A pitcher hit a home run on Saturday, and I'm writing about it on Monday. That would appear at first to be a waste of resources, but this is Bartolo Colon's home run, and it's a party that spills over into the next week, like the greatest wedding you'll ever attend. On the 247th plate appearance of his career, Bartolo Colon hit a home run in one of the biggest pitcher's parks in baseball. It looked like a home run off the bat.
Oh, heck, just watch it again.
The last five seconds of that video is now the alarm notification on my phone. At 6 a.m. every day, I'm going to wake up to "¡Ay, dios mio, que espectacular, Bartolo ... in-cred-í-ble" and that's going to make me a better person.
Why do we love Colon batting events? I got into a debate with someone about how it's just a different kind of fat shaming, something at the expense of another person's unconventional body. I don't disagree that Colon's fluffiness is a part, but it's far more complex than that. This is a pitcher who disappeared into an injury sinkhole immediately after winning the Cy Young. He couldn't crack 100 innings four years in a row, and then he missed the entire 2010 season. He was 37. He was done. It was a good career.
Then he came back, throwing nothing but an assortment of various fastballs and looking like your seventh-grade P.E. teacher. Colon is proof that baseball is a serial drama written by writers without a plan. They're into the brain-transplant-surgery part of the storyline, and we're fine with that.
No, Colon doesn't especially look like the kind of player we have in mind when we think of someone paid by a Major League Baseball team to hit baseballs. But that's only a part of the appeal.
Okay, maybe it's a substantial part of the appeal. That's just an artist's rendition, but once I commission it, I'm sure my family will get used to the idea, so I'll just put the deposit down and hope for the best.
Anyway, we're here today to talk about the milestones Bartolo Colon still has left to break. He's tied with Randy Johnson and Duane Kuiper in career home runs. But there's more work to do. There's a reason we didn't ascend immediately after the homer. There's still work for him to do. We'll start simple.
Tracy Stallard holds the record for most plate appearances in a major league career without taking a walk, at 258. Colon is at 249, so there's a great chance that he'll pass him by the end of the month. It's not like a walk can compare to that first home run there, but we're playing Colon bingo. Don't google that.
What would it take for Colon to walk? A pitcher who is all messed up. And it happens. Semi-frequently, too. Never forget Santiago Casilla's first plate appearance.
That is a pitcher who has absolutely no plans to swing. He took four straight balls. If anything, it's unlikely that Colon hasn't run into this kind of pitcher before. Sometimes pitchers just break.
First infield hit
Sadly, he already has one. It came 14 years ago with the Expos, and it was a bunt that I'm guessing didn't roll foul.
Second infield hit
Oh, yeah, I'd be into that. And at least the idea of Colon bunting led me to this picture.
First stolen base
Not as wacky as you think! This doesn't have to be a managerial middle finger in the eighth inning of a 14-2, HBP-filled game against the Nationals. Okay, here's the situation:
- Colon reaches (error, single, walk, doesn't matter, focus)
- One out
- David Wright is in the middle of a slump where he keeps rolling over on the ball
- A sinkerballer who allows a ton of contact is on the mound (Mark Buehrle, or his modern-day counterpart
- 3-2 count
Do you send Colon in that situation? You know Wright is going to make contact. And if you send him and Wright doesn't make contact, there's a chance that the catcher will drop the ball, or that the pitch was a breaking ball in the dirt.
Okay, it's not especially likely. But it can happen in the context of legitimate baseball. Unlikelier things have happened. Like Bartolo Colon hitting a home run. And now we've come full circle.
Also not as wacky as you think. One of the greatest freak baseball moments in the last 10 years was when Bengie Molina needed a triple for the cycle.
It took a weird carom. That's it. This one happened to be off a glove, but it could hit a weird spot on the right-field wall at AT&T Park. Or it could get past an outfielder who dives for the ball in an all-or-nothing bid.
If you're looking for the rightful heir to Colon's legacy of the unexpected, a triple is the perfect mix of "possible" and "lol nope." It would take something approaching laboratory conditions, but it could happen.
First inside-the-park home run
It sounds appealing, except this would take outfielders colliding in a gruesome, unwatchable way. Don't get greedy. Stick with the triple.
Here we go. This is it, the new dream. Now that Colon has homered, let's honor him for some of the amazing pitching that he's still doing at 43. He still hasn't thrown a no-hitter, which isn't that odd. Roger Clemens never threw a no-hitter, for example. It's entirely possible for the greatest pitchers of all-time to never throw a no-hitter, so we shouldn't hold our breath for a Colono-no.
Think about what a Colon no-hitter would look like in 2016, though. It would be an exercise in precision and perfection, with the opposing hitters wanting to eat their bats, splinter by splinter, after every poor decision. It wouldn't have to take a wide zone, but that could certainly help, with Colon living on the edges, playing with the fastball so it sneaks over the back door, unless he plays with so it tails just off the plate, right when the hitter has already committed to his swing.
A Colon no-hitter would be a 27-out game where the other team keeps choosing scissors and the paper never comes. His teammates would mob him after the final out. Would it be too much to ask that they put him on their shoulders and walked around the park a little? I don't think so. I just wrote about another 40-something throwing a no-hitter, and they picked him up for a bit.
Bartolo Colon hit a home run, but we still have some dreams for him. You can root for the stolen base or the triple, but I'll stick with the no-hitter.
Though, technically, I guess they could all come in the same game.
Get your affairs in order, everyone. I'm just as surprised as you are that we're still here, but we might be ascending after all.