The best pitcher in baseball is ... R.A. Dickey?

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The best pitcher in baseball is ... R.A. Dickey?

From Comcast SportsNet
NEW YORK (AP) -- R.A. Dickey saved his career by cultivating a knuckleball. Now he's using it to rewrite the Mets' record book as baseball's most dominant pitcher. Dickey became the first major leaguer in 24 years to throw consecutive one-hitters and Ike Davis hit a grand slam to lead New York past the Baltimore Orioles 5-0 on Monday night. Coming off a one-hit gem at Tampa Bay last Wednesday, Dickey struck out a career-high 13 and allowed only Wilson Betemit's clean single in the fifth inning. He has not permitted an earned run in 42 2-3 innings, the second-longest stretch in club history behind Dwight Gooden's streak of 49 innings in 1985. "I don't really feel much more confident than I did the last couple years," Dickey said. "I've always felt like I have a pretty good knuckleball. I worked hard to do that." The previous pitcher to spin consecutive one-hitters was Dave Stieb for Toronto in September 1988, according to STATS LLC. The Mets said the last to match the feat -- or top it -- in the National League was Jim Tobin with the 1944 Boston Braves, according to research by the Elias Sports Bureau. Tobin tossed a one-hitter followed by a no-hitter. The 37-year-old Dickey (11-1) walked two and became the first 11-game winner in the majors, befuddling Baltimore with knucklers that ranged from 66-81 mph in a game that took just 2 hours, 7 minutes. He fanned the final two hitters and four of his last five, topping his previous career best of 12 strikeouts set Wednesday against the Rays. "Yeah, it's surreal," Dickey said. "You almost get emotional out there, especially that last hitter. You hear everybody, like one big heartbeat beating. That's the best way I could explain it." A longtime journeyman before joining the Mets in 2010, Dickey has won a career-best nine straight decisions and six consecutive starts. He is tied for the major league lead in ERA (2.00), strikeouts (103) and complete games (three). It was his fourth game this season with double-digit strikeouts, most in the majors, and the fifth of his career. The right-hander has an incredible 71 strikeouts and six walks in his last seven starts. "I'm going to leave it to you guys to explain it. I'm just going to try to be in the moment with it," said Dickey, a deeply religious deep thinker. Betemit's two-out single in the fifth ended Dickey's franchise-record streak of 13 hitless innings. "Do I have a chance to appeal that base hit? Did anybody dive for that ball? I got a bad view," Mets manager Terry Collins said, drawing laughs. The only blemish Wednesday night was B.J. Upton's infield single with two outs in the first, a high bouncer that third baseman David Wright tried to field with his bare hand. After the game, the Mets appealed the official scoring decision to Major League Baseball, asking the commissioner's office to review the play and consider whether Wright should be charged with an error, thus giving Dickey the team's second no-hitter this month. The appeal was denied and Dickey said he was relieved, explaining that there would have been "an asterisk by it bigger than the no-hitter itself." The only active knuckleballer in the majors, Dickey has a 1.21 ERA and 88 strikeouts during his nine-game winning streak. It was his fifth career shutout and second this season, both in June. Pretty amazing for a guy who relies on a seemingly uncontrollable pitch that he throws harder and with more precision than just about anyone else who's made a living on it. "He has no wild pitches this year. That's impressive," Baltimore slugger Adam Jones said. "He's in a groove." The Mets said Dickey has made five straight starts with no earned runs allowed and at least eight strikeouts, the longest streak in major league history, according to Elias. One of the people Dickey can thank for his incredible success story is Orioles manager Buck Showalter, who was instrumental in persuading the pitcher to remake himself into a knuckleballer when both were with the Texas Rangers. "He had every attribute of a major league pitcher except the arm," Showalter said, his thoughts then turning to the fact that his team was about to face Dickey. "I wish it hadn't happened." After the game, Dickey said he would be remiss not to thank Showalter. "You know, and this is a tip of the hat to him: It was fairly poetic, I thought. The last game he saw me pitch live I gave up six home runs and tied a modern-day major league record," Dickey said. "It's really incredible." A member of the 1996 U.S. Olympic team and a first-round draft pick out of Tennessee, Dickey was devastated when the Rangers reduced their signing-bonus offer from more than 800,000 to 75,000 after they discovered during a physical that he was missing a major ligament in his pitching elbow. Undeterred, perseverance got him to the big leagues anyway. When he failed, the knuckleball brought him back. Committed to his craft, Dickey enlisted the help of former knuckleballers like Charlie Hough and Hall of Famer Phil Niekro. Along the way, teammates and fans were introduced to his unique personality: A voracious reader, Dickey climbed Mount Kilimanjaro in January to raise money for charity and released an autobiography that revealed suicidal thoughts and the sexual abuse he endured as a child. He's even featured in a documentary film called "Knuckleball." Dickey made his mark at the plate on Monday, too, sparking New York's big rally with a leadoff single in the sixth against Jake Arrieta (3-9). Jordany Valdespin doubled with one out and Dickey had to scramble back to third after he initially broke the wrong way on Wright's lineout to shortstop. The pitcher barely beat the throw with a headfirst dive, which turned out to be a crucial play. Lucas Duda walked and Davis hit the next pitch just to the left of center for his seventh home run of the year and first career slam. Valdespin tripled off Kevin Gregg in the eighth and scored on Wright's single. The Mets, who lead the NL with seven shutouts, had lost three straight and nine of 13.

TOMBOY: Q&A with CSN Chicago's Siera Santos

TOMBOY: Q&A with CSN Chicago's Siera Santos

BY SIERA SANTOS, CSN CHICAGO

What experience had the biggest impact on your life and career in sports and why?

I’m often asked why I chose to be in sports broadcasting and the answer is not exactly brief. Most people aren’t familiar with my backstory. While I prefer to tell it face-to-face, here it is in a nutshell: Throughout high school, I had a lot of “problems” (that’s the gentle way of putting it).

I didn’t graduate and instead got my GED while I was in a treatment center in Utah. That summer when I returned home to Arizona, I needed a healthy distraction and, although I had always been a casual Arizona Diamondbacks and Phoenix Suns fan, I started watching games every day and reading the sports section with my dad over our morning cup of coffee. When the NBA season started, I begged my dad for season tickets. This was the Nash/Stoudemire/Marion Era and tickets were incredibly expensive. While we didn’t get season tickets that year, we went to several regular season and playoff games. 

Next season rolled around and, once again, I pleaded with my dad to get us season tickets. He finally broke down and bought a half-season package. We went to nearly every other game. I knew at that point that I wanted to go to games for the rest of my life.

I enrolled in community college for the spring with my heart set on getting a degree in broadcast journalism. Not only did Suns games change the course of my future, it also repaired my relationship with my dad.

CSN TOMBOYELEVATING THE DISCUSSION OF GENDER AND SPORTS

Who’s had the biggest impact and why?  

It’s difficult to single out one person. 

Obviously my parents' unwavering support got me where I am today. If I had to name someone who is currently a mentor-figure in my life, it would definitely be Jesse Sanchez from MLB Network. He always checks in to make sure I’m OK (in both my career and personal life) and he’s given me invaluable feedback and advice.

There aren’t many Latinos working in sports media at national level and he encourages me to embrace who I am.

What are some of the funniest moments you’ve experienced as a woman in sports?

When I tell people I’m a sports broadcaster, the immediate follow-up question tends to be: “Oh, so you like sports?” It’s tough to not respond with something sarcastic so I usually say, “Nope! I hate them!” I just don’t think it’s a question that you would ask a man in sports broadcasting. 

What was the most negative moment you’ve experienced? The one that got you fired up or perhaps made you think about quitting.

Overall, most of my interactions are very positive and the majority of athletes are professionals.

But I did have an issue with one player who was unbelievably disrespectful. He had been inappropriate on two previous occasions and I dreaded having to crowd around his locker to do interviews with him after games.

I stopped asking him questions and after one of the scrums, he said: “If you’re not going to ask any questions, move your ass to the back.”

My cameraman was still rolling and the mic was still hot. It was caught on video. Eventually, the issue was resolved with the support of my superiors. However, the entire ordeal was embarrassing and made my job more difficult.

CSN TOMBOY: Q&A WITH CSN CHICAGO'S LEILA RAHIMI

Have you had any teachable moments? i.e. someone made an ignorant comment, but had no idea you were offended – until you said something?

Double-checking the pronunciation of names that I’m not familiar with has been a priority. If you slip-up on a name, viewers will crucify you. Most male broadcasters will be forgiven for a mispronunciation, but it’s not necessarily the same for women.

Any awkward moments?  

Whenever an athlete crosses the line and tries to be flirtatious or ask for a date.

It doesn’t happen as often as you’d think, but it’s still uncomfortable. 

What are you most proud of?

I’m often asked “Well, what’s next?” The truth is, I’m very happy with where I am. My end goal was to be a team reporter for a regional sports network and that’s exactly what I’m doing. I live in an amazing city and I love what I do. After I dropped out of high school, I never thought I would make it this far, much less graduate college. I’m incredibly grateful to be here and I’m proud of where I am.

A lot of girls look up to you and aspire to be on TV covering sports...What is the most important message you want to send to them?

Be someone that people enjoy working with and being around. Always be open to feedback. Don’t be afraid to ask questions if you’re not 100% sure. Oh, and don’t post anything on social media that you wouldn’t want your grandma to see.

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Game 60: Capitals vs. Oilers game time, how to watch, open thread

Game 60: Capitals vs. Oilers game time, how to watch, open thread

After bouncing back from a two-game losing streak to defeat the Flyers on Wednesday night, the Capitals return home looking to put together another winning streak on Friday against the Oilers.

With NHL phenom Connor McDavid in town to face Alex Ovechkun and the Caps, the late February game has some added buzz to it.

What: Washington Capitals vs. Edmonton Oilers

Where: Verizon Center, Washington, D.C.

When: 7:00 p.m. ET. (Capitals GameTime live from Verizon Center airs at 6:00 p.m.ET)

How to Watch: Capitals vs. Oilers will be broadcast on CSN Mid-Atlantic. (Channel Finder)

Live Stream: You can watch the Capitals vs. Oilers game on the NBC Sports live stream

WHEN IS THE CAPITALS VS. OILERS GAME?

The Capitals (40-12-7) take on the Oilers (33-20-8) Friday, Feb. 24 at 7:00 p.m. ET at Verizon Center

WHAT CHANNEL IS THE CAPITALS VS. OILERS GAME ON?

The Capitals vs. Oilers game will be broadcast on CSN Mid-Atlantic. A special, one-hour live edition of Capitals GameTime from Verizon Center will begin at 6:00 p.m. ET, with Capitals Extra following the game. 

CAPITALS-OILERS OPEN THREAD

Use the comment section below to discuss the game action with other Capitals fans. 

For all the latest Caps coverage, follow Capitals Insider Tarik El-Bashir, Capitals Digital Producer JJ Regan and the CSN Capitals account on Twitter. Be sure check out our Capitals page and CSN's Facebook page.

Keep up with all the action here with Capitals GameZone and join in on the conversation here with Capitals Pulse.