By: Adam Pasternak
Well Jays fans, the R.A. Dickey era in Toronto is officially over. The knuckleballer signed a one-year deal with one of the worst teams in baseball, the Atlanta Braves. Some of you might be rejoicing right now, like I did earlier this morning, but now that I’ve let it sink in – I think I’m gonna miss him. I mean first off, he’s one of a kind. Half spiritual-guru/half baseball player, he will forever go down as one of the oddest players to ever don the Jays uniform -his time as a Jay was not “normal”. The expectations were at an all-time high, and Dickey just didn’t meet those expectations. He wasn’t as bad as people thought though, and proved to be quietly valuable to the Jays. He was always under the microscope and was highly criticized throughout his tenure as a Jay. I’m going to be honest, I couldn’t watch him pitch. The inconsistency of his knuckleball just made me go crazy. I couldn’t do it. But that doesn’t mean I don’t appreciate what he did for the Jays. I want to share my thoughts on the Dickey era and show my appreciation for the master himself.
Let’s take it back to the fall of 2012. The then-awful New York Mets were finishing up another abysmal season, led by their ace – R.A. Dickey (sounds crazy, I know). The “Dickster”, as I like to call him, was the lone bright spot for the Mets that year. In fact, he was awarded the NL Cy Young award for his fantastic season, where he won 20 games, had 5 complete games and 3 shutouts. It was a historical season as no knuckleballer before Dickey had ever won a Cy Young. At the time, Dickey was the shit, and so when the Jays traded the always injured Travis D’Arnaud and top pitching prospect Noah Syndergaard – I went nuts. This all happened a couple days after the Jays had pulled that blockbuster with Miami getting Jose Reyes, and so this was the icing on the cake for me. I’ll never forget where I was. It was roughly 2:15pm in the afternoon and I was at school during a spare. I had my eye on mlbtraderumors.com all day, and saw an update that said the Jays were in talks to acquire R.A. Dickey. “This is nuts,” I said to myself. The Jays had never made bold moves like this in my lifetime. Then it happened. We got him. “Oh. My. God,” I said to my friend Riley. “Holy shit,” he said back to me in awe. We didn’t really say anything else. We were in shock – it was great. Fast forward to now, and Syndergaard is a legitimate star in the MLB and Dickey is, well, not. We got ripped off, but it was worth the risk. We were all in, and I myself was even excited so I can’t really rip on A.A. He was our opening day starter in his first year, and that’s essentially the peak of his Jays career. It really never got better from there. He would have phases of strong outings, but then he would go a couple games giving up homer after homer. His knuckleball was very inconsistent and it became hard for Jays fans to like him. At the same time, he was an innings eater and even pitched a game solid game in Texas in our playoff run in 2015.
What Dickey did for the Jays though shouldn’t go unmentioned. He pitched 200+ innings from 2013-15 and would have this year if it wasn’t for the acquisition of Francisco Liriano and the Jays having a 6-man rotation. While he may give up hits and runs at a high rate, he is what our team needed for every fifth start. He was good for 6-7 innings every time out, which allowed the bullpen to rest (which is more important then people realize). He also won a Gold Glove, if anyone cares. His signing in Atlanta is the perfect fit. They suck and just need him to eat up enough innings so they can get through the year without ruining their young arms. Dickey’s role in Atlanta is similar to that of a placeholder QB, waiting for the team’s first-round pick to be ready. He’s close to his home in Nashville, where he was a local sensation coming up in college (if you can believe it). He’s going to be 43 soon and he’s still pitching 200+ innings in the toughest baseball league in the whole world. That’s something to be proud of.
And so finally, as the Dickey era in Toronto has officially ended today – I would like to say thanks to R.A. While he didn’t meet up to the expectations whatsoever, he still went out there every fifth day and gave it all he could. The critics never got to him and he just did his thing out there. Also, I gotta say, he was pretty fun to play with in MLB The Show, but only in play now mode – he just declined in franchise mode; I traded him right away. Dickey will understand the Jays’ reluctance to keep him, as he more than anyone knows that baseball is a business.
I hope R.A. enjoys his time in the Atlanta sun and the close proximity to his home in Nashville. Dickey is a family man, and this move will allow him to be closer to those he loves. We here at SportsNak wish him all the best in his future endeavours, and would like to thank him for his contributions to the Toronto Blue Jays organization and us, the fans.
What did you think of Dickey’s time as a Blue Jay? Comment below!
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