Blue Jays: Is there a “MLB The Show” cover curse in Canada?

TORONTO, ON - SEPTEMBER 24: Marcus Stroman
TORONTO, ON - SEPTEMBER 24: Marcus Stroman /

After watching the infamous “Madden Cover Curse” in the NFL, it got me wondering about ‘MLB the Show’, and how Blue Jays have fared on the Canadian cover.

It’s been a great week for Marcus Stroman, and rightfully so after an excellent campaign in 2017 for the Toronto Blue Jays. One of the lone bright spots for the roster was named as the American League Gold Glove Award winner for pitchers, and was also announced as the cover player on 2018’s version of ‘MLB the Show’.

I’m not all that much for superstitions, but after reading about the “Madden Cover Curse” in the NFL for so many years I couldn’t help but look at the history of the MLB video game, and how Blue Jays have fared in the seasons they’ve been named as the cover athlete.

Let’s have a look.

2017- Aaron Sanchez

Well we’re not off to a very good start here. Sanchez notably missed all but eight starts and 36 innings in 2017, battling with a meddlesome blister/fingernail/tendon issue on his pitching hand. He made four different trips to the disabled list, and ultimately ended the season being out indefinitely, hoping that extended rest could give him a fresh start in 2018. Here’s hoping that’s the case.

More from Jays Journal

2016- Josh Donaldson

Okay, well this one isn’t so bad. Donaldson was coming off a year where he was the AL MVP in 2015, and his number didn’t quite compare to that year, but he was hardly a disappointment. He hit 37 home runs, had 99 RBI, and slashed .284/.404/.489 and finished 4th in MVP voting while defending his crown.

No curse there. Moving on.

2015- Russell Martin

The first season in Toronto for the Canadian catcher brought a lot of excitement, and with it an appearance on the cover of MLB the Show. The Canuck backstop delivered in his first season north of the border, hitting 23 home runs, 77 RBI, and batting .240/.329/.458 in 129 games.

He along with his veteran teammates, and the big deadline acquisitions, guided the club to the playoffs for the first time since 1993, losing in the ALCS to the Kansas City Royals. Can’t call that a bad year for Martin, even if it ended a few weeks earlier than he’d hoped.

2014- Brett Lawrie

This is where things start to get a little interesting for the conspiracy theorist, as Lawrie was a hot shot prospect at the time, and 2014 was the beginning of his downfall. After showing tremendous promise from 2011-2013, Lawrie was supposed to take a step forward in 2014. Instead, he spent a ton of time on the DL battling various injuries, and ended up playing in just 70 games.

It was also his last season in Toronto, and after just two more seasons, one in Oakland and one in Chicago with the White Sox, Lawrie found himself on the sidelines last year, nursing an injury and waiting for a call that never came, at least not with an opportunity he wanted to jump on.

2012-13- Jose Bautista

“Joey Bats” was the cover athlete for two consecutive years during his prime, and without looking at his career stats, you’d be inclined to think that any curse had left him alone back then. Well….

In 2010-11, Bautista hit 54 and 43 home runs, and finished 4th and 3rd in MVP voting. He was named to the All-Star team for the first of his six consecutive trips, and won the Silver Slugger award both years as well.

In 2012, Bautista’s career hit a bit of a snag at age 31, as he spent his first real time on the disabled list as a Blue Jay, and played only 92 games. He was still a big threat at the plate, mashing 27 home runs in that time, but he was severely limted. In 2013 it was a lot of the same, though he did play a little more with 118 games when it was all said and done, but was held to just 28 home runs that year.

He returned to his dominant self in 2014-15 before injuries and inconsistent performance caught up with him over the last two seasons. Maybe the “cover athlete” years weren’t the end for him, but they certainly represented the first real snag of his career with his health.

Next: Blue Jays' 2018 Back-Up Catcher Options

Does this mean anything for Marcus Stroman in 2018? No, not unless you’re into that sorta thing. If nothing else it was something to tide us over until the hot stove heats up, which should be sooner than later.