For as long as it has been played, the All-Star Game pits the best of one league against the best of the other. The demigods, with their crisp uniforms and perfect swings, perform under the lights with a certain grace and aura that few can ever hope to match. It's the Midsummer Classic, after all.
But, as of Friday, that's all about to change.
Enter 43-year-old marvel Bartolo Colon.
Mets and National League All-Star manager Terry Collins named Colon to the team in place of Madison Bumgarner, who will be unable to pitch during the game because of a scheduled start Sunday for the San Francisco Giants.
A fan favorite with a complicated history, Colon brings a lighthearted appeal to an exhibition game that tries to be taken seriously.
So here's why you should be thankful that the pitcher known affectionately as "Big Sexy" will take the field Tuesday night in San Diego:
1. Everybody loves Bart
There's no one in baseball right now who surpasses Colon when it comes to unconditional love -- from players and fans alike. Nationals pitcher Gio Gonzalez told ESPN.com's Kevin Van Valkenburg, "I think everybody just loves Big Sexy." From his helmet's continuous struggle to stay glued on his head while he's swinging and running, to his joyful reactions, Colon brings the one attribute that an All-Star Game needs most: fun.
2. His stats don't matter
In an era when almost everything in baseball is boiled down to numbers, Colon transcends stats. Sure, his 3.28 ERA is solid, as is his 7-4 record. Plus, Colon really uses only one pitch: a fastball, which he hurls almost 88 percent of the time, according to Fangraphs. So the numbers don't add up. He shouldn't be good. But he is. And that's awesome.
3. He's a human highlight real
A big part of Colon's appeal is his carefree approach to the game. For example, most people, and nearly all pitchers, would stop and make a conventional throw after fielding a ground ball. Colon? Nope. He prefers to flip the ball to first behind his back.
Bartolo was flippin' awesome to win NL Player of the Week honors.https://t.co/ZlxUesKUnl— MLB (@MLB) September 8, 2015
Or, he might make a Willie Mays-esque basket catch.
Any comebacker will be an adventure.
4. He's a "hit"
Madison Bumgarner is the best-hitting pitcher in baseball. But if there's any ballpark where Colon can make up for the difference from the man he's replacing on the roster, it's San Diego's Petco Park, where he has slugged .800 over his career -- OK, he has had only five at-bats there, but still a pretty cool number. Plus, he did this there:
As for the possibility he gets an at-bat during the game, Colon played it coy, telling reporters Friday, "I pray to God it doesn't happen." A refreshingly humble star. Perfect.
5. (All-) Stars -- they're just like us!
At 43, Colon is the oldest player in the majors this season. The soon-to-be four-time All-Star made his first appearance in the game way back in 1998, when he managed to get the win despite giving up three earned runs. So how is he able to excel nearly two decades later? One reason may be his stretching routine, which seems to have little basis in scientific evidence and pays special attention to his all-important core. If and when Collins calls Colon into the game, he'll be the third-oldest pitcher ever to take the mound in an All-Star Game, according to ESPN Stats and Info.