- Faith and Fear in Flushing - http://www.faithandfearinflushing.com -

You’ve Gotta Have Bart

What the hell’s so funny about Bartolo Colon [1]? After a year and a month of watching him practically every fifth day, I have to admit I don’t get the joke.

He’s older than everybody. He’s rounder than everybody. He says less than anybody. He swings through almost everything. His batting helmet flies off with little provocation.

Yeah? And?

The Orioles are probably wondering where the absurd aspect of one of the best pitchers in the National League lies. Every time they see him, no matter what jersey he’s wearing, he gives them nothing to grin about. He left them good and grim Tuesday night at Citi Field when he beat them as a Met [2], just as he has previously defeated them as an Indian, an Angel, both kinds of Sox…basically everything he’s ever been [3] except an Expo.

We tend to laugh with rather than at Bartolo Colon, but we do laugh, probably because he’s so different from his modern pitching contemporaries and we are conditioned to respond to extreme otherness. Somewhere Colon probably chuckles at the fuss he inspires around here. Probably. Maybe. Really, I don’t know. He’s pretty serious where we usually see him, on the mound, busy locating his fastballs, picking up most of what’s hit into his vicinity and generally throwing what he finds where it’s supposed to go (an underrated aspect of his job).

His almost uniformly helpless at-bats I curmudgeonly don’t find as amusing as most do. Bartolo, I’m thinking, you’re not helping my anti-DH argument any. Lightning striking once or twice a generation by way of his bat hitting ball and him hitting the first base bag briefly restores my faith, but it also unleashes a thousand pats on his intermittently helmeted head [4]. I think he deserves better; I think he deserves a little less condescension. If Colon had an ounce of offensive talent, we probably wouldn’t declare international holidays every time he did something at the plate other than draw applause for not falling down (and standing ovations when he comes perilously close to leaving his feet).

Then again, Sandy Koufax [5] famously couldn’t hit water falling out of Fred Wilpon’s rowboat built for two [6] and it wasn’t that big a deal — but they didn’t have GIFs in those days.

I doubt any of it bothers Bartolo. Does Bartolo seem perturbed? [7] Does Bartolo seem anything, come to think of it? It’s all about “seem” since he hasn’t gone out of his way to communicate through translators to reporters to the rest of us what’s on his mind. His teammates swear by him, which is one of those things that usually gets said about guys who don’t say much to the media. Taciturn Eddie Murray [8]’s teammates (save, perhaps [9], for Eric Hillman [10]) swore by the future Hall of Famer. Bartolo Colon, who has been beating the Orioles so long that the lineups he used to thwart were peppered with ex-teammates of Murray’s, is never referred to as taciturn. He’s not exactly a sphinx, either. He certainly hasn’t gone indefinitely mum as Steve Carlton [11] unappealingly did in his heyday.

Colon simply doesn’t speak for public consumption on any kind of regularly recurring basis. If you want to say he lets his pitching do the talking, then we don’t mind listening. Over 7⅔ innings, here’s what Bart told the O’s: 9 strikeouts, 0 walks, 6 hits, 1 run.

There wasn’t much they could say in return.

The Mets’ offensive juggernaut, meanwhile, revived for exactly one inning, the fourth. It was fueled by Lucas Duda [12] (double), Daniel Murphy [13] (single), Wilmer Flores [14] (double) and Kevin Plawecki [15] (double), allowing it to score three times off Bud Norris [16]. Colon and Jeurys Familia [17] each gave up a solo homer and Juan Lagares [18] gave up nothing, especially ground to Michael Cuddyer [19], who apparently forgot his job on defense is to not get in the center fielder’s path, even if that path winds toward left. Lagares made a sensational catch, which isn’t news. He avoided getting kicked in the chest by Cuddyer while doing so, which is a relief.

It all added up to a 3-2 Mets victory, an end to the suspicion the Mets would neither score nor win ever again, and a little more to admire about the starting and prevailing pitcher. Bartolo Colon, inching up on 42, has a record of 5-1 and a legend that just won’t quit.

Nothing to laugh at there, but plenty to smile about.

I joined Vinnie and Mike on the Blue and Orange Nation podcast [20], where the name “Frank Taveras [21]” got itself mentioned pretty quickly. Steal away and listen here [20].