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Slow Death

A fortnight ago here at AA, I threw the high-flying Atlanta Braves under the bus, saying they didn't scare me with or without Mark Teixeira. Since then, they've shown their true colors - yellow - falling from 3.5 games back to 6 back. It just doesn't pay to bet against me, folks - I'm never wrong.

Striving to offend as many time zones as possible, then, I figure it's time to take some cheap shots at the visiting Padres. Now, I can't pretend they're overhyped; they're right up there with the Mets when you look at their run differential, and Young-Peavy-Maddux is a three-headed beast I'd just as soon avoid come October.

But then I take a breath and remember why the Padres can't win it all. It's not just that the West Coast is always going to be the candle to the New York spotlight. It's not just that San Diego in particular is the hole in the Golden State doughnut. It's that the Padres are laboring under a lethal but little-known hex:

The Curse of Steve Garvey.

That's right, "The Senator" is still pissed off at the team that cut him almost 20 years ago. He went so far as to sue MLB in the 1990s, claiming that he was terminated not because he was old and in the way, but because the owners colluded against him. Personally, I think he should focus his anger more directly on the Sklar brothers, who seemed jealous they weren't invited to his boondoggle vacations.

You kids out there with your iPods and your social lives may not remember Mr. Perfect. But if you have a little sabermatrician in you, this guy is your public enemy #1. King of the counting stats, allergic to the walk, an error-free defender with the range of a piano, what does that spell? That's right - overrated.

But a legend in his own mind. Starting his career in L.A. and leading the league in self-promotion, he scored endorsements from Thom McCann, Jockey, Gillette, Playboy... dude made Gary Carter look camera-shy. He famously became the first starter named to the All-Star Game as a write-in candidate. How? Turns out, he stuffed the ballot box harder than a Chicago pol in the sixties. That's right -

"[Sam Romano] convinced somebody at Dodger Stadium to give him whole cartons of ballots. He took them back to our house and we set up an assembly line. For the next month or so, we filled out All-Star ballots. Thousands and thousands of them. For hours and hours...We made sure that his name was written different ways, with different pens."

That quote is from The Secret Life of Cyndy Garvey, a must-read tell-all second only to Ball Four. In addition to giving a play-by-play of Garvey's peccadilloes, the first Mrs. Garvey details his positively weird behavior:

"He was getting deeper and deeper into his public image. One evening I discovered him in front of the bedroom mirror practicing facial expressions. Sincere. Attentive. Happy. Modest. Bold. `Practicing being an all-American, Steve?'"

Steve divorced Cyndy, a blonde daytime chat-show anchorditz from SoCal, and married Candy, a blonde daytime chat-show anchorditz from SoCal. If there's a blondie Condi working for some kind of "Good Morning Malibu" show, warn her ASAP.

But don't warn the Mets about Sandy Eggo. The Curse is alive, the Padres' postseason hopes are dead. As Thomas Boswell ever so wisely said, "Every season it's predicted that the Padres are about to go somewhere. And every year it turns out to be the beach."