Another Angle: The SS World Series Reverse Curse


This is opposite of the Madden cover curse.

This is the SS World Series Reverse Curse.

Let me explain…

First off, in case you live under a rock, Madden is a video game. Each year, EA Sports selects an NFL player to appear on its Madden cover, which consequently destroys the player’s season and sometimes career.

For example, Barry Sanders was on the cover in 2000; he retired one week before training camp. There was Mike Vick in 2004; one day after the video game was released, he suffered a fibula fracture and missed 11 games. In 2006, cover boy Donovan McNabb missed seven games because of a hernia. In 2007, Shaun Alexander missed six games because of a fractured foot. And in 2009, Brett Favre practically flushed his legacy down the drain with a couple of text messages. (For the extended and detailed Madden history, click here.)

Ultimately, whenever EA Sports pulls the trigger on a selection, the bullet routinely penetrates the temple of the selected player.

Down goes Peyton Hillis.

Now, Wizarding 101. (Fellow Christians, notice I said “wizarding” not “witchcraft,” so don’t jump down my throat.) What we talked about above is a curse. A curse is bad. But a reverse curse, without sounding too much like Hogwarts graduates, well, that’s good. If you reverse a curse, you have a blessing. We’ll just coin it the SS Bless.

Inner self: That sounds like the name of a cruise ship.

Whatever. Allow me to explain, beginning with this simple hypothesis:

Premise No. 1: In the last half-decade, SS has featured 15 baseball players on their covers. Three are retired.
Premise No. 2: Ten of the 12 are current players who advanced to a World Series AFTER they were on the cover.
Conclusion: SS controls the fate of the World Series.

Don’t believe me? Okay, here are the stats:

– Summer 2011 cover—Cardinals players Albert Pujols, Matt Holliday and Lance Berkman (2011 World Series). Three.
– Spring 2010 cover—Cardinals first baseman Albert Pujols (2011 World Series). Up to four.
– Summer 2009 cover—Cardinals player Lance Berkman when he played for the Astros (2011 World Series). Five.
– Spring 2009 cover—Phillies pitcher Brad Lidge (2009 World Series). Six.
– May/June 2008 cover—Rangers slugger Josh Hamilton (2010 and 2011 World Series). The only explanation to two World Series appearances for one cover is this: We sold out of Josh Hamilton issues; therefore, his success was extended. Seven.
– March/April 2008 cover—Cardinals player Matt Holliday when he played for the Colorado Rockies (2011 World Series). Eight.
– July/August 2006 cover—Yankees closer Mariano Rivera (2009 World Series). Nine.
– May/June 2006 cover—Yankees pitcher Andy Pettite when he played for the Astros (2009 World Series). Ten.


Still skeptical? Well, it goes deeper. In April of 2005, we featured three Red Sox players on the cover. Two years later, they won the World Series. There’s a reason why there hasn’t been a Boston player on the cover since. The Yankees paid us. And whaddya know? It shut the Sox up. We shut the Sox up. Now, we almost put Adrian Gonzalez on the cover in our most recent Fall 2011 issue, but the Steinbrenners talked us out of it…with their credit cards.

Then there’s October of 1998 when we slapped 11 Yankee players on the cover. No surprise, the Yanks won the World Series in 1998, 1999 and 2000. Which brings us to one of the core truths of the SS Bless: Higher concentration of cover boys equals more World Series appearances. It’s that simple.

So now you know why we haven’t featured multiple Yankees on the cover since. Maybe because we were tired of puking. (Baseball fans, we apologize for triggering the worst three years in baseball history. That’s our fault.) And yes, that was far worse than the steroid era.

This Year

If three consecutive Yankees pennants didn’t convince you, then this year should. That’s because you’ll find seven of the last 10 baseball players featured on our cover in this year’s World Series. Sports Spectrum is practically sponsoring the event.

Now, to the skeptics, I know what you’re thinking—something I like to call “The Cardinal Overlap.” There may be seven players from the covers, but there are only four players overall: Albert Pujols, Lance Berkman, Matt Holliday and Josh Hamilton. That’s because Pujols, Berkman and Holliday were each featured on two covers. Each one had a cover to himself, and the triumvirate was featured collectively this past summer.

But look, “The Cardinal Overlap” actually helps my case. Here’s why… We featured Berkman in 2009 when he played for the Astros and Holliday in 2008 when he played for the Rockies. What’s remarkable is that the gods of the SS Bless brought them all together in Saint Louis to advance to a World Series. You see, it doesn’t matter if we feature players from different teams. The SS Bless is inevitable. And nothing, not even featuring players from different teams, can stop it.


Go ahead. Challenge my hypothesis. I just received this nasty email…

Mr. Copeland, You’re wrong about your absurd little reverse curse. We never made it to a World Series after we were on the SS cover. Guess you’re not as smart as you think you are, huh? Stupid idiot.
–John Smoltz, Morgan Ensberg and Nate Robertson.

I agree with your email. But only the “stupid idiot” part. I’m still right.

In Premise No. 1 and Premise No. 2, I mentioned that, of the 15 SS baseball cover boys from the past half-decade, 10 out of 12 of the current players advanced to a World Series after we featured them on a cover. That’s because three players can no longer be included. They’ll contaminate the data. Those three are Smoltz (June 2006 cover), Ensberg (April 2006 cover) and Robertson (April 2007 cover). Smoltz and Ensberg are retired, and Robertson is in the minors.

My response…

Look, guys, we did our part. Just because you didn’t get a ring afterwards, don’t take it out on me. We put you on the cover. But you either walked away from the sport, or you didn’t make it. Not my problem.
–Stupid Idiot


Ten of the 12 current players went to a World Series after we featured them on the cover, which leaves two players who are destined to go next year: Mark Teixeira (Summer 2010 cover) and Mariano Rivera (Fall 2010 cover).

That means the Yankees are locked in. But who against?

I guess it just depends who we throw on the cover in 2012.

Bid starts at $1.5 million.

By Stephen Copeland

Stephen Copeland is a staff writer and columnist at Sports Spectrum magazine. His column tackles sports and faith from another angle, whether it’s humorous, personal or controversial. Follow him on Twitter-@steve_copeland or email him at 

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Stephen Copeland
Stephen Copeland is a staff writer and columnist at Sports Spectrum magazine. Follow him on Twitter @steve_copeland or email him at