I admit, I'm completely and totally fascinated with Bartolo Colon and what he's doing right now. At age 40, he's having a career season, and is inarguably the anchor of the A's rotation by any measure. Instead of using a traditional starter's assortment of 3-4 pitches, he throws 85% fastballs, and uses his slider and change simply to keep hitters honest. Not since Randy Johnson's mid-2000s with the Diamondbacks and Yankees has there been a better overall performance for a pitcher at 40 than Colon. What he is doing at his age is something that makes baseball so great and different from the other sports: if a player can still play, no matter what he looks like, there is a spot in MLB for him.
That said, to ignore the cloud of rumors surrounding him would be silly. With the news dropping last night of Ryan Braun's 65-game suspension, at the least, there is enough evidence available to MLB to convince one player it was best to simply accept his punishment and attempt to return next year. This brings up the obvious question: given Colon's past steroid use and suspension, what evidence is out there on him? Let's review what we do know now:
- Colon was found to have used steroids last year
- He served his 50-game suspension
- Since then, we have heard no news of any positive tests coming from him
That's really it. Sure - and especially with his portly figure and relatively advanced age - there is rampant rumor-mongering. Perhaps Colon is using a new, undetectable steroid! He's just gotten lucky on the timing of his tests, but he's totally using! It's easy to get worked up into a lather about this stuff. Indeed, the whole PED issue in baseball divides fans, sometimes those of the same team. I know there are some of you reading this right now who think Colon is a dirty, dirty cheater and would replace him in the rotation with Sonny Gray in a heartbeat. Just remember: we know nothing right now.
Here are some other things we know. Colon served his time, and now he is playing baseball and helping our favorite team win baseball games. He has thrown 3 shutouts (albeit one of 7 innings). He is an all-star. He can still rear back and throw 96 MPH when he wants. When he doesn't have his best velocity, like on Sunday, he can still shut down a good lineup. He may indeed be using some designer steroid that eludes the testing system in place. But, if the PED testing system doesn't work, then it doesn't and there is not much I can do about it. If he tests positive, then I will be upset that the A's will miss him for the stretch run and playoffs, but at the same time, no one can take his performance and contribution to A's victories away. Given that, I find it hard to hold any grudges against him. Quite the opposite actually: I applaud what will be one of the great age-40 performances ever.
Of course, there are other questions that remain to be answered. For example, did the Biogenesis investigation reveal new information on Colon's use, or is his record of use simply there from past use that he has acknowledged? Is there something else he used that will be revealed as part of this investigation? If prior evidence is found, given that he has served his time, will that be considered enough punishment by MLB's standards? The answers to these may well determine whether Colon will be part of this team in the future, and how far the A's make this year.
For me, though, I'm just enjoying the ride.
These views are my own and do not necessarily represent the views of the rest of the AN staff or SB Nation/Vox Media as a whole. Given that, please direct all vitriol in my direction, either here or on Twitter, if need be. Otherwise, tune in for the Subway game tonight, as it's Jarrod vs. Jarred. That's right, two pitchers who share a name with a guy famous for promoting mass-produced sandwiches will pitch in a stadium named for mass-produced orange juice. First
bite squeeze pitch is at 5:05 PM PST.