It’s a trade that I love and hate at the same time, with a piece of my heart that cannot fathom the empty void that lies there. Sports can be a bitch sometimes. The average fan puts sports over academics, health, girls (not always true, but sometimes), and other minor life events. From the time that we were younger rolling around on the grass, the imagination of a human sole gives you the power to envision yourself with the stars you idolize, and for a brief second, feel immortal to everything around you.
I’m twenty years old now and while I don’t roll around outside pretending to be a young Oregon quarterback named Joey Harrington, I do have some heroes in my life. Growing up I found Roger Clemons as my favorite baseball player and Chuck Knoblauch as my favorite position player. Both players cheated while playing and squashed any fascination I had with them, essentially telling me that cheating will get you to where you have to be.
As a Mets fan, I look at David Wright as the face of my generation/hero. He’s my Koosman, Seaver, and Piazza in stock-piled-into-one. Then came R.A. Dickey, a minor-league journeymen with a long face that, that the lesser-knowing fan would think he’s been balling his eyes out for hours. The statistics are out there on the Internet, as are countless articles about what he went on in his life and how he climbed this mountain and became a Cy Young award winning pitcher, to becoming* a Toronto Blue Jay.
As much as this trade will make no sense to my mom, the fact is that it needed to happen. From the rumors that boiled weeks ago, my mouth started to moisten with the possibility of adding an impact player. And once the name Travis D’Arnaud was included I was all in, never looking back– until now.
I’m not sad about the Mets acquiring a potential cornerstone for their franchise and a pretty good-looking pitching prospect. I am sad that the hero of my time is leaving and that’s because I am selfish. R.A. Dickey carries the same emotion on his face that the embarrassed Mets fan has. His emotion and sway while pitching can explain the rollercoaster ride that every fan has been on since Carlos Beltran taking strike-3. The uncanny grip and mastery of a pitch that has never been respected before is comparable to the organization he represented in the All-Star game. The expression that Dickey bleeds when releasing the knuckleball is not going to be sporting orange and blue anymore. And most of all, the fan loses an intelligent individual who enjoys reading and talking about other things.
Once a week, Dickey would give the viewer entertainment that wasn’t embarrassing. The entertainment is something I will miss. Whether this works out or not, I now understand how fans felt when Tom Seaver was traded from New York to Cincinnati. You grow a bond with a person you’ve never met before, practically falling in love with them based on their performance. You find yourself staying up late at night sneaking glances at the television while your attention should be elsewhere. You whisper to them when they can’t hear you, the “way to go, R.A!” or “nice play, R.A.”.
Whether R.A. Dickey performs as he did in 2012 is only something time can tell, but in a time where every hero I’ve ever had has proven to let me down, he continues to amaze me, encapsulating me to believe that being in the front seat of a rollercoaster ride isn’t the worst thing in the world; that taking chances to be different is better than never changing. And as this love affair ends I will continue to watch from a distance, not in the creepy way, of course, but the way that says, “I still care, R.A.”.
This letter is not all that personal for you, Robert. I’m sorry things didn’t work the way we expected them but maybe down the road there will be a meeting or two between us where we can reflect on the what happened instead of wondering what would have happened. Because sometimes not knowing is better than knowing, right?