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A Strange One in Smyrna

Win or lose, the 2017 Mets are exhausting.

They didn’t win [1] tonight — Matt Harvey [2]‘s poor location, lousy relief, Freddie Freeman [3]‘s ubiquitous bat and annoyingly good baseball played by Ender Inciarte [4], Brandon Phillips [5] and Nick Markakis [6] took care of that — but they made it interesting, with Jay Bruce [7]‘s grand slam making it 9-7. Dare I say they … battled? Whatever you want to call it, it wasn’t enough and left me grumbling and grousing about tack-on runs that I’d shrugged off a few innings earlier.

I’m tired, you’re tired, reinjured Travis d’Arnaud [8] is tired, poor Kurt Suzuki is definitely tired. Which means your recapper is going to seek shelter in those friends of the weary, the bullet points:

My instinctive dislike for the Braves and most everything around them is tempered, however, when I catch sight of R.A. Dickey [14] or Bartolo Colon [15] in the enemy dugout. Bartolo requires no reminder, but I still find myself shaking my head and smiling at the idea of Dickey ever existing in our baseball universe.

Besides the fact that he was the only Metsian thing worth discussing for a long time, he just seemed made-up, like a collective fever dream of the Mets blogosphere that — come to think of it — was also at its peak then. He dissected the physics of knuckleballs, loved Star Wars and other dorky stuff that I love, read honest-to-God books, and was thoughtful about his sport and himself. He was like a W.P. Kinsella character who heaved himself out of the page, looked around and decided to stay.

One night Greg and I were part of a group of bloggers invited to chat with Dickey in the dugout before a game and I couldn’t bring myself to say anything. It wasn’t that I was star-struck, just that Dickey didn’t need any input from me to generate something interesting. I was more than content to watch and listen — and found myself simply and thoroughly happy that somehow, against all odds, he was ours.

The trade to Toronto rankled, not so much for the deal itself (which seemed pretty good at the time and has of course turned out to be a reverse-Fregosi heist) but because Dickey left with the usual anonymously wielded Mets knife in the back, another franchise malady that’s spanned multiple managers and front offices and so … hmm.

I watched him from afar for a bit, mildly mournful that his magic seemed to have evaporated in the foreign realms of turf, Canada and the American League. But that connection faded, as it does, and my first reaction at learning Dickey and Colon would be united against us was annoyance — the amusement and affection took a little longer to arrice.

“I hope they both win 25 and the Braves go 50-112,” I opined at the time. Neither of those things is going to happen, and I neglected to account for how many of those wins would come at our expense. But when a Mets loss is an R.A. Dickey win, it hurts a little less.