Heading into this season R.A. had a 14-22 record and 6.30 ERA in 48 career starts. The nicest thing that could be said of his career numbers were centered about the promise he showed while working out of the Mariner’s bullpen in 2008, when he posted a 2.oo ERA in 36 relief innings.
This year, however, the legend of R.A Dickey has reached epic proportions. There are feel good stories that shine brightly and then burn out as quickly as they’re ignited, and then there’s the story of R.A.’s 2010 season. It’s simply a story from different book, off a different shelf, from a library on another planet. He allowed 2 ER or less in 17 of his 27 starts with 2 complete games – including a 1 hitter against the Philadelphia Phillies – and with 6 straight wins (5/25-6/23) he even became the first Mets pitcher in franchise history to win his first 6 decisions. His story book season concluded with a career high 11 wins and an “R.A.diculous” 2.86 ERA:
When you listen to the funky knuckler in his post-game interviews you hear a man who is accountable, who is a fighter, and refreshingly humble. After his last start of the season this past Tuesday Dickey had this to say:
I’ve always felt like I was cable of doing that with the pitch that I threw and the condition I keep my body in, I feel likethat’s what I had to offer if I was given the opportunity. Its nice to be able to say I was given the opportunity and I did something with it. It’s very humbling…My hope is to be back because I feel like this is a place that has been very good to me. And its been reciprocated…People in the stands can probably relate. They probably think they can get out there and throw 75 mph and get people out. There is a connection there. They probably can relate to me. … It’s hard to throw Bobby Parnell‘s 102 mph, but everybody can throw a knuckleball.”
Words such as that are part of what makes it impossible not to cheer for him when he’s on the mound. But there’s more to it and much more to Dickey. You’ve seen him. Scruffy, even a little unkempt. It’s doubtful you’d ever see him in an Armani suit and even less doubtful that he would even want one. He shows up for work and toils at his craft and doesn’t look particularly pretty doing what he does. Whether by intellect or guile or outright trickery he gets it done. He pretty much has to because, like us, he has a family to support and like us, that, not glory, is what drives him. When recently asked if he had any regrets this year he spoke only of not having his family around to enjoy the experience with him, not about a particular poor start or the disappointment of a losing season. You know this guy. When you see him you feel like maybe there was a chance you could do what he’s doing. You see him and realize that it really isn’t always about super talent – it’s also about perseverance and that refusal to surrender. It’s about knowing the difference between being beaten and being defeated. It’s about understanding and appreciating when you’ve been fortunate. It’s about trying your best – always – and always believing what a wise man once said “I don’t think I’m better than you, I just know you’re not better than me.” We know that guy because he’s us. He’s everyman, He’s R.A. Dickey, Lunch Pail Pitcher.
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