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David Brown

He wouldn't leave: Mets' Dickey makes fierce plea to stay in game

Big League Stew

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New York Mets knuckleballer R.A. Dickey(notes) might be part Jack Russell Terrier.

Dickey stubbornly refused to leave in the sixth inning of the Mets' 1-0 loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers on Sunday afternoon, even though his manager, the team's trainer and the umpire insisted it was time.

Manuel wanted to remove his starting pitcher — despite being locked in a scoreless duel with Clayton Kershaw(notes) at the time — because Dickey appeared to injure his left leg on a follow-through earlier in the inning.

Pitchers often protest being taken out. I'd guess it happens to some degree in at least half of the games.

But it was the nature of Dickey's protest that was unusual. He did everything short of chain himself to the pitching rubber to stay out there. On Manuel's second visit (the first trip included the trainer, so Dickey wasn't bound by rule to leave), the discussion lasted more than 90 seconds. That's forever in mound talk time.

• First, Dickey tried talking Manuel into letting him stay.

• Then, he tried talking the trainer into letting him stay.

• When Manuel made the call to the pen, Dickey appeared to try talking umpire Dana DeMuth into letting him stay. Dickey appeared to be swearing at the world as he and the trainer walked back to the dugout.

The best part of the whole scene might have been watching the ump observe the conversation up close. Usually, umpires go out there to break up the talk, to keep a team from stalling for time, etc. But that's not what was happening. Good thing Joe West wasn't behind the plate.

"It seemed like (Manuel) was giving me a chance, but maybe my argument wasn't compelling enough. I don't know. But I definitely felt the compulsion to plead my case, and I did," Dickey said.

I think I get where Dickey is coming from

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A first-round pick of the Texas Rangers 14 years ago, Dickey never had sold major league teams — including the Mariners and the Twins — that he belonged. Only this season with the Mets, when Dickey turned 35 years old, has his knuckleball danced effectively enough to get outs consistently.

Dickey has compiled 1,283 minor league innings and he figures that's enough, so he'll do anything to stay. Right down to the game.

The Mets have been all over the place this season. They've played some inspiring ball, along with fits of the infuriating kind. Through it all, Dickey has been the team's most consistent player. In 13 starts, he's got a 2.55 ERA and a 1.20 WHIP.

And, I'm guessing, he's become one of the team's more popular players.

How can you not like a guy who throws a knuckleball, but with a look on his face like he's releasing hell?

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