Two different ex-Mets become two different Braves

The Braves get a pitcher/acrobat by signing Bartolo Colon (lower left) . . .

The Braves get a pitcher/acrobat by signing Bartolo Colon (lower left) . . .

The rebuilding Braves decided a little senior leadership on the mound was what their budding pitching corps needs. So they signed the two oldest active major league pitchers this week. R.A. Dickey, the knuckleball specialist and erstwhile Cy Young Award winner (2012), signed for one year and $8 million guaranteed. And Bartolo Colon has signed for one year and $12.5 guaranteed.

Both signings ensure the Braves’ younger arms will be mentored by former Mets. If they happen to win some games while they’re at it, that’s a plus. But you won’t find two pitchers who left the Mets in more differing conditions when they did leave.

Season on!

Take that, Donaldus Minimus!!

Take that, Donaldus Minimus!!

Let history record that the first run batted in of the 2016 season was delivered by a pitcher. At the plate. A pitcher who’d had only three runs batted in in his entire career (nine seasons) prior to last year, when he drove in seven. And his name wasn’t Madison Bumgarner.

Let history record further that Clayton Kershaw was the beneficiary of the worst Opening Day blowout in major leaguer history a day later. And, that Bryce Harper rocked the best postgame cap around the circuits. So far.

Let the intrigues begin in earnest . . .

They barely have the streets swept clean following the Kansas City Royals’ World Series parade, and the off-season intrigues have begun in earnest. OK, a couple began when it barely began sinking in that the New York Mets had blown a Series they actually could have won, or when Don Mattingly left the Los Angeles Dodgers and became the Miami Marlins’ new manager. But let’s start looking:

Rios, who forgot how many outs there were when he caught this Game Four fly . . .

Rios, who forgot how many outs there were when he caught this Game Four fly . . .

The Royals need their diapers changed

Boys will be boys, but little by little, piece by piece, the Kansas City Royals seem determined to prove they can set a record for going from Cinderella boys one season (2014) to public enemy number one with their dirty diapers the next. If their weekend in Toronto is any suggestion, losing two of three to the Jays won’t prove half as significant as will the Royals finishing 2015 as either the single most hated team in baseball or one of the top three.

One milestone achieved without tragedy or scandal

Four thousand, the scandal and tragedy-free way . . .

Four thousand, the scandal and tragedy-free way . . .

That was no ordinary heave of admiring relief Wednesday night when Ichiro Suzuki swatted his way into a club whose membership now numbers six but includes only one who achieved his membership on international terms. The last time someone passed a milestone in that range or higher, it was achieved with tragedy underwriting it and scandal to follow in due course.

The Mets Let Dickey Be Trashed On His Way to Toronto

The Mets didn't lift a finger when Dickey's character was assassinated on his way to Toronto . . .

The Mets didn’t lift a finger when Dickey’s character was assassinated on his way to Toronto . . .

At least the Texas Rangers, so far, haven’t seemed to go out of their way to turn Josh Hamilton into public enemy number one. The New York Mets, conversely, seemed unwilling to counter when a New York sports columnist decided to trash R.A. Dickey during a weekend on which the club was working details to trade the Cy Young Award incumbent to the Toronto Blue Jays.

R.A. Dickey’s Second Mountaintop

Twenty the hard way . . .

Describing the performance of 37-year-old Sal Maglie—longtime New York Giants nemesis turned Brooklyn Dodgers pennant-race saviour—on the rear end of Don Larsen’s World Series perfect game, Peter Golenbock (in Bums) wrote, “It was a special performance by a great pitcher in the twilight of his career.” On Thursday afternoon, New York Mets fans, who’ve had little enough to cheer since the All-Star break, got to cheer a special performance by a pitcher who taught himself how to be great when he was approaching Maglie’s 1956 Series age.

Tough Means Sometimes Having to Say You’re Sorry

Collins, the man the Red Sox probably only wish they’d hired instead of you-know-whom . . .

If you want to know the best reason why New York Mets manager Terry Collins isn’t anywhere close to the proverbial hot seat, and why Boston Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine may be lucky to escape with his life when the season ends, you need look no further than what Collins did after a gruesome enough loss to the Philadelphia Phillies Thursday and before a blessed enough win against the Miami Marlines Friday.

Dickey Floats On–First 18-Game Winner . . .

The New York Mets aren’t playing for anything but pride, now. One source of pride: R.A. Dickey, who just became the first in Show to win his eighteenth, a nifty 5-2 conquest of the St. Louis Cardinals Wednesday afternoon.

Floating along . . .

It almost doesn’t matter whether Dickey pitches on the road, as he did Wednesday, or at home this season. His splits are nearly dead-even. His strikeouts-per-nine differential between Citi Field and the great beyond is -1.1—he gets one more strikeout away. He’s a little more hittable on the road (sixteen more hits away; a mere 37 points higher in the batting average against him), but his defence is a little more potent at home. (The batting average on balls in play against him is 59 points higher on the road.)

Keeping Cole, and other keepers . . .

Apparently, the Phillies have ramped up their bid to keep Cole Hamels. That’s the word from Jayson Stark of ESPN, anyway.

No movement for Hamels?

[C]lubs that have been speaking with the Phillies say the team has essentially put trade talks on hold and have been much more focused on signing the 28-year-old left-hander than on dealing him before the deadline.

“They want to sign him, and that’s their priority,” said an official of one club who spoke with the Phillies’ brass this week. “They’re really not even entertaining (trade) offers at this point.”