It’s been a while since I have been able to brag about being a Mets fan.
It’s not that I have ever had any issues staying loyal; the Mets have been my team since I’ve been able to understand the game of baseball. But when mediocre to not-so-great seasons begin to pile up, it becomes difficult to find a specific rallying point fighting for third place aside to give the fan inside of me some optimism.
It didn’t cross my mind that the player to give me hope would be a 37-year-old knuckleballer from Tennessee.
R.A. Dickey, one of the few bright lights for the Mets this season, is enjoying the best season of his career. He is near the top in all three pitching Triple Crown categories (wins, ERA, strikeouts) and is responsible for almost a third of the Mets wins this season. But how can one pitcher, on a team with nothing to play for for a sixth straight season, provide something to root for?
When it comes down to it, every fan needs a rallying point. Dickey may not be the most conventional rallying point out there, but it is pretty amazing that some old journeyman is inexplicably gunning down batters and winning games with some weird pitch. That alone is enough to give fans and supporters reason to say, “Well, we really suck this year, but at least Dickey could still win the Cy Young.”
The Mets, who haven’t had a Cy Young Winner since Dwight Gooden won 24 games in 1985, have indeed made it a little difficult for fans to keep rooting late into September, with October baseball always out of reach. One of the most difficult things about this season in particular is that the first couple of months offered so much promise. New York was flirting with first place in both the division and the Wild Card, up until the All-Star Break, David Wright was hitting what seemed like .400 through June and Johan Santana tossed the first no-hitter in franchise history.
But now, after the Mets and their bullpen unraveled into a below-average team, Dickey has become the clear face to stand behind. Forget about his incredible back-story. You still have a pitcher that should be in the twilight of his career performing as one of the most unhittable pitchers in all of baseball.
Truthfully, if it wasn’t Dickey, it would be somebody else. Maybe we would be hoping that Wright finishes the season over .300, or maybe fans would simply adopt the “wait ‘till next year” mentality. But this year, it is Dickey. And that is something pretty special for fans of all teams. It proves that hope can be found even in the strangest of places, that a dominant force can come out of a terrible team.
Everybody needs a rallying point, even and especially if that rallying point is a 37-year-old knuckleballer from Tennessee.
This article can be seen in The Daily Campus