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Top 25 Baseball Stories of 2016 — #14: Bartolo Colon hits a homer

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We’re a few short days away from 2017 so it’s a good time to look back at the top 25 baseball stories of 2016. Some of them took place on the field, some of them off the field and some of them were creatures of social media, fan chatter and the like. No matter where the story broke, however, these were the stories baseball fans were talking about most this past year.

As Bartolo Colon walked to the plate in the second inning of the Mets-Padres game in San Diego on the night of May 7, he was a few days shy of his 43rd birthday. He was also a complete and utter offensive failure, posting a batting average of .089 in 225 at-bats, while striking out 119 times.

While that went by mostly unremarked upon for years, as he grew older and heftier and became something of a fan favorite, Colon’s lack of hitting ability actually began to become endearing. He often swung so hard that his helmet fell off in the process, drawing a mixture of cheers and laughs.

But on this night, the laughter disappeared and the cheers grew louder. Why? Because Bartolo Colon hit a homer:

The blast, which hit the lower level of the Western Metal Supply Building in left field of Petco Park, came off of James Shields. The pitch was a verrry straight 90 m.p.h. fastball, but a homer is a homer. Even when the home run trot can be timed with a sun dial.

In the wake of the homer, many people — even some who you thought would know better — argued that it justified pitchers batting and the lunacy of the designated hitter. Other, more sensible people, mind you, noted that this was merely the exception which proves the futility of having pitchers bat. Even newly-minted sluggers like Colon who, later that month, literally told the other team that he didn’t plan on swinging at any pitches in a game so they should feel free to strike him out.

Those arguments will never end, of course. Nor will the Colon at bats any time soon. He just signed a contract with a National League team, so maybe he’ll hit his second dinger at age 44.

Video: Kurt Suzuki breaks World Series Game 2 tie with long solo homer

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The postseason has a knack for finding unlikely heroes. Nationals catcher Kurt Suzuki was 1-for-23 in the postseason entering Wednesday’s Game 2 of the World Series. The Nats and Astros each plated two runs in the first inning, then went otherwise scoreless through the sixth inning. In the top of the seventh, with Justin Verlander returning to the mound, Suzuki demolished a high, 1-0 fastball just below the train tracks in left field at Minute Maid Park, breaking the 2-2 tie.

Verlander proceeded to walk Victor Robles, prompting manager A.J. Hinch to take his veteran starter out of the game. Ryan Pressly came in to attempt to keep it a one-run game.

The underdog Nationals held on to defeat the Astros 5-4 in Game 1. Another victory by the Nats in Game 2 would put the Astros — heavy favorites according to oddsmakers — in a big hole.

Update: Pressly walked the first batter he faced, Trea Turner. Adam Eaton successfully sacrifice bunted both runners over. After Anthony Rendon flied out to shallow center field, Hinch decided to issue his team’s first intentional walk of the entire year to Juan Soto, loading the bases. Howie Kendrick then hit what appeared to be an inning-ending ground out, but Alex Bregman booted the ball as he moved to his left. Turner scored to make it 4-2. The floodgates opened when Asdrúbal Cabrera lined a single to center field, bringing home two more runs to pad the lead to 6-2. While pitching to Ryan Zimmerman, Pressly uncorked a wild pitch to allow the two base runners to advance. Zimmerman followed up with a slow roller down the third base line which Bregman barehanded and proceeded to throw away. Two more runs scored. 8-2. Yiiiikes, Astros.