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Why Everybody Loves Bartolo Colón

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Bartolo Colon #40 of the New York Mets celebrates in the dugout after scoring a third-inning run against the Pittsburgh Pirates at Citi Field on June 16, 2016 in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City. (Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
Bartolo Colón #40 of the New York Mets celebrates in the dugout after scoring a third-inning run against the Pittsburgh Pirates at Citi Field on June 16, 2016. (Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

 

At press time, Bartolo Colón is already poised to return to the New York Mets next season, and deservedly so. Despite being the oldest pitcher in the Mets bullpen, Colón has defied all odds and become one of the most reliable pitchers of the lot. During his three-year stint playing in Queens, the portly righty has become a rare cult icon, worthy of the hype.

ESPN‘s Kevin Van Valkenburg articulates this anomaly:

“On the surface, it’s surprising that baseball fans have chosen Colon as the one to adore. He’s a 43-year-old pitcher with a Santa Claus physique and a complicated past: steroids, a nontraditional elbow surgery, a second family. But that’s exactly what has happened with Colon the past two seasons. In the twilight of his career, at an age when most great baseball players are limping home, both physically and spiritually, Colon has become something of a national treasure, our round mound of mirth.”

Bartolo Colon #40 of the New York Mets hits a RBI single into right field against the Atlanta Braves during the Braves opening series at Turner Field on April 12, 2015 in Atlanta, Georgia. Wilmer Flores #4 scored on the single. (Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Bartolo Colón #40 of the New York Mets hits a RBI single into right field against the Atlanta Braves during the Braves opening series at Turner Field on April 12, 2015 in Atlanta, Georgia. Wilmer Flores #4 scored on the single. (Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

 

Despite clearly being overweight (he’s not the first in baseball history), Colón is still surprisingly limber: He ranks among some of the best in the game, especially when it comes to his accuracy. Per Van Valkenburg, “Among pitchers with at least 80 innings pitched, [Los Angeles Dodger] Clayton Kershaw has walked fewer batters than Colón.”

Colón’s demeanor seems to factor in as much as his talent. For the Dominican-born athlete, the cringeworthy and the admirable both become endearing. Fans adore watching him whiff at the plate as much as they do watching him goof off with his teammates in the dugout.

Read the full ESPN story here. Below, watch a highlight reel of Colón’s greatest moments, starting with his first career home run he hit earlier this year at the age of 42.