Bartolo Colon is pitching very well, winning league awards, and his team is a legitimate contender to make a long postseason run. Sounds about right…for the Cleveland Indians of the late 1990s, that is.
But, as the ageless Colon has shown us in recent seasons, he is still extremely formidable after all these years.
Colon has won 18 or more games in a season during the Clinton, Bush 43, and Obama administrations. He’s won 20 or more games in a season twice. He has a Cy Young Award in his trophy case. He’s a three time All-Star. But his present is seemingly just a bright as that successful past. Colon is fresh off winning the National League pennant with the New York Mets, while leading the NL’s best pitching staff in victories. Earlier this month, Colon passed Pedro Martinez on the career wins list among Dominican-born pitchers. Only the great Juan Marichal has more victories than Colon when it comes to Dominican hurlers.
Colon’s resume is long and impressive. But after all these accomplishments on the mound, it was what Big Bart did with his bat that has the baseball world in a frenzy.
For the first time in his almost two-decade MLB career, Colon blasted a home run last week. It came during a Mets win in San Diego. With a lifetime average of .092, Colon hits less than three times his weight, yet one swing at Petco will forever be etched in the minds of not only Mets fans but baseball aficionados everywhere.
For the first time ever, Bartolo Colon hit a home run. His round tripper off of Padres pitcher James Shields set the mark for the oldest batter ever to hit his very first home run. A Bartolo Blast Heard ‘Round the World, if you will. It was funny, interesting, and awesome. SNY play-by-play man Gary Cohen even took it a step further calling the unlikely jolt “one of the great moments in the history of baseball.” From a pure entertainment aspect, it’s hard to argue with Cohen’s assessment.
Although he’s been around forever, Colon’s popularity has skyrocketed since joining the Mets. The team has done well during Colon’s tenure and the veteran righty has embraced the New York spotlight and all that comes with it. What happened after his historic dinger proves that Colon’s cult following expands well beyond the Big Apple.
Baseball card giant Topps developed an online service this year that basically gives fans the chance to create an on-demand card. Collectors can choose an event or milestone, and order cards with that moment captured for a lifetime. It’s an idea that would’ve been hard to imagine back in Colon’s rookie season. Heck, Al Gore barely invented the Internet when the Tribe called up a much slimmer Colon for the first time.
Topps reports the best selling cards prior to last week featured Jake Arrieta’s no-no, a Kris Bryant grand slam, and the debut of Nomar Mazara. Topps brass anticipated things like no-hitters and big hits to translate into big sellers, but a quirky moment like Colon’s bomb took the company by surprise.
Colon’s amazing feat smashed sales records for Topps Now. The card depicting the sweet swing from the Big Man in The Borough sold almost five times more than the card that featured Arietta’s masterpiece. Colon’s card ranks numero uno.
With one swing of the bat, Colon reminded all of us what’s so wonderful about baseball. One amazing moment in May brought smiles to the faces of fans, teammates, and yes, Topps execs. But what really happened here, to echo the sentiments of Cohen, was baseball history. While not as important as historic homers from Maris, Aaron, Jackson, Puckett, Gibson, McGwire, or Bonds, Colon touchin’ ’em all (which took over half a minute by the way) will forever have its place in baseball lore.
Bartolo Colon turns 43 in a matter of weeks, but it seems the man they call “Big Sexy” is as relevant as ever. At first it was thought he would hold a place in the rotation until another Mets young arm was ready to join the big club. Now, Terry Collins’ crew may very well keep Colon in the rotation throughout the 2016 campaign. Whatever the case may be, starter, reliever, or batter, one thing’s for certain: With a smile on his face, Colon is leaving his mark on the game he loves. As sure as the ball launched off of the veteran’s bat cleared the left field wall, the Topps Now top seller Bartolo Colon is a popular guy. No doubt about that one.
Now, we will wait and see if Colon can deliver his first-ever triple to complete the career cycle. That’s about the only thing that could ever top the wildly well received Bartolo Blast.