R.A. Dickey and the “small cadre of knuckleball specialists”

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There’s a big feature story on R.A. Dickey in the Washington Post today. Some of it you’ve seen before — about his life, his book, and the fact that he may be “The Most Interesting Man in Baseball,” to quote the article.

But if you’re into knuckleball porn, this will be great for you:

Former Rangers knuckleball ace Charlie Hough worked with him extensively, showing him a new grip and a repeatable delivery, and he later got lessons from noted knuckleballers Phil Niekro and Tim Wakefield. The small cadre of knuckleball specialists acted very much as a fraternity. “There’s an instant bond because we’re the only ones who have walked a mile in each other’s shoes,” Dickey says.

It’s like some comic book superhero team or something. Love it.  Also love the closing line from Dave Sheinin:

The fastball isn’t a living thing; it’s a rock in a slingshot, a bullet. They don’t have a relationship; it’s a one-way street. The fastball guy may love his fastball, but without that shared history, without the trust built up through understanding each other’s needs, it will never love him back.

Good read.

Video: Albert Almora, Jr. saved by the ivy

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The ALCS had a weird play in Game 4 on Tuesday night, but Game 4 of the NLCS did as well. This one involved Cubs outfielder Albert Almora, Jr. and his attempt to spark a rally in the bottom of the ninth inning against Dodgers reliever Ross Stripling.

After Alex Avila singled, Almora ripped a double to left field, past a diving Enrique Hernandez. The ball rolled to the ivy in front of the wall. Most outfielders there would’ve put their hands up, which would have alerted the umpires to call an immediate ground-rule double. Hernandez didn’t, instead fishing the ball out and firing it back into the infield. Avila had stopped at third base, but Almora kept running. Much to his surprise, he pulled up into third base to see his teammate standing there, resigned to his fate as a dead duck. Third baseman Justin Turner applied the tag on Almora for what he thought was the first out of the inning.

Almora, however, was then sent back to second base after the umpires correctly called a ground-rule double.

Unfortunately for the Cubs, the lucky break didn’t help as closer Kenley Jansen came in and took care of business, retiring all three batters he faced without letting an inherited runner score. The Dodgers won 6-1 and now lead the NLCS three games to none. They’ll try to punch their ticket to the World Series on Wednesday.