Topps 2024 cover athlete Ronald Acuña Jr. on mission to confirm curse isn't real

Ronald Acuña Jr. being named Topps' cover athlete this year may be better news than you thought.

Division Series - Philadelphia Phillies v Atlanta Braves - Game Three
Division Series - Philadelphia Phillies v Atlanta Braves - Game Three / Kevin D. Liles/Atlanta Braves/GettyImages

In the modern game of baseball, finding marketable players that can appeal to a wide audience has proven to be very difficult. While there are guys like Shohei Ohtani who can rake in the merch and marketing dollars, many of the league's current "household" names like Mike Trout, Mookie Betts, and Gerrit Cole don't exactly scream mainstream appeal and don't really put themselves out there all that much. One exception to that rule is the Atlanta Braves' Ronald Acuna Jr. who has positioned himself to be the face of baseball.

Ronald has everything one would want from a public relations perspective. He puts up video game numbers that are getting logged in the history books regularly, he is energetic and exciting on the field, and he is decidedly unafraid to be the villain for other teams' fans. Braves fans love him, opposing fans love to boo him, but no one is lukewarm about Ronald. Fans care what he does and how he does it, good or bad.

This is exactly why Topps decided to make Acuna Jr. their cover athlete for 2024 Topps Series 1. Coming off his historic 40/70 season last year, Ronald is going to have a ton of eyeballs on him this year to see if he can pull off another monster year and his picture on baseball card boxes is going to generate some sales to be sure. However, is it possible that Topps may have cursed him by putting them on their boxes this spring?

Don't worry, Ronald Acuna Jr. "probably" didn't get cursed by Topps

This idea stems from the famous "Madden curse" from the NFL. For whatever reason, if a player was put on the cover of any of the popular Madden video games, they sure do seem to have a strong likelihood of getting some poor fortune that following season. Barry Sanders retired before he ever played again while on the cover, Daunte Culpepper was a disaster in 2002, and Marshall Faulk was never the same player after he was put on the Madden cover. The results have been better in recent years, but it is still a pretty weird thing that has come up time and time again.

However, Braves fans shouldn't be concerned because the fine folks at Topps have actually done a fair amount of research to suggest that the cover athlete curse does not apply to them and that being on the cover could actually be a blessing. Shohei Ohtani, Barry Bonds, Alex Rodriguez, and Juan Soto were all cover athletes and all went on to have insane seasons. As Topps put it, "Of the 34 active players that have appeared on covers since 1993, 25 have had strong follow-up seasons."

There have been exceptions to the rule as putting Yasiel Puig as their cover athlete in 2015 didn't go well and Pete Alonso struggled in 2020, but the odds are good that Ronald doesn't have to worry too much about any Topps curse and Braves fans can buy cards without any guilt. Now, if being on Topps' Series One boxes this year somehow boosted his production in 2024, we could be in for something really special. We already saw what he is capable of without the help of the supernatural.

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