While most of the media is focusing on the ugliness of the Roger Clemens trial and revisiting the steroid era that still casts a pall on the sport and its history, I want to focus on what may be the biggest feel-good story in baseball: Mets pitcher R.A. Dickey.
Dickey is arguably the best pitcher in baseball right now. The 37-year-old knuckleballer has an impressive 11-1 record and a 2.00 ERA. He has also struck out 103 and walked just 21 in 99 innings pitched, showing remarkable control for a knuckleball pitcher.
In his last two starts, Dickey has thrown back-to-back one-hitters, the first pitcher in 24 years to accomplish that feat.
Dickey’s outstanding start to the season is even more impressive when you look at his entire career. Dickey was a journeyman pitcher who kept bouncing between the minors and the majors before learning how to throw the knuckleball and wasn’t much better until he perfected it. In his 30s, he was learning how to pitch all over again. He finally re-established himself as a legitimate starter when he signed with the Mets in 2010. Dickey was 34.
In addition to his lack of baseball success, Dickey overcame being sexually abused when he was growing up, a horrible truth he kept inside for many years before revealing it in his new book, “Wherever I Wind Up: My Quest for Truth, Authenticity and the Perfect Knuckleball.”
Dickey is involved in charities, reads a lot and is eager to accept new challenges. This past winter, he actually climbed to the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro which helped him raise money for charity while forcing the Mets organization to hold its breath until he returned safely to sea level.
In the end, Dickey is an example of the American dream come true. His life was a struggle, but he was able to reinvent himself through hard work, by thinking outside the box and making adjustments in his approach. He overcame significant obstacles from his past and excelled.
Now he has reached the top of his profession. Dickey deserves to start the All Star Game next month for the National League and will certainly be named to the squad for the first time even if he doesn’t get the honor of starting.
So let Roger Clemens, Brian McNamee and Barry Bonds remind us what is wrong with sports and society. Yes, there is a dark side to baseball and to life. But R.A. Dickey reminds us that there is a bright side to life as well and that even horrible things can be overcome along the ultimate road to success. Maybe we all need a little R.A. Dickey in our lives.