Bartolo Colon is just as perplexing as he is inspirational. Suspect as sensational. The Texas Rangers 44-year-old pitcher is in his 21st MLB season and has resurrected his career from the dead more times than a zombie. On Wednesday he continued to defy the odds and the laws of Mother Nature with 7 ⅔ innings of four-hit ball against the Seattle Mariners who just lost leader and All-Star second baseman Robinson Cano to an 80-game PED suspension.
On the cusp of his 45th birthday, Bartolo Colon pitched 7 2/3 innings and only allowed four hits to give the @Rangers a victory over the @Mariners. https://t.co/Og5lsf3F0t
In 2012, when baseball was still eradicating the remaining blemishes from its lucrative PED culture, Colon was suspended for 50 games after a positive drug test for what BALCO founder Victor Conte called "the granddaddy of all anabolic steroids — testosterone."
"I apologize to the fans, to my teammates and to the Oakland A's," Colon said in a statement released by the players' association. "I accept responsibility for my actions and I will serve my suspension as required by the joint drug program."
Colon's suspension was overshadowed by San Francisco Giants outfielder Melky Cabrera's PED suspension which occurred in the same week. Cabrera was among the MLB leaders in hitting at the time and the San Francisco Giants were on their way to another World Series ring. While other players attempted to deny their transgressions, Colon took his in the gut and kept it moving like the 100mph fastball he ate recently.
Bartolo Colon taking 100 MPH to the gut like a BOSS https://t.co/MUwfBbtavo
"At 43 years old, Bartolo has used his good-natured personality to completely win over many of the fans who typically bash players with PED histories. Colon has proven that players can return to the league’s good graces if they just accept responsibility, apologize, and move on – especially if they make us laugh."
It appears so.
From 2006-2011, Colon won just 22 games and lost 31 with an ERA of 4.71. He was on his fourth club in five years. By all accounts, his career was over. It was going to take a miracle for Colon to make an MLB roster the next season after a half-decade of ineffectiveness. That miracle came in the form of peds. A familiar magical elixir that has made legends of men and on the other hand destroyed the legacies and Cooperstown opportunities of some of the game’s iconic players.
While other PED superstars were raked through the coals and blackballed from the Hall of Fame and had their reputations tarnished with the help of an MLB witch hunt, Colon’s apology was sufficient.
More contracts, a career rebirth that includes a 2016 All-Star Game nod and a social media-infused celebrity boost that made Colon the subjects of memes, posts, and tweets after hitting his first career home run followed. Colon slowly became a cult hero. Baseball's Santa Clause and everyone's lovable, huggable, grandpa figure who happens to be an out machine.
2 years ago Bartolo Colon was part of this magical moment. 😂😂😂 https://t.co/kJN72YA3kL
No one really questioned how following his PED suspension, Colon could win an average of 14.4 games over the next five seasons with a high of 18 in 2013 at the age of 40 -- almost a decade after he won the 2005 AL Cy Young Award after going 21-8 for the Los Angeles Angels. Then he remarkably won 15 games at the age of 43!
A-Rod is in the booth, Melky isn’t in MLB and Braun is a shell of his 2011 MVP form. Colon, however, is living his best life. He’s on borrowed time and still winning games as his 2-1 record and 2.82 ERA shows. Colon leads the American League in K/BB (8.) and walks per nine innings (0.71) and he’s fifth in WHIP (0.84). Colon has truly sipped from the fountain of youth.
Bartolo Colon's legendary career continues as he signs with the Texas Rangers, which will be his 21st MLB season Check out http://MLB.com/video for more! About MLB.com: Former Commissioner Allan H. (Bud) Selig announced on January 19, 2000, that the 30 Major League Club owners voted unanimously to centralize all of Baseball's Internet operations into an independent technology company.
Retired players younger than him are sick with envy. Baseball fans worship Colon as some sort of gift from Avion the Greek God of eternity. Heads who know better, respect his game and his gangster and the fact that he’s been a clubhouse leader, great MLB ambassador and captured the hearts of baseball fans and middle-aged washed athletes around the world, but you’re never too old to use and never too untouchable to get caught.
Current players with PED history such as Nelson Cruz, Bartolo Colon, Dee Gordon, Ervin Santana, etc. went on to continue their careers after serving their suspensions. Fans still love watching them. That will be the case for Robinson Cano as well. But for now, man it does suck.
Let’s hope Colon’s career is a lesson in endurance and insight into how mastercraftsmen perfect the art of pitching over time, rather than an example of how one guy suckered the system for two decades. Suspicions remain, but in the meantime, Big Sexy just keeps pounding the zone.