Who’s afraid of Dickey’s knuckleball? Not Eli

Not many batters want a piece of R.A. Dickey these days. But there’s always one brave soul who thinks he can dominate the New York Mets’ knuckleballing pitcher who has thrown back-to-back one-hitters.

That brave soul happens to be another New York sports hero – Giants quarterback Eli Manning.

Manning, who threw out the first pitch at Citi Field on Father’s Day prior to Dickey putting the Baltimore Orioles on ice, said he talked to Dickey about taking some hacks against him.

“I asked him if I could get up there and he could throw me a few knuckleballs,” Manning told reporters Tuesday. “I just wanted to see what it looked like. But we didn’t have quite enough time.”

Manning probably should be grateful. Few professional hitters are having success against Dickey, who is 11-1 with a 2.00 ERA and whose next start comes Sunday against the Yankees and their ace, CC Sabathia.

Besides, if Manning wants to look foolish at his own expense, he can always return to “Saturday Night Live,” where Lorne Michaels and staff will be glad to accommodate him.

■ NEW COACH, NEW DUDS – The Charlotte Bobcats are trying hard to revamp their image after posting the worst season in NBA history at 7-59.

Not only did owner Michael Jordan finally get around to hiring a new coach in Mike Dunlap, whose last full-time stint as a head coach came at Division II Metro State in Denver in 2006, the Bobcats have unveiled new uniforms for the 2012-13 season that say “CATS” across the home jersey.

But we all know what Charlotte really needs, and that’s new players. The Bobcats essentially were a D-League team playing in the NBA this past season. And new coaches and new unis are not going to change that.

Of course, maybe a new owner might be the answer for the 48 people who would swear on a stack of Bibles that they’re Bobcats fans. But don’t look for that to happen anytime soon.

■ WHERE’S THE BEEF? OUT! – Despite a 6-8 record in the Indoor Football League, the Omaha Beef qualified for the postseason.

But after seeing the Beef was going to face first-place Sioux Falls, which beat the Beef 59-20 a week earlier, the IFL, which owns the Omaha franchise, decided it would be a waste of money to send the team to South Dakota and see the Beef go through back-to-back butt-whippings.

Instead, the league promoted Lehigh Valley into the fourth spot for Saturday’s playoff game.

As for the Beef? Supposedly the players and coaches are stewing over the decision, and a few probably would like to grind interim IFL commissioner Robert Loving into hamburger. Instead, the team will be placed in a dry aging room until a new butcher – er, owner – can be found.

And if the IFL has any insane notions about putting a team in Las Vegas, don’t bother. We have plenty of restaurants that serve beef and plenty of failed football franchises that lacked cabbage, thank you.


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