Sunday, September 25, 2011

The Legend Of R.A. Dickey

In a season with many ups and downs, there has been one constant: R.A. Dickey.

When I look back at this season, he's been my favorite player. Come to think of it, I don't think there's a single Mets fan I've talked to who doesn't like the guy.

R.A. Dickey dressed as Darth Vader.
He's a Star Wars fan, so he can connect with the nerdier side of the fan base, he's climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro in the offseason for charity, I learn a new vocabulary word every time I watch him in an interview, and he just so happens to be a heck of a pitcher.

Dickey got his start in 2001 with the Texas Rangers, and has bounced around between the Majors and Minors until last season. It's been tough for Dickey throughout his career, but he finally found success in an unlikely place: New York.

New York, the big market town that will eat you alive if you let it.

Dickey's embraced the city though. He takes public transportation to Citi Field on occasion, and even the media loves him.

Who can forget the Mike Pelfrey quote incident in August, in which he stated that he didn't think the Mets had much of a chance this season.

Pelfrey was torn to shreds for his comments. Forgotten during this whole episode was that Dickey had made some harsh, yet true, comments about the team earlier in the season. He stated:
"We can’t just keep telling ourselves, 'Oh, we’re a better team than this.' We may not be. And we’ve got to be honest about that."
Were fans up in arms over Dickey's comments? No. Why? Because Dickey is one of those rare players who the fans respect enough to avoid the cliches and speak the truth.

Also, let's not forget that Dickey joined Twitter this year. His interactions with fans has made him even more popular. He answers questions, engages in some witty banter, and provides words of encouragement to fans after a Mets loss.

Now on to what has been the main cause for this surge in popularity: pitching.

The knuckleballer finished the 2010 season with an 11-9 record and 2.84 ERA. Jerry Manuel brought him in to pitch in the last game of the season just so the fans could see him one last time. It wasn't a smart move by Manuel managerial wise, but it goes to show what Dickey meant to the fans.

This season, the wins and losses haven't come easily. After getting off to a slow start, he finished this season with 12 consecutive quality starts and a 8-13 record with a 3.28 ERA. Wins and losses don't matter though. They don't take into account a lack of offensive support, injuries, and bullpen meltdowns. Dickey was this year's Johan Santana. The constant hard luck loser.

In his final game of the season, Saturday afternoon, Dickey carried a no-hitter into the seventh inning. I thought it was going to be the day the Mets finally threw a no-hitter. It was broken up, however, by a double from Shane Victorino.

Following Saturday's gem against the Phillies, Dickey told The Record's Steve Popper:
"I had a statistically okay season outside of wins and losses," Dickey said. "The things I was able to control I felt pretty good about this year. I was able to weather some early trouble in the season, pitch through a few injuries and put together a season.

"My whole hope since the beginning of the season, since the beginning of being a knuckleballer, is, can I be a trustworthy product? And so I think over the course of the last two seasons I think people may start to hopefully quit saying, 'When is the other shoe going to drop?' Hopefully they can embrace this is who I am. I know I certainly have."
Don't worry, R.A. We've embraced it, and we can't wait to see you next season.

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