Don’t feel too bad about your recent performance collapse and abysmal 78th-place finish at the Bridgestone Cup. Many great athletes went through similar collapses… and never recovered… going on to live in infamy like Steve Blass.
For Nike, Gatorade and dozens of sponsors waiting in the wings, a drop to mediocrity would be worse than the sex scandal. Which means the pressure is on this week in Wisconsin.
UPDATE: One day into the PGA Championship, Tiger is 1-under par! Can he keep it up?
In the 2000 playoffs, the St. Louis Cardinals sent out Rookie of the Year candidate Rick Ankiel to take the mound for Game 1 of the NLDS. Then the young pitcher lost it. After throwing 12 wild pitches in 175 innings through the regular season, he was credited with 9 more in just 4 innings.
Ankiel was benched for the playoffs and, as problems continued, soon dropped down to the minor leagues -- where he remained until 2007.
Chuck Knoblauch was a 4-time All Star and won a Gold Glove in his final season with the Twins in 1997 before being traded to the New York Yankees.
Knoblauch never lived up to the pressure in the big city and is now famous for his inexplicable loss to throw a ball to first base. He committed 26 errors in the 1999 season -- doubling his total the season before. Knoblauch's accuracy was so bad he even hit Keith Olbermann's mum in the face.
Like Chuck Knoblauch, Jake Delhomme suddenly found himself unable to throw a ball to the right person.
After signing a 5-year, $42.5 million extension ($20 million guaranteed) with the Panthers in 2009, Delhomme paid his team back by throwing a career-high 18 interceptions in just 11 games.
Steve Smith to Jake Delhomme: I never really liked you as a quarterback. But... I love you as a person.
Federer got to the semifinals in a 23 straight majors and then he went 0-2. Meanwhile he fizzled at minor tournaments all spring, whiffing shots that used to come easy. As the defending champion at Wimbledon he nearly lost in the first round and second round before crashing out in the quarterfinals.
His performance this month at the US Open is highly anticipated. Already the record slam winner at 16, can he meet his goal of 20?
Braylon Edwards finished 2007 with 16 touchdowns, second only to Randy Moss.
Next season, inexplicably, he scored only 3 touchdowns and led the league with 16 dropped passes. It earned him a transfer to the Jets, where Edwards continued to drop big passes.
The former All-Pro kicker's collapse began when he missed a critical game-tying field goal in a divisional playoff game in 2005.
The Colts elected not to re-sign their 'idiot kicker,' and Vanderjagt went on to ink a deal with the Dallas Cowboys. In a game against his former team, Vanderjagt missed his only two field goal attempts.
He lasted just 10 games before being cut by the Cowboys after making just 72.2% of his field goal attempts.
As a rookie in 2007, Nick Folk was selected to play in the Pro Bowl and made a solid 90.9% of his field goal attempts the following season.
Then, in 2009, the Cowboys were forced to cut the young kicker from the squad after a terrible 14-game stretch in which he converted only 64.3% of his attempts.
Folk signed with the New York Jets for this upcoming season; so, let's see how he handles the big city spotlight.
Steve Blass goes all-star pitcher in '72 to benchwarmer in '73. He had inexplicably lost the ability to throw (though he pitched fine in practice). This came to be known as 'Steve Blass Disease'
Said Blass: 'It was the worst experience of my baseball life... I don't think I'll ever forget it. I was embarrassed and disgusted. I was totally unnerved. You can't imagine the feeling that you suddenly have no 'idea' what you're doing out there, performing that way as a major league pitcher. It was kind of scary.'
Mickey Sasser seemed to be the heir apparent of Hall of Famer Gary Carter's throne as catcher for the New York Mets.
In his first season without Carter in 1990, Sasser did well at the plate and batted .307 for the season. However, Sasser was involved in a home plate collision that would inexplicably effect his ability to throw the ball back to the pitcher.
No one could ever figure out the reason behind Sasser's throwing problems, but at least he could still throw out base runners.
Mark Wohlers established himself as a top closer after earning the save for the Atlanta Braves in the final game of the 1995 World Series.
That Spring Training, Wohlers also became notorious for throwing the fastest ever recorded at 103 mph (since broken by Joel Zumaya at 104 mph).
Despite his velocity, Wohlers would be diagnosed with a case of the 'Steve Blass Disease' in 1998 and would never truly regain his form from 1995.
Here's what Eric Gagne accomplished in 2003 and 2004: One Cy Young Award, two Relief Man of the Year awards, and a record of 84 consecutive saves.
Then, after numerous injuries and Tommy John surgery, Gagne signed with the Texas Rangers and would eventually be traded to the Boston Red Sox -- in time for their playoff run.
In his first 14 innings of work for the Red Sox, Gagne allowed 14 earned runs and blew 3 save chances. Was it the pressure or the lack of HGH? Bottomline is that Gagne couldn't keep runners from scoring and almost ruined Boston's run at the World Series title.
After winning the Rookie of the Year award in 1982, Steve Sax suddenly lost the ability to throw the ball to first base. He committed 30 errors in 1983 and his errant throws led fans sitting behind the first-base side dugout to wear batting helmets.
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