Updates have been infrequent around here lately, and we’re blaming that on two factors: last-minute training for Saturday’s Grandma’s Marathon and a shorthanded staff on the copy desk.
Still, we won’t make excuses … although we pretty much just did.
The premise for today’s rare post: R.A. Dickey.
R.A. Dickey, if you recall, pitched (almost exclusively) out of the bullpen for the Twins in 2009. He went 1-1 with a modest 4.62 ERA.
(Side note: 4.62 is hardly “modest” wherein earned-run averages are concerned. Instead, it tilts closer to “awful.” However, our standards obviously have been lowered given the recent struggles of Twins starters, many of whom would kill for a sub-5 ERA.)
Dickey has bounced around throughout his decade-long career. In fact, take a gander through the encyclopaedia, and you’ll see Dickey’s mug next to the word “journeyman.” That’s just the role he’s carved out for himself. Entering this season, his ERA was a shade north of 4, and his win-loss record in 10 MLB seasons was 41-50. How, then, do you explain these numbers: 10-1, 2.20?
That is Dickey’s 2012 record, followed by his make-you-look-twice ERA. To be fair, the knuckleballing right-hander has been pretty stinkin’ good since his departure from the Twins (aren’t they all?). He posted a 2.84 earned-run average in 2010, 3.24 in 2011. But this, his third season with the Mets, has been borderline unbelievable.
Dickey’s name is being thrown around in discussions of National League Cy Young candidates. He’s a leading contender to start the All-Star Game in mid-July. He’s the ace of a staff that has propelled the Mets into the thick of the NL East race — and said staff features a dazzling lefty by the name of Johan Santana.
Again, this is R.A. Dickey we’re talking about!
Now, if this were 2004, we’d all just write off this anomaly as a testament to the powers of science (think Roger Clemens “allegedly” benefiting from PEDs while winning a Cy Young at the age of, like, 64). But Dickey really wouldn’t benefit from a scientific boost, and those are much harder to come by these days. He’s a crafty knuckleballer, immune to the obsession with radar guns. Enhanced velocity — a presumed benefit of PEDs — wouldn’t matter a lick to Dickey, nor would being able to bounce back quicker following starts — another presumed benefit. Knuckleballers have rubber arms, where pitch counts and inning logs are rendered obsolete.
So, again, how the heck is R.A. Dickey, the guy with the goofy glasses and even goofier windup, one of the best pitchers on the planet?
We may never know, but we’ll sure enjoy watching those unpredictable knuckleballs flutter past flustered hitters so long as Dickey — R.A. Dickey! — keeps this thing going.
And, given that the current Twins rotation includes the names Diamond, Walters (on the DL, but still) Hendriks (Saturday’s likely starter), Blackburn and Liriano, we’ll probably weep a little bit.