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The Bellhorn Curve?
2005-08-30 21:53
by Mike Carminati

Mark Bellhorn was plucked up by the Yankees today after being waived by the Red Sox before the weekend. Of course, Bellhorn helped the Sox defeat the Yankees in last year's ALCS. Now he becomes the 195th man in baseball history to play for both of the two archrivals. He started tonight at third for the Yanks.

He is trying to complete a much rarer feat though. Should the Yankees reach the postseason and defeat the Sox, Bellhorn could become the second man in baseball history to switch teams going from the team (i.e., Red Sox) that had defeated his current team (the Yankees) in the previous season but that will lose to the current team in the subsequent season. That is, if the Yankees and Sox meet in the postseason and the Yankees prevail. Certainly, this is all predicated on a slew of if's, but that's why the accomplishment is so rare.

I'll hold off disclosing who previously accomplished this feat until the end (at the risk of being anticlimactic). I will mention that Chad Curtis came close to it. He went from the Indians to the Yankees in mid-1997. The Indians defeated the Yanks in the 1997 Division Series and then lost to them in the 1998 ALCS, but Curtis had already switched clubs by the time of the first series.

Keep in mind that if the Yankees lose to the Sox in the playoffs, Bellhorn will be the third man to switch teams and go to the team that had lost to his former team in the postseason, only to see the new team lose again to the former team.

The two men who did this previously were both former Yankees, Jeff Nelson and Jumbo Brown:

Jeff Nelson2000NYYALCSSEA42
Jumbo Brown1936NYYWSNY Giants42

And to complete the cycle, the only men to go from a loser in year one to a winner in year two (given that both teams played each other in the playoffs both season) were both recent Yankees:

Randy Velarde2000OAKALDSNYA32
Tony Fossas1998TEXALDSNYA30

And the only players to go from a loser one year to a loser the next (with both team teams meeting in the playoffs both years) were on the '97 Yanks/'98 Indians:

Cecil Fielder1997NYYALDSCLE32
Dwight Gooden1997NYYALDSCLE32
Mark Whiten1997NYYALDSCLE32

Finally, how about the "Major League" scenario, where a player switches teams midseason and then faces that team in the postseason? You know, how David Keith or Pete Vuckovich or whoever it was hitting a home run "that wouldn't have been out of a lot of parks" to defeat the Indians. To which, the response was, "Name one." "Yosemite." Ha Ha. That was the punch line in the original movie's ad but it got cut from the actual film. Then it got reused in the second film. Odd. It's like that "Switch—Jimmy Smits!" ad a few years back, where they rushed to add the then-red hot actor's name to the end of the movie title that they barely allowed the announcer to get the actual title out.

Anyway, the list of men to switch teams midseason only to help his new team defeat his former team in the playoffs is exceptionally unremarkable:

Dave Revering1981OAKNYYALCS30
Dave Weathers1997NYYCLEALDS32
David McCarty2003OAKBOSALDS32
Eddie Murray1996CLEBALALDS31
Fran Healy1976KCANYYALCS32
Jack Kramer1951NYGNYYWS42
Jim Bruske1998SDNNYYWS40
Lee Viau1892CLEBSNWS50
Lenny Harris2003CHNFLONLCS43
Lonnie Smith1985SLNKCAWS43
Mike Patterson1981OAKNYYALCS30
Sean Bergman1999HOUATLNLDS31
Sid Monge1984SDNDETWS41

Eddie Murray and a remarkable bunch of stiffs. The list of players who switched teams only to see his new team lose to his old one in the postseason is equally unexceptional:

Aurelio Rodriguez1983BALCHWSALCS31
Chad Curtis1997CLENYYALDS32
Jesse Orosco2003NYYMINALDS31
Jim Spencer1981NYYOAKALCS30
Joe Slusarski2001ATLHOUNLDS30
John Clarkson1892BSNCLEWS50
Kent Mercker1996BALCLEALDS31
Larry Harlow1979BALCALALCS31
Pat Rapp1997FLOSFNNLDS30
Tom Underwood1981NYYOAKALCS30

OK, now that I've milked this topic as much as I can. The answer to the first scenario, who would be the only previous player to meet the Bellhorn scenario I described above, I'm sorry to say it's Mike Difelice.

Defelice played for the Diamondbacks who beat the Cardinals in the Division Series in 2001 (3-2). Then he played for the Cards who went on to sweep Arizona in the 2002 Division Series.

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