John Axford had an impressive debut season in 2010 when he filled in for Trevor Hoffman as the Milwaukee Brewers closer.
Equally impressive was his mustache which rivaled the infamous beard of Brian Wilson and revived memories of renowned Brewers closer and former Cy Young Award winner, Rollie Fingers.
Axford went 24-3 in save opportunities and compiled 76 K in only 58 innings for a 11.65 K/9—good for fourth best amongst closers. He maintained a 2.60 ERA and 1.22 WHIP in that time.
His performance was one of the few bright spots in the Brewers season and a relief considering the struggles of one of baseball's all-time greatest relievers.
Now John Axford has become the primary closer for the Milwaukee Brewers entering the 2011 season.
The promotion might seem like a glorious achievement for the longtime minor leaguer, but in reality, inheriting the Brewers closer role has been something of a curse over the last 10 years.
In fact, you might say it is career suicide as the majority of pitchers to have recorded a save for the team since 2001 have gone on to either immediately retire or suffer severe drop offs in performance.
There might be no such thing as curses in the real world, but in the superstitious sport of baseball they are most definitely real—just ask the Chicago Cubs—and this particular curse began with Curtis Leskanic.