(Not) Being Fausto

For a dozen years, Fausto Carmona lived an outrageous and totally reasonable lie.
TAGS: Baseball
Share |
"Carmona" still gets praise for his Redman imitation.

Image courtesy of apackaday.

The story of Fausto Carmona, nee Roberto Heredia, ended last week at the imaginary age of 28. Heredia, it happens, is 31, and he wore Carmona’s identity as a mask for more than ten seasons in the Cleveland Indians system. This story is a tragedy.

It is not, however, a terribly unique one. In the baseball marketplace, pitchers are volatile commodities. Mechanical flaws gnaw delicate ligaments, recoveries are long and often incomplete. Velocity and break are maddeningly temperamental, here one year (or start, or moment) and gone the next. Recall the rude intrusions into, impingements upon and ruptures of our erstwhile Dontrellian and Lirianian reveries—every arm is vulnerable. And yet, even before his very literal identity crisis came to the fore, few pitchers’ career narratives have knuckled like that of Fausto Carmona.

The skinny Dominican seemed destined for Cleveland's desperate young rotation around 2004. (Even Chad Durbin, who finished with an appropriately ominous 6.66 ERA, was permitted to start eight games that year). Carmona had just received the team’s Minor League Player of the Year award and cracked the top 100 on Baseball America’s annual prospects list. He earned a starting slot out of spring training in 2006, and in his first appearance gave up one earned run in six efficient innings for the win. It would be his last victory of the season, a devastating campaign in which he finished 1-10 with an atrocious 83 ERA+ that he earned/absorbed in stints as both starter and reliever, including a memorable stretch in late August when he recorded a blown save plus a loss in three consecutive games.

And then, the very next year, Carmona defied all reasonable projections by becoming a serious Cy Young contender, and was denied the actual honor perhaps only because his achievements were so improbable. He went 19-8 with a glittering ERA+ of 148, second in the AL only to John Lackey. All season he missed bats with a morning-to-midnight sinker that popped in the low 90s, complemented by perplexing motion on his fastball and a solid changeup. Oftentimes he looked better than his teammate C.C. Sabathia, to whose acedom he was suddenly, strangely, and finally the heir apparent. As inspiring as Carmona’s 2007 turnaround was, the way his season ended sunk the 2006 knife back into our hearts—in a potential clincher in Game Six of the ALCS against the Red Sox, he lost his command, surrendering four walks and seven hits in two innings, including a tragicomic first-inning grand slam to J.D. Drew. The Indians lost in a rout, 12-2, and lost the series the next night.

Because history needs narratives, that game was glossed as the one that broke Carmona’s back. The spiral that followed was among the principal reasons that the Indians, who quite reasonably expected to compete in 2008, bowed to reality and fast-tracked their rebuilding mode. For Carmona, 2008 was bad, and 2009 was worse. The putative groundball specialist began handing out home runs, and walked five batters every nine innings. By June he was so profoundly ineffective, with no apparent injury at fault, that the team optioned him to the Arizona Rookie League to rehab his spirit by working with someone called a “mental skills coach.” Perhaps at this point in the story it will be unsurprising to learn that Carmona resurrected his career in 2010, even making the All-Star roster. Nor that in 2011, he resumed being terrible, surrendering the most home runs of his career and going 7-15 on a .500 club.

There is the standard pitcher-related inconsistency, and there was Fausto. Even before the question got truly, poignantly complicated, it was impossible to avoid the question: just who the hell was the real Fausto Carmona?


Baseball, more than any other sport in the U.S., is beset by purity scandals, most of which track closely to Americans’ collective geopolitical psyche. The game was born under a dust cloud of impurity sometime in the 19th century, with since-debunked fables about the ingenuity of a Civil War general named Abner Doubleday deflecting the likelihood that baseball was actually a variant of a foreign invention—cricket.

And then, for a century, the disillusion kept coming. The Black Sox scandal brought crashing down (for the third or thirtieth time in the game’s history) the myth that players couldn’t be bought, and various other myths followed it into the grave. If the brutal competition, dope, and hayseed carnality endemic to baseball ever came as a surprise to America, they are now as utterly banal as the revelation that politicians cheat on their spouses, at campaign finance laws, and ethically in general. As iniquity was illuminated in public life, so it was, again and again and somehow each time in new ways, in our national pastime.

And now? In 2012, economic facts be damned, the mood of global capital is expansionist, blusteringly robust. In this world, control turns inward, to our bodies and our identities. What threatens the system is no longer ideological contagion but opacity, privacy. This relates to baseball because Sabermetric quantification has made the management side of the sport so actuarial; teams are built on the expected depreciation of individual capacities, and charting such decline depends on forthright bodily forensics. Both steroids and age-trickery are thoroughly modern impurities because they short-circuit quant-y analysis at its roots. Truth in baseball today appears in drug tests and birth records. That both can and will be conned is—like the unfathomable and unavoidable non-surprises that Mickey Mantle was a lush and a lecher, or Joe DiMaggio kind of an asshole—somehow only now dawning on us.


