I’ve been so down on this team lately. So much so that it’s even effected my outlook on non-baseball matters. Everything just feels so drab. Yesterday, I found myself trying to find ways to transcend my negativity into something positive – if only to spare myself from two more weeks of this agonizing final month of the Mets baseball season. The answer was right in front of me all along.
R.A. Dickey still gives us a reason to watch and something to rally around. His baseball career was fraught with many, many seasons full of turmoil and disappointment until it all finally came together for him at the age of 35 and in the most unlikely of places – the floundering New York Mets. Dickey is a testament to the power of patience and persistence – two important qualities one needs to survive as a Mets fan.
When Dickey takes the mound tonight against the Phillies at Citi Field, I’ll be watching and rooting for him to get that 19th victory of the season. His Cy Young quest has replaced any hopes I had for this team to win a wild card spot this season. For almost half a season we owned that spot, but like all teams the injuries soon followed and we had neither the depth to address them, or the willingness in our front office to get help from outside the organization. In a sense our season had come to an end on July 31st. One player who refused to go down without a fight was R.A. Dickey. While most of the team began to succumb to the non-response for help, Dickey kept forging ahead. In truth, Dickey should be searching for win number 23 tonight instead of 19, if not for an offense that scored just five runs for him in six of his no-decisions or losses.
John Harper of the Daily News wrote a wonderful column last week, so good in fact I’ve read it two more times this weekend. Harper is one of those 32 voters who will decide this year’s NL Cy Young Award winner and he had the opportunity to discuss Dickey’s candidacy with the others.
After two days of polling the voters who will decide the 2012 NL Cy Young Award, I can draw two conclusions — one should give R.A. Dickey encouragement; the other could give him extra incentive for his final four starts of the season.
Most significantly, the 12 voters I spoke to — out of 32 in all — were unanimous in saying the race is too close to call with nearly three weeks to go, and too close to even have a clear-cut favorite among four primary candidates: Dickey, Johnny Cueto, Gio Gonzalez and Clayton Kershaw.
As a result, the voters agree the last few starts for each pitcher could be crucial, perhaps coming down to the very last one.
The one thing often cited as a knock on Dickey has been his unorthodox pitch, the knuckleball. Many still seem unwilling to give it the respect it deserves. Even in this remarkable campaign Dickey is having, Tony La Russa saw fit to snub Dickey from participating in the All-Star Game. Harper says it goes beyond even that as at no time in baseball history has a knuckleballer ever won a Cy Young Award.
But according to Harper, some of those who will be casting their votes are not as neolithic as LaRussa regarding what Dickey has accomplished.
“It’s an absolute non-issue,” said Tim Brown of Yahoo.com. “For me, if he spit it out of his mouth and got big league hitters out, it wouldn’t matter. It’s all about performance.”
“If anything, it might help him,” said Jerry Crasnick of ESPN.com, “because he’s doing something out of the ordinary. I admire what he’s done with the knuckleball.”
“It’s about results, not velocity,” said Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. “If the Cy Young Award were just about who has the best pitch, wouldn’t Mariano Rivera have won it by now?”
Finally, another voter who preferred not to give his name said that anybody who has a knuckleball bias “is an idiot and should give up his right to vote.”
These comments give me hope that Dickey can bring the NL Cy Young Award home this season.
His strong efforts will not be disqualified, negated or ignored by some antiquated, unwritten rule that penalized knuckleballers and their solid performances in the past.
It seems baseball is evolving at least where the knucleball is concerned.
Good luck tonight, R.A.!