His time is now
There was the movie,
That may all depend on
There is the old Sabathia: the hothead who's prone to meltdowns on the mound at the worst possible time, the
In his first two games this October, Sabathia has been a disappointment -- his control has abandoned him and his emotions have taken over. In his Cy Young-worthy season Sabathia had remained a strikeout pitcher but also a control artist: In 2007 he recorded the second highest strikeout-to-walk ratio by a left-hander in history. "He's been a different pitcher [in the playoffs]," says one scout. "He's kind of reverted to his old ways -- the things that got him into trouble in the past. He just needs to settle down and throw strikes. He doesn't have to blow them away."
Sabathia can learn from
"That's a tough lineup over there, and the way they pitched was unbelievable," Sabathia said on Wednesday as he faced reporters before a workout at Jacobs Field. "I think it was just going out and trusting their stuff, knowing what they do well and sticking with it. That's something that I'm going to have to do."
All his life Sabathia has been waiting for this moment. He was drafted No. 1 by the Indians in 1998 out of Vallejo (Calif.) High School. Just three years later he was in The Show. In his rookie season in 2001 Sabathia was 17-5 and seemingly destined for stardom. But today Sabathia will be the first to tell you he wasn't ready -- he was too young, too cocky, hanging with the wrong crowd, not committed enough to the game.
In May 2002 Sabathia was partying with acquaintances in a Cleveland hotel room when he was robbed at gunpoint. (Two Cleveland State basketball players were later convicted of the robbery.) "I realized that I had to change a lot of things because things could have gotten a lot worse real quick," he says. "That was a big turning point in my life. I realized: If you want to be a serious professional athlete, you have to be 100 percent committed to being a serious professional athlete."
The big turning point in Sabathia's career came in 2005. He was going through a horrid summer when, in a July game in Oakland, he allowed eight runs on eight hits in 2 1/3 innings. The worst part: Sabathia's family and friends from Vallejo were in the stands that day. The next day Sabathia arrived at the ballpark committed to change. In his next bullpen session pitching coach
Sabathia vows to attack Boston hitters tonight with a barrage of first-pitch strikes, but he also knows that he must keep his emotions in check. "Just stay calm," he said. "It's going to be loud. It's going to be fun. Everybody is going to be excited. But I've been doing a pretty good job of being able to keep my emotions under control, staying even keel all year. I look to stay calm and stay in control and not try to overthrow and do so much, and I think I'll be fine."
Said Indians manager
Still, as hot as the Indians are, as good as they have looked in October, it's hard to imagine Cleveland winning a World Series without Sabathia emerging as a postseason ace. With the world watching tonight, Sabathia is ready to make his mark. The people of Cleveland are counting on him.