By: Belinda Smith

Big Sexy Departs

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We knew this day was coming.  Bartolo Colon, he of the rubber arm, of the lone home run, he of the cat-like reflexes coming off the mound which confounds us all because of his rather rotund yet adorable shape, is now with the Atlanta Braves.  Colon signed a one-year deal earlier in the week worth a reported $12.5 million dollars.  Nice work if you can get it.

The Colon trade comes on the heels of the Braves recent acquisition of another former Mets pitcher, R.A. Dickey.  It is clear the Braves are intent on bolstering their starting rotations with veteran, albeit older, pitchers.  Dickey and Colon are a combined 85 years of age.

But they bring to their positions an understanding of the game, and an ability to command their repertoire of exactly two pitches – in the case of Dickey, it’s the knuckleball, for Colon it is the 85-ish MPH fastball that still has quite a bit of bite to it.  Neither pitcher walks many batters, defends their position well, and most importantly, are able to pitch with relative calm and cool-as-a-cucumber personas.

For Colon, he was rarely rattled while on the mound.  I often listened to Howie and Josh marvel at his ability to stay focused, poised and unflappable.  He went out there every fifth day, ready to go.  Are his numbers Cooperstown-esque?  Probably not.  But this past season for the Mets, he was a life saver.

As the 2016 season dawned, the Mets left Port St. Lucie with an enviable starting staff of Syndergaard, Matz, deGrom, Harvey and Colon, with Zack Wheeler waiting in the wings.  Fast forward to the All-Star break, and we were minus Harvey and by season’s end, we would have only the stoic Syndergaard, as the others went down to season-ending injuries and surgeries.  Colon was our ace in the hold, our reliable Big Sexy, who ended the year 15-8, with 191 innings pitched and a solid 3.43 ERA.  Who would have thunk that it would be Colon who would lead the staff in wins for the year?

My favorite memories of Colon are of his bullpen efforts during the 2015 postseason run.  He only wanted to play.  He only wanted to help.  Mets skipper Terry Collins asked Colon to go to the bullpen and so he did, appearing in three games against the Dodgers and holding his ground, giving the Mets starters – and bullpen aces — a much needed respite.

And of course, the homerun against the San Diego Padres.  May 7, 2016.  In his 226th at-bat, Bartolo Colon hit his first-ever home run of his near 20-year career in the major leagues.  Gary Cohen called it “one of the great moments in the history of baseball” which was probably a bit superfluous, but Howie’s epic call of “HOMERUN, BARTOLO COLON.  REPEAT:  HOMERUN, BARTOLO COLON” was more to the point.  I especially loved Josh reminding us that it took Colon 30 seconds to round the bases, which was the equivalent of three station breaks on WOR radio.

We all loved when Bartolo came to bat in games after that for what would be a tortured, exasperating 2016 season for the New York Metropolitans.  In the words of Noah Syndergaard, who tweeted the following the day after he signed with the Braves, “I miss him already.”

We sure do, Noah.

About Belinda Smith

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