R.A. Dickey’s Time to Shine is Now

By Matt Musico

Alright, it’s not as if R.A. Dickey hasn’t shined enough this year in his first 14 starts, but this is probably the biggest start for him so far in 2012. Not only is he facing the Yankees in their season series finale, he’s facing the ace of the Bomber staff in CC Sabathia, and it will be nationally televised on ESPN during primetime. This is the best time for Dickey and the Mets to show the rest of the baseball world that they’re for real and a team to be reckoned with this year.

Everyone has been surprised at the performance of the Mets this year, and most are shocked that they’ve been able to stay in contention for first place and the Wild Card spots with the highest bullpen ERA in the Majors. However, no one knows this team like the fans do; we can see the change in attitude this year compared to recent years. We know that this Mets team has the most heart we’ve seen since they were one swing from the World Series in 2006. Now is their chance to showcase what they have to offer to the baseball world, with most likely to be tuning in tonight to see one of the most hyped pitching matchups in 2012.

There were countless criticisms about the Mets during this past winter and spring. I just heard this week that

longtime Yankee announcer, Michael Kay, predicted that the Mets would only win about 50 games this season. Whether that was a joke or not, he had to believe that to broadcast it on national radio. Now, here we are, at the end of June, and the Yankees only have three more wins than the Amazins. Hm, go figure.

Thankfully, on baseball’s brightest regular season stage, the Mets are able to run out their pitcher, while on a historic run. R.A. Dickey is one of five pitchers in history to do what he’s done in 14 starts (11 wins, 2.00 ERA, 1.03 K/IP), and no pitcher in history has given up no earned runs and struck out 8 or more pitchers in five straight starts. He’s the lone knuckleballer left in the Majors now that Tim Wakefield has retired, but also is unlike any other knuckleballer any hitter has ever seen before.

That’s why I think the Yankees, and their fans, will be slienced tonight as Dickey makes a mockery out of the most powerful team in Major League Baseball. Will he continue to pitch the way he has over the last month? I can’t predict that, especially because what Dickey has been able to accomplish recently has been unpredictable. However, his unique style of pitching and how he uses his knuckleball will fool a lineup that hasn’t seen a knuckleball all year.

All year, the Mets have turned to Dickey and Johan Santana in times of need, asking them to stop a losing streak or go deeper into games to alleviate some pressure from the bullpen. Tonight, New York is asking for Dickey’s help once again, but this time, it’s different. Terry Collins is asking his starter to win tonight, but not because they’re on a losing streak. Yes, they lost last night, but two losses in a row won’t kill them (as we’ve seen); Collins is asking Dickey to put a W on the board to show everyone that this Mets team is for real, and they can come up big when the spotlight is on.

We’ll see what happens when Dickey flutters that first knuckleball to Derek Jeter at 8:00pm EST tonight, but I’m expecting R.A. to be on his game tonight and getting the Amazins back on track before facing the lowly Cubs. It’s refreshing to have this game tonight and knowing that our favorite team is no longer the laughingstock of baseball, like they have been in recent years. Let’s see how they answer the call.