Gerrit Cole walked out from an old Western and onto your television
If you've ever watched an old Western, you know the scene: The fearsome, lonesome anti-hero strolls into town. He's got a swagger, and the spurs on his boots jangle. He pushes open the saloon doors and everyone looks up from their card games. When they recognize him, their faces fall slack and their eyes open wide in terror. The camera pans up, and we see our hero's face and he smirks. God, he's so cool.
That, my friends, is Astros starting pitcher Gerrit Cole.
But when it's game day and he's on the field, he transforms into something else. He becomes The Man with No Name in "The Good, the Bad and the Ugly" -- eyes narrowed, angry at everyone that's ever crossed his path -- with a heater faster than any bat in his path.
When he comes out to pitch, he stomps to the mound. When he stares at the batter, there's a simmering rage in him, like he can't believe that he's even been asked to lower himself to pitch to such foolish mortals. And when he invariably strikes the batter out, Cole struts around the field -- which he did, time after time, batter after batter, for eight innings in the must-win ALDS Game 5 against the Rays.
I mean, just look at the confidence he has, hopping away after blowing another fastball past another batter:
When he struck out Eric Sogard, he even pointed it out -- it's quick, blink and you might miss it -- but it's there:
It's fitting that Cole now plays in Houston, because though he was born in California, went to high school in California and attended UCLA, he just feels like Texas. Whatever our cultural image of what a Texan is -- a mix of Nolan Ryan's fastball and "Friday Night Lights" bravado -- Cole has it.
After defeating the Rays, the Astros will now head to New York to face the Yankees in the ALCS. New York's fearsome home run hitters better be ready to face the biggest, baddest man in the sport when they step into the box.
Michael Clair writes for MLB.com. He spends a lot of time thinking about walk-up music and believes stirrup socks are an integral part of every formal outfit.