The Cleveland Indians run a leading Latin American recruiting operation, and opened a state-of-the-art facility in 2011 for their summer academy in the Dominican Republic. Major League teams have, in recent decades, staked a formal presence in countries like the D.R. in order to cultivate and sign young prospects, of which the pitcher formerly known as Fausto Carmona was just one. For the fortunate or crafty ones, like Fausto, the son of a farmer, long-term contracts—even at pennies-on-the-dollar rates relative to domestic prospects—offer unimaginable benefits in wealth and status.

But baseball’s globalization, like all of capital's third world sorties, is two-edged on a good day. Everyone involved is aware that baseball’s recruiting is a form of resource-extraction, and that there are perverse incentives for players to game the system that’s gaming them, not so much through performance enhancement as by withholding the profitable secrets that the sport demands to know. Carmona signed with the Indians in 2000, when he was biologically just 20 and claiming to be 17. His false identity was likely assumed at the behest of a savvy coach or buscon—the word translates roughly to "pimp," but in Dominican baseball scans more like "agent"—who understood the value accorded to age by Major League teams when assessing players, and who no doubt hoped to capitalize on his own stake in Carmona’s success. The man born Roberto Heredia thus furtively adopted the identity of a person named Fausto Carmona, promising him a share of future earnings in exchange for the loan.

For 12 years or longer, Heredia interacted with teammates, fans, and media under the sobriquet “Fausto,” which must have pounded like a telltale heart in his brain, especially as reliever Leo Nunez—born Juan Carlos Oviedo, a year before the actual Leo Nunez, Oviedo's childhood friend—and others were exposed under similar circumstances. Whether because of his heavy secret or for some simpler reason, Fausto has never quite convinced as a passionate athlete. Fingers to chest, he praises God and dutifully, superstitiously skips over the foul line. In interviews he is self-effacing and temperate; his English isn’t all that good. He looks most comfortable with his head tilted back and his eyes cast down. The suspicion that he does not love, or perhaps even like, his work is hard to escape.

The coming weeks will determine the future of Heredia’s contract with Cleveland, and perhaps about the history of his arrangement with the real Fausto Carmona. We can’t know, because he’ll likely never tell us, the extent to which Heredia’s decade under false pretenses amplified the paranoia of a man already prone to fantastic crises of confidence, or had something to do with his wild, cruel swings of professional fortune. If Heredia is to be blamed for swindling his employers, he is also to be pitied for enduring a working life that long ago left his hand and took on a consuming path of its own. We are flawed; baseball is flawed; Fausto Carmona is not Fausto Carmona. This part of the story is a comedy.

Share |
TAGS: Baseball


This is very interesting content! I have thoroughly enjoyed reading your points and have come to the conclusion that you are right about many of them. You are great. permainan domino qiu qiu

This is only the data I am discovering all around. A debt of gratitude is in order for your website, I simply subscribe your online journal. water based adhesive

Thank you for such a well written article. It’s full of insightful information and entertaining descriptions. Your point of view is the best among many. Maryland do Long Island

I have recently started a blog, the info you provide on this site has helped me greatly. Thanks for all of your time & work. business analyst training

That i regarded away your blog given that Relating to over heard a huge amount of related to an individual's articles or blog posts. Relieved to speak about, any rumor well said; that you're not bad at the. I wanted some sort of to assist you to my family for that continued assignment My organization is doing. Judi Online

This is a great inspiring article.I am pretty much pleased with your good work.You put really very helpful information. Keep it up. Keep blogging. Looking to reading your next post. agen bandarq online

This sort of message continually moving and I want to peruse quality substance, so glad to discover great spot to numerous here in the post, the composition is simply awesome, a debt of gratitude is in order for the post..! personal injury lawyer new orleans louisiana

Thank you so much for the post you do. I like your post and all you share with us is up to date and quite informative Inbound Marketing Cyprus

I would like to say thank you and let you know that I'm happy to be here. I've been an avid followers of your blog! I am eager to contribute some and gain some knowledge along the way.... user acceptance testing training courses

Incredible blog page with all the breathtaking great things also I'm certain beyond a shadow of a doubt this will be unfathomably worthwhile. luxury gift boxes

I don't understand this language fully, but I could understand some bits of this article and that gave me quite a good idea of what this article is about and I have to say I like that, prediksi bola

Our credit repair services work to fix past credit mistakes and verify credit report accuracy. Talk to a credit repair expert today! don trudeau

Thank you a bunch for sharing this with all of us you actually realize what you are talking about! Bookmarked. Please also seek advice from my site =). We could have a hyperlink change contract between us! Gas and electric massachusetts

I am very glade that I found this post. The sites you referred are very good and useful for me. Energy supplier

This is my first time i visit here. I found such a substantial number of interesting stuff in your blog especially its examination. bandar capsa uang asli

This is my first time i visit here. I found such a substantial number of interesting stuff in your blog especially its examination. Bathroom Remodel

Thanks for taking the time to discuss that, I feel strongly about this and so really like getting to know more on this kind of field. new orleans car accident lawyer

