By Rich Coutinho
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But R.A. Dickey is living proof that baseball is the grandest game in this country, because it rewards people with perseverance and a will to succeed.
According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Dickey did something Monday night that no National League pitcher had done since 1944, as he hurled his second consecutive one-hitter. But he has done so much more than that for both the team and the fan base. He has transformed himself from a knuckleballer to a bona fide ace and has re-written the book on how to throw the pitch.
“My script is not going to change,” said Dickey. “It’s all about executing pitches. The strikeouts are something I can’t explain and won’t try to. I will let you guys try to explain that one.”
I’ve been watching baseball since 1967 and covering it since 1984, and I honestly have not seen anything like it. Dickey has 103 strikeouts on the season. No major league pitcher has more Ks. He has not allowed an earned run in 42.2 innings, the second longest streak in franchise history only topped by Dwight Gooden’s stretch of 49 innings in 1985.
Speaking of Gooden, I felt a similar buzz in the ballpark last night to one I felt at Shea Stadium in the early days of Doc. Fans seem shocked when he gives up a hit and start that applause when he gets two strikes on a hitter.
Dickey’s story has been well-documented, as he had to struggle to return to the major leagues. That’s part of what makes him so special in the eyes of Mets fans.
“When you consider he didn’t make the club that first year and had to go to Triple-A Buffalo and … all the things he has been forced to deal with in his life,” said manager Terry Collins, “you can begin to understand why the fans love him and why his teammates love him. He is a special kind of person and quite frankly, I have never seen anything like it in all my years of baseball.”
Nobody has seen anything like this. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Dickey has had five straight starts of no earned runs and eight-plus strikeouts or more which nobody — I repeat, nobody — has done in the history of baseball. And no Mets pitcher has ever been 10 games over .500 this early in the season.
For Dickey, it’s rarefied air indeed. For Met fans, it’s a magic carpet ride — and they’re savoring every moment of it. Stories like Dickey’s are what makes baseball timeless and the greatest sport in the world.
Will Dickey finish with 20 wins and over 200 Ks? Be heard in the comments below!