In episode 8F13 of The Simpsons ("Homer At The Bat"), power plant owner C. Montgomery Burns brings in nine major leaguers to help win the championship softball game against the team from the Shelbyville plant. In the episode, seven of the nine suffer severe "misfortunes" that keep them out of the game. Don Mattingly and Darryl Strawberry escape, but Mattingly is kicked off the team for not shaving his sideburns, and Strawberry cries in the outfield after being heckled and is pinch hit for by Homer in the bottom of the ninth with the bases loaded and two out.
"The Curse Of Springfield" is a supposed jinx placed on the players who appeared in the March 4, 1992 episode. While the curse turned out to be temporary, many of the players careers did not survive the incubation period. Somehow, Ken Griffey, Jr. was miraculously spared. A look now at the Springfield Nine:
1B - Don Mattingly, kicked off the team for not shaving his sideburns. Mattingly's career didn't exactly tail off, but 1992 was the last time he was among the league leaders in anything. Mattingly finally got a shot at postseason play in 1995, but was replaced the following year by Tino Martinez. Assessment: CURSED.
2B - Steve Sax, arrested by Lou and sentenced to six life sentences. An five-time All-Star, Sax had his least productive year in 1992, and two years later was out of baseball. Assessment: CURSED.
SS - Ozzie Smith, fell into a bottomless pit at Springfield's Mystery Spot (but still took pictures). "The Wizard" avoided the curse for a short period after the episode aired, but retired after injuries kept him off the field for more than half the games between 1994 and 1996. Ozzie was elected to the Hall Of Fame in 2001, but this was based more on the merit of his career than his post-episode performance. Assessment: CURSED.
3B - Wade Boggs, punched out by Barney after an argument about Britain's greatest prime minister. A lifetime .357 hitter, Wade batted only .259 in 1992, and never hit above .324 in a full season again. But he won two Gold Gloves and a World Series title (with the Yankees in 1995), and in later years recorded his 3,000th hit (a home run) as a member of the Tampa Bay Devil Rays. Assessment: RECOVERED.
LF - Jose Canseco, hospitalized for smoke inhalation after saving a woman's baby, cat, player piano, washer, dryer, et cetera from a burning building. Canseco, the league's first 40-40 man, was traded in mid-season 1992 to the Texas Rangers. He wrecked his arm during a pitching stint in 1993, and bounced around with six more before being cut by the Expos in spring training 2002. Canseco had a monster year in 1998 with the Blue Jays, hitting 46 home runs and driving in 107, but injuries and the inability to play the field ruined a promising career. Assessment: CURSED.
CF - Ken Griffey, Jr, suffered elephantitis of the head from drinking too much nerve tonic. Griffey was the only one to escape the carnage, as he has averaged 40 home runs and nearly 100 RBI a season since the episode aired. Assessment: ESCAPED.
RF - Darryl Strawberry, the one player left for the game. Having made the All Star team in eight consecutive seasons, Strawberry not only never played in another All Star game, he never had more than 300 at bats in a season after the episode aired. Strawberry is now struggling with a cocaine addiction and is trying to avoid jail time. Assessment: CURSED.
C - Mike Scioscia, hospitalized for radiation poisoning. Mike called it quits after a dismal 1992 season in which he hit only .221 with 3 home runs and 24 RBI. He is now the manager of the Anaheim Angels, which is a curse onto itself. Assessment:
Update! Scioscia helped guide to the Angels to their first ever World Series title in 2002. Assessment: RECOVERED.
P - Roger Clemens, hypnotized into thinking he was a chicken. Clemens finished the 1992 season strong, presumably because he still thought he was a chicken. Over the next several years Clemens was an injury-prone .500 pitcher. After the 1996 season he left Boston and rejuvenated his career, winning three more Cy Young awards and two World Series titles. Assessment: RECOVERED.
Lest one think that this was an isolated incident, slugger Mark McGwire appeared in Episode AABF22 (Brother's Little Helper) to help cover up the secret mission of Major League Baseball information-collecting satellites. The episode aired October 3, 1999, just after the 1999 season, and McGwire had averaged 61 home runs a season over the previous four seasons. After the airing of the episode he hit just 61 total. The 2000 and 2001 seasons saw McGwire watching most of the games from the bench with injuries. He called it quits after the 2001 season.