Maybe Cy Young was lucky. After all, he never won a Cy Young Award.
The Cy Young jinx has struck again, this time haunting Doug Drabek and Bob Welch.Drabek was 22-6 for Pittsburgh last season and Welch 27-6 for Oakland on the way to winning the Cy Young Awards. Things aren't going quite so well this year, though.
Drabek is 1-5 with a 4.08 ERA and is threatening to match his awful start of 1987. He was 1-8 that season before finishing 11-12.
"He didn't have much stuff and he couldn't find the plate," manager Jim Leyland said after Drabek's most recent loss. "That's a deadly combination."
Welch is 3-2 with a 3.22 ERA. On Sunday, he gave up 11 runs and 13 hits in four innings to Cleveland in the worst start of his career.
The 1989 winners, Bret Saberhagen and Mark Davis, didn't escape the jinx last season. Saberhagen went from 23-6 to an injury-plagued 5-9 for Kansas City.
Davis won the NL Cy Young Award by saving 44 games for San Diego then signed as a free agent with the Royals. He managed only six saves and ended the season as a spot starter. Davis' hopes for a comeback were stalled this season when he broke his finger on April 20.
It wasn't the first time Saberhagen was hit by the jinx. He won his first Cy Young with a 20-6 record in 1985 and then slumped to 7-12 the next season.The first pitcher ever to win a Cy Young Award was Brooklyn's Don Newcombe with a record of 27-7 in 1956. The next season, he was 11-12.
Then, for a while, it seemed safe to be a Cy Young winner. Sandy Koufax won three awards in the 1960s, and Bob Gibson, Tom Seaver and Jim Palmer also managed to survive. But then some very bad things started to happen to some very good pitchers.
Of the 17 Cy Young winners in the 1980s, 13 eventually had some sort of arm injury and some of the injuries were even career ending.
Baltimore's Steve Stone won 25 games and a Cy Young Award in 1980, then went 4-7 in his final season, 1981, the victim of a rotator cuff injury.
"I never really considered it a jinx," said Stone, now a broadcaster. "It was just the best year of my career and I deserved to win."
Rollie Fingers won the Cy Young for Milwaukee in 1981, then injured his arm at the end of the next season. He missed the 1983 season. Another Milwaukee pitcher, Pete Vuckovich, won the Cy Young in 1982 with an 18-6 record, then injured his rotator cuff in 1983. He was never the same.
LaMarr Hoyt fell from 24-10 in his 1983 Cy Young season with the Chicago White Sox to 13-18 the next year. Hoyt didn't have a serious injury, but his career was destroyed by drug abuse.
Orel Hershiser won the Cy Young in 1988 with a 23-8 mark and a record scoreless streak of 59 innings. He was followed in the voting by Danny Jackson (23-8) and David Cone (20-3). The next season the trio was a combined 35-34.
Hershiser made four starts in 1990 before injuring his right shoulder. He missed the rest of the season and is now starting a rehabilitation project in the minor leagues.
"To actually feel like a pitcher is when you start getting people out," Hershiser said. "And if I do that four or five outings in a row, then I'm going to start feeling normal again."
Frank Viola went from 24-7 for Minnesota in 1988, to 13-17 the next season and a trade to the New York Mets after a heated salary dispute with the Twins.
"Fans like to look at a player getting a big raise and blame that if he has an off season," Viola said. "But it's almost never because a player isn't trying; it's because he's trying too hard or thinking about what he has to do too much."
The only pitcher who managed to survive the Cy Young jinx in the '80s was Boston's Roger Clemens, who won the award in 1986 and 1987. Clemens, however, went from 24-4 to 20-9.
"Whether I won or not, I felt I beat the Cy Young jinx and that's what I set out to do," Clemens said. "A lot of guys have gone to the wayside after they've had a good year."
Cy Young Winners
A glance at how some pitchers have fared the year after winning the Cy Young Award:
Pitcher W- L ERA W- L ERA
D. Newcombe 27- 7 3.06 11-12 3.49
D. Chance 20- 9 1.65 15-10 3.15
M. McCormack 22-10 2.85 12-14 3.58
R. Jones 22-14 2.74 6-12 4.59
G. Perry 21- 6 2.72 12-11 3.05
S. Stone 25- 7 3.23 4- 7 4.57
P. Vuckovich 18- 6 3.34 0- 2 4.91
L. Hoyt 24-10 3.66 13-18 4.47
J. Denny 19- 6 2.37 7- 7 2.45
R. Sutcliffe 16- 1 2.69 8- 8 3.18
B. Saberhagen 20- 6 2.87 7-12 4.15
F. Viola 24- 7 2.64 13-17 3.66
O. Hershiser 23- 8 2.26 15-15 2.31
B. Saberhagen 23- 6 2.16 5- 9 3.27
Svs ERA Svs ERA
M. Davis 44 1.85 6 5.11