Introduction: The RA Dickey Article
I have wanted to write a RA piece for about a week now, but found myself finger MacBook pressing other baseball thoughts – so instead I’ve just sat on this knuckleball idea.
I decided to Google me some RA notes and discovered Richard Griffin over at the Toronto Star beat me to it, in Griff fashion, with his ‘NL East Fits Dickey Like A Glove’ baseball column, which is a good read – so I’ve been beaten to the knuckleball punch.
When I discovered the Griff’s RA memorial, it reminded me of a moment I had last week while I was sitting on my porch at 6:30am with my coffee and morning thoughts. I was thinking about all things ‘spit in the can’ in the baseball world and then *shazam* K-OS’s (a mid 2k Canadian Hip Hopper) song Crabbuckit climbed into my mind (and no I’m not a fan of his music, so, yes, very oddly random). So I tried to kick his shit crabs out of my morning bucket and enjoy my ‘peace in mind’ time before the morning rush.
I sipped my last sip of ‘wake the fuck up’ juice and went back into the old Toronto abode, and what do I walk in to hear playing on my girlfriend’s CBC 2 radio while she puts on her superwoman work gear? Yup, K-OS’s Crabbuckit. Well, that’s the same feeling I got when I stumbled upon Griff’s RA article (and note that Sportsnet recently wrote one too). It was a real Twin Peaks kind of moment – I will not give the quick pop culture strike on this one, you should just know.
Are you ready to knuckle up?
It’s clear that the NY Mets won the December 12, 2012 trade that sent NL Cy Young winner R.A. Dickey, Josh Thole and Mike Nickeas to the Blue Jays in exchange for Travis d'Arnaud, Noah Syndergaard, John Buck and Wuilmer Becerra. The Mets then used John Buck as a flip piece, in August 2013, by sending him and Marlon Byrd to the Pirates for infield prospect Dilson Herrera and Vic Black. If AA had a third eye, he probably wouldn’t have made the trade – but at the time it was a risk worth taking.
My colleague ‘Cynical J’ argues that the Dickey trade is the worst in Toronto Blue Jays history, and maybe he’s right – it’s a moot ‘office chat’ topic. But whatever your feelings are towards RA, he did spend 4-years in the Blue Jays organization, was an inning eater, and durable - there is a lot to miss about him. His overall Toronto numbers weren’t what the Jays Zealots hoped for with his 49 wins compared to his 52 losses, and 4.05 ERA. However, there is a lot more to his Jedi knuckleball than just his baseball numbers, and that’s the magnetic factor behind the RA force.
Although most of us fans were nervous every five days when RA took the mound, it was fun to see what knuckleball magic he had that day. His signature pitch became an ongoing story line here in Toronto, and it was fucking awesome to listen to RA and his ‘gift of gab’ dissect his knuckleball in every post-game interview – his knuckleball became a Toronto 'HBO style' saga.
Now, let’s take a closer look at RA’s gift with words in Griff’s recent Dickey column, where the Jedi discusses what it was like pitching in the AL East:
“It was like being in a heavyweight boxing match where you survived all the rounds, you didn’t get knocked out,”
How can you not miss these Dickey baseball metaphors? This is what’s great about RA, he isn’t just a Bryce Harper type of baseball bro with ‘clown’ answers to ‘clown’ questions.
Dickey continues in Griff’s article to reflect on his AL East Steel Cage battles:
“You survived all the rounds, but you were pretty beaten up. And that’s what you have to accept when you’re in that (division). That’s part of it. That’s part of the gamesmanship, the preparation and the mental side of it. You know that going in. It wasn’t anything I didn’t expect, but it was a lot of hard competition.”
No other pitcher who has spent time in the AL East Steel Cage could’ve said it better. Griff’s article is a good read and if you're a fan of Dickey’s spoken word, I encourage you to read it.
I also decided to check in on the old Jedi in an Atlanta Google search to read some more RA spoken word. In doing so, I tripped over an article written on Monday, February 27th by Michael Cunningham from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution where Dickey discusses his spring training 2017 knuckleball. Let’s take a look at how RA feels about his dancing ball after pitching two innings against the Tigers earlier in the week:
“I would take that knuckleball into the regular season right now. If it’s good, it’s good. It doesn’t matter when in the spring. Good ones are good ones. It’s just a matter of repeating that for 100 pitches.”
So RA’s feeling good about his Jedi pitch – so that’s good. It’s also good to see that RA is happy. I think it’s fitting for the Dickey narrative to have his career take him to Atlanta, which is pretty much home for him. It couldn’t have happened to a better guy. His knuckleball took him from the top of the Cy Young Apple in New York and then danced him to the big Toronto Smoke, which left him in an AL East Steel Cage, but it has quietly and gently brought him back to the land of the Brave in a NL East that he calls home. And there’s no place like it, so God-knuckleball-speed RA Jedi Dickey, you will be missed in Toronto - and your Atlanta beard game is spot on.
Enjoy your new Jedi, Braves Nation, because it's knuckle time: