Perfection Only Thing Eluding R.A. Dickey

Mets appealing scorer's ruling on the only hit Dickey allowed

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    Plenty to smile about, even without a no-hitter.

    Each individual piece of the R.A. Dickey story makes sense on its own, but you run into trouble when you pile them all together into one body.

    The 37-year-old knuckleballer without a ligament in his elbow bounced around the major leagues for years before finally settling with the Mets where he wrote a searingly honest New York Times best-seller. That's a lot of back story before you even throw in his quick wit, love of science fiction and the fact that he climbed Kilamanjaro during the offseason.

    All of that is so unbelievable that it would actually make sense if he got credited with a no-hitter well after the end of a game on the same night that Matt Cain pitched a perfect game in San Francisco.

    Dickey allowed just one hit in Wednesday night's 9-1 win over the Rays and that hit was controversial enough for Terry Collins to say that the team would appeal the scorer's decision to the league.

    It was a slow roller that went under the glove of David Wright in the bottom of the first inning, long before anyone was thinking about Dickey's chances of no-hitting the Rays. Everyone was thinking about his push for the Mets' all-time scoreless streak, set by Jerry Koosman many a moon ago, and the fact that B.J. Upton was stranded after a single meant very little to anyone.

    Dickey got that record after getting through the eighth with a shutout to give him 32.2 scoreless innings in a row and that was the same moment when everyone realized Upton's hit meant something. The Rays hadn't just been shut out, they'd been held off the basepaths altogether and Dickey was that one slow roller away from taking a no-hitter into the ninth.

    You can forgive everyone for being distracted because while Dickey was doing what's become routine, Ike Davis was showing more signs of life. He had two hits, both off the lefty David Price, and he's starting to look eerily like the player who once filled Mets hearts with thoughts of a superstar career to come.

    That's not enough to make it his night, but it's nice to know that a .200 batting average isn't far away from Davis. Anything can happen in a world where Dickey is on the short list of Cy Young candidates.

    Dickey got through the ninth without a hit, although not without a run. Wright threw a ball away with Elliot Johnson at the plate, leading to two passed balls and a groundout that pushed the run across in a fashion normally reserved for high school games.

    It was just about as close to perfect as a pitcher can be without actually being perfect. Dickey walked none, hit none and struck out a career-high 12 as he cruised through another start with an ease that belies everything we know about baseball.

    Knuckleballers are supposed to be unpredictable and they are supposed to be prone to getting shelled, but teams can't even hit Dickey. A good story has turned into a great pitcher who is turning in one of the best seasons of any pitcher in baseball.

    That season isn't likely to include a retroactive no-hitter since Bud Selig probably won't change the decision when it has such big implications. While it would make a fitting entry in the big book of baseball wonder that Dickey is authoring this season, the messiness of Wednesday's one-hitter fits just fine all by itself. 

    After all, Dickey's story is not a tidy one where things always work out for our hero. It is one of quixotic searches and unexpected success that is still being written every fifth day.

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    Josh Alper is a writer living in New York City. You can follow him on Twitter and he is also a contributor to Pro Football Talk.