The art of writing a good headline is difficult to master. There's a reason why article writers and columnists often aren't in charge of their own headlines. They aren't trained for it. They are trained to write at length, while it is the responsibility of the headline writer to capture a story -- with all of its peaks and valleys and nuance - in but a handful of words.
A bad headline can spoil an article. A good headline can set the mood just right. If a column were an entrée, its headline would be the key component of its presentation.
It's difficult to explain what makes a good headline so good but, much like obscenity, you know it when you see it.
In the game inspiring that headline, the New York Mets knocked off the Atlanta Braves 6-4 on Sunday night, with knuckleballer R.A. Dickey spinning eight excellent innings. With the win, the Mets took the series two games to one.
The awesome start was Dickey's second in a row, which is only notable because prior to these starts, Dickey was diagnosed with a torn plantar fascia in his foot. When diagnosed, Dickey had a 4.50 ERA and 35 strikeouts to 21 walks. Since then, he's allowed four runs in 15-2/3 innings, with 13 strikeouts and three walks.
On Sunday, Dickey had his knuckleball working as well as he ever has. He didn't allow a runner to reach scoring position until the fifth, he didn't throw a single pitch with multiple runners on, and the solo homer he allowed to Brian McCann in the seventh came when the Mets were up by six. Dickey was pulled after throwing 115 pitches, and lowering his ERA to 4.04.
He was supported by a solid offensive effort against Tim Hudson that got started early. The Mets scored twice in the first on an RBI double to the right-center gap by Carlos Beltran and a sac fly by Angel Pagan. They scored twice more in the second on a slap single to right by Justin Turner and a wild pitch that scored Jose Reyes just ahead of Hudson's tag.
Reyes doubled home another run in the fourth, and Ruben Tejada coaxed a bases-loaded walk out of reliever Cristhian Martinez in the fifth. The Mets wouldn't score again, but wouldn't need to. The Braves got to within two in the ninth when Diory Hernandez launched a pinch-hit three-run homer off Francisco Rodriguez, but Rodriguez struck out the next two batters he faced to end the game.
The Mets did have a scary moment in the second, when Beltran fouled a ball off of his leg. Beltran went down to the ground and was examined and later removed from the game, but x-rays were negative for any breaks, so Beltran seems to have escaped serious injury. He is considered day-to-day.
The loss dropped the Braves to 3-1/2 games behind the first-place Phillies. The Mets remain seven back, and have closed to within 3-1/2 of the third-place Braves. The Braves will next challenge the second-place Marlins, while the Mets take on the surging Brewers.