R.A. Dickey’s knuckleball career in Toronto comes to an end but leaves behind a legacy of inspiration.
In a way, his departure resembles a pitcher giving up four balls to give the batter a walk; except this time it is R.A who is doing the walking. The 42 year knuckleballer has spent the last four years as a starting pitcher for the Blue Jays, but, at the end of the 2016 season, was not offered a contract to continue his Toronto tenure.
For a man who has played his heart (and arm) out, one would think his farewell would be met with overwhelming support from sad-to-see-him-go fans and a big outreach from the media. However, as it became known, this was clearly not the case. Perhaps, pending free agents Edwin Encarnacion and Jose Bautista “stole” attention from the free agents. When the Blue Jays lost to Cleveland in game five of the ALCS and the Blue Jays headed into their dugout, not a single reporter approached R.A. Dickey as he quietly emptied out his stall, according to multiple reports.
As a strong fan for R.A., I was devastated to hear this. All I wanted was for him to know that there are fans out there who really cared about him and his time with Toronto. I wanted him to know how beneficial he was towards the Blue Jays, and that he should proud of the stats he has put up as a Blue Jay, despite what some bandwagon fans may believe. For example, he posted double digit wins every year and is regarded as one of the best fielding pitchers in all of baseball. He came close to winning a Gold Glove this year with the third most defensive runs saved in the AL, allowing just two stolen bases and picking off four baserunners.
Not only was he an underrated player, Dickey had some… well… memorable moments on the diamond, one of which I witnessed live (and is one of my favourite baseball moments). It occurred in a 2013 game between the Blue Jays and San Francisco Giants at AT&T park. The video speaks for itself:
I’m not sure what’s more incredible: R.A hitting a ball and scoring a run OR showing bunt and then, as the ball travelled through the air, managing to swing and, in turn, make contact. He’s as unpredictable at hitting as he is at throwing his knuckleball.
Fortunately for us R.A. Fans, Dickey shared his appreciation for his time spent in Toronto on twitter, tweeting:
R.A. Dickey offered more than just knuckleball pitching – he demonstrated a strong sense of character and support to his teammates. Manager John Gibbons often mentioned how he was a positive influence around the clubhouse. He also used his influence on other teams as well:
Watch R.A get a hug from Houston’s Springer (Courtesy of MLB)
In many ways, he’s a class act, something that the Blue Jays are (or often were) known for being. Moving forward, Dickey has left Toronto a role model baseball player. He has overcome the stereotypes of being ‘too old to play’ and , in the making, provided a hand in helping Toronto reach two consecutive championship series’.
2016 does not mark the end of R.A. Dickey’s career. The Atlanta Braves have signed him to a one-year deal worth $7.5-million. Only time will tell what impact Dickey has on Atlanta’s rotation, but it’s sure to be a positive one.
Thank you R.A Dickey. From the bottom of every Blue Jay fan’s heart, thank you.