Before the much-anticipated release of San Diego Studios’ “MLB The Show 23,” the game unveiled its featured cover athlete: Jazz Chisholm Jr. of the Miami Marlins.
And while the game has bridged the gap between gamers and baseball junkies, it’s also opened the door for one intriguing discussion that’s taken place following every year’s “Madden NFL” release from EA Sports. We’ve seen with the NFL a “Madden” cover curse, striking the likes of Rob Gronkowski in 2017, Adrian Peterson in 2014 and Drew Brees in 2010.
So, is there a such thing as an “MLB The Show” curse? Well, a few big-leaguers (and one former) would certainly suggest so.
With that being said, here are three players who proved an “MLB The Show” cover curse to be true.
Yasiel Puig (Los Angeles Dodgers, 2015)
Puig, unlike anyone else that’s featured on this list, is no longer in the big leagues. In fact, the last MLB star to be plastered on the cover that also no longer plays is Adrian Gonzalez, who was featured as a member of the Boston Red Sox in 2012.
While Puig was taking the league by storm — overvalued as one of the game’s best outfielders — his career didn’t fare too well following this release. Whether it’d be sparking postseason fights while simultaneously suffering elimination in the National League, Puig’s relevancy in baseball fell off a cliff. The one-time All-Star played five seasons after landing the cover, where Puig showed some pop, a mediocre ability to drive in runs and subpar defensive skills.
Josh Donaldson (Toronto Blue Jays, 2016)
Similar to Puig, Donaldson’s golden days came when San Diego Studios came knocking on his door.
During the time, the former American League MVP was a member of the Toronto Blue Jays, launching moon blasts on a nightly basis alongside ex-teammate Jose Bautista while also going nowhere in the postseason. Donalson, also like Puig, underwent a pretty major downfall. He’d struggle to navigate calf injuries which ultimately led to his departure from the Blue Jays, who traded him to the Cleveland Guardians in 2018.
Donalson remained nothing more than a former MVP, who aside from one glimmer-of-hope season with the Atlanta Braves in 2019, proved to never be what he once was.
Javier Báez (Chicago Cubs, 2020)
Báez will always be recognized as one of the most beloved players in Cubs history and for good reason. He delivered energy, swagger and helped Chicago end its nightmare of a 108-year curse in the 2016 World Series.
Yet, after Báez was recognized with this honor as the featured athlete on “MLB The Show” in 2020, things took a turn for the worst in the batter’s box. He batted a .203 in 2020, which was the worst of any season since Báez’s 52-game rookie year in 2014. And he also recorded a .238 OBP, which was the worst of any qualified NL hitter that season. While the year was pandemic-effected, Báez struck out 75 times while totaling 45 base hits in what was his second-to-final year with the Cubs.
Since being on the game’s cover, Báez has not made an All-Star appearance.