By all appearances, Brad Penny is a new man. As Richard mentioned in this morning’s Speed Read, Penny’s San Francisco Giants’ debut was nothing short of awesome, as he tossed eight scoreless innings in a 4-0 win over the Phillies on Wednesday. This after throwing a grand total of one shutout inning for the Red Sox over the previous five months.
Somewhere in a Beverly Hills mansion, surrounded by dishes of caviar and flying monkeys, Alyssa Milano violently curses the fates. Penny, who dated the fetching actress for a brief period in 2005, seems to be the latest of her former boyfriends to have beaten the terrible Curse of Alyssa Milano. Could it be that her bony grip on America’s Major League pitching has finally been broken for good? Consider the evidence:
In his fine treatise of 2007, Chris of I’M NOT SAYIN’, I’M JUST SAYIN’ broke down the stats of three Milano boyfriends — Penny, Carl Pavano and Barry Zito — to show how their relationships with the former “Who’s The Boss?” star basically ruined their careers. And to be sure, there are few pitchers who have suffered more precipitous falls from grace than these three, with the Giants’ Zito as exhibit A.
But then, a dramatic development. Milano got married. On Aug. 15 of this year she got hitched to entertainment agent David Bugliani, thus creating some sort of chain reaction in the underworld that, apparently, allowed the three pitchers to be released from her evil tentacles. The numbers:
Penny: Dated Milano in 2005. The once-proud Dodger (16-4 record, 3.03 ERA in ‘07) fell on hard times after moving to the Red Sox, as the Milano curse set in with a vengeance. He struggled at 7-8 on a quality team, his ERA ballooning to 5.61. It’s partly his own fault of course: This is what happens when you make Milano wear your jersey to bed. But Milano gets married, and he’s 1-0 with the Giants, with a 0.00 ERA.
Pavano: Met Milano during the 2003 World Series. The Curse of Milano typically needs one year to set in, and true to form, Pavano fell on hard times beginning in 2005. He was 18-8 with a 3.00 ERA on 222.1 innings pitched for the Marlins in 2004. But after signing a huge contract with the Yankees the following season, injuries set in, and a 4-6, 4.77 2005 led to a 2006 in which he didn’t pitch at all. But since moving to the Twins on Aug. 8 of this season, Pavano has shown signs of life. He’s 3-2 as a Twin, and since Milano’s marriage he’s given up four earned runs over 13 innings (three starts), with 13 strikeouts and only four walks.
Zito: Dated Milano in 2004. His is the most dramatic story of all. The wunderkind A’s hurler was 16-10 in 2006, before signing the most expensive contract ever for a pitcher — seven years, $126 million — with the Giants. After which he completely went in the tank, even showing up at times in the bullpen. But following the marriage of his former tormentor, Zito has actually been good: In three starts since the Milano nuptials, Zito has gone 20.1 innings and allowed only one earned run. He’s 1-0 over that time, with only eight walks and 15 Ks.
There is still no explanation for Tony Danza’s career — although he never dated Milano, so I suppose this doesn’t apply.