Published: Sunday, October 28, 2007
Will Carmona become
the next Bearden?
In 1948, Major League Baseball consisted of 16 teams, eight in each the American and the National League. The Cleveland Indians and the Boston Red Sox ended the season with identical records (as they did in 2007). Rules called for a one-game playoff which was held in Boston.
The Indians' ace was Bob Lemon but the "difference maker" was a young second-year southpaw named Gene Bearden. He was a 20-game winner. He was chosen the starting pitcher in the playoff game. Despite the pressure on a young, inexperienced pitcher, he won the playoff game and Cleveland was in the World Series.
Cleveland went on to win the World Series in six games over Boston's "other team," the Boston Braves. Bearden won the third game, a five-hit, 2-0 shutout, driving in one of the Tribe's two runs. In the sixth and final game, he came in to relieve Bob Lemon, preserving the World Series Championship.
In 2007, the Indians' ace was C.C. Sabathia, but the "difference maker" was rookie Fausto Carmona, a 19-game winner. He was not as fortunate, nor were the Tribe, in the playoffs, defeating the arch-rival New York Yankees, but losing in seven games to the Red Sox.
Bearden's "out pitch" was a low breaking ball that batters either hit into the dirt or struck out.
Carmona's "out pitch" was a low breaking pitch, now called a slider, which brought on the same results.
Despite his record in 1948, Gene Bearden lost something more valuable to him. The pitching coach of the Red Sox, studying Bearden's delivery in the playoff game, discovered that his "out pitch" broke down below the knees for a ball. If batters would simply "lay off" the pitch, they would be walked.
In 1949, the word spread throughout the league. Batters quit swinging at that pitch and walked and 1950 was his last year with the Tribe.
In 2007, Game 6, Manny Ramirez, one of the era's greatest hitters, refused to swing at Carmona's slider, and the umpire continuously called it a ball. Catcher Victor Martinez and manager Eric Wedge, complained to the home plate umpire that the pitch was a strike, but without effect.
Will Fausto Carmona be able to adjust, or will he end up another Gene Bearden?
With the widespread belief that the Indians will not be able to sign C.C. Sabathia, to lose both of the aces, Sabathia and Carmona, would be devastating.
They have other young starting pitchers ready to move up to the major league, but could not expect to replace two 19-game winners.
Once again, the Tribe may be denied a trip to the World Series in the foreseeable future. We will wait and see in 2008.
I would like to recognize a business man in our community who for years out of the goodness of his heart has served the Jackson-Milton Bluejays football team a free meal before every game.
This generous man is Randy Horvath, owner of Wranglers Olde Country Restaurant in North Jackson.
Thank you Randy!