds will I be watching today?