On this date in 2016, in San Diego, California, the greatest thing that has ever happened, ever, happened:
For the uninitiated, particularly those who aren’t Mets fans, I really cannot hope to convey the unmitigated and inimitable awesomeness that was Bartolo Colón as a Met. “Big Sexy,” as he came to be known, joined the Mets’ rotation in 2014 at the ripe young age of 40 (he turned 41 in May of that year), after seventeen years in the majors with the Indians, Expos, White Sox, Angels, Red Sox, Yankees and Athletics. In 2015 he helped the Mets make a surprise run to the World Series, their first in fifteen years, and the year after that, helped them to only the second back-to-back postseason appearance in club history. They haven’t been back since he left. In three years in Flushing he had a record of 44-34 with a 3.90 ERA, 415 strikeouts to just 86 walks, and a 1.225 WHIP.
But when it comes to Bartolo, oh, the numbers don’t even remotely tell the story. Watching him pitch in his 40s was like watching Springsteen give an impromptu concert in his 60s; totally at ease, knowing he’s too old and too out-of-shape to still be doing this, while just pouring strike after strike over the plate like he has no f***s left to give and just plain having fun. Even watching him field his position was just a joy and a wonder; check this out:
I mean, seriously? How could you not love watching this guy?
But what a lot of people really came to see was Bartolo at the bat. Having played only one season in the National League, with the dearly-departed Montréal Expos way back in 2002, Big Sexy had never had to hit for most of his career, and by the time he came to the Mets the sight of the big guy in a batting helmet was worth the price of admission. Whenever he swung and missed, that helmet would often tumble off of his head as he chuckled and headed back to the dugout following one of his 97 strikeouts in 180 at-bats.
But when he got a hit? Which he did, a total of 15 times as a Met? Hoo, boy. For a while the highlight was May 31, 2015, when Bartolo smacked one of his four career doubles for his first RBI in a decade; Mets radio announcer Howie Rose, calling the play live, famously quipped, “They’re timing Colón with a sundial.” Rose won an award for that call. The Mets won that game 4-3.
But nothing will ever top what happened a little less than a year later, at Petco Park in San Diego, or Mets TV announcer Gary Cohen’s call which captured the moment for posterity with absolute perfection:
Colon looking for his first hit of the year … and he drives one! Deep left field! Back goes Upton! Back near the wall! It’s OUTTA HERE!!! Bartolo has done it! The impossible has happened!
Watch, and listen to, the whole thing. The sheer joy and utter euphoria of Cohen, his broadcast partner Ron Darling, the other Mets, and every Mets fan watching, is palpable, and impossible not to share. I still feel it every time I watch that clip, and I can watch it over and over again and never tire of it. If I’m ever in need of a little happiness, a little positive feeling, I just go to YouTube and watch Bartolo’s home run. It makes me smile every time. It’s just wonderful.
I know, I know; baseball is not everybody’s thing, and it’s certainly not as important as what usually gets written about here at Daily Kos. Baseball is escapism, it’s not real life. I get that. But those of us who love baseball … love baseball. And whether you love baseball or not, I hope that a little Bartolo will bring you some joy, happiness, and a smile, today, on the fifth anniversary of the greatest thing that has ever happened, ever.
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