Monday, September 24, 2012

The Dickey Show

A few years ago, I wrote about The Santana Show, the instance where the game was completely taken over by Johan Santana. Other such pitchers to command this attention have included (but are not limited to) Pedro Martinez (who could also steal the show even when he wasn't pitching) and Dwight Gooden. The Mets have a new showstopper these days, a bright light and a drawing card even in the most miserable of stretches. It is, obviously, R.A. Dickey.

Despite having been to 14 games to this point in the season, I'd only managed to catch Dickey once during his magnificent season, way back in April, a game in which he faced off with Mark Buehrle and the Mickey Mouse Marlins, and won handily. The win was Dickey's 3rd of the year. 15 wins later, he was on the mound Saturday, against the very same Mark Buehrle and the significantly neutered Marlins, a team that has proven themselves so inept they managed to make the Mets look good. With a rare off day, and nothing planned, and with the final home game of the season plunked on a day I'm unable to go, I realized I had to get out to Citi Field so I could watch and appreciate R.A. Dickey one final time this year. I scoured StubHub in search of a deal, but it seemed I wasn't the only one who realized that the opportunities to see Dickey were fleeting. True, it could have been the hordes of people who came with dogs, or the kids out to see the latest incarnation of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, but deep down, it had to be Dickey. After weeks of seeing tickets on sale for a pittance, this game appeared to be selling rather well for a late September affair. Nonetheless, I snagged a seat in the Excelsior level and dashed off to the game. I paid to see Dickey pitch and win, and although it was hairy at the end, I got what I paid for.

Dickey did what he's done all season in mastering the Marlins, beating them for the 5th time this season. Buoyed by a pair of Home Runs from Jason Bay and Scott Hairston, Dickey settled in and took control of the game. The Marlins mounted a couple of thinly-veiled threats, but each time, Dickey responded by fluttering the Knuckleball around and getting out of the jam, twice retiring Jose Reyes to end the inning and delight the fans in attendance. Dickey also helped himself out at the plate, butcher boy-ing a hit (that was scored an error) in the 5th to move along a rally to plate a 4th run, and bringing the crowd to its feet by nearly hitting a grand slam in the 6th inning that was robbed on an excellent catch by Bryan Peterson at the wall. By the 9th, with Dickey in command and the crowd chanting his name, it appeared he was in line for yet another shutout win. But, the Marlins intervened by reaching him for a walk and a double, and he was pulled from the game. Jon Rauch came in and nearly drove all of Mets-dom off a cliff, by giving up a 3-run Home Run and then allowing the tying run on base. With 2 outs, I couldn't help but flash back to Wednesday's debacle as Gorkys Hernandez fouled off several two-strike pitches. But, unlike Ryan Howard, Hernandez ultimately struck out, and everyone was all smiles.

It appears that the Marlins, who look every bit as bad as their record, were the right antidote for the Mets. After beating them again yesterday, the Mets had managed to nearly double their number of home victories since the All Star Break, and they swept the Marlins for the third time this season. The Mets will also close out their season in Miami next week. It's little solace in the big picture, but it's nice to beat up on a team that's stuck it to the Mets so many times, and has fallen flat on their faces even worse than the Mets have, after an offseason spending spree. If only the Mets could have played the Marlins more often. We might not be in the mess we're in right now.

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