I won’t give a prediction of the game, because we’ve already given our preview and we know that DeGrom and the Mets are going to dominate tonight. However, as a die-hard Mets fan, I owe a tribute to Young Bart. The man who made every fat blogger think, at least for a few minutes, that they could get back on the mound and dominate in the big leagues. The man who had a best friend pet donkey named Pancho growing up. The man who credits his incredible wrist strength to the days of being the best coffee bean pulper in the entire Dominican Republic. The man who honed his accuracy by throwing rocks to knock fruit off of trees back in the DR. And the man who learned baseball by playing in between transporting crates of said coffee beans on a regular grass field, using baseballs that were actually just wrapped up cloths.
Every Mets fan knows there are at least 100 times per season, no matter how well the season is or isn’t going, that you yell “Fuck this team!” and swear you’re going to stop watching them for your own health. It could be that the management isn’t going after anyone at the trade deadline, it could be because Terry Collins says “I didn’t think of using a pinch runner” for the slowest goddamn middle-infielder in the league, Wilmer Flores, in the 8th inning of a tie game in the middle of a playoff race, or it could just be the general pessimism embedded in all Mets fans from having the worst case scenario play out every single year you were alive to watch baseball. But, for the last three seasons, the self-imposed ban of watching Mets games was lifted every single time the pitching rotation went full circle, and that reason was the must-watch TV provided whenever Big Sexy was in the lineup.
Whether he was flipping balls behind his back to the first baseman, swinging and whiffing so hard that his helmet flew off, doing the truffle shuffle in the dug out, or (the most magical moment in sports history) launching a homerun against James Shields, the man just brought an unlimited amount of excitement and optimism to a franchise that generally lacks both. For fuck’s sake, we found out that the man had a second family with a side-piece and no one batted an eye! Why? Because the next game when you saw him flash that shit-eating grin in the dugout, it brought us all so much joy that we completely forgot about/denied any allegations against him. At 40+ years old, he was still able to keep us in the game almost every time he took the mound. He was even a huge part of the World Series run, especially by taking the role of relief pitcher for the playoffs.
The Mets fans who made it in time for the opening day ceremonies certainly gave Bartolo a warm welcome back yesterday, but by now you’ve all heard from Frank Fleming that NJ Transit stopped a lot of fans from getting there in time to give him the welcome he truly deserved. Tonight will be different. The stadium will be packed. It will be deafening when his name is announced in the lineup, and again before he tosses his first pitch. Shit, I’ll probably give him a standing O from my apartment in South Carolina. The worst part is that he is now playing for a division rival. The only two worse places he possibly could have landed was the Yankees or Nationals. In my mind, when the stadium gives him the ovation tonight, he starts to cry and walks off the field to tell his manager he just can’t pitch against the team and fan base that gave him his 3 favorite seasons of playing in the majors. But we all know that won’t happen, and at 43 almost 44 years old he’s due to have a rapid decline in performance. The Mets will end up absolutely shelling him, and he might even have to exit by the 4th or 5th inning, but not before Cespy and Duda both go yard off his nothing-but-fastball style. There will be a small part of me that feels sad for him while he’s getting rocked, but that won’t show on my face because he’ll still be the pitcher in that ugly Atlanta Braves jersey tonight. So, for the next few hours I’ll remember the good times and perhaps pour a beer out for the man that was always there for me these past 3 seasons. After that, it’s time to put the game face on and resume the “Fuck anyone in a Braves uniform” attitude for the rest of the season.
That being said, hammer the Mets team total over 3.5 -135 tonight and thank Big Sexy one last time when it hits.
Image taken from: http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/shouldnt-some-team-want-bartolo-colon/