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My New Favorite Ball Player

October 6, 2007
By: KJ

One of the finest works of American Cinema is Barry Levinson's Sports masterpiece The Natural. The script, adapted from Bernie Malmoud's novel;, is fantastic and very fitting for the time and setting of baseball club in the early twentieth centuries. The camera work is magnificent. It catches the light and the angles nearly flawlessly. The actors were well cast, especially the humble and quiet Robert Redford. The biggest selling point is the score by Randy Newman. The piece is simply chilling. If it does not make the hair on the back of your neck stand up, you simply do not have a pulse. When I hear those tones, my mind's inner theater plays the last scene of the film right before my eyes, in it slugger Roy Hobbs comes to the plate with a ruptured liver, blood spatters on his jersey, Hobbs hits the ball a mile but it is foul and his lucky bat is shattered. He steps in the box again cool as a cucumber and drills one into the light tower. It is not often that I find ballplayers that thrive like that. That quality is what I look for in a guy, and that has led me to declare Indians' lights out starter Fausto Carmona my new favorite baseball player.

It is the bottom of the Eighth inning at Jacob's field, the Indians are down 1-0 after Yankees center fielder Melky Cabrerra made the best out of one of two hits given up by Carmona in the third frame. Playoff master Andy Pettite has pitched a gem in six and a third innings. Rookie phemom Joba Chamberlain was brought in to finish off the tribe in the seventh after two men reached base, and he doesn't waste any time striking out Franklin Gutierez. He then finishes off the inning with an easy fly ball to right. That's the way it is supposed to be for the Yankees. The Bronx bombers were turning the tide, stealing the momentum and taking the series to the house that Ruth built.They even would have the possibility of clinching the series at home, but then something happened.

Joba takes the mound after the reigns of Joe Torre's "Joba rules" were loosened in the eighth. Chamberlain has been money in the Yank's pen for months with the composure of an asian porn star. Joba then Enter Sandman, its over for the tribe. Media adored lead off hitter Grady Sizemore battles Chamberlain and draws a walk as a certain fog begins to lift. What is the fog? Bugs, Canadian Soldier flies to be exact. Clusters of the little insects gather near the perspiring players, none more so than Chamberlain. The television camera shows the bugs congregating on Joba's neck and face. Consequently Joba throws a wild pitch, matching his number in the regular season. Speedy Sizemore is now on second. Indians skipper Eric Wedge gives out the sign for a bunt, and it is successful. Sizemore is on third. The fog of Canadian Soldiers continues to worsen. Travis Hafner then smacks a wicked liner that is snagged by defensive stud first baseman Doug Mientkiewicz. Just as it looks as if the Yanks are going to get out of it, another wild pitch scurries toward the back stop. The foot race is on. Sizemore slides into home toppling over the hefty chamberlain. There is no controversy on this one, Laz Diaz calls Sizemore safe and the game is tied. Joba would then go on to hit and walk a batter but got out of the inning with a strikeout. In 24 innings this season Joba only gave up one earned run, but he gave up an solely earned run with nobody to blame but himself.

On the flip side there was Carmona. Carmona comes out of the dugout with a look on his face as if Michael Vick has just abducted his dog. I could call it the "eye of the tiger" but I think I already used up my movie references. The flies did not go away, and they may have reproduced by that point. Rather than be repulsed, Carmona appeared as if to embrace his eight legged friends. Nothing was going to keep Fausto from giving his team a chance. The Bombers were at the top of their lineup in the top of the ninth. A murderers row stood between the tribe and a win. The first guy up is known prostitute Johnny Damon. Carmona and his wicked sinking fastball would not be denied. Damon grounds out to second. Next up: Playoff legend Derek Jeter. What's that? Oh yeah, it's a sinking fastball and he goes down swinging. Bobby Abreu then throws a wrench into the plans by hitting a weak grounder to the shortstop for an infield hit. That brings up the best hitter in the game. The potential winning run on second after a swiped bag had set the stage for a classic duel. With ice water in his veins and bugs on his face, Fausto Carmona stares into impending destruction. In his trademark style he brings his glove up to his face to change his grip goes into his windup and executes the pitch. ARod swings and fans at the wicked pitch. Carmona makes his final trek to the dugout and standing crowd fist pumping and roaring. There was just no way the tribe was going to lose this one.

Travis Hafner drove in the winning run in the 11th to make the series 2-0 and leaving the evil empire on a respirator. That would not have been possible if it was not for the valient efforts of Fausto Carmona and his wicked stuff. Bug infested and fatigue tested Carmona says bring it on just as Roy Hobbs stepped in the box bleeding only to deliver for his team. This are the traits I look for in a ballplayer. I want to see that grit and want to see emotion, and most importantly when all the money is on the line I want to see a steady hand and an intense stare. Because of this, I officially declare Fausto Carmona as my favorite baseball player.

KJ can be contacted at kjcity520@yahoo.com

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