Bartolo Colon is baseball’s wonder of their world, and an inspiration for any athlete
This is New York, and the price of being in the New York market is dealing with inevitable negative distractions at some point during a baseball season.
It’s inevitable. It’s only a matter of time. And on September 4, 2015, the Mets hit that wall of negative distraction when Matt Harvey’s agent, Scott Boras decided to tell his side of the story about how the Mets are potentially mismanaging his client’s innings in 2015, only to have the player himself publicly acknowledge the possibility he could shut his season down after months of pleading to pitch against a program the Mets were trying to put in place for him.
Enter Bartolo Colon, who is his own kind of distraction. But never the kind which was cultivated on Thursday.
For Colon always serves as the apex of entertainment in this game, as he’s become baseball’s oddball and the prime example for anything being possible in this remarkable game.
He was brilliant on a day the Mets were desperate for brilliance from their starting pitcher. They needed another discussion, but they also needed to rest their beleaguered bullpen, and reset the tone of their pitching staff which has struggled over the last month.
“To have something else get in the way of what we’re trying to accomplish here, and then have Bart step up and everybody else step up in the first and second inning, it got everybody’s mind back into what’s the most important thing, and that’s playing good baseball,” manager Terry Collins said.
And step up he did for a brilliant complete game shutout on Saturday, allowing nine hits with two strikeouts for his 13th win of the year.
“An old person like me, I’ve got no limits,” the 42-year-old said on Saturday.
Certainly not. In fact, it looked like Colon could have pitched another nine innings if he had to, as he was featuring a low 90s fastball even in the ninth inning against Miami on Saturday.
But thanks to his offense, nine innings was all Collins and the Mets needed from their reborn 42-year-old, who has turned his season right around with 25 consecutive scoreless innings, the longest such streak by a major league pitcher aged 42 or older since Hoyt Wilhem went 25 1/3 innings at age 44 in 1967, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.
Colon has only allowed 22 baserunners in his 25 inning scoreless streak.
He became the oldest Met to throw a complete game since Warren Spahn threw five complete games at age 44 for the 1965 Mets. He is also now the oldest Met to pitch a shutout.
Over the last month, Colon and Harvey have been the most consistent starters on the staff. And when it comes to determining who will be on the playoff roster, it’s hard not to consider Colon for a spot in the rotation at some point in the tournament. Perhaps he might have to wait to get a start until a later round, but his performance and ability to be flexible by going to the bullpen could be very valuable in a potential Division Series, especially with so much uncertainty in the middle innings with the club’s relief corps.
Considering a month ago it seemed all but certain Colon would be on the outside looking in, that’s pretty remarkable. But it’s a testament to how he’s pitched, and really, who he is as a pitcher.
Colon will leave the decision up to the front office and coaching staff, and let his pitching do the talking about his playoff candidacy.
“My thing is to pitch. That’s the front office or manager or coaches’ decision. That’s out of my hands,” he said.
But whatever happens, his start on Saturday night in Miami should serve as an inspiration for any pitcher feeling tired or suffering through the aches and pains of a 162-game season. He is truly baseball’s wonder of their world, a 42-year-old as spry and as athletic as someone 20 years younger, showing no signs of fatigue or letting down as the club reaches the home stretch of their playoff drive.
Why wouldn’t people want to be like Bart?
And that goes for people he shares his office with, too.