Bill Lee, (right) the former tall flamethrower for the Boston Red Sox ( also known as Mr. Spaceman for good reasons), was once asked by a reporter, ” Bill, what is your best pitch?” Without hesitation, he succinctly replied “Strike One.”
Bartolo Colon, the winningest pitcher on the New York Mets at 14-11, knows that. More importantly, he has learned to execute that often decisive first pitch to almost every batter he faces. And this all comes at the tender age of 42. With 218 wins logged thus far, he is not likely to be destined for the Hail of Fame, but the nearly 3,000 innings he has thrown has to catch your attention as one of those “rubber arms” of the past who simply took their turn when it came up – and pitch count were words from a foreign language.
I once met “Bart” as he is known to his teammates when he was with the White Sox in 2005 when I attended a game at Yankee Stadium. At the players entrance, he paused to say hello to an acquaintance. I recall being struck by his stature – kind of roly poly – built strong. Nowadays, he has almost become a caricature of himself as he has somehow managed five hits and four RBI ” running” the bases.
Bartolo Colon is not a flamethrower. In fact, he seldom touches 90. What he does do however is keep hitters off balance while constantly changing their eye level. In essence, most times they get themselves out. This is a practiced art. It seldom can be taught. You have to buy into it…….and then (maybe) it can be taught. It’s a formula more “throwers” should take notice of.
All of this becomes more interesting as the Mets move forward to the Second Season and a playoff rrotation is formed. Jon Niese has pitched his way out of that rotation and probably even the roster. That leaves (pick yours – you only need four with ample days off) DeGrom, Harvey, Syndegaard, Matz, and Colon. One man is out but relegated to a all important bullpen role. Who should it be?