I’ve been reading articles by others regarding the Mets and their two-year $20 million signing of veteran pitcher, Bartolo Colon. All the reviews have been positive to a point but, in my mind, not positive enough. Colon is the 2005 CY Young Award winner and, just this past season, was the Oakland Athletics’ Ace. His critics don’t appear to fully understand how good Colon was last season. The Mets have signed a veteran pitcher who should have won the 2013 American League CY Young, not finished sixth. After all, Colon finished the season with the second most wins and the second best ERA in the AL.
Granted, we suspect the REAL reason Colon didn’t get even a single first place vote was his positive testosterone test in 2012. These things are not easily forgiven, especially by the members of the Baseball Writers Association of American (BBWAA). Yet, Colon stood up immediately and took responsibility for his actions. Then later he took his punishment in a stand-up and honest fashion, unlike many who are either fighting their suspensions or denying that they are guilty of any wrong doing. Colon issued this statement in 2012:
“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 reaction to, well, getting caught and the A’s reaction by re-signing the then almost 40 year old for the 2013 season gave me reason to believe there was a little more there to Colon, a reason to keep him around. The A’s took a one-year $2 million gamble on a guy I think they knew, from personality and attitude alone, would be an asset to the club. And, an asset he was!
Personally, at first I was skeptical of Colon. He let down the entire club and the fans, but after developing a fondness for his happy personality, I decided to give the guy a chance. This was difficult since I wasn’t his biggest fan in 2012. Too many seasons with the Angels had left a bitter taste in my mouth. Yet, from then on, I was all about being #TeamBartolo and took on a “show me a positive test from 2013 and until you do I will support you 100%” attitude. Of course there were no positive tests for Colon in 2013. Still, he went on to have one of the best seasons of his career, finishing 18-6 with a 3.65 ERA. He succeeded in establishing himself as the team’s Ace, again helping to lead Oakland to a second straight American League Western Division Title. He’s a good-natured guy all around, always smiling and wishing he could pitch every day! He also believes, and I agree, that he might just have a few more years of baseball in him.
Apparently the Mets concurred with this assessment when they signed the free agent to a two year $20 million deal. Most reviews of this trade have been positive. But, not all embrace the idea that Colon will be the Mets’ Ace in 2014 even though starter Matt Harvey will be out for the season with a torn UCL in his elbow. If Colon pitches like he did in both seasons with the A’s, it is certainly possible that he could be the Mets new Ace. They are lucky to have him!
Colon finishing 6th in the CY Young voting is just not right. He had MANY more wins than Sanchez, who finished first in ERA, and while he had fewer wins than Max Scherzer (who obviously was the AL wins leader), I think those two second place finishes should trump Sanchez’s fifth place finish in wins and Scherzer’s third place finish in ERA. Just my opinion of course, but to not even get any first place votes just makes me cringe. He was clean this season. He took his punishment and didn’t weasel his way out of it the way Milwaukee Brewers 2012 NL MVP Ryan Braun did. Colon made a mistake, apologized and paid for it. Give the guy a break. He pitched brilliantly in 2013 without the use of performance enhancing drugs. Given the chance he could have easily won as many games as Scherzer having missed a start due to his suspension and two or three starts during a brief stint on the disabled list in late July. Not to mention that he out-pitched Scherzer when they faced off in the final game of a four game series against Detroit. Colon ended up with a no decision in that game when closer Grant Balfour gave up a walk-off homer to Torii Hunter, blowing his second save of the season.
I’m not saying that the taking of PEDs is ever ok. It is not, of course. There are many athletes over the years I wish were not tainted with the stigma. But Colon is not a Barry Bonds or a Mark McGwire (although I do LOVE McGwire!). Colon took responsibility and, for the most part, is a good influence on the teams he plays for; at least he was one in Oakland! The fans grew to love this big guy who was good to the fans and the club in 2013. So he made a mistake and that leads to him finishing sixth in the voting? It just seems harsh. Of course what I think is of no real matter, but I’ve been wanting to write this perspective for a long time! Since before the end of the season I’ve had all this just sitting there in my head … finally I found a moment here to talk about it!
Finally, I will ALWAYS be #TeamBartolo, unless of course you show me a current positive PED test. However, I just don’t see that happening in this case. I wish him all the best in New York and I look forward to hopefully seeing him pitch and pitch well in Oakland …. I mean the Athletics can’t possibly win EVERY single game in 2014, so he’s a guy I could take one loss from (however if it were really possible for a Major League Baseball team to go undefeated I’d have to have the Athletics shut him down! LOL!). #Team Bartolo!
About the Author: Jen Rainwater
An Oakland A's fanatic and an avid MLB fan, Jen received her degree in Communications & Journalism from Saint Mary's College of California in 2005 and has since worked in sports television production and print media in Oakland, CA. Known locally for her trendsetting ways as the "Oakland A's Socks Girl" she is often heard saying "It's all about the 3 B's: Baseball, Beer and BBQ! It just doesn't get better than that!