A little love for big Bartolo

Happy trails Bartolo Colon, I'm never gonna forget you big guy.

Happy trails Bartolo Colon, I’m never gonna forget you big guy.

There’s been so much wheeling in dealing by the A’s this week that it’s been easy to get caught up in the excitement over all the new faces while glossing over the fact that some key contributors to Oakland‘s back-to-back AL West championship teams are moving on.

With that in mind, I thought I’d take some time to sit back and reflect on someone I’m really going to miss seeing in green and gold: Bartolo Colon.

I don’t know if Colon spends much time surfing the Web reading obscure baseball blogs written by fans. Smart money says “junkball.wordpress.com” is never going to see the light of day on his home computer, tablet device or smart phone. But if Colon does venture onto the Internet and he happens to wander across my little blog, this post is for you big guy:

Thanks for the memories Bartolo.

I’m going to miss seeing you out there in every fifth day for the A’s next summer. I had my doubts when general manager Billy Beane brought you to Oakland heading into the 2012 season, but as time on went it became a match made in heaven for this A’s fan.

You’re overweight, 40 years old, you were a cheap acquisition and you helped the A’s win a lot of games.  I’m overweight, I’m about to turn 40, I try to acquire everything on the cheap and I love watching the A’s win a lot of games. The pairing of A’s player and A’s fan was almost perfect.

Forget Jeremy Brown. If anyone ever personified Beane’s adage of, “We’re not selling jeans here” it’s you.

The silly kid trapped in this middle-aged baseball nut’s creaky old body looked at you and said, “Yeah, that’s the valuable A’s player I could be on a winning team in Oakland … if I had any talent whatsoever for the game of baseball.”

You’re old (at least in baseball terms), you’re chubby, you pretty much only have one pitch but you often managed to thrive on the mound with Oakland. It’s almost impossible for a die-hard sports fanatic with a beergut and absolutely no athletic ability to find inspiration in your contributions to the A’s. There were plenty of times when you silenced opposing lineups with ease, almost toying with them with fastball after fastball, strike after strike.

Baseball is running out of big middle-aged guys to root for like Colon and David Wells.

Baseball is running out of big middle-aged guys to root for like Colon and David Wells.

Sadly, the bad-body player is kind of a dying breed in baseball these days. It’s nice to see that you’re proudly carrying the torch for retired portly pitchers such as David Wells, Rich Garces, Sid Fernandez, Livan Hernandez and Rick Reuschel.  You’re arguably the best veteran bad-body starting pitcher in baseball right now considering the fact that New York’s C.C. Sabathia is coming off a 0.3 WAR in 2013 compared to your 5.0 WAR with Oakland last season.

Couch potato sports fans need at least a few players who look just a slovenly as they do to cheer for when they’re watching a game.  Seeing you strike out a young stud like Anaheim’s Mike Trout is a victory for every aging male sports fan carrying a few too many pounds around their midsection. Who cares if Trout hit .571 off you last season? You struck him out once and it was a glorious triumph for all the old fat guys out there who look kind of silly attending ballgames in official MLB jerseys with the buttons straining at the gut.

I’ll freely admit that when Beane first signed you I didn’t see much potential for a notable contribution to Oakland’s future. He had just traded away Gio Gonzalez, Trevor Cahill and Andrew Bailey to rebuild the franchise and I figured you’d simply keep a spot in the rotation warm for a prospect.

I assumed that you’d just pitch a lot of mediocre innings until your arm fell off while providing a veteran presence and making sure the post-game spread didn’t go to waste.  It appeared that having you in the rotation would also buy the A’s a little more time to let their prospects develop without rushing anyone to the big leagues and squandering valuable service time.

But everything clicked for that magical 2012 club and you were a significant part of an exhilarating, unpredictable  run to the playoffs while posting a 2.7 WAR with 10 wins and a 3.43 ERA. Sure, there was the ugly PED suspension that came along at the worst possible time for the A’s toward the end of the season, but this is a franchise that has arguably served as Ground Zero for steroid abuse in baseball so I guess that’s just par for the course.

And the PED use just shows how much you want to pitch, how committed you are to winning, right? I mean, a few years ago you had your own fat injected into your arm and shoulder in an effort to revive your flagging career. That shows some crazy love for the game and probably explains why you never show up to spring training looking slim and trim. Smart move big guy. Who knows when you’re going to need some more of that fat to lube up your arm and shoulder again?  That’s not worthless flab around your midsection, it’s a big, jiggly Fountain of Youth spewing forth a steady stream of blessed arm-invigorating lard. Your soft midsection is solid gold as far as I’m concerned. I wish my gut had some kind of supernatural value to it but it’s just dead weight.

You followed up a surprisingly productive 2012 in Oakland with a fantastic 2013. 5.0 WAR, 18 wins, a 2.65 ERA, 117 strikeouts vs. just 29 walks and an All-Star berth all for just $3 million. That lively fastball of yours was back in the high 90s when you really needed it and the A’s had a veteran ace at the front of their division-winning rotation.

It was an amazing, unexpected run of late-career glory for you in Oakland. But now it’s all over.

Scott Kazmir‘s taking your place in the rotation and you’re following in the footsteps of far too many former Athletics as you seek free-agent fortune elsewhere. And you know what? Good for you. You’ve earned it.

Go out and sign that final big-money contract before you ride off into the sunset with around 200 career wins, a Cy Young Award and three All-Star selections under your belt.

Thanks for being part of one big, fantastic green and gold party the past two seasons. If you couldn’t tell from the wild playoff crowds, die-hard A’s fans have been longing for a winning team for a long time. Thanks for helping breathe life into a struggling franchise that desperately needed it after the dark days of the Bob Geren Era.

Most of all, thanks for giving a chubby middle-aged A’s fan like me one player I could kind of relate to on a roster largely dominated by fun, baby-faced kids in the prime of their athletic careers.

I wouldn’t say that your brief, memorable stay with the A’s gave me any extra motivation to get off my lazy butt and lose some weight, but you left behind some great memories and certainly proved that age and a few extra pounds don’t have to slow a man down.

You made a lot of Oakland A's fans smile over the past 2 seasons Bartolo. Go get that big free-agent contract and end your career in style over the next few years.

You made a lot of Oakland A’s fans smile over the past 2 seasons Bartolo. Go get that big free-agent contract and end your career in style over the next few years.

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