Ichiro Suzuki and Bartolo Colon are defeating Father Time
The two oldest players in baseball this year are ‘Making Baseball Fun’
Consider this a full-fledged appreciation of Miami Marlins outfielder Ichiro Suzuki and New York Mets pitcher Bartolo Colon. The two oldest men in Major League Baseball this year — Colon is 43 and Ichiro is 42 — are tearing up the league, and you need to be savoring their seasons if you aren’t already.
This isn’t just about how great the two have been on the field — age qualifiers aside, both men have been tangibly valuable — it’s about how aesthetically quirky and fun it is to watch this duo. Colon plays like a buzzed uncle in a neighborhood softball league. Ichiro plays like, well, a gymnast. That fun and flair are only made more valuable as the league cracks down over and over again on anyone who dares try to “Make Baseball Fun.”
The Wall Street Journal amusingly pointed out that Ichiro and Colon are “separated by just 151 days of birth, but a whopping 115 pounds of girth,” and yet, despite many differences, the two are incredibly similar in one way: Both are enjoyable as hell.
And, as a reminder, because it can’t be said enough: These men are defeating Father Time, two guys creeping ever closer to middle age and, gulp, 50. Which won’t matter to Ichiro … he still wants to play until that age.
Last year, in 153 games, Ichiro hit a paltry .229 with a .282 on-base percentage. Questions swirled surrounding a possible retirement, as they have for years and years. But, so far this year, Ichiro has made those suggesting he call it quits sound silly. He’s hitting an absurd .347 (what?) with a Barry Bonds-lite .410 on-base percentage. He’s slapped the ball around like it owes him money and he’s made diving, circus catches in the outfield like a younger version of himself.
Colon, on the other hand, continues his run of steady seasons. Since 2011, the man has pitched 152 innings or more each year, always with an ERA in the 4s or below. This season, he’s sitting at a cool 3.08. He was suspended for 50 games in 2012 after testing positive for performance-enhancing drugs. This has stained many reps past. But, Colon is so lovable that we all pretend like it never, ever happened. San Diego Padres pitcher James Shields even calls himself the president of the Bartolo Colon Fan Club and a fan got a massive Colon tattoo earlier this year.
As Mets broadcaster Gary Cohen told the Associated Press: “I think it’s the total package. I think it’s a combination of his age, his size, his unflappability, the fact that his teammates love him. He’s somebody who every fan can relate to.”
Here are some of our favorite moments in recent memory of Ichiro and Colon. Salute to both, as we hope for even more fire in the coming months:
In early May, against the San Diego Padres, Colon belted his first career home run and it was as glorious and memorable as you could hope for. Our favorite part: The uncontainable smirk that sweeps across big man’s face as he’s rounding first base. Us, too, man.
Bartolo Colon dinger x Father Stretch My Hands Pt. 1 pic.twitter.com/VbmeZJKnKi
— Joon Lee (@iamjoonlee) May 8, 2016
It was the final game of the season last year and — surprise! — the Marlins were getting their hats handed to them, down 7-2 in the eighth. The bigger surprise: Ichiro — a historic hitter with nearly 3,000 hits in the MLB and another 1,278 in Japan — came out to the mound and started pitching (!), proving that both Colon and Ichiro do more than their job titles require.
Some men, like former Seattle Mariners center fielder Ken Griffey Jr., just glide gracefully all over the diamond, sprinting like a leopard as they track down flyballs. This balletic style does not fit Colon. It’s been reported he can do splits and kick his legs above his head like a cheerleader, but sometimes we can just watch moments like in the videos below. We ain’t mad, though.
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If Colon isn’t losing his hat while trying to chase (walk?) down fly balls, he’s losing his helmet at the plate trying to swing at pitches.
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Some things just never change. And we couldn’t be more thankful.
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Ichiro has long been a tremendous defender (he used to have a cannon arm, as well) but to see him make diving grabs and home run-robbing catches like this — at his age — is stunning.
[mlbvideo id=”646366183″ width=”400″ height=”224″ /]
Most players go from playing centerfield to playing one of the corner spots, because they aren’t agile enough to roam the middle of the diamond as they age. Ichiro? He’s still asked to play centerfield occasionally at 42 and sometimes this happens.
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And then there are moments Ichiro goes back to a corner outfield spot and reminds you, kindly, don’t try me.
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The thing about both Colon and Ichiro is that they’ve given us so many moments over the years that are impossible to forget (seriously). This year, shall we say, has not been short of those moments, either.
For good measure, drink these in.
A fan at Nationals Park evidently gave Colon a hard time about having 2 families. Colon yelled back at the guy that he actually has 3.
— Mike Puma (@NYPost_Mets) May 24, 2016
— Will Manso (@WillManso) June 14, 2016