Bartolo Colon just does not seem to age. Having turned 42 on Sunday, Colon recorded his seventh win of the season yesterday as the Mets defeated the Phillies. That puts him into a tie for first among major league pitchers in wins, as the Mariners’ Felix Hernandez and the Cardinals' Michael Wacha are the only other pitchers with seven victories. That puts him in exclusive company this year.
Historically speaking, he is in even more exclusive company this season, as he is one of just two former Montreal Expos playing on a major league roster. Colon and Blue Jays infielder Maicer Izturis are the only active players who played for the team, who relocated following the 2004 season and became the Washington Nationals. While memories of the Expos fade deeper into the past, the continuing careers of these two players bring memories of baseball in Montreal to life for many fans who long for the olden days.
Colon was infamously acquired by the Expos from the Indians in a 2002 trade that sent future All-Stars Grady Sizemore, Cliff Lee, and Brandon Phillips to Cleveland. Then-Expos GM Omar Minaya pulled the trigger on this trade, as he believed doing so would make the Expos a playoff team. In his 17 starts with Montreal that season, Colon went 10-4 with a 3.31 ERA. Despite that performance, the Expos finished the season 19 games behind the division-winning Braves. Colon was traded to the White Sox that offseason.
The 34-year-old Izturis’s experience with Montreal came at the tail end of the final year of the club’s existence. After making his big-league debut on August 27, he appeared in 32 games late in 2004, hitting just .206 with one home run. He would not make the move with the rest of the team to Washington, as he was traded to the Angels after the season. There, he eventually became teammates with Colon, from 2005 through 2007. Izturis is currently on the Blue Jays’ 60-day disabled list with a groin injury and has not played this season after playing in just 11 games last year.
While both Colon and Izturis likely only have a handful of seasons left, Montreal fans appear to have never lost their love for baseball. In four exhibition games held at Montreal’s Olympic Stadium over the past two years, attendance has never fallen below 45,000. This is pretty spectacular considering that the MLB average attendance for regular season games this year is just under 30,000.