After the anesthetizingly somnambulant performance put on by the New York Mets Saturday night (which is to say they induced sleep while appearing to be immersed in it), we certainly hope our starting pitcher is all refreshed and ready to go Sunday. His pregame ritual is very specific, but then again, we’d expect nothing less from our very own R.A. Dickey.
He will prepare for the strike zone of C.B. Bucknor.
He will talk strategy with Josh Thole as if he’s Tom Seaver going over signs with J.C. Martin.
He will work on bunting during his B.P. Session.
He will ask the clubhouse kid to get him his good luck sandwich, a piping hot B.K. Baguette.
He will slather it, as superstition dictates, with a healthy dose of K.C. Masterpiece.
He will wash it down as he always does, with an ice cold can of R.C. Cola.
He will laugh when he remembers that routine he caught on cable the other night from D.L. Hughley.
He will check his calendar and notice how close we are to the 65th anniversary of V.J. Day.
He will look into, once the Mets get back to Washington, making a visit to a V.A. Hospital.
He will be happy when he hears the vets’ stories that he never had to pull K.P. Duty.
He will be truly humbled by the valor all these veterans showed and fascinated at how so many of the older gentlemen benefited from the help provided by the G.I. Bill.
He will ask if anyone there goes back far enough to fill him in on the details of the daring rescue of the crew of the P.T. 109.
He will realize that next to warfare, baseball is easy, yet he still feels his nerves rattling when he hears his name over the P.A. System.
He will try to calm down by listening to a playlist that includes some of his favorite artists:
• B.B. King
• K.T. Tunstall
• k.d. lang
• T.G. Sheppard
• B.W. Stevenson
• R.B. Greaves
• O.C. Smith
• C.W. McCall
• Z.Z. Top
• And the Monkees — he really digs “D.W. Washburn”.
He will join a few of his younger teammates for a quick round of E.A. Sports.
He will excuse himself to catch up on the Sunday papers, particularly that op-ed piece by E.J. Dionne.
He will put aside for later another interesting column, this one by E.R. Shipp.
He will plan, on the flight to Atlanta, to catch up on the latest in cinema by reading some recent reviews from A.O. Scott.
He will consent, despite not generally talking to the media on days he pitches, to that brief Eyewitness News interview with N.J. Burkett.
He will think to himself that this guy’s no P.J. O’Rourke.
He will wryly mention to nobody in particular that on this team, August is the cruellest month…and wait in vain for somebody else to bring up T.S. Eliot.
He will wonder if he gets to the eighth inning whether he should push to complete the game considering Frankie Rodriguez is on the D.Q List.
He will wish, a little, that he could at least hand the ball to a healthy J.J. Putz.
He will then recall something he was told one offseason by J.P. Ricciardi.
He will understand anew, per the former Blue Jays general manager’s advice, that you always have to trust the pitcher who follows you to the mound, even if it’s some journeyman like C.J. Nitkowski.
He will reason that you have little control in this game over what happens to you, and that even a Mark McGwire can be traded for a T.J. Matthews.
He will keep to himself his disappointment in the Mets’ offense, cheering himself with the tradeoff that at least he’s no longer pitching in the D.H. League.
He will wish the Mets didn’t make their bats look like that toothpick hanging from the mouth of the old Royals shortstop, U.L. Washington.
He will rue, however, that when the Mets come up to hit, they look as lost as sea as Gilligan and the Skipper on the S.S. Minnow.
He’s not a drinking man, but he could see where this lack of support could drive a pitcher to seek out an A.A. Meeting.
He will eventually count his blessings and decide he’s pretty lucky to be a New York Met, pitch on the Citi Field mound and occasionally catch a glimpse of his face up on that enormous H.D. Screen.
He will nevertheless reckon that if he could do anything, he’d climb into a time machine like the one conceived by H.G. Wells.
He will wonder what it would have been like to begin his career with a right arm that would let him throw as hard as J.R. Richard.
He will settle for knowing he did make it as a pitcher and did get to put on real baseball shoes the way he dreamed when he was a youngster lacing up his P.F. Flyers.
He will chuckle at the recollection of watching major leaguers on television in his youth and thinking he’d love a chance to strike out a real, live hitter like R.J. Reynolds.
He will relive those moments in the minors, still watch big leaguers in motel rooms, still hoping for the chance to face even a utilityman along the lines of F.P. Santangelo.
He will accept that he never really had the leverage to hold out for a megabucks deal like J.D. Drew.
He will take a quick look at his marginally athletic physique and make no mistake that he ever had a chance to try two sports professionally like D.J. Dozier.
He will be glad, after glancing at SportsCenter, that he never went into football, lest he wind up bloodied à la some latter-day Y.A. Tittle.
He will admit to daydreaming now and then of possessing speed and strength enough to have been Most Valuable Player in a Super Bowl like O.J. Anderson.
He will cringe when he imagines being in the middle of those old highlight films, trying to evade the wrath of the Steel Curtain, and failing to avoid the onrushing fury of L.C. Greenwood.
He will forget, too, any hoops aspirations he ever held, leaving such endeavors to the likes of A.C. Green.
He will stick with baseball, thank you very much, even if it’s never as neatly scripted as in those movies, such as Eight Men Out with D.B. Sweeney.
He will scoff at the notion that he’s some mystical character emerging from a field of corn, invented to create conflict in a scene straight out of W.P. Kinsella.
He will persevere in a real-life business where front-office moves often baffle him…for example, what were the Diamondbacks thinking when they gave their manager’s job to A.J. Hinch?
He will resist the temptation to question his own manager, though sometimes he has curb the instinct to revisit that incident on the West Coast trip when Jerry Manuel took him out against the L.A. Dodgers.
He will conduct himself with dignity, unlikely to pick up on the pie-smashing tradition begun by A.J. Burnett.
He will fail to find the humor in that; who does that guy think he is — W.C. Fields?
He will field his position as best he can, even if he’ll never be confused defensively with J.T. Snow.
He will treat his opponent with respect, whether he’s going up against a soft-tosser like himself or a flamethrower like C.C. Sabathia.
He will match up today versus Bud Norris, but he won’t behave any differently than if he were facing one of the other Houston pitchers…say, J.A. Happ.
He will, win or lose, answer questions honestly after the game, even if the reporters who follow the Mets aren’t exactly H.L. Mencken.
He will explain how he pitched, though he sometimes believes the media is prone to treating its finer points like it’s the final exam in A.P. Calculus.
He will doubt it’s as complex as the kind of political science theory espoused by V.O. Key.
He will feel as if they are stretching to make him into a superhero, some kind of character from D.C. Comics.
He will be, no matter the result, just a baseball player, not someone who’s ever going to have a monument designed for him by I.M. Pei.
He will roll his eyes a bit at how he is treated as an oddity for having taken his education seriously, as if baseball doesn’t go with an M.A. Degree.
He will shake his head the next time somebody asks him what it’s like to be a ballplayer who reads, as if playing a game for a living doesn’t mean you can pass an I.Q. Test.
He will not obsess on his image and isn’t about to hire a P.R. Firm.
He will not put on act, for when it comes to acting, he knows he is no E.G. Marshall.
He will always be who he is and if they want someone with a greater sense of style, he will suggest they go dig up C.Z. Guest.
He will not exactly sit by the phone waiting for a call from G.Q. Magazine.
He will, in today’s game, attempt the kind of surgical precision demonstrated by his favorite M*A*S*H character, B.J. Hunnicut.
He will hope he doesn’t put so many runners on base that it comes to resemble one of the show’s classic O.R. Scenes.
He will quell his innate desire to fire fastballs and take no prisoners, even if deep down he fancies himself sporting a Mohawk haircut, a ton of jewelry and an attitude that would better fit B.A. Baracus.
He will remind himself that the Mets aren’t The A-Team and to stop pretending he’s living in an old issue of T.V. Guide.
He will enjoy the spotlight until the season ends, and then revert to civilian life and head home to Tennessee, though it might be fun before saying goodbye to New York for the winter to see some sights — maybe take the U.N. Tour.
He will, he supposes, always be the embodiment of that quote he read somewhere…“There is New York of the person who was born somewhere else and came to New York in quest of something” — E.B. White.
He will look forward to some time off, maybe gathering the family over the holidays and riding around in a beat-up V.W. Bus.
He will know he can afford a luxury camper now, but who has time to study for an R.V. License?
He will muse that it would be sweet to be out on the open road, tooling along, maybe listening to some X.M. Radio.
He will have to save those thoughts for another time, for he has to focus on the Houston Astros right now, and no matter where they are in the standings, it’s not like they’re some J.V. Team.
He will reassure himself that even without a pennant race, this is indeed the big time, and he’s come a long way from when he first got the attention of a coach in P.E. Class.
He will glance a copy of the updated scouting report on Astro tendencies as soon as it comes off the H.P. Printer.
He will grab his glove, pound it a few times and maybe loosen it up with a dab of W.D. 40.
He will, at last, head to the bullpen to warm up, heeding the words of e.e. cummings:
It takes courage to grow up and become who you really are.
He will be our very own R.A. Dickey, New York Met. And to us this season, he has been absolutely A-O.K.