Thank you so much for the post you do. I like your post and all you share with us is up to date and quite informative, i would like to bookmark the page so i can come here again to read you, as you have done a wonderful job. drug rehab Maryland

Amazing Facts About is a blog for amazing and interesting facts from all over the world. We post about health, people, places, animals, travel information and much more. testosterone enhancement

we are an online store and a new brand that design and sell unique and beautifully designed all-over printed tote bags. facilitation training courses

This is exceptionally instructive substance and composed well for a change. It's pleasant to see that a few individuals still see how to compose a quality post! Web Development Cyprus

This is an awesome motivating article.I am practically satisfied with your great work.You put truly exceptionally accommodating data. Keep it up. Continue blogging. Hoping to perusing your next post. college admissions essay help

You have a good point here!I totally agree with what you have said!!Thanks for sharing your views...hope more people will read this article!!! ice cream freezer commercial

This is truly an practical and pleasant information for all. Thanks for sharing this to us and more power Permainan Judi Online

Thank you for helping people get the information they need. Great stuff as usual. Keep up the great work!!! Domino qq poker

The website is looking bit flashy and it catches the visitors eyes. Design is pretty simple and a good user friendly interface. Bandar Capsa Uang Asli

I need to to thank you for this very good read!! I definitely loved every little bit of it. I have you bookmarked to check out new things you post… situs judi

This is an incredible rousing article.I am essentially satisfied with your great work.You put truly exceptionally accommodating data. Keep it up. Continue blogging. Hoping to perusing your next post. Bandar Q

Should you feel find it difficult to, you undoubtedly is not able to; If you don't intend, to have failing. Things are subject to intellect, reduction of hundreds exercises are hopeless prior to starting. vietnam video production services

The website is looking bit flashy and it catches the visitors eyes. Design is pretty simple and a good user friendly interface. male sexual health

I truly thank you for the profitable information on this awesome subject and anticipate more incredible posts. Much obliged for getting a charge out of this excellence article with me. I am valuing it all that much! Anticipating another awesome article. Good fortunes to the creator! All the best! theatrical producer

This is what I like to call proper work. The details of the information here are spot on. The writing has been done very well and nothing look off here. Great post! Keep it up! affordable car shipping

This is a fabulous post I seen because of offer it. It is really what I expected to see trust in future you will continue in sharing such a mind boggling post
Angry Birds Match Cheats

There is such a great amount in this article I would never have considered all alone. Your substance gives perusers things to consider in an intriguing way. Much thanks to you for your unmistakable data. Lawyer Leicester

America Gun Ban Home, Syndicated by Countrymen Your News Source Worldwide. Taking the stink out of Gun Control and being a Patriot.  LITIGATION SUPPORT

I definitely enjoying every little bit of it. It is a great website and nice share. I want to thank you. Good job! You guys do a great blog, and have some great contents. Keep up the good work Maltese Friend

I definitely enjoying every little bit of it. It is a great website and nice share. I want to thank you. Good job! You guys do a great blog, and have some great contents. Keep up the good work Maltese Friend

The most inspiring stuff commonly is probably the most dull or boring concern. a single rooster may not be in the same woody plant strip very long, and also the pets within the pine is a kind of weight, always want to consult the next stars, the particular fowl because the plants are really hesitant to facial expression an equal beautiful places day by day. Womens watches

You have proved here once more why you are the undisputed no.1 writer in the whole world right now. I have become a huge fan of your work and I want to see more work from you in the near future that is as good as this. medical biomagnetism

Offices with high-quality designs will be conveniently converted into an excellent workplace with the right selection of office furniture. Mayline Medina Series

I admit, I have not been on this web page in a long time... however it was another joy to see It is such an important topic and ignored by so many, even professionals. I thank you to help making people more aware of possible issues Hydroxyzine Finder

I'm impressed, I must say. Very rarely do I come across a blog thats both informative and entertaining, and let me tell you, you ve hit the nail on the head. Your blog is important.. http://brawlstarshack.de

I was impressed with the site that you created, so memotipasi many people to be more advanced, there also kunjugi me, as a comparison voyance tel

Personally, I have found that to remain probably the most fascinating topics when it draws a parallel to. You may find two to three new levels inside L . a . Weight loss and any one someone is incredibly important. Initial stage may be real melting away rrn the body. lose weight voyance en ligne

I am hoping the same best effort from you in the future as well. In fact your creative writing skills has inspired me. Boston Commercial Real Estate

I recently noticed your website back i are generally looking through which on a daily basis. You’ve got a loads of information at this site so i actually like your look to the web a tad too. Maintain the best show results! https://www.elegantthemes.com/blog/

Such a strikingly basic article.I basically wish to offer a creature proceed for the standard data you have perfect here on this post. blackhead removal mask

In any event it ended a really fantastic trip for us on an absolute high. A case of being in the right place at the right time!" whenyougarden

For a long time me & my friend were searching for informative blogs, but now I am on the right place guys, you have made a room in my heart! Dental Technology

I appreciate several from the Information which has been composed, and especially the remarks posted I will visit once more.  Brawl Stars Hack